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Published: September 12th 2010
Apparently uploading photos in a third world country takes waaaayyyyy longer than it does in Canada. My apologies. There must be an easier way of doing this. Clearly you all know me very well, so you can understand that I got impatient an ripped the camera out of the computer and just hoped for the best. I feel like getting them developed here and mailing them to you would be faster... At some point in the near future I will master this process and you can all see how I live.
Hello again friends. It has come to my attention that I have neglected to mention my living arrangements in the fine town of Arusha. Well, our house sits on a hill, not at the top, but a decent way up, and there is a driveway that is like climbing the bunny hill at Mont Tremblant (aka unnecessarily steep for a driveway). There is a large gate that is always locked an a day guard named Doudi, and a night guard whose name I still don't know (sorry nightguard.) There are 2 house dogs, Pretta and Safi, but they only understand Swahili, so asking them to stop tearing apart the toilet paper has its difficulties. The girls room has 4 sets of bunk beds, and the boys room has 2 sets, and then Julie, the coordinator has her own room. Then downstairs there are 2 more rooms that they rent out to other volunteers or travelers. There is also a huge balcony off the girls room with couches and tables, and a great view of the city. That's where we normally hang out. In fact, that's where I am sitting right now. So as you can see, I am very safe, and very well taken care of.
On Friday we had Amazing Race Arusha with the new volunteers. We were given instructions of things that we had to do/accomplish, and it was a race, so my competitive side kicked in. It started with an eating contest of Ugali (a typical African meal whick is boiled water and flour, and then it sits until it fluffs, and looks like mashed potatoes but I can assure you, tastes nothing like that.) and cooked spinach. It was so hard because the ugali just sits in your stomach like a rock, but now I understand why they eat it, because its filling. Like a brick. So obviously I won, and then we had to race into town and finish all these tasks, and race back to the house. And we were only given a certain amount of money and had to speak only swahili. So please picture the following: me, running with bananas and pinapples and oranges in a bag through a town of Africans, trying to get to the post office, all the while locals are yelling at me because they think I need a cab, or a friend, bargaining for a necklace in swahili, and then running back to the house with my bananas squashed in my bag and all over my leg at this point, and then running back up Mont Tremblant. Needless to say I won. Obviously.
Saturday we went to the snake park. *Disclaimer: if your name is Janet Lee, or you are also terrified of snakes, please move to the next paragraph.* It was really creepy. There were also different types of birds, and lizards, and turtles and crocodiles, but they don't let you hold crocodiles (or course I asked to hold a baby one) so I held a snake instead. I wish I could upload some of the pictures, because there is a great one of me with the snake and the snake park man trying to get me to kiss it (his argument was "its a boy snake so its ok to kiss it." My rebuttal was "Its a snake, I don't swing that way"). And then we saw camels.
On the way back we stopped at this place called Shanga, and it is a place where they make beads out of recycles materials like glass. It is really cool because all the people who work there have some sort of disability, like being deaf, or blind, or dwarfed, or physically handicapped. Its a fantastic organization because disabled people are basically left to fend for themselves in this country, so it offers them a place to make a living, and all the proceeds from the gift stores go towards paying the employees. They also have really nice gardens there where you can sit and read a book and drink tea. I saw monkeys when we were hanging out there! I was so excited. They were way more entertaining than the snakes.
That brings us to today. What did you do today Erin? you ask... Oh you know, just a 40km hike. I know, Erin doesn't hike. She likes pretty shoes and driving and not dying. Well apparently I was wrong. It was insanely difficult. It was a hike to a waterfall. and we had to hike up a mountain and down the other side to get to it. So that means that we had to hike up the mountain and down to get back to where we started. The up was actually crawling up, and the down was actually sliding on our butts. But it was incredible. The views were unbelievable, and we got to see little communities that live on these mountains, and have to do this hike daily to get to town. Moses' brother Adam was one of our guides, and he lives on the mountain, so he took us to meet his dad, and then to his house to meet his wife and 3 daughters. His middle daughter Angel came with us for the rest of the hike. She is 6 and can hike like its nobody's business. She showed up all of us. When we finally made it to the waterfall it was all worth it. It was so remote and beautiful I forgot hos bad it was to get there. And then we had to go back. We stopped at Adams house again and his wife had made us a traditional meal. It just made me feel so good knowing that these people have nothing, they live in mud houses with tin roofs, one bed, and no water in the house, and yet are so happy to share with complete strangers. Unfortunately they also served us fresh milk... from the cow that they own... and it was warm.
We got back home COVERED in dirt, with massive blisters ( I kid you not, I have a blister the size of my big toe on my heal. I took a picture for proof) and terrible aches everywhere, but I feel so accomplished and in awe of this country.
Tomorrow placement starts. I can't wait to work with these kids!!!
Love and miss you all!!!!!
xoxo - Erin
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