Archive for the ‘Haley in Kenya’ Category

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Haley: Emotional rollercoaster

December 3, 2010

I haven’t posted anything the past few weeks. I found myself in a strange state of mind where I didn’t know HOW to write what I felt, experienced, saw… mostly because I wasn’t sure of what I thought. My apologies!!!! But I still have stories I want to share. SO this post will consist of a few play-by-plays or bullet points of the past couple of weeks spent in Mombasa. The overview being: Homesickness hit HARD when we first arrived, eased into contentedness to full on travellers HIGH, and back to normal(ish).

Home-sickness: Frustration doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings you have while away. I don’t even think a pregnant woman is capable of being as hormonal as a person caught in the middle of this wretched emotional feat! No joke, the whole first week of internship was like trying to run in water.

  • You don’t really realize HOW alone and isolated you really are until you go to a place where nobody speaks your language (or is WILLING to speak it).
  • You’re a full head taller than everyone your gender. You’re even taller then most the men too.
  • When looking at staff pictures you’re easily spotted NOT because you’re the only one smiling, but because miraculously you seem to have a nuclear GLOW underlining the pigment of your skin.
  • No matter how many times you say your name, you still get called something TOTALLY different (my personal favorite being Sylvia).
  • Realizing you would rather be called “Sylvia” than ‘This One” (always with a finger-point or head-nudge).
  • Becoming totally convinced that clocks run 100 times slower in tropical countries because you’re dying to get some AC going… or maybe even some Deodorant fans?
  • You realize that everyone has a better opinion about your country than you… And yet they have never ACTUALLY been there (it’s my personal fav).
  • Pretending to speak a different language OTHER than English because people love to show off their ‘bi-lingual’ skills, which essentially is ‘HOW-ARE-YOU!?’ and ‘MONEY!!’ (Como estas/ cava/ ti kanis/waduuuuuup = a frightened Kenyan that quickly loses interest).
  • Having to repeat yourself at least THREE times because you ask where “Oliver (Ah-live-er)” is, and nobody knows who the heck you’re talking about:
    • [ “ummmm the guy whose desk is next to yours?”
    • ] “OHHHH ….Oliver (OH-lee-vahh)”
  • People starting a conversation with you such as:
    • ] “Are you American?!?!?!?!”……. I’ve learned to lie and say other countries to avoid talking about the States
    • [ “Uhhh…. No……. I’m from Canada” (the first and last times I used Canada…)
    • ] “Oh… have you ever BEEN to America!?!?!?!??!?!” (arrrreeee youuuu kidding me?….)
  • When you are eating a traditional dish with your hands like eevveerryyoonnee else, looking up you find everyone watching you eat while giggling; Duh Haley… white people only eat meals with un-needed amounts of silverware, drink tea with their pinkies extended while stroking their curled up mustaches gaggling over last year’s preposterous yyyyyyyaaaaaaccchhhhttttt-club decor. Silly ME!
  • Wearing “shorts” that go slightly above your knee. You would think that Hugh’s Bunnies were on a promo with the reactions you’d get. “Girls-gone-wild in Kenya: WOOOO SHOW ME SOME ANKLEEEEE!!!!!!”
  • Men for some reason talking to you in a HIGH pitched voice.
  • Men thinking they are better than women. Ohhhhhhhh how I’ve realized how much I appreciate being a woman in the United States.
  • Those same men thinking they can get you in the sack because “You’re American right? So every girl over the age of 18 ‘sins’, it’s what you do.”—while touching your knee winking (MOTHER F–# #*Q64 @&*^&^!*^!*^&^#……… *^*&^*&!%@^!&@)
  • You order a Greek salad, and there’s nothing Greek about it. Hell, it’s not even a salad (sigh).
  • Stepping in camel poop at the beach.
  • Having to pretend that the “puddles” you WANT to avoid in the mud roads and allyways you take every day, are from fresh tap water. And if you step on something squishy, just keep on walking. Don’t even THINK about looking down or back…. and stenches you come across on the road, well lets just pretend you live in a community of gassy people because chances are that’s a more desirable reason for such assaulting smells.
  • Wondering WHY (after you just said you don’t understand Swahili), people think speaking SLOWER in Swahili changes your comprehension.
  • Sitting in a meeting at ‘work’ for 5 hours where ONLY Swahili is spoken, and when it is finished someone asks if you have anything else to add:
    • [ “Ummmmm Yes: I don’t speak Swahili(?)”
    • ] “so you didn’t understand anything we just talked about?”
    • [ “no”—and then that wonderful open-minded woman gets frustrated with you because you didn’t pick up on the conversation after the 2nd hour, and your advisor asks:
    • ] “You mean to tell me there wasn’t a translator there for you?! WHY wasn’t there a Translator!!??”
    • [“uhhhhmmmm… because you didn’t assign me one….”
  • Squatty-Potty’s: essentially a flushable HOLE meant to strengthen your quads and hamstrings (a better workout when bugs are present)… and it’s your lucky day if toilet paper is present

Boy-oh-boy so I truly felt bad for anyone who had to talk to me the week of Homesickness!

Content

  • People at work start to know your name (or the sound of your name). You don’t know theirs, but who CARES! They at least said hi!
  • You no longer sit at ‘work’ playing bejeweled on your phone for 3 hours straight. You get to decipher ‘Doctor-writing’ (which by the way is 10 times worse in Kenya).
  • You get invited to sit next to people during tea time. (haha I can’t write this one without laughing at how pathetic it sounds)
  • Someone decides to take the time to explain WHAT they are doing at work, and translate everything for you in the process
  • YOU FIND A COFFEE SHOP WITH FAST WIRELESS INTERNET!!!!!
  • You realize that you are surrounded by the most beautiful beaches you have ever seen, and that going to the Indian Ocean cures every problem you thought you might have had.
  • You realize you are not the only mzungu suffering homesickness or frustrations.
  • The people you work with laugh at your jokes… even if you’re not making one.
  • You find that someone has paid for not only YOUR bill, but your friends’ as well, while refusing to actually introduce themselves to you (**Okay so this is a step up from Napkin-Man, Moroccan-Stalker, and Illiterate-Texter in Nairobi… but still, just go up and the girl and TALK to her—with taste of course).
  • You’ve come to terms that sweating is just a lifestyle where you live now, and there’s nothing you can do about frizzy hair. Read the rest of this entry ?
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Haley: Huckleberry Finn

November 21, 2010

So I wake up after sleeping in… oh wait no I didn’t sleep in because three churches that surround my house BLARE their wonderful off-beat music in the mornings as if competing to prove whose love for god is greater… You ALL WIN!!!! gahhh.

So yes I wake up knowing that today is definitely a day I am going to the beach because it is HOT as hell by 9 a.m. and there’s not a cloud in the sky. Conveniently my friend Katie had the same-idea. So rather than going to the convenient Pirates Beach, we decide to go to a beach further up the coast—a beach that requires 3 different matatu rides, and a total brain diffusion!

We get on our last matatu that we have to take in order to reach Mombasa Beach and 20 minutes later we are the only ones on it.
[ “Do they know where we’re going?”
] “Yeah… Mombasa Beach! We told them twice…..” (matatu stops…. driver turns around)
]”Sooo…. where are you going?”
[ “(sigh…Katie and I in unison) Mombasa beach…”
] “Ohhh… we passed it”— of course you did. So thankfully they turn around and take us there… well no actually they take us to a place they THINK is “there”.

Katie and I get off the Matatu and are on a rocky road, surrounded by unfinished buildings and palms trees. So we just start walking and come across tons of lavish hotels. “Screw it,” we said. “lets just walking into one of these hotels to cut to the beach!” So that’s exactly what we did. Only when we got to the hotel, the man at the desk told us we had to be staying at the Hotel in order to get to the beach… yes, absolutely HAD to be staying there in order to use the stairs for the beach. “… BUT since you’re here why not?”

So we walk into this hotel snickering over what just happened and as we hit the beach side we are just struck by AWE. We just walked into a honeymooners catalog. The most unbelievable hotels on the most amazing beaches and here two 20 year olds come toddling in laughing over the retired men wearing speedos. SUCCESS! We just walked and walked and kept on walking around these rocks/cliff to find even more beautiful scenery where now we are SURE that this isn’t real. Maybe things like Inception are real? Because places like this just are NOT real… We keep on walking further away from the busy beach and are suddenly ALL by ourselves on this never ending beach of white sand, NO seaweed, and a playfull ocean. There’s one shady shack open serving drinks (which we of course don’t hesitate to buy a coke from).

While we were just sitting on the beach wrapping our heads around the fact that “we’re in Africa… on the Beach… in November” (it never gets old), this guy, Abu, comes up to us asking if we would take his picture with his i-phone. After awkwardly talking to him for a couple of minutes, we discovered he is a student in Mombasa about our age, and he had nothing to do. Well he couldn’t be happier to linger around and talk to two foreigners, and we couldn’t find it any funnier. We are CONVINCED that this kid is some “Prince A-boo-boo” because he is of some middle eastern decsent (we think); he’s a native of Mombasa and-YET he does not know Swahili very well (that’s just unheard of); He goes horseback riding on the beach all the time; He keep on saying he lives where all the Indians do (whatever that means); He is obsessed with his I-phone; He’s going to school to try and steer away from the “family business” (perhaps the throne?); He continued to ask if we needed or wanted anything (in a sincere, not creepy way); Offered to drive us home, which was completely out of the way; And well, it made for a funnier time assuming all of this.

Katie and I go jump into the water to rinse the sand off (which is instantly replaced with salt) and seriously it was like swimming in bath water. The water is so blue and oil-leak free, and it took not even 10 meters for us to reach swimmable depth. It is one of my favorite places in the world. When we would look to shore we notice Abu kept re-arranging our stuff and just sat there waving at us every time we would look back. We couldn’t help but laugh at his kind-awkwardness. When we went back to shore we realized that he wasn’t rearranging our stuff—he was just moving it because the tide was coming in. I look at Katie and tell her we have to leave NOW!
] ” (?) Why?”
[ “… because we have to get to the rocks befor the tide does!”

So we grabbed our stuff, said our goodbyes to Abu, and started trucking our way back up north. We got to the first cliff as the water did too. We start climbing these rocks now laughing at how crazy of a day this has been. We also discovered that the rocks were crawling with Crabs! We ran from the rocks trying to make our way to the next cliff when these men came by on a boat shouting at us that we need to climb the stairs and take the road rather than stay beach-side trying to beat the tide.

We climb these hidden stairs that took us to this lavish hotel FULL of retired eurpeans and honeymooners, tables with nice tablecloths, more pools than needed, a club blaring American music, and a fancy lawn display. So we go back down the stairs to the, what now looks like an “Angry” sea and had to climb the rocks and shuffle our way across the cliff while carrying our stuff on our heads. The water would come up crashing against us at times throwing you off balance. If you fell you were pretty much screwed because your camera, phone, AND ipod was going in the water WITH you, and flipflops do no justice for balancing. As Katie was walking her flip flop fell off into the sea
[ “hahahaha that’s a goner… ahhhhhh we’ll just get you a new one!”
] “NOOOOO!!!!! (throws me her bag and jumps in)”
[ “ARE YOU CRAZY!!!!! You’re going to DIE over a FLIP FLOP!?”
she climbs back up the rocks after rescuing a distraught flip-flop smiling…..

As I take a step my flip flop falls off over the edge… and without hesitation Katie now stands holding my stuff as I plunge in after my Old-Navy trademark. We miraculously defeated the Indian Ocean.

What a day, what a life, what a world. This is only a small story of MANY that us MSID students have accumulated while being in our internship phase. Every day that I have lived in Mombasa, I have learned or experienced something new. I wish I could have a video camera rolling at all times, because there is just SO much in life that passes us by. I am living the life of a modern day Huckleberry Finn with excitement, exploration, defeat, troubles, struggles, but most of all… discovery. It is never a dull moment while living out of your element, and I can honestly tell you that there is no way to FULLY explain or even display these experiences without having experiencing them yourself. So I truly hope, that the chance you get to try something new… do it. Don’t even hesitate… Jump from the rocks into the ocean to catch your golden flip-flop….

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Haley: Going to the beach

October 30, 2010

Finally after sweating half my body weight off, me and some of the other Mombasa students are going to the beach… I don’t even care if it is thundering, snowing, or sever hurricane weather. We arrive at Pirates beach after a 30 or 40 minute matatu ride and of course the sky is gray. We’re walking down the entry way and it is just stand after stand selling fried chicken, chips, fries, potatoes, food I’ve never seen before, and essentially everything fried. Then there were also people standing there with scales asking you take weigh yourselves. Well we thought it was like a game at 6 Flags or something where you have to guess a weight and win a prize. So we were looking around and didn’t see any prizes, just the scale. Silly us. NO, you had to PAY so you can weigh yourself (if you wanted to). Uhhhh No thanks!

We get closer because I can smell the salt water over the fried dishes and all of a sudden I see it! The most beautiful beach and ocean…! Oh what’s this? It’s raining…. But it cleared up within 10 minutes and turned into a beautiful day! So we picked a spot in the sand and it was here that I realized that in my fit of joy that morning I forgot to bring my towel. Oops.

The girls decided to tan a little bit and so of course the inner child in me comes out, so I play in the sand. Well this man came up to me speaking nothing but Swahili so naturally I speak back (with the limited Swahili I know) and we have a very eventful conversation. At first he wants me to buy a popsicle. I tell him I have no money and I don’t want one, goodbye! Well no he INSISTS on giving me the popsicle and literally was shoving it at me. After countlessly playing the “No!-Yes!” war I finally asky him WHY he’s giving me this popsicle for free? All he could respond with was YES! Now the popsicle is in my hand half melted. He wants to watch me eat it (red flag) So I tell him that since he was “So kind” I would love if he ate it first (smile). He wouldn’t take it back nor would he eat it. So I told him I’d eat it on the way to the bathroom and ended up chucking it on the garbage on the way back. For all I knew this guy could have been trying to drug me, not happening.

We had so much fun hanging out on the beach, playing with the camels (you could ride a camel… we just took pictures and pet them. I also kissed one) But it was around this point I noticed this one guy just standing and STARING at us, and I realize he’s been there for a good 30 minutes. So I don’t take my eyes off this man… something is up. After another 20 minutes, I’m irritated,because the girls are back to laying on their towels and he’s just standing there. I finally just whip around and ask him what the HECK he was looking at! He said he was just standing there (uh-huh for an hour straight buddy) and after another 5 minutes I told him to “go stand somewhere else please.” It wasn’t until I looked back into my camera that I noticed he was standing there a little before the popsicle man, and well after the popsicle man left. I don’t know if that popsicle thing was a set up. If he was just hoping we’de leave our stuff alone, or if he just was THAT amazed to see white girls… Yeah, and definitely don’t ever take food or open drinks from people you don’t know—that’s just bad news.

On the walk out Lacey and I stopped and asked a woman with a scale how many people does she get in a day to pay her to have their weight taken. Surprisingly she said she will sometimes get up to 200 people. We asked how mcuh it was… and 5 shilings later we were weighing ourselves in kg’s. When in Rome I suppose… or in this case Kenya.

On the Matatu ride home Lacey and I were just joking around and in just such a good mood from having an AWESOME day and just laughing about all the stupid stuff (like the fact that we caved in and paid 5 shilings to find out how much we weighed) when this Indian guy turns around smiling and asking
[ “Excuse me!… Are you guys from America?”
] “haha… uh, well Yeah! how’d you know?”
[ “You’re very outspoken!”
Well that is just the nicest way I’ve ever been called loud. Kudos to that man and also for his recommendations on good Indian restaurants.

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Haley: Project Sunshine

October 29, 2010

Today was Project Sunshine. But to my displeasure that is NOT how it started off. First of all I want to start off by thanking my Parents, Brothers, Aunts/Uncles, Grandparents, and yes even Teachers for guiding me and providing me with the right love and support in my life. Today was an extra reminder for me on HOW important it is to love the ones you care about… Rather than waking up to my alarm, I woke up and experienced for the first time a kid getting the stick and there is nothing more blood boiling than this. (This wasn’t in my home(s) I’m staying at, and this is NOT how the majority of Kenyan Families handle things, so don’t think that). Unfortunately with good there will sometimes be bad… But  moving on!

Project Sunshine! This is essentially kind of like a daycare within the hospital. When the mothers (or fathers) come in to get medication or whatever it is they need to do, they drop their kids off with us and we provide them with milk and cookies and then play with them. The kids are usually afraid of the only white person IN the building, and they have NO idea what the heck I’m speaking because they’re still learning how to make complete sentences in Swahili. So I figure “Hey!, there’s some puppets over there, WHY NOT?! I loved stuffed animals when I was a kid.” Turned out my little “English-Speaking-Giraffe-Puppet” was a demonoide for this Kenyan tot because I THOUGHT this kid was enjoying it but the kid was wincing and within seconds let out an ear piercing scream; at this point I didn’t know WHO was more scared, the kid, or me, nearly chucking Jeffery the Giraffe half way across the room from the explosion of deafness. (Every so often she would peek her little head from around the corner to see if the stuffed animal ceased to be ‘posessed’.)

Other than this little kid, the place was pretty dead. I guess on Fridays not many people come to the clinic because they either don’t have money towards the end of the week to get there or they’ve started the weekend early. So this mean a LOT of down time. I couldn’t even walk around to the departments because even they really didn’t have anything to do. So what does this mean? Ohhhhh it means that Haley got stuck talking to other Kenyan Volunteers who LOVED to ask questions. And not just ANY kind of questions:
[ “So where are you from?”
] “I’m from Chicago… in the US”
[ “Oh… Chicago!…… What country is that by?”
] “Wha-Oh no it’s not a country. It is a City within the US”
[ “Oh… So it’s by the US? Is it nice?”
] “No-no, it is IN the US… like Mombasa is a City in Kenya”
[ “Ohhh… So you’re American?”

(….. yeahhhh this is how this went for a while… it gets better… 10 minutes goes by)

[ “So… you look like you are from Mexico… you know, Spanish?”
] “… Really!? Hmm, never thought about it. And I think you’re thinking of Spain”
[ “Yeah… Mexico is a part of Spain”
] “(doooooo I TELL her—oh never mind)… No, part of my family is from Greece so I probably look like them.
[ “… So you’re Greece? Is that a country?” (OKAY so pretttyyyyyy sure she’s never looked at a map at this point)
] “Uhhmmm… yes, it’s north of Egypt across the sea…… but no, some of my ancestors are from Greece, I am not from there”
[ “Oh yeah!!!! I forgot! You said your nationality was Chicago right?”……. (sigh)

(it was a painful process but I got through it… and more importantly so did she–WEW!)
THEN there was the guy…uhg Do you ever have those days where you just want to appreciate silence or alone time… yes well this guys just wasn’t getting it.

[ “Ahhhh So you’re AMERICAN!”
] “Yes. Yes I am”
[ “So you’re a Doctor!?”
] “Oh no! I’m just here as a student, and I am studying health administration”
[ “… (Blank Stare) Sooooo you’re a nurse?”
] “hm? No(?) okay there are people who help run hospitals, look at the community, look at the finances, construct programs, monitor the medical staff, etc… that’s what I am studying to hopefully do”
(this proceeded for about 5 minutes as he was amazed that you didn’t have to be a doctor or nurse to work in a hospital)

What a day! Although it was slow at the hospital, I was tested today nonetheless and learned that patience is essential while traveling and looking back on it now, I probably would have laughed if I had overheard those conversations.

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Haley: Internship update

October 28, 2010

Today I wake up and at this point have realized that sweating is just something I have to get used to… sleeping you sweat, brushing your teeth you sweat, eating a banana you sweat, typing as I write this blog I sweat… wew it is HOT! So blah, I walk to work and as I walk I also realize that for some reason, kids are taught to say “How are you!” when they see a white person. So along with being called a mazungu, I get bombarded with “How-are-you’s” on my walk to and from work. yeahhhh I attempted to talked back ONCE with a “I’m doing well, how are you?” Talk about a deer-in headlights look. When you respond they either look like they’re thinking “OH-Sh#@… she responded!” or they just laugh at you and follow. Soooo now I just respond in a different language and miraculously they lose interest in me.

So today at the hospital…. I get there on-time and waited… OH hold on I waited some more….  So I walk over to the office next door because the woman in that office just arrived (the same woman I did the Mwangalizi project with). So within minutes she had me follow her and I ended up talking to a large group of people who were helping out with the HIV group for children and we talked for about 30 minutes. They were FULL of questions about the United States and were curious about the status of HIV there. It was really great being able to talk to people who WANT to educate their community about such a serious virus.

Finally, my advisor woman arrives and just kind of looks at me like “Oh… you’re here?” She semi-explained my duties for the day that I was confused about (yet again), so naturally I go to the office next door and clear things up. Today I get to experience the different offices of the peads section of the hospital! I went through registration, where they register children who are considered “exposed” to HIV because their mom’s are possitive but the child’s status still remains unknown, and then there are the children who are HIV+ themselves. Then I went to the Triage department where they take the temperature and ask what is wrong essentially, and we also have to ask the moms if they knew they were HIV+ before or after they gave birth.

The next department I shadowed was the Nutrition department and we measured and weighed the children to check weather the child rests in an average zone on the z-score chart (AH-HAH!!!! I’ve FINALLY applied a math course above algebra to my job!!… and yes, I did a little freak out moment of joy when he talked Standard Deviations). This one boy came in with the LONGEST arms and legs. He was a little over two years old and unable to walk on his own: his mother couldn’t afford to feed him enough causing him to be malnursiehd giving him no strength to walk. So the Hospital provides them with ‘plumpy nut’ (peanut butter) to help. I moved from Nutrition to the Clinic where the people in there were essentially Physicians Assistants, they just altered the medications for the children based on the symptoms and reactions which turns into a trial and error procedure. The last Department I went in to observe was the Pharmacy and what an amazing way to end the day… it was FREEZING in there!

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Haley: Eastlands field trip

October 13, 2010

We had a field trip today for our Development in Kenya class. We drove to the “Eastlands” to see what some people did for work… I don’t think I would have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself. As we drive past what looks like the slums, we go down this road that I would have NEVER have thought to walk down. The bus stops(?) and my professor says, “We’re Hereeeee!!!!!” WHAT?! So we get off the bus and start walking down the road, as we keep walking things start to get louder and louder. I hear this Clanking sound and am not sure where it’s coming from. There are MOUNDS upon MOUNDS of pots and pans, metal appliances, grills… What is all this doing here? We make our way through these products weaving in and out of piles.

The smell reminded me how the monkey-bars would make my hands smell after a day at the park when I was a kid. Rust, metal, and sweat was in the air… the only thing different thought what that I had a feeling “fun” wasn’t involved either… My professor stopped to say something to us, but at this point that clanking was so loud I couldn’t understand what he was saying. We walk into a section of this place and—- well, now I understand what I’m hearing. Just men upon men hammering away at these scraps of metal, creating all the products I was just hopping around. Each clank perfected in making curves and bending it this way and that… I do not think I can even put into words the work that these men put into this. I don’t even think I can describe HOW… But if this kind of work hit home to me; I don’t even WANT to know what seeing Child labor would do to my heart… gah. (These products that these men make are usually bought by lower-middle class income families, schools, and some companies… and they do this everyday of the week…)

When we left there we drove all around and past the Houses of all the different Nations Embassies… Okay so here we are in Kenya. Literally JUST drove through the slums (which HOLY-hell I don’t even think I can describe the amount of trash pile ups on the side of the roads… the pollution factor in this city is unreal and a problem in its own). But yeah we drove past the slums and then all of a sudden, BAM: mansions galore. We just went from trash on the sides of the road, shacks, and man made appliances to a place that belongs in a catalog; HOW does this seem to always happen? It’s like two different worlds within a block of each other.

These places were HUGE! We had fun naming out all the National Flags as we drove by. When we drove past Canada’s: WOW! They had a pool, a tennis court, a HUGE place, and from what our professor was telling us a ton of land. We finally drove past a gate that, lo and behold, had the American Flag. We couldn’t see past the gate, but I guess my professor said that this was just a SMALL building that the US owned, and that the real US embassy was unbelievable……. hmmmm reality just sinks in as I remembered 10 minutes ago the children on the side of the road without shoes….

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Haley: You’re killin’-me-Jaro

October 6, 2010

A rundown of my trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro:

Sept: 24
TODAY WE LEAVE FOR AMBROSELI PARK!!!! It is 25 kilometers from Mt.Kilimanjaro and the park has Elephants and Hippos… the two animals we weren’t able to see our first week in Nakuru. Our professors gave us the day off since every student but two were either going to Ambroseli (by Kilimanjaro) or to Mombasa (on the Indian Ocean; also where my internship is).

Wellllllll the van I was in ended up being the “loud bus.” We sang and talked the whole way there with a few pit stops. First pit stop of course being the super market to grab food. When we were getting back into the van, our driver looks at me and says,
] “YOU…. you must be the captain… the LEADER!”
[ “ehhhh…. why do you say that?”
] “Because!… You are the TALLEST! and the STRONGEST!” (Do you just want to throw in there that I’m white too? I mean hey buddy… I don’t want to stop you there from the obvious or anything)
[ “Oh…. uhh no, just tall parents I suppose! But thanks?”

So as we were all getting on the van, he shouts out to me and says,
] “WATCH YOUR HEAD!!!!! For you’re the TALLEST!” (I slightly groan seeing that this was my claim to fame here… well that and apparently being told I hail from Spain…) And in the process of doing so I whack my head getting in:
1. I had that coming
2. Listen to the OBVIOUS
3. Don’t roll your eyes at someone who is trying to be funny
4. Look in the mirror afterwords because I had black crap imprinted on my forehead for a good couple of hours

Our second pit stop was literally in the middle of nowhere with huts on the side of the road. I guess they had to pick up coal for the grills. While we stopped I got out of the car. The driver points out that you can see Mt. Kilimanjaro….ummm where? All I see is a bright white cloud in the middle of the blue sky. Oh wait-no… that’s the snow on the peak of the mountain. Holy Cow! So while I was standing there feeling like a GENIUS, I feel these little hands on my pants… I turn and find a few Kenyan children looking up at me shyly, wearing clothes that had nothing but dirt and holes in them (you would think I would have gotten used to this by now.) So I smile and say Hi and it was like SERIOUSLY as soon as I spoke you would have thought I was holding a gun or something because the kids got SO frightened that a white person talked to them that they ran away with in a matter of SECONDS! And for some reason, when we took out our cameras, rather than the rest of the Kenyan kids we met, these ones were terrified!

We FINALLY arrive at Ambroseli park and divided up into our cabins. I was rooming with my two best friends on the trip which made for an even MORE enjoyable time. When we got to the cabin we were told we only had electricity from 6pm-11pm (and that went for hot water too). The girls were SO excited that we had hot water, because for the majority of them, they haven’t taken a hot shower since they left the states… yeah. (Like I said before, I’m considered lucky to have hot running water in my home-stay)
Before we left to go on our safari ride we stepped out onto the back patio. I think we all just stood there in awe for a couple of minutes as we were faced with the view of Mt.Kilimanjaro as SOON as you stepped out the back door… (so every morning we would wake up and greet the mountain as such “HEY there Killer” and for the Minnesotans it was of course “OOOOoohhhhh HEY-der! It’s Kiliman-JAR-OOOoo”… we feel obligated to make fun of the upper midwestern accent since our program is through the University of Minnesota.

We went on the most amazing safari ride YET! As SOON as we exited the entrance of our cabin grounds, there was 3 full grown elephants within 10 yards of our van. I could have just stared at them FOREVER! Forget the zoo… you haven’t seen anything until you see these most UNBELIEVABLE animals in the natural habitat. It seriously made me want to punch the people who kill Elephants for ivory straight in the face.

But yeah there is over 900 elephants in this national park, and we must have seen at least half of them. We also saw the hippos fighting in the water and sun bathing. Also the sunset was unbelievable, creating the most beautiful hues of color against the mountain. The shadows and outlines of elephants playing at twilight and the twinkling of stars peeking through… all just painted across the sky in Africa… WOW. Another amazing thing is once the sun starts to set, it goes down FAST! Within minutes you can actually see the sun sink behind the mountains. It was crazy beautiful. On our ride back to our cabins we stopped at the entrance of the park and were greeted by some Masai People (1 of 42 tribes in Kenya) They were dressed in their tribal clothes, and trying to sell us jewelry and other things made in their village… Read the rest of this entry ?

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