African Adventure: High Ho, High Ho, It's Off to Work We Go

Monday - July 17, 2017 If you asked me what I thought this trip would be like, today would be my answer. We trekked back to Rau to finish picking up litter on the outskirts of the forest and plant trees. Since the forest suffers from deforestation, and as a result, the monkeys have to find another home, we'd help plant more trees today that in 30 years will be new homes. As we picked up litter, the local school kids kept following us; some even helped us pick things up! All the little girls have buzzcuts but all the kids would walk with us and talk to us in Swahili. Jun and I took a picture with them!

Back in the forest, we picked up these 1-3 leaved plants that are endangered to go plant them elsewhere and hope they grow to be monkey homes one day. A Mama from the area made us a buffet for lunch first though, so we'd have energy to do the busy work. Fourteen ceramic pots laid out held rice, beans, beef, lots of veggies, potatoes, watermelon, oranges, banana and Chapati (my favorite thing here, it's like a tortilla but thicker). Mama said we had to eat three plates to be a real African but I could only manage one and a refill of Chapati and watermelon. 

For the next few hours, we all got our hands real dirty. The previous Operation Groundswell group prepared 650 seedlings and our goal was to beat their number. Next to their seeds was a group from Florida State University with 900. Definitely wanted to beat that number #GoCanes. We got these little black tubes, filled them with dirt, placed the seedlings and covered more with dirt. This went on for about 2-3 hours but it was productive! Felt good to get dirt on my hands to do something good. We also used plastic bags for the larger seedlings that we picked up yesterday and planted them in dirt. Overall, we definitely beat the previous OG group; Rau would let us know if we beat FSU. in our defense; they did 900 over two days and we did way more in one. #GoCanes Walking back to town was nonexistent because we all took boda bodas back to the market! (They're called boda bodas because they can get to border to border.) Jun, Maria and I were the first on the way back to the hostel in a bajaji, which meant we ran first to the showers. Although we had two minutes of hot water, I was really appreciative of my 120 seconds of warmth. Jun cooked dinner for us, which meant egg and tomato stir fry! Maria made pasta and overall, it was a delicious dinner. We were all grateful that it wasn't rice and chicken. What started as a "What is OG like as a business?" question ventured into a two hour talk about absolutely everything amongst Lindsey, Sarah, Robin and I. Don't underestimate how intelligent young people are, we were having hardcore discussions about the economy, politics and the education systems.  

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