September 26, 2006

Tanzania Pt. 5 - Lushoto

We got off the bus in Sony, a town near Lushoto where a Peace Corps volunteer named Jen works and teaches. She was working when we got there, so we dropped our things at her house and left to explore a little bit. After such a great experience with the Moshi waterfall, we went in search of the "Sony Waterfall" that we heard was nearby. There was a very cool looking waterfall that we had seen when we first got off the bus, but we didn't think that was it, and even if it was we weren't sure how to get down to it, so we just wandered. Finding very little in the way of direction, though, we found ourselves near some workers and Wes where the waterfall was. Either they didn't completely understand us or the waterfall really WAS the waterfall we saw when we got into town, but they directed us downwards and we found ourselves at the bottom of the waterfall we'd seen upon arriving. It was larger than the Moshi waterfall but not quite as cool, but it was still nice to get a little bit of alone time and just sit by the waterfall for a little while. With all the moving around, alone time had been sort of lacking, so it was nice to just sit and enjoy each other's company for awhile.

We sat by the waterfall for a little bit and then wandered back to Jen's, where we sat and talked for a little while. While we were making dinner I started feeling extremely sick, so wasn't very helpful with the dinner making. We had dinner and I felt a little better and we just sat around and talked for awhile, played Dominos and listened to music. It was a very chill night but it was nice. Went to early because I still wasn't feeling well.

The next morning, I felt awful. I got up and ate a bit and then went back to bed. We tried taking my temperature with some tempa-dot things, but discovered they weren't good anymore when one said my temperature was 93 and the other said my temperature was 105.8, which, as I was conscious and still alive, made us figure that neither was correct. So much for those. Finally we located an actual thermometer, with which we discovered my temperature to be around 101, which made far more sense. Regardless of what it was, I still felt like crap, so spent most of the day sleeping and/or lying down.

Then we had to figure out what to do about our stuff. Half of our things were still at Andrew's, which was a dala ride and a five kilometer walk away. I felt shaky just standing up, let alone walking five kilometers uphill and carrying a backpack and a shoulder bag, and the original plan had been to go pick up our things at Andrew's and then go to Lushoto.

Wes solved the problem by being wonderful and going to collect our stuff himself, and I went to Lushoto with Jen on a dala.

Meanwhile, Jen hadn't been feeling well for awhile either, and she called the Peace Corps office and they told her to go get tested for malaria in Lushoto. She met Josh in Ness's house (the girl who we were visiting in Lushoto) and he went with her to the hospital to get tested, and I...slept some more. Finally, Wes and Andrew got there, and Wes expressed his wishes that I would go and get tested too.

To put him (and my family) at ease, I agreed to go, and we walked to the hospital. Upon arrival, we were told that they had just closed, but Wes again did whatever he did the whole time we were there to make random people help us, and they agreed to test me anyway. There was an extremely nice nurse there who told me exactly what she was doing at every point - well, she told Wes, and Wes translated - explained what she was looking for in my blood, and even let us look through the microscope ourselves. No malaria. Blood looks cool through a microscope, though.

As we left, all the doctors were sitting on the porch outside the building. We asked them whether or not we needed to register and asked how much we owed them. Looking around and determining that the person who usually dealt with that wasn't there, they decided that was too much trouble and just let us go without paying or registering. Score!

As we left, all the doctors were sitting on the porch outside the building. We asked them whether or not we needed to register and how much we owed them. Looking around and determining that the person who usually did that wasn't there, they decided that it was too much trouble and just let us go. Score!

September 25, 2006

Tanzania pt. 4 - Amani cont'd.

The next morning we woke up on our own, had breakfast, and relaxed at Thomas's house for a little while on his porch waiting for one of his neighbors to bring over a rooster. We got our first glimpse of Amani in the daylight - pretty. When it became apparent the guy was a no show, we left for a hike through Amani. About five minutes after we started our hike we saw a chameleon! He had two horns so apparently he's fairly rare, too, which is kind of cool. We spent awhile looking at the chameleon, and laughed at its slow, leaf like progress across the road. Seriously, chameleons are insanely slow. They test each step before actually taking it so they look kind of like a physical representation of a skipping record, or maybe just an animal that's REALLY uncertain of if it truly wants to go the way its going. "Here we go, wait no, hang on, well yeah okay, okay left foot, wait, hang on, oh okay..." We determined that it probably helps it blend in better when it�s actually in the grass or near trees, but on the road it just looked funny. When it finally got to the grass we watched its colors change a little bit before moving onwards.

After that pretty cool start to the hike, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. We made our way into the forest and across a river, and just kind of enjoyed the sights and sounds of the forest. Rainforests are COOL. I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually in one. And then, just in case I was uncertain, we saw a monkey! It was REALLY high up so you couldn't see a lot of details, but still insanely cool. There were also so many amazingly vivid flowers and some really cool trees that spanned greater than our heights. We found the end of the trail, which ended on a fairly high point where you could see flatter, unforested land far was gorgeous. As we turned around to make our way back we saw a walking stick insect, a little green guy that blended in at first with the leaves.

When we got back we stopped in town and had dinner, and then I bought a kanga from one of the shops, which is a large piece of rectangular cloth with a design and some writing on it that women in Tanzania wear around their waist, over their shoulders, and even carry babies in! The shop owner seemed really happy that I liked them, and I actually understood what she was saying to me, which made me happy as well. Went back to Thomas's house and I took a shower. This may not seem like that significant of an event but not everywhere in Tanzania has hot showers and it was kind of cold outside as it was, so it was a COLD shower. Not just cold like a the-hot-water-just-ran-out type of cold, but cold as in...BRRR. Made me kind of glad that we spent so many mornings jumping in the lake at camp. But, clean, refreshed, and wide awake, I went back in the house and we talked for awhile, sitting on Thomas's porch. While we were on the porch one of Thomas's neighbors brought us over some sugar cane and cloves! The sugar cane was interesting. If you've ever had sugar cane before, basically what you do is cut the top with a knife, then peel the outer layer down a little bit, and then...gnaw. There's a sweet, sugary juice inside that tastes pretty good, so it was fun for awhile, but after awhile I began to feel like I was eating wood. It was a good experience though. Then we all watched a movie on Wes's laptop before going to bed.

The next morning we woke up early to go back to Muheza, then Lushoto. The ride back to Muheza was decidedly more pleasant than the ride away from it. The drivers remembered Wes and me and had saved us seats in front, so we had actual leg room and could take the three hour ride in relative comfort. On the way back we ran into the two travelers we had seen (and said goodbye to as they took the earlier dala) two days before, and led them to the bus station since we were all going to Lushoto. I had a window seat and so had fun ignoring (studiously ignoring, as they're PERSISTENT) and conversing with the various people selling things by turns. On to Sony.

September 19, 2006

Tanzania pt. 3 - Amani

Okay I will finish writing about this trip, even though it's getting further and further this point it sometimes seems like it never even happened. Like it was all some strange, amazing dream that I made up in my head. But it did happen, and I'll keep writing for the record of it.

We left Andrew's site extremely early in the morning, hiked a few kilometers to catch a bus going to a town that was close to Amani (I forgot what it was called). It was an extremely crowded bus and it looked like we were going to have to stand the whole time, but someone beckoned to me towards the beginning of the ride and I got a seat in the front; not too much leg room or anything but I had a seat, which was nice. (Wes wasn't so fortunate; he did stand for most of it). We arrived early afternoon and signed up for seats on a dala dala to take us up the mountain on a three hour ride to get to Thomas (the peace corps volunteer we were visiting there)'s site. We had lunch and then came back to wait by the dala stand. And wait. It turned out there was something wrong with the van that we were going to take, and they spent a long time fixing it. Finally, some really nice people offered us a bench on their porch, so we sat there, even used their bathroom, and...waited some more. Meanwhile, we met some other people who were traveling to Amani as well, who had arrived later and signed up for a different dala. We watched them come, and leave, as we continued to wait. I made friends with a few local kids who seemed highly amused with the fact that I spoke some limited Swahili, which was fun at first although after awhile I began to feel like a zoo attraction... I was sort of playing peek-a-boo/hide and seek with this one 8 year old girl, and then I talked to her and she screamed and hid, but then finally started talking to me a little bit after I asked her if she was afraid (with some help from Wes on the Swahili for that one). Shortly after she ran away and came back with a friend; I greeted her and ask her name and where she was from, she answered and then both girls screamed and hid. Shortly after THAT, they left and brought a THIRD girl. After I exhausted what little Swahili I knew, they got bored and left, and I started feeling ridiculously tired.

Several hours later, the dala was finally fixed. But still, they wouldn't let people in. First, they loaded the stuff. Beer, sacks of food, etc., it all went in there, both in the trunk and on the floor. FINALLY they let people in. We said goodbye and thank you to the people whose porch we'd been sitting on basically all day, and walked over to the dala. Wes and I discovered our seats were in the very back, and there was stuff both on our seats and underneath them. Some guy said "sit;" Wes and I looked around somewhat frustratedly and said, "WAPI?" (Where?). Finally, they moved some of the stuff, so that there were no longer any things on our seats, but there was absolutely NO leg room. The next seat was about two inches in front of ours, and there was stuff on the ground, and nowhere to put our feet. I ended up figuring out some odd, cramped position in which one foot was in a small hole and the other leg rested on top of the first leg and my backpack rested on top of THAT, and we were off. Fifteen minutes later, we got a flat tire.

Wes and I got out of the van, unable to sit where we were for very long, and paced around outside. They fixed the tire, and everyone started into the van again. I stared at it. "Wes, I CAN'T sit there again." Wes began some fast talking with the workers in the van, gesturing to where they were expecting us to sit. Some of the Tanzanians looked and you could see even they were suppressing some sort of amusement at our seats, because they were pretty ridiculous.

The van driver said something and people moved around a bit. Now I was in the middle of another row, and Wes was sitting behind the driver, leaning forward at an odd angle. We started off again. And the trunk popped open, spilling sacks out of the back. We stopped again.

Four men and I got out to help put things back in the trunk. When I got back, my space in THAT bench had shrunk to about half its original size as the guy next to me claimed more room than he should have had, and the woman next to me was a very large mama with a baby and her knees about as far apart as possible. Two hours or so later I'd lost all feeling in one of my legs and was starting to contract a headache. We made another stop, and I got off to try to regain feeling in my legs. Wes and I decided to try switching seats. It was slightly better in that it was a new position than the one I'd been in for the past two hours, but not much; it mainly just meant that my legs were burning in NEW places now. I glanced over and grinned a little; Wes had in no uncertain terms designated HIS space, and the guy who was intruding on mine the whole time looked decidedly less comfortable. I learned later that that's probably what I should have done in the first place, but was kind of stupid about it.

About a half an hour before we arrived at Thomas's site, the people in the front got out, and Wes and I moved in. Ahhh. I regained feeling in my legs.

It was dark by the time we arrived, and Thomas came to meet us. Somewhere along the lines Wes had made friends with the dala drivers, and told them we would be returning in two mornings. Thus ended the worst public transportation ride I've ever had in my life. But it was worth it...we were now in an actual rainforest.

Thomas bought us some sodas and led us to his house, served us dinner, generally took really good care of us. We talked a bit and went to bed fairly early, as Wes and I were both exhausted.