We were required to write a paper at the completion of our study abroad. I decided to write about highway development in Tanzania and its effects on the environment, society, and economy.
Today was mostly a "wrap-up" day for the program. We went over the remaining articles we were assigned to read then talked about our research papers. The articles did a really good job at consolidating all of the information we learned and basically stuck to the ideas of conservation and ways wild life and people can coexist. As for the research paper, I'm thinking about doing a few topics:
- How the construction of the Serengeti highway could impact human and wildlife negatively or post every
- A comparative study on economic input in wild life conservation versus human health and healthcare in Tanzania.
- Something regarding the geography of Africa and how it has an intersectional impact.
These topics are really broad, but when I'm back in the states, I plan to do more research to choose my research topic:
During our discussion, we had the chance to witness a Tanzanian (I'm assuming) wedding/reception. It was so beautiful!!!! After, one of the men came up and talked to us about America and politics. Obama is a key figure in Tanzania and Kenya (his dad is Kenyan), so a lot of people that we talked to simply adore him. He started talking about Donald Trump and how America is in trouble, but that's another story...
After this, we started talking about recommendations for the program. Some things I personally recommended were:
- to sit in on a class at the Nelson Mandela Institute of Science
- to try and recruit minorities to attend this programs and other study abroad son Africa (because out of the 4 years this study abroad has taken place, I'm only the second Black/African-American student to attend).
Today is our last full day in Karatu, and we will be headed back to Arusha tomorrow to prepare to return to the United States on the 13th. On our way back to Arusha, we will be stopping at Mto Wa Mbu (meaning river of mosquitoes) to visit a village (and I don't use that as a derogatory term, but that's simply what it's called and what the people that live there refer to them as) and the rest is a surprise.
When I am back in the states, I'll do a blog post reflecting back on my experience in Tanzania and last day in Arusha. When I'm finished my research paper, I'll also post that. Additionally, I want to do a blog post where I answer any questions anyone has about me being here in Tanzania and I'll try to answer them to the best of my knowledge and solely based on my experience. I'm open to any type of questions! I am also going to upload my higher quality photos onto the media tab later on. The ones that you see on most of these blog post are only pictures I took with my iPhone.
No more adventures, but still a lot to tell! <3
Soooo our tents were surrounded by 12 hyenas last night. They stole some cake we had for dinner and a container of butter. We left to go to the city of Karatu this morning and watched more animals along the way. I was sad to say goodbye to Peter and Lomniak, two of the guides helping us (they were largely responsible for making our food each day and for setting up our comfy tents. They were sooooo helpful). The rest of the guides (Eliza, Joshua, and Douglas) will be with us the remainder of the program.
We were out of the Serengeti National Park around 11 and traveled to Oldupai Gorge. Oldupai is where the excavations and skeletal remains of many hominids were found, so it was like we were where our history began. Here, we learned about the historical implications of the site, how it is conserved, and the future of the site. I'll write down some things I learned in my random notes.
Later on, we traveled to the Ngorongoro Crater. This Crater was created due to the explosion of a volcano from over 2-3 million years ago. It was really cool, because we even saw a Black Rhino (there are estimated to be 40 in Tanzania and less than 4,000 worldwide - it's an endangered species). Once we arrived at the departure gate of Ngorongoro, we were told to roll up our car windows, because the baboons there are habituated and will hop in the cars and steal your things (this was very true because we saw it happen to another individual, it was kind of funny though). I was also mesmerized by a baby baboon, because it was soooo cute and the smallest/youngest one I had seen.
We arrived in Karatu at about 5:00 pm and were surprised by our professors. The surprise was the fact that after about 8 (I lost count) tough days of camping out in the wild, we would now sleep in hotel beds. The hotel,Bougain Villea, was simply beautiful also. This is the wrap-up portion of our course and tomorrow we will be discussing more articles, the future of the course, and our research papers.
Looking forward to tomorrow!
1. We finally conquered and saw the big five: rhino, elephant, leopard, lion, and buffalo. They are recognized as the big five, because they are the most dangerous and hardest animals to hunt. Not to mention that it could be hard seeing them too.
2. So everyone has a weird talent. In high school, I could draw up and name all the countries in Africa (unfortunately I can't anymore, but I'll work on learning it again). I challenged each group to come up with the most countries and we tied at naming 52! (My group forgot Cape Verde and Equatorial Guniea. It was really fun and put in perspective how world geography is relative, disputed, and constantly changing. Africa's countries and territories, amongst other continents, is constantly being disputed, because there is really no mutual agreement on borders, names of countries/cities, etc. (For example, when I remembered the map of Africa, I really don't think there were 54 countries -- U could be wrong though).
3. Oldupai is often called or written "Olduvai," but the first way is correct. This mistake happened because the name was misheard when a Massai informed someone of the name.
4. Many of Oldupai's findings were the work of Mary and Louis Leakey .
5. The Laetoli area is home to over 23 faunal and 29 hominid fossil localities.
6. I believe in the theory of evolution (a lot of people don't).
So last night was very eventful:
- The fire near us burned out
- Of course, I had to pee during the middle of the night (2AM). Not less than two minutes of me returning to my tent after I peed, we heard huge animal sounds (what I assumed to be a lion).
This morning was also eventful:
- There was a hyena like 20 feet from our tent, it didn't bother us though.
- We watched the sun rise and it was just gorgeous.
We headed out to see more animals (I really never know where we are going, but it's always different). Here are my most notable sightings:
- 12 lions throughout the day (which is unusual)
- 2 leopards (very unusual to see, so we are super lucky)
- 1 cheetah (today was just your lucky day, because you hardly ever see these)
- 2 elephants rolling around (it was super cute)
- A caterpillar as thick as my big toe and 4 inches long (it was hairy and scary looking)
- We saw a rhino chase a lion into a tree. Funniest/Cutest thing ever.
So last night didn't go as planned. At around 2:45 a.m., I really needed to go to the bathroom. I couldn't hold it, but I was so scared, because I heard roaring lions all night. I went to the bathroom and survived thankfully. Today we left the Serengeti to drop Dr. Cavener off at the air strip nearby and to go to Seronera (the central area of the Serengeti) later on. Like yesterday, we saw soooo many different animals, birds, and plants. I've been keeping track of what I see, so maybe I'll compile a list and post it on another blog post soon. Around 4:30, we visited the visitors center of the park, where we learned about the Serengeti ecosystem and Tanzania itself.
We arrived at our new camp site at around 6:30 and it was lit (literally, like there was a fire nearby). They said we'd be okay, so hopefully that's true.
1. Dr.Shaffner caught a Tsetse fly, tied a piece of hair around, then made it our pet.
2. We saw two lions today! One was sitting in a tree.
3. We saw a few Spotted Hyenas.
4. We saw an elephant taking a bath
5. I kind of don't like being told "you're black so you're from Africa" or "you're Tanzanian" or "you should know Swahili" or when I'm asked "where are you from" and I respond "America" then they think I'm lying.
6. I miss my mom.
7. We saw a leopard in a tree.
8. They make fires in Africa to control future fires and to stimulate new grass growth.
9. We saw so many hippos.
Today was probably the best day ever.
So today we arrived at Serengeti National Park and drove around and saw some amazing animals. If I named every new animal I saw, you'd hate me so just take my word for it. It's a driving only park, so there wasn't much else. They do have certain locations where you camp out at, so that's what we are doing! Although there is potential danger at all of our camp sites, this one is probably the most dangerous, because they say wild buffalo wander around. Soooo with that said, I refuse to go to the bathroom or anything alone.
Additionally today's is Dr. Cavener's last full day with us. He's been super nice and cool so I'll miss him.
1. Tsetse flies are super annoying
2. I thought we were going to get hurt by an elephant or buffalo. I
3. I'm the type of person that would try to outrun an elephant or avoid it by hiding behind a tree. Imagine the outcome.
4. I'm actually really scared :'(
Today I woke up feeling horrible because it was soooooo cold throughout the night and even colder this morning. After waking up and eating breakfast, we went on a 3 hour hike (I know we hike a lot, but every hike is not the same by far) and saw a few more animals and birds we haven't saw before. One animal, in particular, that interested me was the rock hyrax, the bush hyrax, and klipspringer . Our hike was led by one of the Massai, Toroiya, who lived around the area as a young child. Toroiya showed us one of the caves he used to live in and he even found a lily Tuber type plant that secreted a glue type liquid that Massai typically use to make their bow and arrows.
I forgot to mention, but at every camp site we have Massai with us. Today at this camp site (after lunch) we had a Q &A session with 5 male Massai (including Toroiya) . I really love learning about new cultures, even when it's different from mine (and although I might not agree with their practices). Some things I remember from the conversation:
- Massai practice polygamy where a husband can have more than one wife, however, this system is changing due to environmental (overgrazing) and economic (because of overgrazing, less wives= less children= more money).
- Kids have to pass primary school (up until grade 7) to matriculate to secondary school. However; if they don't pass primary school, they typically won't have another chance to to continue the heir education.
- The women build the houses
- The pierce their is to identify working Massai.
- Their diet consist of cattle, corn meal porridge yogurt/milk.
- Women usually can't chose their husbands.
- And much more.
I asked a question like "What do you think of Blacks in the United States?" and I really think that opened them up a bit. They didn't understand the concept of me being American (African American) and thought I was Tanzanian. We explained a bit and they just thought every dark person (even in all parts of Africa) spoke Swahili (because it's a unifying language amongst most tribes). My question opened up to them asking us more questions. Some questions they asked were :
- how long do you live with your parents for?
- If your parents die, who gets their stuff?
- Are we married?
- What's the temperature like in America
- And more.
Later on, we went to Oloipiri Village and visited a boma to visit more Massai. Seeing and being in a boma just made me appreciate everything I have much more. After, we also had a chance to have a Q&A , but this time we did it with the women. We talked about the same things mostly, but some of their responses differed and contradicted the men's. Some of the things I was told:
- If they're not married by 15, they become less appealing and it's harder for them to get married
- The older women are okay with their husbands having more than one wife, but the younger women do not like it.
- They see circumcised as the gateway to becoming a women. However, the girls that go to school tend to not get circumcised.
- Women have a choice at being circumcised.
They also asked us questions. Some of he questions we got?
- are you circumcised (we answered no and they began to ask us how are we women then)
- How did we make it to being this old without children?
- When will we get married?
Everything was just amazing to me. The collaboration and learning of others cultures is a priceless experience. After the Q&A session, one of the mothers let me hold their child (she also asked if I wanted him, but I'm sure it was a joke) and he just cried the entire time :( .
After our visit, we received a gift from the Massai. The gift was a goat, in which we watched them suffocate and kill for us (voluntarily). I was a little grossed out and scared, because I watched some of the Massai drink the blood of the goat and eat raw parts. They did cook it for us and some people tried it and some did not.
After dinner, some of the students hate some "scary" stories over the camp fire and later on Toroiya joined us and told us some of his own. He told us about a time where he followed a honey guide bird which led him to a pack of lions. He ended up having to kill four lions, but one of them did harm him (it bit his butt cheek). He also told us about one time that he bumped into some buffalo and one charged at him. He managed to hide behind a rock, but the buffalo jump over the Rock and stomped on his head. He says that he still gets headaches and migraines from that buffalo.
This is our last full day here in Loliondo and tomorrow we will be headed to the Serengeti . We aren't allowed to be on foot in the Serengeti, so the experience should be interesting.
1. None of this was direct communication, we did have a translator, Eliza, who is one of the guides on our tour.
2. I really find their perspective of Americans interesting. They thought all Americans were white in skin tone.
3. They were amazed at Sophia's, another student on this trip, hair.
Today we left for Wasso Hospital in the Loliondo District at around 8:30. Before we left, one of the Massai, named Dorobo, showed us how they use ochre (a type of rock) for art and painted our faces. We arrived at the hospital and received a your and Q&A session from Sister Phillipina who talked to us about the hospital and healthcare in Tanzania and the local area. A few things I learned is that pregnant woman and children under 5 receive free service and that the number one problem for kids coming in is malnutrition, while for adults it is malaria, typhoid, and brucella. A lot of women also come there to give birth too. One problem that the hospital has is the overall perception of hospitals from the people. Most of the time, people have to travel hours and days to get to it, because it is the only one even remotely close to their homes, so a result they die. They figure that if they stay home, they will get better that way. It was just a very moving conversation and it was great to compare health care systems. Another big problem is with the animals in the area. A lot of the animals and livestock may carry rabies, so they offer free vaccination for it and sometimes travel to the villages in order to provide service, however, it is underused most of the time.
After we left Wasso, we arrived at our new campsite at Soit Orgoss. The view was extremely beautiful. We hiked and climbed at the nearby kopjes (pronounced cop-pees) before sunset and made a few clips for our African Todo video (something the students came up with).
More adventures to come tomorrow!
So I lied. Our drive yesterday was a little less than 12 hours and not just 3. It was amazing to see all the different type of landscapes just from going from one part of Tanzania to another. We stopped for lunch at Lake Natron in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, then finally arrived at this camp near Sanjan Gorge and Malombo Village. Today, we went on a hike through the gorge and found some old fossils along the way. Later on, we went on another hike at Leopard Gorge but it was more like a rock climbing experience. Each and everyday we get to see so many different birds we've never seen before so it's just amazing. Today is also our last full day here and we will leave for Sanjan Camp in the morning!
1. I received a bracelet from Thomas, a Maasai, it was so nice of him.
2. I gave one of my bracelets to someone I met on our first hike. His name was Kiboku and he is from the Sonjo tribe.
I'll try to update this as much as possible. however, I may have trouble with internet connection while abroad. Stay tuned!