A Community Based, and Non-Profit Organization

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

1 comment:

  1. Hey Seth! Things look and sound great. I'm glad to hear you are enjoying your time in Africa.

    As far as hunting goes - I'm sure Andrew is up to picking up the slack you will leave us with, but one problem - who's gonna pick up his inability to shoot?

    Also - glad to see all the photos. Nothing of those monkeys yet - good job!