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Archive for March, 2011

Day 4

Today we went to the law school in Arusha.  Dean Daniel welcomed us and was very excited about the book donations for the school.  Professor Buske then gave an inspiring lecture to the class she created several years ago called, The Law of the Child.  Afterwards we had lunch with the Dean and four students, the conversation being full of memories we will never forget about the differences and similarities in child welfare law between Tanzania and USA.

We got to see some local talent at the outside market.  Beaded jewelry, detailed canvas paintings, and wooden carvings galore.  Due to unexpected rain we called it a night.  We still have technical difficulties with pictures but will give a detailed blog tomorrow after we go to the local primary school and serve lunch to the kids, lay down cement floors, and deliver the much needed desks….possible because of your donations.   Until then!

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Safari group photo

This morning we got up super early, around 5:30 am (11:30pm Charlotte time). We had a quick breakfast of fresh fruit and bread then we headed to the Ngorongoro Crater for Safari. It had rained the night before so there was a lot of fog on the drive up and then into the crater. The Crater is roughly 170 miles and mostly flat land so you can see for miles.

We saw many exotic animals. At first we mostly saw zebras, monkeys, and wildebeest. Near the end of our trip we saw several lions and their cubs. One lion was only 10 feet from our truck, just relaxing. At one point, while watching heard of zebras, we noticed two cheetahs creeping and circling the heard. We were hoping to see some action when the zebras, trying to protect their young, challenged the cheetahs, however, the cheetahs must not have been very hungry and backed off.

Once our visit to the crater concluded, we decided to visit a Maasai Boma. A boma is a Massai home that is made of mud and cow droppings with a roof made of grass and sticks. The boma is circular with about a ten foot radius. On our way back to Arusha, we pulled of the road and drove down a small pathway to a Maassai boma. As we approached, we saw four small children standing in the doorway, so our driver got out and asked on of them where her parents were. She darted off into the field behind the boma and returned with her father. He warmly greeted us and Ernest translated as we asked him some questions. He owned three bomas allowed us to see the inside one of them. He explained that watch of his two wives’ had her own boma where she stayed with her children. He had his own personal boma closest to the entrance. He had seven cows and twelve goats which he herded daily. We did not get to see the wives because they were out in search of water.

We met his 4 children and learned that becuase he, the father, was educated, he was planning on sending his children to school. We were excited for the children becuase it is very rare for Maasai girls to go to school and he had three girls. We took pictures of his family which we are hoping to post tomorrow. We are planning on sending a copy of the photos to them via Earnest. All-in-all it was an eventful and educational day.

Maasai Family in front of Boma (Maasai house)

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Today started with a drive through the city of Arusha.  We were headed for Lake Manyara to see the wildlife in the mountains and plains of Tanzania.  On the way there, our amazing driver, Ernest, told us stories about how the rift

Baboon!

came about.  When Pangaea split into pieces 200 million years ago it created the rift that was around the area we were about to safari through.  Learning about the history of the rift’s occurrence and then seeing the vegetation and animals that made up the mountains and plains was a rare treat.

On the way Ernest shared many stories about the culture of the Masai, their religion and their migration.  Masai are warriors, a group of people that are constantly moving dependent on the lands’ continued resources.   The are (for the most part) dressed in formal robes and carry herding sticks.  They are distinguished by the scars on their faces that they receive at four and the front missing tooth to protect the from starvation should they get lockjaw.  Learning about the culture first-hand, from a resident of Arusha gave us much more insight than we ever could have through a textbook.

Upon arrival at the lake we saw baboons, more baboons, and then more baboons, and later we saw elephants, giraffes, warthogs, zebras, rare birds and bushbuck.   While there a few of us experienced how the local restrooms are operated.  There is a hole in the ground surrounded by walls.  In our experience, there was a hose that could be used to spray the waste (though this may not always be available).

Allison, Prof. Wofford and Ligali, a Maasai Warrior, after an interview at the lodge. (And yes, he has killed a lion)

After a full day of learning about Tanzanian culture, wildlife, and seeing Africa in all its beauty we headed up a bumpy dirt road that seemed to last for hours and that some might compare to a terrifying roller coaster.  The ride was WELL worth the wait, we were greeted by Masai and the lodge owner who welcomed us into a lodge that was filled with furniture that looked like something in an expensive catalog but was made by the locals.  The Oldeane Safari Lodge took 1 1/2 years to build and great care was taken to give us an amazing view of the country-side of Karatu and the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater.  After settling in we experienced a traditional home-cooked Tanzanian meal and enjoyed the company of the lodge owner, Earnest, Earnest’s adorable little girl, and each other.  Before retiring until morning we sat around a campfire guarded by Masai (from whatever might be lurking in the nearby bush) admiring the stars in their full exposure. Earnest explained to us Masai belief that if a certain cluster of stars dropped below the horizon of clouds, then after seven days it would rain. Fortunately for us, the Masai predicted beautiful weather for our exploration tomorrow.

The Ngorongoro crater we will experience tomorrow, and update accordingly.  What we can tell you from the history (given to us by Ernest) by the split of the continents and what used to be a mountain the size of Kilimanjaro sunk into the earth to create this crater that now supports a myriad of wildlife in a fully functioning ecosystem.  Pictures to come of both today and tomorrow momentarily (please forgive our slight technical difficulties, we look forward to sharing the photos with you very soon)

Prof. Buske, Ashley and Salome (Ernest's daughter) in the Safari Truck

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Arriving at Kili Airport with all of our luggage, mostly clothes donations!

Met up with Professor Wofford at the Amsterdam Airport

After a few very long plane rides we have all arrived in Arusha!! We met up with Prof. Wofford at the Amsterdam Airport and Prof. Buske was waiting for us when we landed in Arusha. She was very excited to see us. With Prof. Buske, was the infamous Ernest, who is our driver, guide, negotiator and protector for the length the trip. He is a very dear friend of Prof. Buske.

Ernest and Solome

The Arusha International Airport was not as we expected. We ran off the plane to be first at the visa office to avoid being in a long line, but the process went smoothly. We paid, got our visa, our passports were stamped, got the luggage and we were on our way. They didn’t even take our candy.

Off to bed at the New Safari Hotel and tomorrow we will be on Safari!

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