Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Iraqw Home Stay

Rafiki, I met the most adorable child in the whole world today. His name is Nova and I guarantee he will be a heart breaker when he grows up!

Today was our home stay day. We spent the day with a family from the Iraqw tribe that most people in this area belong too. The family we stayed with happened to be the family of Paulo, the handy man on campus!

My partner for the day was Kristen who spent the day tickling Nova! I was pretty sure she was going to steal him at the end of the day!

Kristen & Nova
We followed around Mama all day and attempted to help with lunch. We made pilau, which is rice with potatoes and meat. There was also a beef stew type dish and a dish made with cabbage and vegetables. Everything was delicious and there was plenty of it!

Cooking pilau
Obligatory food shot
Mama is also one of the tailors in town! We went to her shop after lunch. She also stocks other things like soda, soap, cigarettes, and other things most small dukas have. I felt pretty useless but she is very skilled with her treadle machine and I will be going back soon to order more clothes from her!

Don't be fooled! The picture below is not a selfie! It was taken by future National Geographic photographer, Nova!
Nova was obsessed with my camera and took at least 50 of the 130 pictures taken today. I would hold the camera and he would push the button. There are  pictures of Mama, mbwa wa Petro (Peter's dog), and many of Kristen (she was his favorite!)

Today was a great day and was really important for me. Until now, I was hesitant to go out into town and interact with people. I thought the language barrier would be too much. (My swahili has progressed little past hujambo) Today showed me that it doesn't matter. The people of Rhotia are so gracious and happy to have us and there is no need to be afraid. I am certain I will now be visiting Mama almost everyday at her duka!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Catch up!

Did you miss me? 
I've been a tad busy working a paper about Olive Baboons but it is finally complete and I once again have free time to share beautiful pictures of Tanzania with my adoring fans! ;)

I suppose I'll start with our traveling lecture from almost a week ago. We piled into the Land Rovers and drove over treacherous terrain and parked ourselves on the top of a rather abandoned hill called kili ma tembo, which means hill of Elephants. sadly there are no longer elephants living there but we did see a pretty chill Flap Necked Chameleon. He/She was rather distracting. 
Kili ma tembo aka our classroom
Distracting chameleon friend
 After elephant hill we visited rice and corn fields in Mto wa Mbu. Some local kids joined us for our lecture and tour. 

A recent environmental policy field exercise took us to a small farming village. In small groups, we walked down the road with a translator and asked local farmers about struggles with erosion, water scarcity, and elephants. 
These kids were shy at first but lit up when I pulled out my camera!
More cuties
One of the best field exercises thus far was poop day. We walked 1.25 kilometers through Manyara Ranch identifying poop. Grazing is permitted in Manyara Ranch so cow, sheep, and goat poop was plentiful but we also found Thomson's Gazelle and wildebeest (my personal favorite!!)
We were rewarded for our efforts with amazing shots of Flamingos on Lake Manyara! 

We were accompanied by a Maasai guide, Daniel, who helped us identify poop. Sheep and goat poop is shockingly similar!

Perrin & Daniel
 Today we went back to the Manyara Ranch poop field but this time we identified grass. Who knew there were so many species of grass in the Savanna?

Being too excited about our grass data
Overall, I have been doing things I never imagined I would do in my entire life. I am constantly blessed by the opportunities I am presented with and the people I am surrounded by. 
Thank you all for supporting me! I hope you enjoy this sliver of my Tanzanian journey!

Friday, September 12, 2014

More Manyara

I promised more pictures of my days in Lake Manyara National Park so here they are! Enjoy!

This Hornbill was chatting up a storm with its friend 3 trees over!

This is a male Vervet Monkey chilling in the trees. Yes, those are his bright turquoise testicles. No, I did not sensor this stellar picture. 
It's nature. Deal with it.  

Pumbaa!! This is a Desert Warthog and he was foraging with some buddies. They're just not in this picture. 

The next few pictures were taken at the Hippo Pool Lookout. There were several herds drinking and grazing. Other groups saw some hippos but I just missed them!



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lake Manyara's Magical Elephants

My friends, it happened. I saw elephants. 
For the past 2 days, we have been in Lake Manyara National Park taking field notes fort our first research paper that is due in 2 weeks. While this was meant to me a field exercise, every person would admit to having at least one "tourist moment." Mine was the elephants. 
Our group was split up into 6 different cars and we all went in different directions. Somehow, all the other cars ended up together and saw 4 elephants. We raced to the place they saw them, and magic happened. 

We found the four elephants they had seen but now there were 6 elephants, including the cutest baby elephant! They were eating and hanging out and not being extremely photogenic, when they decided that the leaves on the other side of the road must be more delicious. Magic. The group was definitely a matriarchal group of related females and their young. I admit, I cried along with 2 other girls in my land rover. No shame. 

Day 2 Lake Manyara: We saw elephants left and right but rarely stopped because we had to spend 2 hours observing baboons. I've seen enough baboon butts for a life time. I was able to take a picture of this classy lady!

Elephants is not the only cool thing we saw. There were plenty of mixed herds of Zebra, Gazelle, wildebeest, and cape buffalo. I can't believe I saw 2 of my big 5 on my first day at a National Park!!

And last but not least, the beautiful Kingfisher that posed for us while we shot him like paparazzi. He was loving the attention!

There are 205 more pictures from the past 2 days, so I can only upload 4 at a time! Other sightings included: warthogs, giraffes, hornbills, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, and impala. More pictures to come!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hujambo Tanzania!!!

I made it! Yes after 2 very long flights, group 1 made it to Tanzania with little hassle. Only 2 girls lost their luggage (including my banda mate) but it was retrieved today. 

Obligatory plane picture
After arriving late on Monday night, we spent the night in Arusha before driving another 2 hours to our campus in Rhotia. On our way we saw many herds of goats and sheep and cows but we also got our first taste of wildlife when we passed a troop of baboons. If you look closely you can see the baby clinging to the mama's belly!
Mamma baboon and baby
Group 1 was lucky enough to get an extra day at camp to get acquainted with town and each other. We explored the town of Rhotia last night and had a friendly game of soccer, which I opted to watch from the sidelines for now!

It seems like every time we leave out compound we are ambushed by tiny humans. Some how I always get surrounded and somewhat separated from my group mates and herded by the little ones. The little ones will asked me questions in swahili and then laugh hysterically when I try to answer or when I try to ask them questions. A few older girls asked me where I am from and how old I am and were clearly eager to practice their english. 

Both encounters with adorable children yesterday occurred when I did not have my camera handy, which was a blessing in disguise. They are obsessed with cameras and pictures! This morning on our way back from our hike on Moyo Hill  we encountered a group on their way to school. This little guy wanted to touch every camera and press all the buttons! He even took off my watch and tried to put it on! It was a harmless action and he clearly thought it was just the coolest bracelet ever. :)

Mr. Grabby
I'll finish things off with the view from the top of Moyo Hill. It was a relatively short hike but rough because of the altitude. We are about 5,000 ft above sea level here. 

Moyo Hill
I absolutely love Tanzania and everyone I've met, students, locals, staff, everyone! I cannot wait to start classes tomorrow and continue my adventure!