African Adventure: The Doctor Is In

Thursday July 13, 2017 Who else can say they've hung out at the Jane Goodall Institute on a rainy day in Arusha? Okay maybe the 15 of us can but it was still a special occasion! Even if it was cold, we took a Dali dali to the college where the Roots and Shoots branch of the JDI calls home. Unfortunately, some of the girls in the group are dropping like flies - might be a bug, not sure - so they couldn't come but we met with four volunteers from R&S to 1) talk about what they do, 2) reveal that we're going to meet Dr. Jane Goodall herself (!!!), and 3) tell us what our upcoming home stay will be like. 1 - The volunteers head some of the student-run projects like teaching young girls hygiene and about their bodies, which is important in a community that doesn't talk about it much (America, wanna learn a little?). Another project that blew my mind was one trying to get donkey owners to treat their animals with better care. Since the donkey doesn't produce meat or milk, they're poorly treated and overused to transport items. Many of the owners have rejected learning about how to treat them better but they're making progressive, slowly but surely. 2 - We'll be meeting Dr. Jane Goodall (tall Maddie in our group actually teared up) at a college in Mweca during our home stay. They didn't give much other detail except we'd have a chance to have one-on-one time with her and she could sign something of ours. About to separate a whole page in my journal for it. 3 - Home stay. Incredibly nervous for this part because even though they keep on explaining it to us, I don't fully get it. We'll be staying with families that live on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro but up to now, they hadn't explained any other detail. We'd spend four days, three nights with the family and zero electricity. Some may have showers but we're told not to get our hopes up. We'd live in the house and do volunteer work during the day. We also won't know who we'll be staying with until the day of. To help with the language barrier, a R&S volunteer will stay with us to translate but everyone in the group will go to different houses. Ay. I'm really starting to love the fried bananas here. They taste like potatoes. Even the tea has a kick to it that I'd normally decline but I was cold and the drink was blazing hot, so I did the math and drank it anyway. Lunch featured Pilao, which is a fancy word for rice, beef and vegetables. Shocker. That's all there is here. I'm starting to not like the beef here because they're not picky with how they cut the animal; parts of the beef is full of chewy fat and lots of bones. Maybe I'll be vegetarian for this trip. 

More people dropped like flies and went back to the hostel because of feeling ill. Those of us healthy and in an adventurous mood went to the Maasai Market for cheap goods to take home. It was incredibly overwhelming because it's like a flea Market with many more people dragging you into their little shop, if I can call it that, to see their things. "Looking is free my friend," they'd all yell. One even read my name off my backpack to get my attention. Many would call me "sister" and I felt bad rejecting them but I just didn't need sandals or ceramics. However, I did get way better at bargaining. Since the monetary exchange favors us, and they know it, I had plenty to spend but got good at making sure I was getting my things at a good price. I'd put my little stack of money in my right pocket, take out 10,000 shillings to put into my left pocket and whilst bargaining, I'd pull out the 10,000 bill and say that's all I had. I managed to get those INCREDIBLE turtle pants, presents for home and even extra pants for Emma, my roommate who got sick but needed pants. Catch me at the next flea market at home to bargain my life away. Today's mode of transportation, since we weren't so many, featured boda bodas! Think of motorbikes with drivers who may or may not have licenses but are twice as fun due to all the speed bumps on the road. I felt really free, with all that wind and dust in my hair. 

With time to spare, a few of us went back to the food market to buy fresh fruit for those who are sick. I really only went because it meant boda bodas again. Jun, the Chinese girl in our group, waved at a little boy in the market and he started crying! The mom squinted her eyes and said it's because he has never seen an Asian person. Lucky for us and everyone around, we all laughed at how cute the whole exchange was. 

Back at the hostel, five of us reserved our flight and hostel for Zanzibar! We've got 10 days of Independent Travel Time (ITT) so we picked Zanzibar to enjoy the water, Stone Town and potentially play with cheetahs. Stay tuned!  

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