Friday, January 6, 2012
As our readers can plainly see, our blog is a bit of a scattered mess. We apologize for the clutter, but we also celebrate the fact that we have gotten anything at all to send to a place where you can see it! It’s taken quite a few attempts to find a way to do so and even in the place where we have managed to have some success, it takes multiple tries to accomplish what we are trying to do. Thus, we upload things and they may or may not show up, but when they do, we don’t touch them, even if they are out of order, as we don’t want to threaten the delicate balance that is allowing us to reach from our sweet and humble campground in Africa to the rest of the world.
As some of our long-time followers know, we are making daily videos. We just figured out yesterday how to get those to post but we didn’t have everything we needed with us to make it happen. Sometime this weekend we will make another attempt to get them onto the blog but we will warn you that we have saved them at a rather low resolution to make it easier to upload them; we have higher quality ones stored on our hard drives so hopefully we will replace the ones we are posting now once we return to California.
One more technological note: for those family members and other loved ones that have communicated with us via our global cellphones, we need to let you know that calls and texts need to come to the numbers that we distributed before we departed. Apparently the number that you see when you receive a text from us is not necessarily connected to our actual phones. Thus, if you text one of those numbers we might get your text but we might not. We are very sorry for the confusion here, but – as noted above – we feel very fortunate that there is a way for us to connect with you from here at all. Thanks for your patience as we try to understand our options.
So, now, back to our day. We got our temperature problems figured out in the night (mostly) and we have quickly settled into absorbing and appreciating the sounds of our surroundings. The morning bells seem quieter already, with many of us saying that we didn’t hear them at all.
This morning started before 6:00 a.m. as the sun was rising. We noticed through some trees from our camp that the usually cloud-covered top of Kilimanjaro was clear and unobstructed so we walked up the road a bit to get the clearest view of it that we could achieve. Hopefully you saw some of our pictures of it from yesterday’s post.
We are surrounded by such immense and intense beauty that it is difficult to transcend the awe that we feel as we take in all that we see every day. However, a natural wonder such as Mount Kilimanjaro can take us to an entirely different level and those of us who took in the sunrise view of Kili today felt it somewhere deep within our aesthetic souls.
Today was an unusual “in-between” day as we are sure what we are about to do but we are not yet getting started on doing it. The reason we needed to wait to begin is that we need to make sure we have buy-in from all of the relevant constituencies in the surrounding area. Simon has been very diligent in connecting us with local leaders, including Council members, village leaders, doctors, teachers, students, local residents and members of the Rotary Club that is our main connection into this community.
Today, then, we waited for a quite awhile to figure out what the next steps of the project should be. A few of us made a run to a very slow internet café to try to get the blog posted and had minimal success. We also stopped at a supply store to get some lumber to build the frame for the water purification system that we will install in Himo. We can’t build the stand for the solar panel yet, as we don’t know what kind of roof we will encounter at the site. We will adjust angles and orientation of the panel on-site and build that component there.
Eventually, a few local leaders arrived at the camp and Simon joined us to help facilitate a conversation in which we could express our desire to form a relationship with our neighbors and to help them complete a project that they have long hoped would materialize. The leaders today represent the school nearest our worksite and the village itself. They gave speeches of introduction and asked us to do the same; then we asked questions of each other that all demonstrated our mutual respect and enthusiasm for the project. As our meeting was winding down, some more guests arrived: students from the local secondary school. Ranging in age from 14-16, they shyly introduced themselves and told us about their favorite subjects in school. They will join us on our project and we will visit their school when it resumes classes next week.
After the community meetings were finished, a small subset of us (the video team for the day, Shawny, Jesse and Lily) headed down the hill a bit to attend a Rotary Club meeting and introduce ourselves there as well. We were in the presence of a former Member of Parliament, a retired ambassador to the United Nations, the wife of the former King, and a number of other impressive civic-minded folks, including Simon. We got to talk about our project, our prior work at other locations and our reasons for choosing Tanzania as this year’s site for our January work. They were very warm and welcoming and they expressed excitement about our presence here and about the project that we are supporting.
The hotel where the club meets is also the place where we finally achieved internet success so we will see how often we can make our way down there to post more entries to our blog. It will be very exciting to see what our readers think of our experiences here so we encourage you to post comments when you can.
Thanks again for your support and your patience. We remain happy and very excited about our experiences here so far. Please keep checking back; hopefully our entries will become more regular soon!