Hakuna Matata

Abari ja mchana (Good afternoon)

500 million years ago, volcanoes erupted, creating the Rift Wall. This is one of the many incredible sites that I saw this weekend. Along with the Rift Wall, I saw the Rift valley. The fact that God created such spectacular wonders is just outside of the grasp of my reality. Every morning, I woke up and questioned myself. Did I really see what I saw? But, the memories remained and the rolls of film had been used up and there was my evidence of having been to these places.

On Friday, I went to Lake Manyara. On Saturday, Ngorongoro. After deliberation, I decided that I wanted to see Ngorongoro more than the Serengeti. Well, technically, I saw part of the Serengeti, when I went to Oldupai Gorge and the Shifting Sands, but not like a Safari tourist would.

Ngorongoro is the Garden of Eden. I say this, not just because the Tanzanian’s gave it this nickname, but because it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I don’t think I could even imagine a place more beautiful than this. Try to think Jurrasic Park X 1000. That’s just a glimpse of it. So many different types of terrains-ah, my words lose all meaning.

I saw animals in their natural habitat, lions mating, cubs fighting each other, giraffes eating accacia leaves, hippos playing in the water. I still can’t believe that I saw animals in their natural habitat-so much more exciting than a zoo! I asked so many questions. One thing that is really interesting is that Zebras have 28 species of worms inside their bodies that help them digest and if you see zebras dying during the dry season, it must mean that all other animals are dead. Apparently, the zebra is the last animal that will die during that time.

Something else that I saw that was one of the more spiritual parts of my weekend is the shifting sand. A volcano blew out this metalic sand and it sits in the middle of this enormous plain and moves 17 meters a year. It was so amazing. I sat on the top of it and leaned my arm against the sand to see how it moved and almost started crying. Could this be added to the wonders of the world?

While driving along, standing on my seat with half my body outside the top of a green ranger, I observed farmers and Massai in their daily lives. Cutting up wood with their sharp knives, killing a goat, walking on the side of the road with their cattle-it was good to watch. I think watching people in their daily lives is more interesting than anything else. I could do it for hours. Simple (for lack of a better word right now) people are amazing. Their lives revolve around feeding their families. They are happy when they see a car come by and wave at them. Their smiles are genuine and they wave back, shaking their arm so that it looks like it will fall off. Children are the most fun! They run after the cattle and hug each other, dirt covering their whole bodies.

I think one difference that is prevelant with the American/European life and the African life is that children are given responsibility at a younger age here, whereas Americans emphasize a good childhood. Everything revolves around whether you had a good childhood or not. I mean, you could be thrown into a mental institution if a psychiatrist convinces you that your anger stems from your terrible childhood! (that one’s for my nurse mom) Ok-I’m exaggerating a bit, but you look at this 7 year old child carrying her 1 year old sister in a sack on her back and you know that she’s walking for miles to get to wherever she’s walking and you think-wow, I never had to do that and my children probably won’t either.

I think I really enjoy that people here (of course excluding the upper class who is very similar to us) or perhaps I should say that people in general who have had trying lives find happiness in the simple things. I wish that I could remember that the next time I complain and just be happy with what I’ve got.

Until next time…

Dala Dalas/Kifodis and Mt. Kilimanjaro

Hi! My trip is wrapping up and it’s going to go much quicker starting tomorrow because I’ll be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. I am so excited about this! The mountain is 5885 meters and it is absolutely freezing at the summit. I’ll be taking the harder route, Machame, a.k.a whiskey route. Please pray for my safety and that I can make it!

Another thing-so, we often take rides in these dala dalas, in Arusha they are also known as Kifodis. These are bus rides packed with as many people as they can possibly fit in. Imagine over 30 people packed into a minivan. Everyone is on top of everyone else. It’s wonderful! Especially when you get to sit on the lap of a very handsome Irish boy! :) Anyway, so Brian has been writing this list of names on the Kifodis. They decorate them with phrases I give you a list of them:

  • Super Baby Go
  • FBI in Action
  • Go Sox
  • Don’t Spy My Life
  • Baby Face
  • Just Do Them
  • Snow Style
  • I love Spiders
  • Pop in Bob
  • Blood Eagle
  • Lionel Richie
  • Fittest of the Fittest

Simba Attack

Ah, another day in Tanzania. First a moment of silence for the person who was attacked by the Simba (lion) yesterday.

I don’t have very much time, so this entry will be as long as my time permits. This morning, I had an interview with Stephen Rapp. He gave me two hours of time and it was absolutely amazing. This media trial is so amazing and I can’t believe that I am one of the few people working on writing about it. Why no one cares about Africa is beyond my grasp. This continent has so much on it and so much history to tell.

The genocide is awful and I’m looking forward to going to Rwanda less and less…I would rather avoid the massacre sites, but I know that this project would be incomplete without my understanding of that country and the regimented mentality there. Something many people don’t know is that Rwanda is actually very organized -prefects. Everyone had identity cards, the government knew exactly where to find you and whether you were a hutu or a tutsi. The military was exceptionally trained and machetes were distributed to the Hutu Power and sympathizers to it. When people think Africa, they think disorganization, but this is not the case at all. Clever, regimented thinking governed the Rwanda genocide. Conspirators along with media propaganda made the atmosphere perfect for mass killing.

I will interview some of the defense attorneys later in the week. I think that will be rather interesting as well.

Last night, I was called a wife of a Tanzanian. He tried to convince me to climb Mt. Meru with him to meet his parents. I told him that I am going to be a Kusali (nun) so that would be impossible to marry him! HE respected that and said that i must Kuomba mungu (pray) a lot. I told him that I try!

Until kesho (tomorrow)…

Karibou Tanzania

Jambo! (hello)

I am here and it is fabulous. The funny thing is that it’s different, but yet I feel at home. Perhaps it is because I see every country in this one country. When crossing from Kenya to Tanzania, I saw the mountains of Poland, the donkeys of Spain, and even the land of Wisconsin. People are just like people everywhere. Everyone eats, sleeps and tries to maintain their life in between. There are the poor and the extremely wealthy. I suppose the only difference is that I am in a place many are afraid of, many pretend or forget of its existence.

People here are extremely friendly. Yesterday, I met a babu, a grandfather, who took me out for drinks and a discussion about religion. It was a fascinating conversation. He made some Ugali, a traditional African dish that you eat with your hands. It wasn’t as spicy as I’d hoped, but delicious nonetheless. His son will teach me how to make it this week. I participated in a procession with him, honoring the Body of Christ which was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced in my life. The music, the dancing, the adoration on people’s faces, dissolved any thoughts my tired body had of hiding from the hot sun.

I am still unclear about how 5000 people can sing all at once and be completely in tune and sound as if they have been practicing for months.

They taught me to sing “Bwana Jesus Anakuita uje kwake daima millele” (We call to you Jesus to come be with us forever).

Today, I learned that I am a legal intern for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Joyous and unexpected news, but it seems that I walked in at the right time and spoke with the right people. Now, I have access to all the buildings and have a nice little identity card that lets me in all the chambers(court rooms). Also, I have free Swahili and French classes because of my wonderful card!

I believe that I will take a safari in Ngorongoro this weekend and perhaps even the Serengeti. Apparently, green mamba snakes can rise as high as six feet and they chase the jeeps. One bite from one of those has enough venom to kill 10 people. Next week, we head to Kigali, Rwanda and the following weekend, we hope to meet with Father Kazik in Tanzani in a smaller village about 7 hours from here.

For now, a toast – Maisha merefu to the first few days here which have been some of the most spectacular…

Destiny? by S.Andy Schneider

Last night I was at Dominika’s apartment. Later today, around three pm actually, I glanced at the page and silently contemplated the fact that she had left just as she started to get some free time.

The feeling I had looking at the entry that I had heard her work through the night before five feet away from me is hard to describe but it is a feeling that has been my companion often since high school; it is the feeling that comes whenever someone that you care about, some that you want to spend time with, leaves.

Upon further reflection, however, it isn’t just when that someone leaves, but when their departure is coupled with a feeling of inevitable motion that I have also begun to sense since I left high school-it is the feeling that, though you continue to live in the same place this summer or that winter and you can expect to meet up again once school lets out for a break, it seems as if the end of that time period in your life when you can look forward to those refreshing doses of friendship are drawing slowly toward and end as the friends drift suddenly away with the end of college.

These are the things that I’d been noticing throughout my college career and have continued to feel since my graduation and delayed motion into the workforce. These were the things I was thinking about as I missed Dominika this afternoon around three and that is also around the time that she called me to say that she hadn’t left and that she wanted me to come over and spend some time with her. It was as if Destiny had decided to give me a reprieve and it is one that I can hope will tide me over until her return from Africa. Until, of course, her next trip…

Packing for Africa

So I started making a list of things NOT to bring to Africa:

  • An American Flag
  • A “Shell Oil” Baseball Hat
  • A Deep Clipboard, compliments of S. Andy Schneider*
  • DeBeers Diamond Rings
  • An Elephant Gun
  • My bag for Ivory

Now-things I hope not to bring back from Africa:

  • Rabid Monkey
  • Typhoid
  • Scabies
  • Leopard Skin
  • Malaria Carrying Mosquitos

And Finally, things I hope not to cause in Africa:

  • Death of Traveling Companion
  • Overthrow of President (_______)
  • Draining of Lake Tanganyika
  • End of Tanzania/Zanzibar Union
  • Hunger
  • Embarassment to George W. Bush

*Side story: So, some people have pocket protectors, but Andy Schneider has a deep clipboard, that he likes to call his “portable desk.” When shopping with him, he would invariably take out his clipboard, pull out various mysterious sheets and write. You can imagine what that looked like in Victories Secret, as he was mysteriously taking notes. The best part of it was the fact that he was wearing gym shorts with an Old Navy T-Shirt (of course with a picture of the American flag) and looked like a gym teacher. Quote of the day: Andy enthusiastically stated, “Now I can carry around all my notebooks, pens, swiss army knife in one portable desk.”

Travel to Africa (In Shallah)

I’ve joined the blog party too!!!

Now, my life will be exposed on the internet! YES!

In a few days, perhaps I’ll be traveling to Tanzania and Rwanda. Preparation? Of course I’m not ready just yet. But, hey, am I ever going to be ready?

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