A Day in the Life…

So I’m now back in the States, sitting in my room sipping a green smoothie and trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’m no longer in Tanzania. I’m just now finding the time to write my blog post about my homestay in Mufindi, which I wanted to give some thought to since it was such a life-changing experience. Although no words can describe the experience, I’ll try my best to do an adequate job and include pictures since they sometimes capture a lot more than words do.

Three of my siblings: Matty, Joey, and Yohana

Three of my siblings: Matty, Joey, and Yohana

I’ll start by saying how this smoothie sucks. The greens are from a bag in my fridge, the strawberries were frozen, and the bananas are tasteless. Food in the village is treated so differently than it is here, the first difference being that people actually know where their food comes from because they pick it themselves. Our staple food was ugali, which is corn flour and water cooked to form a playdough-like consistency. Once it cools down to be almost bearable to touch (emphasis on almost), you roll it into a ball, press into it with your thumb, and use that to scoop up the side dish (right hand only!). My goal of the homestay was to get involved as much as possible, so I helped Mama cook any chance I got. Since it’s so hard to mix, she usually took full control of the ugali-making and let me help with everything else. We typically ate ugali with beans and greens. Mama would bring home the bean pods from the farm and lay them out to dry in the sun, then we would shell them all by hand to cook. She also brought the fresh-picked greens, which we just peeled the outer layer off of the stem to cook. The food is really as fresh as it gets. Since they don’t have the means for storage, what they pick is what they eat that same day, from farm to table. It’s a lot of work and so much goes into preparing a single meal that most of us Americans are not used to. Imagine if you had no fridge, pantry, or freezer, no microwave and could only cook your meals (using the ingredients you pick yourself) over a campfire, which you need to collect and chop the firewood for. That’s a small glimpse at the food aspect of village life.

Mama made fresh maandazi (fried dough) for breakfast

Mama made fresh maandazi (fried dough) for breakfast

It’s worth mentioning that before eating any meal, we prayed. Despite how little they have, my family is so appreciative of everything they do have. They’re grateful for what we would probably consider to be “the little things,” but I’m realizing that those are actually the big things: having enough food to eat, being with friends and family, being healthy. I’ll always remember one Saturday morning when I was doing wash with my dada (sister), her name is Matty and she’s eleven years old. Matty was showing me how to rub the fabric together properly to get out the dirt, which is actually a lot more difficult than it sounds. During the hour that it took me to successfully wash about four shirts, Matty was happily singing to herself. I couldn’t help but compare this girl to the majority of kids in America her age. Getting kids to do chores is sometimes like pulling teeth, which is rarely done without some form of a complaint, at least from my experience. And here Matty was, not just washing clothes by hand voluntarily, but having a good time doing it.
My house was in Ikaning’ombe village, which was the furthest from Foxes NGO, where we stayed in volunteer houses after the homestays to volunteer and finish up research. Ikaning’ombe sort of felt like the middle of nowhere, probably due to the fact that there was little to no cell service or internet, which turned out to be very rewarding. My days were spent never on my phone or computer or watching TV, but being active in life. I learned to weave baskets, pick and eat sugar cane, and carry water on my head. Fetching water, when needed (if it hasn’t rained in a while), is another chore young kids do that they seem to really enjoy. When Matty took me to the stream, she called her friends around the village along the way to join us. We all walked down these steep hills together, my eyes glued to the ground to avoid face-planting on the slippery dirt path. After filling these buckets to their maximum capacity, Matty had me kneel down

My house, behind Yohana. The kitchen is on the left.

My house, behind Yohana. The kitchen is on the left.

as she placed one on my head. I was pretty hesitant to walk, especially up the steep dirt path, but I figured if these six year olds around me could do it, how hard could it be? The first time was pretty terrifying, especially when I almost wiped out, but… no I would say every time was pretty terrifying, but I always somehow made it back.
The house I lived in was a simple brick house with a tin roof, and the kitchen was the same only smaller and separated from the house. My room was also very simple, with just a bed and nothing else. There were four rooms total, the other three also bedrooms where Mama and Baba (dad) slept with all the kids. As far as the toilet situation goes, it was all outside next to the house behind some corn stalks. There were two wooden stalls, a toilet stall (with a dirt hole) and a

Toilet stall on the left, shower stall on the right

Toilet stall on the left, shower stall on the right

shower stall (with some wooden planks on the ground). I took bucket showers, but they were nice and warm because they always boiled the water first.
It’s funny the different things that made my day in Tanzania, and how they compare to here in the US. In Tanzania, I was grateful for a sunny day because that meant my clothes would dry on the line. I was grateful for having small bills in my wallet because change is nearly impossible to find. Having potatoes for dinner was like a special treat, and eggs only on very special occasions. These are all things that I not only take for granted here, but have barely ever crossed my mind before experiencing life without them. Think about how easy it is to throw clothes into the washer or to do a last minute run to the grocery store to buy dinner. Not only am I going to appreciate these things more, but realizing how much time they save me really motivates me to make the most of that spared time. Think about it!
No matter how much I write on here, my experience living with a Tanzanian family for two weeks was pretty indescribable.

Me and Mama

Me and Mama

They get by with so little, yet are seriously some of the happiest people I’ve spent an extended period of time with. The only complaint I heard came from me, when I thought I’d burn the ugali if I tried stirring it. The homestay was by far the highlight of my trip to Tanzania because it gave me everything I wanted to get out of the program. My perspective is changed and broadened drastically, which I think is the most valuable aspect of travel. Furthermore, the experience doesn’t end when the trip ends, but it continues as you return home and look around and notice more differences and sip disappointing green smoothies.

The stove

The stove

Ikaning'ombe is beautiful

Ikaning’ombe is beautiful

They LOVED to color

They LOVED to color

My brother Matthew holding the frisbee (that we played with 24/7)

My brother Matthew holding the frisbee (that we played with 24/7)

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On an Island in the Sun…

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I’ll start this post with something from the previous one that I said I would explain later. About a week and a half before break, Justin gave us all sheets of paper with “The Awesomely Ultimate Epic Wazungu Hodari Sana Mashujaa Challenge” written at the top, which was a list of 72 things Tanzanians typically do. If we completed 65 or more of the challenges before break, we’d get a “major award!” On the list were things like:
• Be at least a half hour late for an appointment and don’t call or text to say you’ll be late
• Yell “mzungu!” at a westerner as you walk by
• Wake up at 5am, shower, and go about the day without napsblog1
• Call someone at 3am and talk to him/her at full volume for at least 30 seconds
• Eat ugali for lunch four days in a row

I was hesitant at first, but the next morning I was given the opportunity to “fyeka some grass,” which is how they cut the grass here (with long blades). After I did that, I fully embraced the challenge and crossed multiple things off the list every day. Although eating ugali for four days straight wasn’t very enjoyable, the challenge got me to do a lot of things that I normally wouldn’t. I played soccer with Tanzanians, pet a goat on its back, and showered in the toilet stall (yes people do that). I ate a meal with four other Tanzanians out of a single dish with my right hand, got proposed to by a Tanzanian (quite a few times…), and brushed my teeth with sticks from a bush that Tanzanians use to brush teeth. Needless to say, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks, and I can finally say I’ve completed the challenge successfully (and am now avoiding ugali at all costs).

blog3Spring break was awesome. Eight of us first travelled to Dar, stayed the night in a hotel, then took the ferry to Zanzibar, where we stayed for the week. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Zanzibar, and I found them all to be true. We first stayed in Stone Town, which was very touristy but a lot of fun. It was nice to be in a city different from Iringa and just explore what the island had to offer. It really felt like being in the Caribbean, on the water with palm trees everywhere. One night for dinner, we ate at a restaurant called “6 Degrees South,” where we ordered frilly drinks and smoked hookah at the bar upstairs afterwards. It was all delicious and a nice break from rice, beans, etc. The next day, we took a boat to Prison Island, blog5where we pet giant tortoises (and even saw some mating…). I pet the oldest one there, which was 191 years old! Hard to believe they’re still going strong. Afterwards, we went snorkeling in the warm, clear blue water, which was so nice and relaxing.

The best day by far was also one of the best days of my life, when we went to Cheetah’s Rock. Cheetah’s Rock is a place you can go and get up close and personal with wild animals like zebras, monkeys, and lions. The woman who runs the place, Jenny, trains the animals using only harmless methods, like positive reinforcement (i.e. rewarding good behavior with treats, not punishing bad behavior). Jenny first showed us the zebra, which she has only been blog6training for a few years, but was so well-behaved. She first touched the zebra with various objects to get it acclimated to the feeling, and even put a belt around it like you would to ride a horse. The zebra stood perfectly still during all of this, so she gave it treats throughout the entire process. Next, Jenny invited us into the pen, where we all pet the zebra one by one, got our picture with it, and had it fetch an object for us (a rose for girls, ball for boys). It was surreal blog7interacting so closely with a wild animal that you typically only see in the wild from a far-away distance. Jenny explained how since zebras are especially jumpy, people have told her it’s impossible to tame them—so she proved them wrong. After the zebra, we fed fruit to a wild bush baby, which was probably the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. It was like a little baby monkey that was so playful, it jumped from shoulder to shoulder the second we stepped into the cage. After the bush baby, we went into the cage with the ring-tailed lemurs, which again jumped right up onto our shoulders to get some fruit (pictures blog8included). It was so cute having these little monkey-like creatures crawling on my back with their puffy tails and little hands grabbing the fruit, which they ate like humans. After the lemurs, we then moved onto the more, ahem, life-threatening animals. The first was the hyena, which is actually so dangerous that we couldn’t even enter the cage (but of course Jenny did). The hyena has the strongest jaw of any blog9animal, and Jenny had a dented metal bowl to prove it. After spending some time with the hyena, Jenny came out of the cage and gave us all pieces of raw meat to feed to it. It was somewhat terrifying, especially with the dented metal bowl in my peripheral vision, but now I can say I fed (and pet) a hyena… Next, we moved on to the white lion. For those brave enough to enter the cage, we had to hold red sticks out in front of us, which indicated our “safety zone.” Jenny stood with the lion, and we each walked blog10up a few feet away from it, got a picture, and walked back. My heart beat sped up any time the lion moved its head. After petting and feeding the lion through the fence, we went in an enclosed yard, where there were some benches and a table with champagne and glasses on it. We sat down, drank some champagne, and out walked Tyson the blog11cheetah. He was so friendly, like a giant cat, and we could all sit down next to him and get our picture with him on the couch. It was really an amazing experience. I remember seeing that cheetah on the Ruaha safari, thinking it was the coolest thing spotting it from afar; then here I was, sitting on a couch just inches away from a cheetah, sipping champagne. The fact that Jenny tames all of these wild animals using only harmless methods shows how loving these creatures can really be. I would highly recommend Cheetah’s Rock to anyone, especially anyone doubting that wild animals can be tame, gentle creatures.
blog4Zanzibar was the perfect way to spend Spring break. It gave us time to relax, unwind, and enjoy some luxury before heading to Mufindi. It will be a very different change of pace spending the next month in a rural village, but I’m pretty excited. We leave tomorrow for the homestay, where we will live with a host family for two weeks. I plan on learning as much Swahili as possible (since that’s all we’ll be speaking), helping out with chores, and just experiencing life in a typical Tanzanian household.blog12 After the homestay, we’ll live at Foxes NGO for two weeks, where we’ll be finishing up our research and volunteering. I might not get a chance to blog if there’s no internet connection, but I will do at least one more post before I leave Tanzania! Until then, baadaye!blog2

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Red, Red Wine

Again, it’s long overdue, so I’m going to do a little re-cap of the past couple weeks in this post. blog1
Two weekends ago, we went camping at a campground near Msosa village. When we first arrived, it started torrential down pouring, so we spent some pumzika (rest) time in the tents until it passed. I never mind having nothing to do because anything is fun with the people on this trip. Chris pulled out her little portable speaker, which we’ve made great use of multiple times, and we just sat around singing. After the monsoon passed, we started preparing our dinner of walking tacos around the fire. It was my first experience with walking tacos, which are just opened bags of Doritos that you fill with taco fillings: ground beef, cheese, beans, guacamole, and tomatoes. I just put beans, guac, and tomatoes in mine with some pili pili mbuzi (hot peppers), shook it up, and ate out of the bag; it was delicious! After dinner, we just hung around the fire (literally—there were U-shaped vines you could sit on) and enjoyed each other’s company and the nature around us. blog
On Sunday, we hiked to a beautiful waterfall. Since we were hot and sweaty when we got there, the freezing cold water felt refreshing (like our showers). Being under a waterfall is the best feeling in the world. It’s such a rush because the water is so powerful, not to mention a natural full-body massage. Pushing past the falling water and standingblog a behind it, next to the rock is amazing. Everything back there is so peaceful, yet you can look up and see the water rushing over the rock with all other noise muted. I was wishing I had a waterproof camera at that moment.
This past weekend, we went to Dodoma, which is technically the capital of Tanzania. However, since our plans to see some government buildings fell through, our weekend in Dodoma was spent eating Chinese food, drinking wine, and having some serious pumzika time. Saturday morning, we went to a wine factory which wasblog3 run by a Catholic church. The nuns sold us some bottles and we passed around one to try, which didn’t have a label and was very strong, but sweet. Afterwards, we went to a vineyard with a farmer who then brought us to his house, where he makes wine. He had one room with a huge pile of red grapes, which he transferred to buckets to rinse off before making the wine. Again, we were given cups to pass around and try—that was thblog6e most delicious wine I’ve ever tasted. There were two kinds, one much sweeter than the other. We all loved it so much that we bought 15 liters total, 10 of the less sweet one and 5 of the blog7other. They were poured into two big buckets that we hauled onto the bus and divided up later.
The next day, we headed back to Iringa and stopped at a village on the way. At the village, we met some farmers who showed us their fields and crops (like peanuts!). I asked if I could help weed their corn field, because that is listed on our “Wazungu Challenge” (I will explain in the next blog post). The Mama took me to the fieblog8ld with hoe in hand and showed me how to scrape up the weeds which is, like everything else they do, a lot of work! Doing it for just five minutes was pretty strenuous; I can’t imagine a whole day. After resting from the  blog9 intense five minutes I spent weeding corn, I played some ball with the kids who were around the farm. They were shy at first but eventually had what seemed to be the time of their lives just throwing the ball back and forth with Bethany, Hannah, and I. I have so much fun playing ball with the kids here because they never get tired of it, no matter how simple the game might be. One little ball of fabric tied together can keep them blog99occupied for hours, which I really admire coming from a country where kids are increasingly in need of the latest app or video game to fill any down time that might creep into their day. One of my favorite things about living here is the down time that I am not used to, which not only gives you time to relax and think, but foster relationships with the people around you—something I often think our country is lacking… blog9999

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Zen and the Art of Peeling Tomatoes

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master chef hard at work

A new blog post is long overdue, but I’ve decided to dedicate this one solely to food.
So there’s a little stand off campus where they make chipsimayai, the French fry omelet dish I’m in love with. Not only do they make chipsimayai, but they make this delicious cabbage (kabichi) and hot sauce (pili pili) to put on top. Pili pili directly translated is green pepper, but that’s also what we callIMG_1155 the sauce, which is a mixture of hot red and green peppers, onions, tomatoes, carrots, and ginger—all things delicious. The master chef who makes the pili pili invited us to watch how he makes it, so we jumped at the opportunity and were there the next morning.
He started by chopping up all the vegetables into a lovely, colorful pile. Although he was very speedblog3y with the knife, he was very careful not to leave any pieces behind. You need all the vegetables you can get since it doesn’t make a huge amount. Next, he put the pile of veggies onto a frying pan and cooked them for about 5-10 minutes, adding salt and whatever else he thought it needed. When that was done, the pili pili was finished. The most exciting part happened next: he packed the pili pili into a container and gave it to us. It was so nice of him and so unexpected, so we gave him some shilingi and hurried away to dive into the deliciousness.
The reason I’m dedicating half a blog post to it is because it really was the best pili pili I’ve ever had. I can’t explain the flavor but it was the perfect combination of fresh veggies and spiciness and I literally could’ve eaten it all with a spoon. I don’t know if it’s because I saw the work that was put into it, or because of the buildup as I was drooling the entire time, but I remember saying that when I die and go to heaven, that pili pili is going to be greeting me at the gates. (drama intended)blog5

To continue with this post about food, I’m going to talk about this past Sunday, when we all got cooking lessons from some Tanzanian “Mamas.” The plan was that we would learn to make traditional African foods like ugali (corn flour dough-like mixture), wali (rice), viazi (potatoes), and chapati (crepe-like tortillas). The Mamas greeted us with smiles when we arrived and we split into small groups for closer instruction. The task I helped with was preparing green beans, which are not green beans the vegetable, but actual beans that are green. My roomie Tunukiwa was there to help, and she first put a huge bag of the green beans on the ground for us to sort through and take out any that were bad (i.e. brown). What I thought would be a blog6quick process ended up taking over a half hour—and that was just the first step! When we were done sorting, we had to wash the green beans, which again I thought would be quick. Instead, it took about twenty minutes because we washed them about five times and since there were no strainers, we scooped them back and forth into the water with our hands. When they were finally rinsed, we cooked the green beans in a pot over the “stove,” which was an open fire fueled by wood and coal. The process didn’t end there, because we then chopped vegetables to add to the beans.blog7
Without cutting boards or peelers, chopping the vegetables took a lot of focus and caution. After carefully grating and chopping a few carrots with just my hands and a knife, I braved the tomatoes. The tomatoes were extra intimidating because they had to be peeled, again with just a knife (they tend to be slippery too). The entire process took a lot of patience and concentration, which was actually pretty Zen because my entire focus was on the vegetable in my hand and nothing else. Being completely absorbed in the present moment like that has been a common theme of this trip for me, which is something I appreciate. Tasks that seem trivial at home, like washing clothes, are fairly time-consuming here and pull you out of the mindset that you have to rush to get as much done as you can in a short amount of time. The simple task of peeling tomatoes reminded me of a quote by the philosopher Alan Watts: “Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”
blog9Anyways, the entire process of cooking the different foods took about three hours. I don’t think I’ve ever worked for three hours straight like that for a single meal—I really admire the Mamas and all their hard work. What was a long, laborious morning for us Wazungus was just another day in the life of these women. As I was struggling to stir the almost-finished ugali, one Mama helped me out by taking the long wooden spoon from me and finishing it off without breaking a sweat, a smile on her face the entire time. They make it look so easy!blog10

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The Lion Sleeps Tonight… (Ruaha Safari!)

This past weekend, we went to Ruaha National Park for a three day safari. Ruaha is about two hours from Iringa, and the fun started on our ride there. Our group was split between two cars (which more closely resembled tanks), and the tank I was in broke down about a half hour into our trip. It’s funny because the car breaking down ended up being a good thing. Rather than just waiting for a new car to come, we made the most of being stranded on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere. I broke out my frisbee, and we ended up having a catch with some kids who lived nearby; they loved it. During our catch, a herd of little goats came out of nowhere and ran right by us. To add to the cuteness was a tiny puppy that a man brought out, again it seemed to come out of nowhere. It’s nice to be with a group of people who have no problem going with the flow and making the most of a situation like that.

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Our tin can

           The safari was awesome. I’ve never seen so many elephants in my life. We saw a bunch just in the short time we were pulling up to where we were staying. What we stayed in were little thatched huts, which we called “tin cans.” They were very simple, and had nothing but two beds with mosquito nets inside. If we wanted to go to the bathroom at night, we had to call one of the rangers to escort us. The reason is that you don’t know what animals are out there, and the rangers have guns.

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Queen E pulling off the bark

One of the coolest experiences on the safari was when we pulled up to a group of elephants just feet from our tank. We were taking all these pictures, when the elephant closest to us started picking at bark on the tree with her trunk

. We called her “Queen E,” because she seemed to be putting on a show for us. I was filming her when all of a sudden, she pulled a big piece of bark off the tree and flung it up in the air, as if she was trying to hit us. I can’t believe how close she was to us—we got some blog 7great pictures from it.

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The cheetah casually walking away

My favorite moment on the safari was when I spotted a cheetah. Our guide at one point mentioned leopards and how it’s very rare to see one, so after that I was skimming the grass and trees with the hope that maybe I’d see one. Then—BAM—a cheetah sitting inblog 6 the grass by a bush! I told the driver to back up, so we got up close to it and it started walking away. We followed it, and got a lot of pictures since it took its time and didn’t just run away. Apparently, cheetahs are even rarer to see than leopards. Our guide said he had never seen one in Ruaha before. That made it even more amazing.
In addition to the cheetah and elephants, we saw gazelles (they were everywhere), baboons, hippos, zebras, giraffes, foxes, ostriches, and countless other exotic animals. We also saw lions twice! Justin had said that it’s rare to see lions more than once on safari, so we saw one Saturday and then Sunday before leaving, we spotted four lions lying under a tree! We got so many cool pictures on the safari, and some of my favorites are of the sky! There were beautiful sunsets and sunrises everyday (we got going at 6am), so I have a lot of sky pictures; I’ll post some here!
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It Came In Through the Bathroom Window… (Campus Life in Iringa!)

The view from our campus is so nice, surrounded by mountains

The view from our campus is so nice, surrounded by mountains

Now that I’ve lived on campus a solid two weeks, let me tell ya a little about life at the University of Iringa…
We’re now on more of a schedule, which is pretty normal with about 3-5 classes a day. I start class at either 8 or 8:50 am, which is actually nice because it forces me to get up with the morning sunshine (unless it’s monsooning). There are only 4 of us in each class, because we’re on a different schedule than the Tanzanian students, unfortunately. I enjoy all of my classes, the professors are really laid back and take their time when they teach, which is something I appreciate. Professor Ilomo is an awesome guy–he teaches my Pre-history, Myths, and Legends class. After class one day he said he’d see us at volleyball on Saturday, which he did. So I played volleyball against my professor:

Volleyball (that’s Dr. Ilomo scratching his head)

The sports are probably my favorite thing so far. There’s basketball every day, rugby on Wednesdays, volleyball on Saturdays, and cricket on Sundays. Rugby is by far my favorite. It’s touch rugby, and we play from 5-7ish so we see the sunset every time. You can also hear the Muslim’s call to prayer at that time, which I think is really cool. Cricket was fun because I’ve never played before, let alone knew what it was. Last Sunday, there were two cute little kids playing by the field, so I brought my Frisbee to them and started having a catch. They were having the time of their lives; they’ve probably never seen a Frisbee before!

They loved the frisbee

They loved the frisbee

 

Playing cricket!

Playing cricket!

 

 

 

 

 

Dorm life is so different from in the U.S. First of all, we wash all of our clothes by hand in buckets and hang them to dry outside. It’s a lot of work! Really makes you appreciate washers and dryers. On top of that, you can’t always be sure there will be water. It has gone out a couple times, so you just have to try again at another time. There is no hot water, so we take cold showers (bucket showers). A lot of the girls have coils they plug into the wall that heats their water before showering, but I don’t really mind the cold water. It’s actually pretty refreshing after a long, hot day. Another difference is the toilets. People call them “squatty potties” and they’re basically holes in the ground, not raised seats like western toilets. Some places you go have actual seats, but it’s mostly squatty potties.

Our lovely bathroom: showers on the left, squatty potties on the right

Our lovely bathroom: showers on the left, squatty potties on the right

Our dorm: King of Kings 1

Our dorm: King of Kings 1

The bugs here must be mutated or something because I’ve never seen anything like them before. I didn’t even know moths bigger than phones existed before coming here (picture included). A trip to the bathroom isn’t complete without discovering a new species of beetle, moth, or even bird (yes there is the occasional bird). Stray dogs even wander into our bathroom from time to time! The trick to bucketing (showering) is to go into it with the mindset that the bugs are your friends, just accompanying you while you bathe. Coexist with them temporarily, then run into your room and shut the door.

GMO?

GMO?

I wasn't kidding about the dogs!

I wasn’t kidding about the dogs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chipsimayai & Samosa <3

Chipsimayai & Samosa ❤

One last thing I can’t forget to mention is one of the most delicious foods here, Chipsimayai. “Chipsi” are chips (i.e. French fries), and “mayai” is eggs. It’s basically a French fry omelet, which I love. There’s a stand off campus that makes it with a bunch of grilled veggies, and they even make their own “pili pili” (hot sauce—may fav). I plan on recreating this meal once I return to the states. Oh, and the samosas are amazing, of course—hence my blog name. Here are some pics!

Samosa with pili pili <3

Samosa with pili pili ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll leave you with this beautiful picture from an evening of cricket… Baadaye!

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Tanzania part 1: from Dar to Iringa!

Karibu! Welcome to my first blog post recounting my adventure here in Tanzania! As of now, we have been here exactly ten days, but we all agree it has felt more like a month. Our schedule has been jam-packed with a bunch of activities and excursions every single day, so I am just now finding the time to sit down and write, fingers crossed that my internet connection won’t fail me.

The beautiful Jangwani Sea Breeze resort

The beautiful Jangwani Sea Breeze resort

Ten days ago, I arrived at the Jangwani Sea Breeze resort in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I met our resident director, Justin, and everyone else in our group–there are only eleven of us total from all over the US. At Jangwani, we spent four days recovering from jet lag, learning some Swahili, and going on day trips to places like the National Museum and outdoor markets. My favorite day was when we took a boat ride to a nearby island, where we had a Swahili lesson with our teacher, Paulo, and spent the rest of our time swimming in the Indian Ocean and eating the most delicious fruits (mangoes, pineapple, watermelon…). Another memorable experience was visiting a village museum, where we toured huts and watched traditional dancers put on a show to some great drumming before joining in with them!

The fruit is amazing--the mangoes are the best

The fruit is amazing–the mangoes are the best

A dancer at the village museum- he loved the camera!

A dancer at the village museum- he loved the camera!

From Dar, we traveled to Iringa, where we will be staying the next few months. The eleven-hour bus ride went by pretty quickly, probably due to the awesome scenery along the way. On both sides of the road, we saw animals like giraffes, gazelles, baboons, and even an elephant off in the distance. It became more mountainous the closer we got to Iringa, so my eyes were glued to the bus window.

A giraffe we saw on the bus ride to Iringa!

A giraffe we saw on the bus ride to Iringa!

It’s been really fun exploring the town of Iringa! Wherever we go, people either yell out “Karibu!” (welcome) or “Mzungu!” (white person); I prefer the former. The driving here is literally crazy- the cars are constantly going around each other (by less than an inch) and will not hesitate to run you over. So many times I thought I was about to witness an accident, but it’s been lucky so far!

The view from a rock overlooking Iringa

The view from a rock overlooking Iringa

I’m now writing this post from the top bunk of a room I share with three others in the dorm “King of Kings 1” on the University of Iringa campus. We arrived at the campus four days ago, when we met our roommates and moved in. Since then, we have been getting acclimated to the campus, making new Tanzanian friends, and of course learning more Swahili. One of my roommates, Tunukiwa, is from Tanzania; the other, Agnes, is from Zambia. They’re both so sweet! I would write about every detail of every experience if I could, but I’ll stick to writing a new post each week (if my internet can keep up!)

Our group! (I'm on the far right)

Our group! (I’m on the far right)

Baadaye! (later!)

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