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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Kwa Heri Tanzania, nimekukosa! (Goodbye Tanzania, I will miss you!)

Time has a habit of slipping through my fingers, like sand through holes in a table. But that’s how life is. I think that I’m young now, but tomorrow I will wake up in the body of an old man; balding like my father. It’s hard to identify where the years of life pass to, but I have learned that if you live everyday with intention, laughter, and peace then you will never have regrets. Life can always be exciting and inspiring, and it is corrupt to live a single day without an appreciation for what you are doing, and an acknowledgment of how it benefits your neighbor. I know that if I lived my life the way I have these past two months, then I would grow into an old man with a face full of smile wrinkles. Nothing but love has permeated my life lately, and I wake up every morning so appreciative of the opportunities I have been blessed with. But alas, time has continued to pass steadily.

Before I have hardly time to blink it’s been 8 weeks since I arrived in E. Africa. These last ten days have truly been a roller coaster, full of “hellos” and “goodbyes”; departing from old friends, and meeting new ones. Let me pick up where I left off. I returned one night from visiting the home of Askari Bura, full of his love for family. It was so sad to debrief with Bura after our visit. So many times he asked me what I thought of his home and family; as if my opinion was the most important thing in the world to him. He apologized profusely for the overall crudeness of his house (although I thought it was very nice for having mud walls), and he was adamant on telling me that when he has enough money he will build a large and suitable house for his family. I will miss him.
 What lay ahead was a four day gauntlet of assignments and presentations which upon completion would mark the midway point of my academic experience in Africa. Therefore, I will not write extensively about the days Monday, Oct 18- Thursday, Oct 21. However, below you can see a poster which I made and presented to the faculty. It addresses the density, dispersal, and habitat preferences of large mammal species in Tarangire National Park, TZ. We gathered data over a month ago, and since then I have been analyzing the data and constructing this poster, I hope it makes sense…

My final poster for Wildlife Management. If it is difficult to read and you want a copy, just let me know and I'll send you one.

 I cannot break up my last few days in Tanzania by day, because it was honestly a blur. But I will do my best to recall everything important. After I finished all assignments and presenting my poster, I had a few days before my departure to Kenya. I spent this time exploring Rhotia a bit more than I had- going through side streets I had never been on- shooting some pool with local boys at one of the “bars” (although I never drank anything there).

One morning a few of us revisited the orphanage in Mtu Wambu where I had previously visited and installed a see-saw. I was so happy to find that it is still holding strong, and the children will still excited about playing with it. I did not stay too long, but we had time to play soccer, draw/color, and teach the children how to play “Duck Duck Goose” which we renamed “Tembo, Tembo, Simba” (Elephant, Elephant, Lion via Swahili). In return they taught us a song and dance called “Mimi na rafiki yangu” (Me and My Friends). We left shortly after the children ate some chocolate and then had a sugar crash, as they fell asleep in our arms after demanding to be picked up. Sadly we learned that the director) of the orphanage (which we previously met) died in a car crash only a few days prior to our visit. It was a shattering wake up call for me about just how valuable and disposable life is. Just to be alive right now is a gift, and I have learned in TZ to live everyday like it is your last. If you ever find yourself West of Arusha, Tanzania in Mtu Wambu, make sure you stop at the “Watoto Care” Orphanage then call me to report the status of their see-saw.
On this note, I now want to talk about the most positive experience I have had during in Tanzania. As I have discussed before, I have established a relationship with the nearby Primary School, especially with the headmistress Mrs. Paulina. I am proud of setting up and attending nine successful visits to the school to read and play soccer. It has been amazing to monitor the progress of the students. Their reading and proficiency in English has become very impressive, their vocabularies are expanding, and they are learning songs I don’t even know like “When the Saints Go Marching In”. I taught the class “Row Row Row Your Boat” and a few others. Just before we departed for Kenya, all of our 28 students came together with their teachers and about 30 of their Level 6 students to build a suitable kitchen for the school. As I have mentioned before, the school has been cooking in a hole everyday for their 300+ students. Ever since I met with the school for the first time in September, it has been my vision and dream to get them out of their hole and into a suitable kitchen. After fundraising (500$ U.S.), visiting other kitchens in nearby schools, orphanages, and NGO’s, and finding a fundi (skilled worker) we were able to move forward with this vision. After a hard day’s work we finished laying a concrete floor for two rooms (about 10’x10’) and leaving the school with enough money and materials to customize their stove design, and fix holes in the roof and walls of their kitchen. It was a life changing project to see through. The WFF (World Food Fund) and local gov’t of TZ have wanted to get them into a real kitchen for over a year, but have failed to act. The school was so appreciative of our students’ actions in helping them, and especially my relationship with them. As I crawled about on all fours, laying concrete, Mrs. Paulina asked me in Swahili if I was helping them build a kitchen, or if I was building my bedroom. They really wanted me to stay, but were ok with me leaving as long as I promised that I would try my best to come back and teach for them someday…this has sprouted into another dream of mine. My relationship with the school has evoked a confidence in me I have never known before. I know now that I can really make a difference in communities where help is needed, and I have learned the most sensitive and appropriate way to go about making this change. I am a different student, worker, and person because of my relationship with the Akka Primary School in Moyo Hill, Tanzania. If you are ever there, please greet them for me, peek your head into their kitchen (and like with the orphanage) call and tell me how they are doing. THANKSSS!!!!

Reading with 4th Grade Students.

Structure of the Kitchen we Remodeled. The pile of rocks were used to level the floors.

A kitchen in the nearby town of Kilima Tembo which we modeled our kitchen design after.

SFS Student Sign-Up Sheet I created for Community Service Day.

I spent the next day packing all of my belongings, cleaning, and preparing to leave for Kenya. I cannot believe how difficult it was to say goodbye to all the TZ staff. I have become so close to all of them; it never really sunk in that I would leave them in only a few hours. From the laughter of Bura, to the smile of Safari, conversations with Paulo, horseplay with Petro and Gerard, joking with Elia, roughhousing with Fuso, and everyone else- I will miss them all; they all of changed my life, and they know it.

Paulo outside of our gate- just fooling around.

One thing I did not expect to resonate with while in TZ was the politics. Since independence in the early 1970’s, one party (CCM) has ruled, they are essentially the equivalent of the Republican Party in the U.S. The current president Kikwete is up for re-election with CCM, but is being challenged by the Democratic (Chadema) candidate named Dr. Wilbrod Slaa. Over the past 35 years CCM has not really made many changes for TZ, and especially have not made a legitimate effort to pull TZ out of poverty. For example, it is known that Kikwete has spent $50 U.S. Million on his current campaign, while it would only take $100 U.S. Million to make Secondary School affordable for all students. He has also spent money donated from foreign aid on his election campaign. Although they have never been in power, Chadema promises more affordable health care and free education for all young Tanzanians. It is impossible to be sure if they have the resources and know how to fulfill these promises, but it is clear that Tanzania is in need of political change. Unfortunately, political lines are drawn very deep in TZ, and it is expected that you vote along family lines (if your parents support CCM, you must as well). Bura, Safari, and Paulo are all very passionate about supporting Chadema and change, to the point that when we watched a YouTube video of Dr. Slaa, Bura jumped up and down in excitement. The elections for the new president will be on October 31, and I think CCM will take it (damnit). All I can say is SEMA VEMA CHADEMA!!!!!!
The Chadema Flag,

Too quickly I sat in a land cruiser cramped with overflow luggage, and students on our way to Kenya. We passed through Rhotia, Kilima Tembo, Mtu Wambu, Arusha, and headed north toward Kenya. Finally arriving at the border, which was basically a sketchy pole locals ignored, we sat and sat. It took several hours to process all of our info, but soon we were in Kenya, passing through Kimana on our way to our new field station. We arrived at KBC field station, and were graciously greeted by the staff and current Kenya students. We spent the next day and a half settling in, and partaking in icebreaker games to get to know the other group. The camp was very very full with people, and thankfully we soon had the camp to ourselves. We have now had the camp to ourselves for two days. Yesterday we met with our new professors, and learned about the main issues in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystems. We were also introduced to the main Directed Research topics, which will begin in mid November (much more to come on DR later). After class we traveled to a Maasai boma, and watched the Mama’s sing and dance for us. In equality, we performed the Hokey Pokey for them…I’m not sure if it was a fair trade. I walked around their Boma, and being talking in Swahili with two Maasai teenagers. Incredibly, they only have 25 people in their Boma, but host 150 cattle plus some goats. I was proud to have a 20 minute conversation with them all in Kiswahili without any struggles (I have continued to improve). Swahili is a beautiful language, and I really hope to continue practicing it when I return home in January.
I am excited to begin exploring everything Kenya has to offer; the land, animals, culture, and people differ from what I experienced in Tanzania. I am ready to accept everything here with an open heart and open mind. In 7-8 weeks I will be done with my research, and will have a much broader understanding for the S. Kenya (Amboseli-Tsavo) ecosystems, and the issues in this region. Of course, I will relay everything along the way….right here.
Until then.
Peace, Love, and Happiness
Seth Norell Bader- a voice of adventure

P.S. I am saddened to tell you that both (my go-to and backup) cameras broke a few days ago, therefore I have not been able to take pictures. I am hoping to fix at least one within a couple of days, but if it takes a while then a few of my upcoming blogs may be lacking pictures- my apologies.

Also, sorry for this late post. Internet in Kenya is VERY SPOTTY!!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Safiri kwa Serengeti. (Journey to Serengeti)

My oh my how long it seems since I posted my last blog. As always a lot has happened in the past 9 days: and I will do my best to recall everything. Internet has been very spotty here lately, so I'm finally lucky enough to now have the time, and internet to upload some pictures.

Here we go...

Friday, October 8
Went to the monthly market in Karatu for a few hours. It was one of the most ridiculous experiences of my life to pull up to what looked like a circus on the side of the road. Tents set up, cattle, sheep, and goats running in and out of pens. A huge crowd of at least 10,000 people with all sorts of junk lain out to sell. Radios, broken tvs, clothing, building materials; anything you wouldn't possibly want to buy...It was quite overwhelming to walk through the crowd- constantly approached by different vendors who were convinced I would buy something from them. I never did. It became frustrating at times...how many times to I need to tell someone I don't need a boombox before they understand. But it is understandable, given the circumstances. It was quite humorous though to sift through piles of clothing, most of which had been imported from the U.S. Value Village and Goodwill Tags hung from shirts and pants, and I could only shake my head and smile as I walked past and refused the vender's offer to buy some "real African clothes" Later we returned to Moyo Hill and spent the day packing and preparing for our expedition to Serengetti...

Saturday, October 9
5:30 A.M. came quickly. Soon we were loaded up and on the road. We passed through Karatu, Ngoro. Conservaion Area, and up the caldera walls of Ngorongoro. Heading Northwest from NCA we approached Serengeti. Before reaching the park we made a quick detour to Oldupai (commonly mistaken as Olduvai) Gorge, which is a famous archeological site. Lewis and Mary Leaky spent a great amount of time (along with other excavators) in the 1940s, 50s, 60s, and 70s looking for ancient human remains. Such hominids as Homo habilis, Astr. bosei, and Astr. afarensis (more commonly known as Lucy) were all discovered in Oldupai Gorge. It is also nearby to the famous site of Laetoli, where ancient human footprints were found, and dated to over 1 million years old. What else can I say but it was amazing to visit the birthplace of mankind, and think about how far and long it has taken humanoids to reach the Americas. It's been a long time line of evolution and change for all of us (more than 2 million years), but when put on a time line of the earth's history, we are barely a snapshot. I once read that if humans were placed on a time line of the earth, and if that time line was scaled into the length of 1 year, all of human existence would occupy the final two seconds at 11:59 P.M. on New Years Eve. We are still newborns on this planet, it's important to remember this fact.

Soon we were back on a very dusty road headed toward the gates of Serengeti. Now I must preface this next statement by saying that I have driven a long ways in my life (I drove over 5,000 miles just this summer), on nice roads, bad roads, off roads, etc......and those of you from E. Washington really understand what I mean. But, the drive into SNP was on the worst road I have ever experienced. It is essentially a washboard for 150 km, and our Jeeps jumbled along painfully. Inside the car it felt like being in a combination of a washing machine and a teeter totter; thrown in every possible direction there was no concern for your belongings or your neighbor. 9 hours after leaving Moyo Hill we entered the plains of the Serengetti. Driving through the southeastern part of the park we took a game drive until we reached our camp site, located essentially in central Serengeti a few km away from the Park Headquarters.

Sunday Oct 10- Tuesday Oct 12
What more in life could be better than three full days spent in the Serengeti? Every day we had a combination of class lectures, game drives, and academic field research. We had two lectures at a research center (where my wildlife management professor Dr. Bernard Kissui did lion research for many years); one on diseases in mammals and another on plant/herbivore interactions. We also had a lecture at a Park Station on Tourism and its effect on the Serengeti ecosystem. One interesting thing I learned is that even in the midst of a severe American recession, tourism is still rocketing upwards in E. Africa and in the N. Tanzanian circuit. I found this impressive, especially when many American tourism operators have been quickly going out of business in the past 5 years.

Every day we went out, rain or shine (and trust me it rained). Our first night we went out on an evening game drive, and the next morning we awoke early and left our camp just as the sun was rising over the savanna. What a treat to experience the sun awake and give life and light to the plains of the Serengeti. Something came alive in me this morning. I am inspired and awestruck by the sheer beauty of this place. Animals seen in Serengeti were for the most part similar to everything I have seen thus far; zebra, giraffe, hippo, elephants (I find it funny that I am getting used to watching herds of elephants regularly), cheetah, hyena...a few newcomers to the list were crocodile and a serval cat. We also got to visit a very interesting cultural site called "Gong Rock". It is essentially a huge rock island/outcropping which rises high above the Serengeti Floor. Mwamhanga told us that traditionally, Maasai used to stand and play on the rock to create musical resonances which could be heard many miles away, and was used as a summons. He also stated that Gong Rock is one of the birthplaces of the Maasai belief that God granted them stewardship over all cattle of the world. Here are a few highlights from our game drives.
Huge Bull Elephant. Submissive Display.

Gong Rock. Overlooking Serengeti Plains.

Hippo. Territorial Display.

Solitary Female Lion.

We had two research/lab exercises for Wildlife Ecology, one focusing on Bird Species in different habitats, and the other sampling six different antelope species/of the like (zebra, grants gazelle, thomsons gazelle, hartebeest, topi, and reedbuck). I particularly enjoyed the Bird exercise- it was exceptionally challenging. Not knowing any of the bird species or common families in this area it was extremely difficult to identify birds, especially considering the sheer quantity of them!

Camp was pretty sweet actually. We stayed away from all of the extravagant tourist lodges and instead pitched our tents next to a small roofed enclosure which became our kictchen. Two of our kitchen staff (arthur and manseuta) came along to help cook meals. The lovable Askari Bura came to protect the camp at night, along with all of our professors, Charles, Wilson (Fuso), and Supaya the excursion coordinator. After class/returning from a safari I would typically quickly grab a cup of Chai (it has become addicting) and listen to the Kiswahili version of BBC with Supaya, Mwamhanga, and Yohanna. Nights were the best around camp. As soon as it gets dark in the Serengeti an elaborate assortment of animals will surely appear. Through our camp alone we had zebra, hippo, hyena, jackal, and lion come through.....kichaa (crazy!) One night a few of us stayed awake late in a car to watch as hyena and jackal came into our camp to sort through our garbage. All the while, Askari Bura tends to a fire to disperse curious predators, and protects the camp with not but a three foot wooden stick (fembo). We were lucky to recruit Askari Elias, who worked for SNP and carried a rifle.

Thunderstorms were frequent during our visit; we are coming into the rainy season now, and its shaping up to be a good one. Our first night in camp we were sprinkled on a bit, but mostly watched huge thunderheads from 10-15 miles off cast lightning and rain onto the plains (in Maasai the word "serenget" means land of endless sight) and I remember falling asleep in my tent listening to rain tap at me on our rain fly.
On Monday I distinctly remember falling asleep for a peacful afternoon nap, and awaking to absolute chaos. Tent wobbling, rain splattering, girls screaming, "SETH WAKE UP!! WE NEED TO MOVE THE TENT FROM THE RIVER" A torrential downpour appeared and we were quickly sinking. In minutes a river had formed- what once was a dusty and suffocating land became a floodplain, and our tent was directly in the line of fire. Water crashed upon our tent for an hour or two, and all we could do was wait. That night I watched heat lightning fill the air- reminiscent of summers spent in North Dakota (for those of you from NoDak I want to point out that the landscape of the Serengeti is identical to that of southern and eastern ND especially. Hills fall and rise, fields are plenty, trees are sparse, and land meets the skyline decades away from you, I felt completely at home.

Beauty After a Storm: Sunrise in Serengeti

Wednesday, October 13 
Woke early to pack up camp and hit the dusty road again. We took a 2 hour game drive heading southeast out of the park, giving me just enough time to appreciate the landscape once again, and say goodbye. One very interesting thing I saw was a large male adult giraffe which had a wire tangled around its neck, body and legs- poachers. Obviously, hunting and especially poaching is illegal in SNP, but the practice persists because of the economic benefits. This giraffe had been at one time snared by a wire trap either set in the trees or bushes, but was strong enough to break the wire's fibers and escape. In one of our Wildlife Management lecturers we learned all about bush meat harvesting in E. Africa. A new survey released states that only 25% of bush meat harvesting is occurring to meet subsistence needs, most are harvesting these animals as (usually a second) source of income. Animals are continually being killed because of increased human wildlife conflict (lions preying on cattle, etc...), and illegal ivory trade continues to this day (although these days elephants are much less threatened than rhinos).

After several more bumpy hours in the car we finally arrived back at Moyo Hill. I was excitedly greeted by Safari and Paulo (two of the staff), and we sat, drank chai, and told stories from Serengeti. We have been having an insane problem with jiggers (small fleas which burrow into your skin and lay eggs), and they just sprayed the camp as an attempt to eradicate them. Some students and staff have had up to 15 jiggers, I have been so lucky to only have 10. They burrow very deep into your foot usually, and the only way to get them out is with a needle which is a fairly unpleasant experience. Hopefully the worst is over, but we'll see.

Thursday Oct 14- Saturday Oct 16
Returning to Moyo came with the realization that our time in Tanzania is coming to an end (in 9 days I will be traveling into Kenya) and that we have tons of projects to finish before that time. These days have been mostly spent finishing a bird survey lab, mammal identification sheet, home stay report, an ungulate association lab, and a paper on gender roles in E. African tribes.

On Saturday we traveled into Karatu and visited an art gallery/cafe. It was an absolutely necessary break from studying, and an impassable opportunity to sample some African wine and ice cream.

In between the chaos of school and traveling, I have taken a few moments to myself to gather my thoughts, and I have put them down on paper as a song; it reflects how I have felt about my 1.5 months in Africa. Here it is, I haven't named it yet...if anyone wants to I would appreciate it.

Untitled Song:
Music and Lyrics by Seth Norell Bader

Since I was a little boy, I've laid in my bed 
and imagined a land where the sun shines when its dark 
where I'm dreaming of Africa. It's calling me home

Two months in Tanzania, I have come to see 
how people can be so content with simplicity 
a standard of living does not dictate a quality of life

And all that's been asked of me are pens and pencils 
and a little extra money. But it's a necessity to but some vegetables 
to feed a starving family.

When I look into the eyes of the youth, 
I see a burning for peace, love, and happiness. 
From elders I have learned lessons, lessons about 
need for a family and 
the meaning of fraternity, 
the passion of resiliency, 
independence from an economy, 
but most importantly, I've learned of love.

I don't want to loose it, I don't want to forget, 
about the lack of money, and happiness excess

I know where I can find it again, I know where I can find it again. 
Now I know I'll come back again. 
Here I know I have a friend, 
walk through the door and see you again 
I won't forget that promise I made, I'll see you soon again my friend.

Aaron, Wilson, Aziz, and Me

Sunday October 17
Today was a non program day. I traveled with a few other students to the home of Askari Bura and met his family. It was a very long drive about 30km south of Karatu. Bura is one of our guards at the camp and we have become great friends. He knows barely any English, so he has always been happy to practice swahili with me. He is a beautiful man who constantly laughs, and finds the most creative ways to connect with American student (usually through teaching songs in Kiswahili or doing his famous animal impressions). We met his wife, mother, and four children. They were an adorable family, and their love for each other was very evident. We sat in their home, they were kind enough to give us soda, and Bura spoke about how he wants to work hard so he can make enough money to build a larger house for his family. He is an amazing family man, and I look up to him immensely.I am really going to miss him when I leave for Kenya, but he has made me promise never to forget him.

Afterward we traveled to a place called "Gibbs Farm" in Karatu which has a giant vegetable garden and produces a great amount of coffee. We had a tour of the farm, then relaxed and I sampled their chai and spoke with a carver for a while. I must finish this blog now. With only a few days left here time is short and I have many assignments to finish.

Thank you for reading.

Sending Peace and Love back home
Seth Norell Bader- a voice of adventure

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Poa Kichizi Kama Ndizi Ndani Ya Friji" (Cool Like a Banana in Your Fridge)

Once again I find myself writing this blog amidst a very busy life! Its been about a week since my last posting, so I think I'll just take things day by day- just how I try to take life

Absolutely incredible day, what more can I say but WOW!!!! We woke early and drove up to the highlands of Ngorongoro Crater, the largest caldera (remains of an extinct volcano) in the world, so the name Ngoro. Crater is actually a misnomer. Its not a crater at all; but I'll tell you something, when you get there it feels like you are on the moon.

We drove up the crater wall to an elevation of 8,000 ft and met with a conservation manager and representative of Ngorogoro Conservation Area. We learned all about the crater and the surrounding area. The most intresting thing I learned it that the cloud forests up the crater acts as a water catchment area for the entire Karatu/Rhotia area as well as Lake Manyara (ITS ALL CONNECTED!!). The most astounding thing I learned is that 1.7 wildebeest pass throught the Ngorongoro Conservation Area every year! WHAT!!!??
After class we dropped down the crater walls about 2,000 feet into entered the valley floor. For 6 hours we were treated some of the most amazing scenery and wildlife viewing in the world. We saw many hyena and over 25 lions in the valley- both of which we had'nt seen yet. The floor area is only 250km^2, but when you are inside of it, it seeems endless. Its also very disorienting; by the end of the day I had no idea where north was, where we had come from, and I cold barely tell which way was up. We also saw a few solitary Bull Elephants roaming mostly around the edges of the crater. These boys were huge and gnarly! We also saw lots of hippos, wildebeest, water buffalo, zebra.... It was intresting not to see and giraffe or impala- they dont live in the crater because of the lack of tree vegetation.
We had a several sweet lion sightings. We were the second car to pull up next to a group of two females and 5 cubs drinking water and resting. They were very playful- one of the cubs was persistent in trying to push another of a small cliff and into the water...he never was successful. One of our other student vehicles also pulled up, and immediately two of the cubs ran underneath the car for shade- they sat there for 20 minutes before they started the engine to scare it away. We drove to our lunch site where a group of three large males were laying in the shade of the bathrooms- needless to say no one valued relieving their bladders more than keeping their lives.

Several hours, and several more sightings of large male lions later, we find ourselves ascending up the wall of the caldera again and leaving the park. We all returned to camp in Rhotia astounded and amazed at what we had seen. Here are a few pics:
Dropping Down into Ngorongoro Floor

Wildebeest Next to a Marsh

Lioness and Cub

"Sleeping" Male Lion Gaurding the Bathrooms

Spotted Hyena with a Wildebeest Tail

Male Bull Elephant. Solitary.

SAT OCT 2, 2010
We had another travelling lecture today. First we went down to Mtu Wambu and met with a man who has been living in the area since 1970, he was pretty old and had seen many changes in the area. Had spoke alot about how the area has been infiltrated by tourism and agriculture, and the effects is has had on the land. After his lecture he asked us "What are you going to do for us." As students in this area we have been getting this question alot. He told us that in the last 30 years the population has gone from 11,000 to about 45,000. Its crazy here. Next we travelled about 8 km east and stopped at a dried up watering hole off the side of the road. We were in the middle of several Maasai communities, and they all depend on the dried up pond for water. Where they are going now- I don't know. As always we attracted alot of attention, and soon many young Maasai boys and a few Maasai warriors arrived and wanted to meet us. One warrior named yammat introduced himself and welcomed us.

SUN OCT 3, 2010
On sunday we had another non program day. I went with Safari and Paulo (cousins and labor workers in our camp) and Charles (driver/mechanic) to the Catholic church in Rhotia. I did not take my camera out of respect. We walked in and immeditly all eyes were on us (I watched a few children and I'm pretty sure they stared at us for a full two hours). Church started with songs from a very talanted choir, and many children of the church who accompanied the songs with step dancing. They had some serious rhythm, espeically for being 9 or 10 years old. The service was great. I couldnt understand everything that was being said, but I was aware of was was going on, and I understood enough to follow along. After the service the pastor father Matthews wanted to meet all of us personally. He welcomed us to the church and thanked us for "coming to pray with them."

Later on Sunday we went into Karatu again. We were immediatly met by our good friend Azmen (a street vendor) and we walked around the town and market again. We went to a local cobbler who makes shoes out of old car and truck tires (good idea). All of the Maasai and Iraqw people in the area wear the shoes, and someone who knows how to make them is found in each village. I tried on many paris but nothing fit just right, so I watched as he made me a personalized pair to fit my huge mzungu feet. I ended up bargaing with him, and I paied about $7 for the shoes. It was still a little more expensive than normal, but I was happy support him, espeically after he was kind enough to make me a personalized pair.

Well monday came, and so did the realization that I am actaully in school. Three tests were looming in the distance (2 on wednesday, 1 on thursday) so we all began reviewing. Erika, our student affairs manager, left to travel to Nairobi, so we were all alone. Monday was the first day we began a relationship of reading with the closeby primary school. I led 4 students to the school, and together we read with the 5th grade class for about an hour. I was very surprised to see the significant differences in levels of understanding between the students. Some read and understood english words very well, and some very little. I encoraged the children to practice their reading on me, but some were very shy and insisted that I read to them. When this ocurred I would immeiatly get a crowd of about 10 students all anxious to listen. I was very happy, at the end of the day, to teach the students and have them undertand the difference/ relaionship between the "wouldn't" and "would not". After visiting the school, I retreated back to the camp and to my studies.

Another day of preparation for the tests came. I spend most of my time reviewing lectures and field activites from our Wildlife Ecology and Environmental Policy classes. Again I took a break in the afternoon to go to the school and read with the children. It was bascically the same situation as the previous day, with about four students again, however the experience was a bit different. As we approached the school, most of the children were playing in the school yard (they had just finished classes for the day). When we arrived they crowded around us, and wouldn't let us pass until they had shook all of our hands (usually two or three times). When we entered the classroom, we were greeted by the whole class standing up and shouting in unison ("Thank you so much for coming teachers!") After reading, Aaron (another student) and I stayed back and played 45 min of soccer with the students- its always so much fun. Its been a treat going to the school so much. I have some great relationships with the teacher (epecially one named Emanuel) and the Headmaster, most of the staff at the school know me by name and greet me now. They are so excited anytime we can make it to visit them, and so am I.

What can I say about wednesday? 2 tests, more studying. No visit to school. Not exciting, but just one of those days.

I just finished my Wildlife Managmnet test, and it feels great. I studied very hard for all 3 tests, and I think I did well overall. Now that we are done with this neccecary academic step.........its time for another adventure. This time its a 4 day trek/camping trip to the Serengetti!!!!!!!! Tomorrow we will spend the day packing and preparing, and we will leave early saturday morning, and not return until wednesday. More on that when I return. As for the rest of today, theere is a monthy market in Karatu (which is apparently hughe) that we are going to go to and check out.....hopefully meet up with our crazy friend Azman again. Until then here are a few more updates

Climbing- I paid in full for a 6 day summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I will go with three other students from our program and we will be climbing from Dec 13-18. SWEEEEET!!!!!!!! Some info, its the 3rd largest mountain in the world (like 19, 600 ft or so). And its the largest mountain not stemming from any mountain range in the world.

Traveling- My parents are going to join me after my summit of kilimanjaro. I have set them up with a local man named Henrey for a week long set of sarafis around the N. Tanz circuit. I have been working on post-kili climb travel plans. Right now it looks like we will travl to Zanzibar Island off the coat of TZ, stay on the beach for about 3-4 days, then head north to kenya passing through a few costal cities. When the plans are set I'll post the itinerary.

MOST IMPORTANT: This weekend marks the beginning of my family's annual pheasant hunting trip. Its mostly a time for friends and family to come together, and I have always loved it. I can confidently say that if it werent for many members of that group (especially my father and late grandfather) there is no way I would as intrested in conservation, and I would not be in Africa right now. This will be the first time ever (in 20 years) that I miss the hunt. I want to apologize to everyone, and I wish you all the best of luck......just know that I'll be thinking about all of you this weekend.

Peace and Love
Seth- a voice of adventure