Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Greetings from the Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia! We are waiting for our next flight, which we just learned stops in Rome before going on to Washington, D.C. Fun! (Of course, we just sit on the plane for an hour in Rome, but still . . .)

We had a lovely night and morning in our safari lodge, then made a few stops as we headed into the Kilimanjaro airport. We got to see our friend Kenja one more time before we left and then we had the crazy luggage scramble that always accompanies these trips. It all worked out in the end.

We should warn you of a couple of things: 1) we are totally out of the loop on all news and pop culture, whether important or not, 2) we have no clean socks, 3) we need to readjust to U.S.-style bathrooms, and 4) we got so we felt very at home in Tanzania so -- even though we missed all of you and look forward to seeing you -- we expect to be pining for our African home at least for awhile. Thanks for your patience as we regain our footing at home . . .

p.s. To the Southwestern third graders: Don't worry! We are safe and we were safe the whole time that the buffaloes were outside our tents at Ngorongoro Crater. We think that every time the subject of camping comes up for the rest of our lives, we will always tell the story of that night. The camp, by the way, is called "Simba Camp," which might sound familiar to you. If you didn't already know, the word "simba" means lion in Swahili. On more Lion King vocabulary, "pumba" means warthog and "rafiki" means friend. Now you know some Swahili language! Maybe you should visit Tanzania too some day. You won't regret it . . .

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jesse!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Today is Jesse’s birthday! We are very pleased to be able to spend such a special day with such an impressive person in such an awesome place. We started our day at various pre-dawn hours as different ones of us awoke upon hearing the buffaloes munching grass at the edges of our tents. Some of us could see silhouettes of the animals from the bathhouse light while others just had to imagine their size. No one familiar with the park was alarmed but we, as newcomers, were having trouble avoiding freaking out. It turns out the park vets were right.

Two things we missed in our camp were the presence of hyenas in the early morning hours (chased off by the camp dogs, as usual, apparently) and the visit of some local elephants who regularly walk through the camp in the night to pursue water. We didn’t see or hear either (though we heard the dogs).

We did, however, rise early enough to catch a fabulous sunrise over the rim of the crater. We were the chilliest that we have been all trip, bundled up in every warm thing we own, but it was worth it to see the sky burn orange and blue until the big ball rose over the hilltops just past our camp. A range of different birds flitted all over and around us, including some huge storks.

We started our early drive down into the crater where we encountered a whole range of animals that we didn’t imagine would co-exist side by side in one place. There were zebras and wildebeests, warthogs and gazelles, hippos and flamingos, elephants and buffaloes, medium-sized cats of a few exotic varieties and – perhaps most thrilling of all – a few adult lions. Everyone seemed to be in perfect sync with everyone else out in the crater, with the exception of a few sinister-looking hyenas who seemed to be out for a fight, but who never started one when we were looking. Things were extremely pastoral and serene, but also overwhelming in their perfect simple harmony.

Today’s glitch was that one of our safari cars refused to restart after being turned off at a crossroads, leaving us as a spectacle that other safari vehicles photographed as they passed. It took awhile for our drivers to realize that the problem was the timing belt so we had to pile a little deeper in the two remaining cars to finish our drive and make our way back to camp. Once we were there, the vehicles returned to tow the disabled one out of the crater while we brought down our tents and ate lunch. Despite the automotive problem, the whole experience was exhilarating.

Our afternoon involved a short but lovely walk to Elephant Caves and Waterfalls, two features of a small but beautiful nature preserve just outside Ngorongoro. The caves are actually remnants of a larger cave that collapsed in an El NiƱo year. They are called Elephant Caves because elephants migrate through the area and actually eat the dirt of the area as a means of gaining iron, potassium, calcium and phosphorous. Pregnant elephants are especially drawn to the area, apparently using the earth there as a form of pre-natal vitamin. The waterfall is a long drop that is not flowing heavily at the moment though it is clearly spectacular when in its prime. In any case, the hike is a fascinating look at an entirely different ecosystem than those we’ve enjoyed over the last few days.

We settled in after our hike to our one “fancy” night of accommodations at a safari lodge that has the feel of a small resort. They furnished dinner for us, including birthday dessert for Jesse complete with a couple of happy songs sung in Swahili. We’re taking it easy tonight to prepare for our long trip home.

Once home we need to hole up for a few days in a computer lab on campus to finish our multimedia work. We will try to backfill photos and videos at that time. Also, we will finish our final projects (three for each team), some of which will be screened publicly on the Saint Mary’s campus on the evening of Wednesday, February 8.

We will be traveling for the next couple of days so we will likely disappear from this space for a bit. Watch for an update once we return to California. Thanks!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Return to Tarangire and on to Manyara Lake

Sunday, January 22, 2012

More great experiences but still no electricity. Matt has bounced back and is normal again! Lily dropped into illness mode for a brief period as did Ciara, but both of them have bounced back too. Motion sickness from the bumpy rides might have figured into one or both of our last two bouts.

As for our safari, we are thrilled. Add a leopard, tons of baboons and other monkeys, a hyena and hippos to our list and then be prepared to see LOTS of pictures later.

Tonight we are perched on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater in a heavenly campsite whose only downside is a herd of roaming buffaloes. We hope they aren't interested in us and our air mattresses. We'll let you know tomorrow.

Gotta go.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tarangire Love

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Our safari is great but we are in a camp with no electricity so we don’t want to use too much power to post. Got away in plenty of time to make our safari. One glitch: Matt is now our newest patient. He seems to be turning the corner on the sickness thing but it is terribly unpleasant to spend a safari with a bucket in your lap. Hopefully he will be back to normal tomorrow.

Tarangire is awe-inspiring. We saw zebras before we even entered the gate, monkeys in the parking lot, then giraffes, elephants, lions, warthogs, waterbucks, bushbucks, dikdiks and beautiful birds. We even saw a mongoose. A MONGOOSE!!!

We got hot and dusty but we were oohing and ahhing so madly that we barely noticed. Loving the safari. Loving it. Gotta go.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Marangu Farewell

Untitled from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Friday, January 20, 2012

No buckets in the night, as everyone has recovered from our recent bouts of illness. We got up early today to go visit a secondary school in the village in which we have been working. The idea to visit the school came up in our very first meeting with village leaders and has been discussed regularly ever since that day. Finally, we made arrangements to go there today.

The SMC students were mildly freaking out going in because Jesse and Shawny had made plans with the headmaster to have them teach classes in pairs. No one was totally confident about lesson plans and everyone was unsure about how we would be received in general.

Two of the girls from the school (called Salcayo Mosha) came to meet us at camp to walk us through a series of shortcuts (through cornfields, over rivers, and, of course UP HILLS!). We showed up a bit winded and sweaty but the sight of the eager teenagers who were jazzed about our arrival helped us recover quickly.

We were marched onto a stage in front of all of the students where we each introduced ourselves and gave a short greeting. Then we met briefly with the teachers over tea until we headed off to our paired teaching assignments. Each pair had different plans, most of which involved icebreakers and then questions and answers about the U.S. education system vs. the Tanzania one. Some involved songs or dances. No matter what plans we made, each class responded totally differently.

Some students were shy and quiet, hesitant to speak up for any reason. Others were bouncing off the walls to ask questions about U.S. American history, about boyfriends and girlfriends, about our impressions of Tanzania, and more. No matter what we planned or what the climate of each class was, things turned out great! We each had great experiences, even if all of the experiences were totally different. When the bell rang to start recess, we were all abuzz with stories from inside our individual classrooms.

We then did a series of photo ops and learned about the school’s needs going into the future. Clearly, the headmaster and the rest of the staff hope that we will return to work on a project with them. Who knows . . . ?

We went home for lunch and packed a few things before heading back down to the fence site (our last time on that LONG walk) for “closing ceremonies” with the villagers, the local Rotary Club reps (including Simon), and some local political figures. There was much welcoming, thanking, and praising, as well as a number of invitations (from all directions) to see each other again. We said goodbye to many of our local friends, then headed out to walk the shortest possible shortcut (still about a 20 minute hill walk) for our final time this trip.

We packed some more then headed off to the local Council member’s (Stanley’s) house to enjoy one of the greatest homecooked meals that any of us might ever eat. His family welcomed us into their home and provided an incredible feast of banana soup, pork, rice, beans, spinach, sauce, handmade chapati (bread), and loads of fruit, tea, and coffee. It was heavenly.

We also got to meet Stanley’s lovely daughter, whose name is Happiness (Happy for short). She is 17 years old and wiser and more poised than most of us. She is a great conversationalist and a brilliant student who will go very far. We hope to see her in the United States someday, especially if she finds a way to attend a university there. We hope so.

We said goodbye to Stanley's family and to our dear friend Wilson, who has been with us almost every day since we arrived. Other than Juma and Kenja, Wilson is our most constant companion. Hugs, hugs, and more hugs helped us make our break from him and the rest.

We then came home for the big packing push, as we are awakening at 5:00 a.m. to prepare to leave for our safari. We won’t take all of our goods with us so we have to sort through what we are taking and what we are leaving until we reconnect with the “left behind” bags at the airport. As none of us is terribly experienced at assessing safari needs (though three of us have been on them before), we are having trouble figuring out which stuff belongs in which pile.

On our four-day safari, we are camping for two nights in our tents and then staying in a lodge the night before we fly back to the U.S. Our trip will take 35 hours of travel time so we thought we might benefit from a good rest before we begin.

We are about to shut down for the night over here, as 5:00 a.m. is not very far away. The vets of the recent Haiti trips will be glad to hear that the power went out right in the middle of our biggest packing frenzy. Headlamps were, of course, at the ready.

Here’s hoping we can post from the wild over the next few days . . . !

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Moshi Town!

Untitled from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Well, as predicted, we had another brush with illness in the night.  This time Darcy was the one who got overtaken, with Lily, Trevor and Shawny serving as the middle-of-the-night support team.  Darcy’s illness came and went as dramatically and as quickly as Trevor’s, but we are still being cautious as we watch them recover and as we attempt to protect the rest of the group from suffering their same fate.  We still can’t pinpoint a source for the bug that these two encountered, so it’s a little hard to play defense on this one. 

Despite their recent experiences, Trevor and Darcy both chose to join the group in its excursion to Moshi Town today.  We were mostly pursuing souvenirs (for some of you, no doubt?) but we also liked the change of pace and the very literal change of climate that we got to experience. 

Moshi is a hopping town full of traffic, unlike our lovely village of Marangu.  And it is HOT there, much moreso than where we have spent our time.  We headed into a small artists’ enclave just on the outskirts of town and saw lovely carvings, batik textiles, original paintings, jewelry, and lots of other fun stuff.  We got to haggle with the vendors in both US dollars and Tanzanian shillings, which turned out to be pretty fun. 

Lily is really good at haggling and Trevor is merciless.  Erin might have been a pushover, but Jesse convinced her otherwise.  Kyle got a piece that he really loves and Josh got a birthday gift for a family member.  Amelia showed great restraint but still got some beautiful things and Hilary struggled to find just the right gift for her parents.  Zoe stood firm on the amount of money she had to spend and the vendors buckled under her steadfastness.  Claire and Ciara made their selections pretty quickly, as did Alec.  Darcy kept in motion, despite the sleepless night that she suffered.  Matt locked in a friendship with the artist farthest down the line of the enclave while Dennis walked away from an item he liked knowing that the price was not going to come to the point that he hoped.  Gabe and Scott were pretty low key through the whole arts experience, but they both had a blast anyway.

From there we joined Simon for lunch at a cooperative that served pizza and coffee.  It is clearly a popular site for visiting Europeans and U.S. Americans so we added our numbers to the clientele today and loved every minute of it.  We hustled from there to another souvenir shop nearby and then stopped at a grocery for some favorite items to bring home. 

Once back at camp, we had to put some thought into our lesson plans for tomorrow, as we are visiting a local secondary school and we have been asked to teach something to the kids while we are there.  We’ll let you know after the experience whether the decisions we made tonight were good ones or bad ones. 

We have a lot of organizing to do as we get ready to leave for our safari.  Friday is going to go by much too quickly and then we will bid our beloved Marangu farewell, at least for now.  We hope to post through our safari, so please stay with us!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fence Finished!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We had our first bout with illness in the night, as our construction lead on yesterday’s water purification installation, Trevor, found himself overtaken by some violent form of stomach problem.  He had quite a rough night with cleanup and psychological support from Dennis, Alec, and Shawny.  He is recovering nicely today but we kept him off the worksite anyway to make sure that he gets back to 100% as quickly as possible.  Our past experience in these situations tells us that often when one person falls sick, others sometimes follow closely behind.  We won’t be surprised if we have a few more incidences of illness before we leave, as we all expected to experience some form of major physical discomfort while we were here.  Cross your fingers for us, parents!

Apart from our nighttime drama (which included a visit from the mongoose!), our main priority of the day was to get as far as we could on the fence project.  Based on what the villagers here in Mshiri accomplished while we were in Himo yesterday, it actually seemed possible to get the entire fence stretched today.  We went down to the worksite and turned into a fence-installation machine!  We were moving so fast around the perimeter of the site that we soon realized we were going to run out of materials.  Luckily we remembered that Simon had ordered extra fence materials for his own farm and that they were stored right by our camp.  We made a quick call and Jesse convinced the camp owner to let him drive the extra materials down in the Hilux truck. 

With those last materials on hand, we accomplished the impossible: we actually finished the job early!  For all of you Jan Term travel veterans out there, we know you can’t believe that we are saying these words but they are true: we finished our job!  Early!  We actually finished three jobs (the fence, the water purification system, and the school restoration) in record time.  We even had some downtime that we didn’t expect.  We had scheduled two more days for the fence project, but now we can make a quick trip down to Moshi tomorrow, then do “closing ceremonies” with our various hosts on Friday. 

We then need to make the mad push to strike our camp here so that we can pack it up and take it with us on our safari!  We expect to be able to keep up the blog from the safari, so don’t worry.  Of course, we will also report on these last few days in Marangu so that you can all get the scoop on our farewells from our beloved African home. 

Before we sign off today, though, we must answer some questions from the Happy Hollow sixth graders.  Here they are:

1.     Are you using brushes and rollers for painting?  Yes, we used big oversized rollers and four different sizes of brushes.  If we get those videos posted, you will get to see.  We also used kind of unusual round paint trays that helped contribute to a few more spills than we might have made with more familiar materials.

2.     From Jason H.: How are the local schools funded?  Who has to come up with the money for a teacher?   Great questions.  There are public schools and private schools here, just like in the U.S. The public schools still have fees that are similar to private schools, but they are much lower than private school fees.  Many private schools are sponsored by churches, including the Catholic Church that sponsors the school we painted.  Thus, in the case of “our” schoolhouse, the Church will need to pay a teacher to reopen it.  

3.     From Ben S.: Will you be bringing souvenir machetes back?  Ah!  Ben knows our history!  He must have heard that we brought 45 machetes back (in one checked bag!) from our trip to Haiti in the summer of 2010.  As for souvenirs from here, we have heard several people express interest in machetes so our trip to Moshi tomorrow might be the time for people to make some decisions about whether their family members would prefer to receive machetes as gifts or carved wooden giraffes.  We can’t spoil the surprise for our families and friends so we can’t even tell you what people decide after tomorrow!   Maybe you will see some clues in the pictures and videos. 

4.     From Jason and Heaven: What was airport security like in Africa?  We only boarded one plane in Africa and that was in Ethiopia.  We had already gone through the main security check before we left the U.S. so it wasn’t really any different than what we are used to experiencing.  One BIG difference, though, was that they actually weighed each individual carry-on bag and almost charged us for any that weighed more than 15 pounds.  LOTS of ours weighed more than 15 pounds.  We had to do some fast-talking in the airport to get out of huge charges and we will have to pack our carry-ons more carefully as we return to the U.S. 

5.     What is the most interesting new food you have had?  Hmmm.  The food is very different here from what we eat in the U.S., but not because we are eating totally different items.  The differences are more based in the ways that things are combined.  For example, we had a GREAT stew that revolved around two ingredients that we don’t necessarily think of as compatible: beef and bananas.  Also, there is a very simple bread here called chapati that we love.  We have two cooks named Juma and Kenja and everything they make for us is fabulous.  Lucky us!

6.     We are very impressed with the amount of work you do each day.  How bad are the blisters?  What do you do about sore muscles?   Very perceptive, Happy Hollow!  You have identified two of our most common maladies: blisters and sore muscles (add in sunburn and scratches and you’ve got them all!).  We almost always wear work gloves to reduce blisters on our hands but we still get a few.  Because we are walking SO much more than usual, we also have blisters on our feet.  We use lots of tape on the blisters to help protect our hands and feet.  As for sore muscles, if you were here you would hear lots of bartering for massages going on.  A few of us are actually really big on stretching too, so those folks help the others remember to stretch as well.  And to be honest, we are also going through a huge bottle of ibuprofen pretty quickly.  We think it’s all worth it.

7.     Can you Skype from there?  We want to try to talk to you.  We have turned on Skype a couple of times but because of the vast time difference between us and the U.S., we rarely find people on the line.  When we saw this note from you, we checked to see if your teacher was logged on, but she wasn’t.  Maybe from the safari we will have an early enough return to catch you in your classroom and tell you about our day (and hear about yours!).  Let’s hope!

8.     From Anthony: Do you have any questions about us?  We do!  In the letters you wrote us, how did you find such perfect quotes to match our situation in Africa when we hadn’t even gotten here yet?  (We know that you wrote your notes before Christmas break!)  Also, have any of you ever been to Africa?  Do any of you hope to go to Africa some day?  What are the most beautiful places that you have ever visited? 

Keep those questions coming, Happy Hollow!  (And Southwestern!)

Boy walking home from school during our work day

Epic shot of Josh

Getting down and dirty at work

Local school boy

Everyone working together on the last day of fencing


Our ride home from work today

Securing the chainlink

Wiring the fence

Alec as a human ladder

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brutal and Beautiful

Aqua Sun Villager S3-4 Installation Himo Tanzania from Shawny Anderson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What a beautiful day!  What a brutal day!  Maybe it was more beautiful because it was brutal?  Today was the day that we went to the school in Himo to install our donated water purification system. (Thanks, Karl and Mary Beutner!)

Himo is only about 15 kilometers from where we live, but the drive takes awhile, especially if you stop over and over again to pick up items that are needed at your destination.  We made our way down in the huge Marangu Hotel van that we used to get to Trevor’s birthday dinner.  It is great because it accommodates our oversized group but it is clear that it was never meant to carry such a big group up the slopes of Kilimanjaro. 

Our biggest stop was to pick up a water tank (2000 liters!), which we tied on the top of our huge people carrier to drive it into the school grounds.  As we drove into the school, we saw some of the children in their green uniforms playing on the fields near the entrance.  They immediately started shouting and waving, with some literally doing cartwheels over our arrival.  Nice start to a visit that we knew would be exhilarating no matter how the students reacted! 

The school is attached to a convent that was established in the Kilacha section outside of Himo and began as a nursery for orphaned children.  From there the nuns realized that they needed to educate the children they were raising so they started a preschool, then a primary school.  All of the children are from underresourced households, if they have families at all.  Even before all of us had met the students, we were eager to install the water system at this school.   Once we laid eyes on the place, we were hooked. 

We should note, though, that one downside to the school is that it is on a large plain with sparse vegetation compared to what we've gotten used to having around us in Marangu.  The soil there is a dry red sand and the wind blows constantly.  Thus, it is very hot, very windy, and the wind flings a full load of grit into your face every time it blows.  We were covered in dirt and constantly shielding our tender eyes against the onslaught of the breeze.  Those conditions only served to increase our determination.  

We gathered all of our tools and equipment and brought the huge tank off the roof of the vehicle.  Trevor and Scott were our construction leads, as they have installed three of these systems before in last summer’s trip to Haiti.  The system we had with us was a Villager S3-4, made by AquaSun International.  It is a filter and purification system that can pump up to 500 gallons of water a day of 99.99 percent pure drinking water, even if the source is murky.

The source in this case is a tank that captures streamwater that is coming down from a spring close to where we are staying uphill in Marangu.  There are contaminants in the tank, along with a great deal of sediment and debris.  The nuns who run the school talk about the deep pile of sediment that rests in the bottom of any vessel that holds the water from their taps. 

As we mentioned a few days ago, the school’s usual practice related to drinking water is to fill a huge pot with water from their rather inconveniently-located taps, boil the water using firewood, pour the water into a large dispenser, then ration it for the children’s use during the school day.  They typically boil about 50 gallons of water for their 560 students. 
Partway through our day we witnessed the whole water situation, as the students gathered their clean plastic cups and pursued their small portions of water during lunch/recess.  While they were doing so, we were struggling to overcome the numerous obstacles involved in cranking up the school’s new water system. 

Our first obstacle was the distance from the source.  One tap is close to the place where a new kitchen will soon be built.  We therefore decided to place the system near that spot for now so that it can be incorporated into the new kitchen in the coming months.  Still, the tap is far away from any of the operating space of the school, so we found a plumber who helped us relocate the water and move it to our tank.

From there we had to find a way to secure the tank, which we did by placing it atop a large steel structure that will help to provide gravity-based pressure to move the water out of the tank, whether to go into the purification system or for some other purpose.  Moving and setting that huge stand was almost a day’s work in itself.

We also had to find a way to secure the solar panel that charges the deep-cycle battery that runs that system.  We usually build wooden stands for the panels, but termite worries meant that for this system we had to have a steel frame fabricated.  We thought that the frame would have steel legs, but it didn’t.  So we had to think of a way to face it in the proper direction (north) without just leaving in on the ground somewhere.  (The roofs of the existing structures don’t provide the most ideal directionality for the solar collector.  The new kitchen will have an appropriate roof, so we just needed to secure it temporarily for now.) 

Our best plan came from the creative mind of Matt Sayles, who imagined a secondary surface coming off of the existing tank stand that would support the solar panel.  Once we all figured out what he was proposing, we all realized that his plan was the best solution that we were going to find.  It took another trip to the welder to pursue additional supports, but it was all worth it in the end when the solar panel finally rested securely on top of the new “wing” on the tank stand. 

Numerous other problems arose, including the difficulty of attaching the system itself to the concrete walls of the building.  Though we couldn’t find the hardware that we used on our last three systems, we found something and made it work. 

We won’t bore you with the details of the other glitches we encountered, but we WILL bore you with the overall news of how excited the kids were over the system as it was being installed and even moreso after it started pumping pure water.  Because all of the instruction at the school is in English, the kids had some ability to express themselves in ways that we could understand.  They were jazzed. 

By the time we pumped the first water through the system, school was already over for the day and the kids were nowhere in sight.  Once the water started flowing, though, they came from all directions, got their cups, and started to gulp down water with incredible gusto.  The nuns, too, gathered and celebrated the water, drinking it from actual glass glasses that showed how clean and clear it was. 

Watching the flow of the water is a treat in itself; watching people sincerely enjoy the water as they consume it is even better.  The students shouted their thanks numerous times and the nuns were all quite effusive about what a blessing they considered the system to be.  They offered their blessings of the school, the system and of us.  We told them we felt blessed already to have met them and to have shared in the joy of their school today.  And we do.

We really do.  

 Drill, Zoe, drill!

A student practicing numbers in English

Big man.  Bigger tank.  Biggest truck.  

Did I mention that I love to dance?

Dennis ad Claire on the filter installation project

Let's do this.

Lunch time. 

Darcy and Josh in Gabe's sunglasses 

Gabe capturing the day

Holding hands as the clean water flows

Matt listening to music on the long car ride

One of the children waiting for water

One of the first kids to taste the clean water

Putting the tank on top of its frame

The children lined up waiting for lunch

Rearranging tanks to free up the one we bought for the school

Monday, January 16, 2012

Almost Fenced!

Monday, January 16, 2012

We awoke this morning to a special treat: letters of encouragement from our penpals at Happy Hollow Elementary School in West Lafayette, Indiana!  The sixth-grade students in Miss Anderson’s (Shawny’s sister’s) class had written individualized notes to each of us that included inspirational quotes and words of encouragement to boost our spirits partway through our trip. 

We sat around the breakfast table and read some of them out loud, sharing the quotes that they selected and discussing why they might have picked them.  The video crew from yesterday had already done a shoutout to both Happy Hollow and Southwestern Elementary so their timing was impeccable.  We are happy and proud that these two sets of Indiana elementary students are following our travels and we hope that someday some of them will do service work in Africa and remember their time with our blog as we chronicled our work in Tanzania. 

Speaking of our work in Tanzania, we got to show off our progress at the schoolhouse today to Thomas (the owner of our camp) and to the pastor of the church with which the school is affiliated.  They were both very pleased with the brightness and cheeriness of the school and expressed their hopes that it would soon be full of students.  The priest blessed the school and us, thanking us for our work there. 

We headed back to camp for lunch, then waited for word that the posts had arrived.  The news came in the form of a huge truck pulling up to our gate, with the driver letting us know that all of our remaining materials were in the truck, including the posts, the chainlink, the wire cable that holds it in place and the barbed wire that will be placed on top.  He offered us all a ride to the worksite in the truck and we took him up on the offer.  We must have forgotten what a bumpy road leads to the spring, as we were bouncing around everywhere on the ride.  We survived it (laughing really hard the whole time) and finally got to install all but the last four posts.  Some of us also started stretching the chainlink itself and connecting it to the already-set posts from last week.  It is a slow job but we should have no trouble completing it before we leave Marangu at the end of the week. 

We won’t be at the fence site tomorrow, as we are heading to the school that we mentioned in a previous post.  There we will install the solar-powered water purifier that we brought with us from the U.S.  It is the same kind that we installed in Haiti last summer in three different places so we hope that our three veteran installers will be able to make quick work of the job. 

Tonight we are dealing with our first substantial rainfall of the whole trip.  We made it home from the worksite and the rain started soon after we arrived.  Our tents are holding up pretty well, though we have a few leaks, some of which are evidence of poor set-up technique and some of which are not.  We think we will survive.

Tune in tomorrow as we attempt to perform a water miracle at the school in Himo!


Oh no!  Many of these pictures are from the wrong day but it is too hard to move them.  Sorry.  Enjoy the preview of pics that go with the text from tomorrow's post.

A student's notebook at the school in Himo.

Everyone lined up to get water.


Kids waiting for lunch

The Sisters had the first drink of the filtered water.  

Our friend Samuel

Pull my finger

Josh glam shot

The school under desert skies

Wilson.  Period. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15

Simon's oldest son hung out with us for a bit

 Class Time
Alec got put in time out while we were finishing the paint job

Scott enjoying a fresh cup of Simons local coffee

Bongo drums, storytelling, and dancing with our Tanzania friends

Coffee beans

Some work, some play

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Our late night of stargazing made us want to sleep in this morning but the flow of people heading for church on the road outside our camp made us wake up anyway.  We decided to skip church today so that we could finish the painting at the school near us.  The next few days might be hectic on the fence job so we had to be sure that the schoolhouse didn’t lose our attention completely. 

We managed to take a leisurely start to the day but still got up to the schoolhouse and finished the painting as well as we could with the materials we have available.  We ran out of some of our paint colors and we also need to sand some splotches off of the concrete floor.  Still, the place looks bright and lively and ready for learning.  Thomas, the owner of our camp, sent someone over to replace the hardware on all of the windows and doors and to install glass in the barred window.  Collectively, these are all big improvements that should help the school to function again soon. 

We went back to camp for lunch, then made our way back to Simon’s house for some more swimming adventures, including jumping off of waterfalls other than the one we did last week.  It was a blast.  Simon brought his adorable son Aidan (?) along and we were also joined by some adventurers staying at Simon’s farm who are about to start the hike to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

Simon’s property adjoins five absolutely stunning waterfalls with accompanying swimming holes.  We revisited the one where we jumped/swam last week, then went upstream for another really impressive one and downstream for three more.  Simon knows the area so well that he can tell us every detail about how to operate safely in the swimming holes.  Lucky, lucky us!

Tonight we hooked up our borrowed projector and watched our own completed videos (all of which we are still diligently trying to post – please keep checking back as we fill in photos and videos).  We also watched a dvd that covers Simon’s expedition agency, who will be our guides on our upcoming safari.  The stars of the African night sky still beat any multimedia work that we or anyone else can produce but we were happy to gather in our lawn and review some of the events of our recent days. 

We hope you enjoy them too.  Please click back every once in awhile to see what you’ve missed!

  •  Alec dancing to the drums

     An Avocado tree at Simon's farm

     Simon's coffee

     We finished painting the school!

     Wilson showed us how to grind coffee beans

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Happy Birthday, Trevor!

Saturday, January 14, 2012           

Today is Trevor’s birthday!  We couldn’t take the whole day off, as there were posts to be set.  So we headed off in the morning to finish off the pile that we have and hope that the last few we need would be delivered while we were there.  They weren’t. 

We only had to sink about seven more but it took quite awhile to do it, partially because we had to move some major piles of materials and partially because we were a little slow after our oversized day yesterday.  We got them all in and when we realized that the new ones weren’t arriving, we decided to go on home and eat lunch, then regroup from there. 

Before leaving, though, we did our traditional “thank you” speeches, with the Tanzanians wrapping up the day first and then our own birthday boy Trevor delivering our collective message of appreciation to our hosts.  Each work day ends with speeches like this and it has become a nice ritual to hear what people will say.

One glitch in the day was that a pole we set yesterday was broken off by a neighbor who chose to cut down a tree very near the post.  The neighbor turned out to be a young person who had been an orphan but who had been taken in by a family in the village.  Somehow the village leaders knew exactly who had cut that specific tree and therefore exactly who was responsible for the broken post.  The “adoptive” father had to come and make a formal apology to all of us for the behavior of his household and we just offered our forgiveness and our willingness to replace the broken post as soon as we can. 

Despite this minor setback, we still had a good work day and even discovered a shortcut that shaved some time off of our long (uphill) walk home.  We lounged around a bit, took showers then went into town to celebrate Trevor’s birthday over dinner at a hotel there.  Our food has been excellent so we were afraid that it might not be worth the bother to eat out, but when plates of fried chicken showed up, we were sold. 

The hotel even came up with a birthday cake for Trevor (actually a “bisthday cake” according to the writing on it), which, as we mentioned before, is quite an undertaking here.  It was not the greatest cake we have ever had, but we all appreciated the effort that the hotel made on our behalf.

We came home just after 10:00 and found the night sky to be so striking and awesome that we set up some speakers on the lawn, dragged air mattresses out and just took it all in for the next two hours or so.  There was a bit of giggling and talking, a bit of conversation about astronomy and astrology and a lot of “ooh’s” and “ah’s,” especially when shooting stars streaked across the sky.  It seems like all of our wishes are coming true here in our African home and even though we miss all of you back in the U.S., we remain very happy here still. 

Tomorrow we need to catch up on laundry, clean the camp, organize missing photos for the blog (assuming we can post, which has gotten more difficult once again) and then go back to Simon’s to swim in the waterfalls there.  Work restarts on Monday.  Stay tuned!

 A Chameleon

 Gabe attempting to take pictures
 Jesse taking a break in the forest
On our way to Trevor's birthday dinner

 Trevor blowing out the candles on his birthday cake!
 One of the little boys at the worksite

 Alec dancing to the drums

 An Avocado tree at Simon's farm

 Simon's coffee

 We finished painting the school!

 Wilson showed us how to grind coffee beans

 Two kids by the worksite eating lunch

 Annnnd Pose
All dressed up and ready to celebrate Trevor's birthday 

Amelia and her friend making sweet beats with sticks on a tree

 Nice Hat
Adding a little flavor to the work day with some new accessories

Team Work
Matt and Jackson moving one of the last remaining posts into position