Heather: Haller Park (Bamburi Nature Trail)

March 17, 2010

I think I am going to be in a perpetual state of sweat for the next 6 weeks. I literally sit here at home sweating like mad. It’s worse than running 5 miles. I am also going to be very tired for the next 6 weeks. It’s hard to sleep… Mostly because of the heat. But my sister also snores like a madman and my earplugs don’t help. Oh yeah, and when it rains, it drips on my face too. That doesn’t help much either.

I am trying to get used to my new family, but they’re a lot different. I didn’t even know their names because I couldn’t understand them so I had to text our advisor and ask him. I felt terrible, but I didn’t want to go the whole semester without knowing their names. My host mom is really the only person who speaks English. My oldest sister does too, but she doesn’t live at home and I never see her. I try to speak in Swahili to them as well, but that really doesn’t work either. My sisters just stare at me when I talk to them. It’s probably like what I look like when people talk to me in Swahili. Just a blank stare.

The food is also very different here. We’ve had fried fish heads a couple times. And ugali is a must. I try to eat as little as possible, but my host mom tells me I don’t eat enough. At least I get to serve myself. Yesterday I got home at 4pm and my sister went and made me lunch. I had already eaten! They wait on me hand and foot and it’s really not necessary; I can do things myself. I wish they would show me how to use the jiko because I like my shower water to be hot and it’s always pee-warm when they heat it for me. The shower is pretty awkward here. The door is a sheet that opens into the living room and there’s also 6 in x 6 in squares that open into my 13 yr old host brother’s room. Now, that’s awkward.

I went into town yesterday, jumping on a matatu to see where it would bring me because I had no idea. I got to town though. I went to see the Tusks on Moi Ave. and then I went to a travel agency to figure out some information on snorkeling, fishing, and Tsavo N.P. I got a lot of pretty good information and I’m looking forward to doing this stuff. I sat in a couple parks to figure out what I was going to do next. I decided to go to Fort Jesus in Old Town. Old Town was a big area for slave trading. Fori Jesus was pretty cool actually. I had to ward off a bunch of “tour guides” though. It was really neat to see because it was right on the Indian Ocean. I went and sat down by the waterfront for awhile too afterward. The water is really blue and really pretty.

I went to my internship on Monday morning with Gladys, the head person here in Mombasa. I got there and they asked for all my identification. The only thing I had was a copy of my passport. No one told me to bring anything like my insurance information or anything so I didn’t have anything. I was literally there for 15 minutes on Monday. Didn’t even get to see the park. I met 2 people. Then they told me they were still figuring things out so I had to come in on Wednesday. So I was told to me there at 7:30 this morning and go figure, no one was there to let me in. I had to stand at the gate looking like an idiot waiting for Albert to get there. I finally got in and got to meet a bunch of the people in the offices of Bamburi Cement. The park is a subsidary of Bamburi Cement. The park is actually a rehabilitated quarry, but you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at it. It looks really cool. Found out I have to wear jeans (yes, JEANS!), a hard hat, safety glasses, a jacket, and steel-toed shoes to work. Really? I am going to look like a construction worker. Not cool. And I’m going to DIE OF HEAT. I’d rather the animals just attack me instead of wearing that stuff. I’ll get some sweet pictures though, don’t you worry. There are giraffes (fed them today), eland, oryx, hippos, tortoises, reptiles, a ton of birds, monkeys, and crocodiles. They breed the crocs there so there’s a ton of them. They were pretty cool actually. The males are huge! There’s normal crocs, baby crocs, and albino crocs. Pretty sweet.

I’ll  be working with the wildlife crew and doing what they need help with. They said sometimes the eland get out of the fence and we have to go retrieve them. And if we can’t get them to come back, we have to shoot them. I asked why they don’t just tranquilize them to bring them back. They said that was a good suggestion and maybe we can work on that idea more. I thought it was a common sense idea, but I guess not. So if I can help them with that idea, I think that’d be great. But, if you see me running around Mombasa in my hard hat and reflective jacket chasing after an eland, do not worry, everything is OK!


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