Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Well the flight to Amsterdam was interesting! I slept for just about 45 minutes on the 9 hour flight. So at the moment I’m exhausted. I also smell like lady’s perfume due to the duty free shop and my crazy plane buddy (Sarah Page). Considering it was an insanely long flight, we didn’t run out of things to talk about which made the flight considerably shorter. Right now we’re just hanging out in the Amsterdam airport waiting for our flight to Tanzania. Even though I’m in a chronic state of exhaustion I’m still excited for our trip to continue. Hopefully I can sleep a bit more on this flight to make me somewhat less tired! We arrived in Arusha around 9:00 on Saturday night. We then had a 40 minute drive the to village that we are staying at, upon arrival we were greeted with dinner provided by our “mamas”. To my surprise it was absolutely delish. I basically gorged myself on everything insight. That’s probably the biggest surprise so far, the food is absolutely amazing. I thought I was going to starve, ironically, the exact opposite is happening. For some odd reason I found myself awake a 430 AM, and for an even odder reason, I could not fall back asleep. With my dreams of sleep vanquished, I proceeded to start my day with one of the most icy cold showers of my life (unfortunately our accommodations lack hot water). We then had a delish breakfast of pancakes with scrambled eggs. Then we got into our nice clothes and proceeded to walk 2 miles to church. The walk to church was really my favorite part of the day. We said “Jambo”, meaning hello, to every passing individual we came across. We got to travel through paths traversing corn rows which towered over our heads. It was quite an experience as we walked through the village and into the surrounding hilly areas. As we walked we were accompanied by several small children who were elated with our presence.As we waited for the service to begin more and more people started to arrive at the church, and more arrived during the service until the culmination of the service. The service was a great experience, they sang us a special song and dance which they had prepared just for us. In response, we sang “Amazing Grace”. After that church attendees sang “Amazing Grace” in Swahili for us. Overall the church service was an amazing experience that I will not ever forget. When we returned home we then had a Swahili lesson given to us by a local teacher, Mkala. I’m definitely struggling to learn Swahili. But I do know that ‘Asante’ means thank you, and I have learned a few other basic words. After that we had yet another delish meal. And we were off to have a brief photography review. We then took pictures of the area around our house. I got a few great shots of small children outside of our gate. Following this we sat down to another fantastic meal, and after words we downloaded our pictures and headed to bed. I awoke after a FULL night of sleep around 6:30 to start my day. Again I jumped into the Antarctic-like shower, and again I was freezing after it. Our breakfast was another wonderful serving of pancakes and scrambled eggs. We then got dressed and headed out to our community service project. The next 3 hours were occupied by excruciating manual labor! Yay! We were digging an irrigation ditch to supply a neighboring town with water, needless to say this was no easy task. We used pit axes and shovels to dig out seeming endless amounts of dirt. In total we probably dug up a few hundred feet of trench lines. We then returned home for lunch and another Swahili lesson. During our Swahili lesson we actually learned a traditional Tanzanian song, which I will be teaching everyone upon my arrival back in Houston. Then we returned back to digging the irrigation ditches. It was more of the same, but it was a humbling experience. After a full day of ditch digging, I proclaimed that I had never been that dirty in my entire life.On the way home we chatted with friends that we have made. My 2 good friends are a boy named Abel, and ironically, a boy named Kevin. I would have never guessed that I would meet a child here in Tanzania named Kevin! Upon our arrival at home I made a dash to the showers and tried to remove as much dirt as I physically could. Unfortunately, despite my prodigious scrubbing efforts, I failed at removing all the dirt. I scrubbed it off effectively later on. After my shower I headed out into the village to get some pictures. The funny thing was that I didn’t take more than half of the pictures, I let the little Tanzanian boys use my camera to take pictures of each other (Dad I know your heart just skipped a beat). But not to worry I watching them like a hawk, and to see the joy on their faces when they got to see their picture was definitely worth the risk of letting them handle the camera. Only one of the 40 pictures snapped by their hands ended up in focus, nevertheless they still glowed with joy at being able to see their smiling faces. We then returned home to yet another fantastic dinner provided by our Mama’s. Tomorrow will bring more adventure (more ditch digging), as well as memories that will last a lifetime. Our day started off with my group making breakfast, where I discovered that making pancakes in Tanzania is slightly different than in Houston. We then headed out to finish the irrigation pipeline. On the way there I was accompanied by Abel and Kevin, my Tanzanian homies. We then began to dig, I mentally calculated that we must have dug our nearly 1400 feet of pipeline over the last two days. At noon we traveled back to our house to grab some lunch and have our last Swahili lesson. After that we walked back to put the final touches on our ditches. After arriving at home we then were entertained by several traditional dancers. It was really an amazing experience to see women in traditional clothing perform ancient dances. After words Lexi Fink and I headed into the sunflower garden to take a couple pictures, I got a few really great shots of bees in sunflowers. A few minutes after that, some local students from a school that seems somewhat like charter school came over to meet us and eat dinner with us. They’re going to hang out with us a bit tomorrow as well.