Saturday, October 16, 2010


So I'm aware I haven't updated in awhile. but things are going well. THe reason most recently is I have been on safari without Internet. I'm sure you don't want a twenty paragraph blog entry so I will try to summarize as much as possible.
I am currently in Cairo visiting a dear friend. Had the best airplane service on the way here, with unlimited mango juice refills, a whole row to myself, and a real breakfast, fruit, egg omelet with chicken and tomato, two types of rolls with apricot jelly and cheese, which I must admit I defintely engulfed the cheese with MUCH pleasure after being deprived in TZ of good cheese, and a wonderful book. HIGHLY recommend Five People You'll Meet in Heaven to anyone! Easy, fast, profound read.
Today we saw Coptic Cairo. I didn't realize what a Christian history Cairo had and it was really cool to see relics and textiles quite well-preserved from the 3rd century! The archaeologist in me definitely came out as I went through the museum and the old churches. I also went into my first mosque today, the oldest one in Egypt, which was almost comical because I covered my hair and then they require tourists to wear a "special uniform" which is a green version of a Monty Python cloak. Korans are so beautiful/the Arabic language in general is so beautiful, but it is definitely a myth that if you can understand Swahili you can understand 70% of Arabic. To make matters more complicated, VERY FEW speak English here-not even taxi drivers. So when we said we wanted to go to the basilica and it wasn't recognized we said al hamer (sp?) which means pyramids. We meant the plaza that is shaped like a pyramid, but the driver took us in the direction of the pyramids before we realized what was happening. Here, the work week is Sun-Thurs. so tomorrow I'm off to do some sight seeing by myself.
It is SO different here from Tanzania. For one, you must cover your shoulders, not even sleeveless shirts are okay. Two, you cannot say hi to anyone or even acknowledge a man who just says welcome to Egypt. Whic is so difficult since in Tanzania you not only acknowledge EVERYONE, but that is the goal of a journey, not the destination. The fresh squuezed fruit juices are unbelievable and the one Egyptian dish I have tried was delicious. Claire also greeted me with fresh baked cookies and I indulged in brownies last night-oh how I have been deprived ;) Eating chocolate, watching a chick flick, and having girl talk-so needed.

The past week has been a variety of things. I think the highlight was Lushoto. Full of fruits I had never seen before like the mist pear, which I can best describe as a baked apple pie apple, and fruits that made me nostalgic of South America like the tamarillo, and a beautiful 1850 meter climb through the Magamba Rain Forest. It was incredible to see a rain forest appear out of nowhere and really cool to learn about all the natural remedies these people have right in their own backyards-off the trees. Like the Kefla (sp?) leaves for colds. We also saw chameleons, which was a fun, though failed, game of spot the chameleon. Wait for the FB pics of this and you'll see what I mean. It did anger me a bit though when the village children were asking us for gifts and then became even more specific and were asking us for pens. I would like to denounce tourists who think it would be nice to give children, who can hardly afford clothes and food, pens and candy, who then in turn learn to beg for them. Anyway, this brought amusement between kids not believing Sprite was soda, thinking it was water becaues of the color, and them insisting I drive around their little toy car, which of course resulted in a side collision on the side of the road (I emphasize it was a toy). We also saw a cave from WWI where people used to hide. This reminded me that it was a WORLD war, even Africa was affected (Tanzania was a German colony at one point).
Camping was beautiful! Looking up into the starry sky, the cool breeze, the BEAUTIFUL views, and the camping sites were all quite incredible! My favorite was by far in Selous Game Reserve. It was after a long, disappointing day of finding out we were not eligible for TZ citizen status (we thought it was resident status) and after driving 15+ hours to get there finding out it was going to be $105/ day which none of us could afford. So we, after two hours of pleading with the officials who one of the travellers knew her sister, bargained that we would drive through in four hours and camp outside the reserve. Which was fine with me. It was 30 to camp inside the reserve with no bathroom or access to water. The campsite outside the reserve was 10, with a hammock, a swinging chair, a bar, tables, a beautiful view of the Rafiji River that had hippos, and a chance to practice my Italian. There were guards too included (in Selous we would have had to pay for one). So things worked out and despite the wasted money on gas and time driving, we got to spend an extra night at the beachhouse in Dar where we went and saw Selif Keita (look him UP!), a west African (Mali) band with some incredible percussionsists, guitarist, bassist, and synchronized back-up singers/dancers. He's an albino and apparently albinos are used as a sacrifice so he was bringing awareness to this and giving Albinos a good rep. In typical TZ fashion, the concert that was supposed to start at 9:30 didn' tbegin till 11 pm, and then the tuk tuk broke down 5 times on the way home so I didn't get to bed till 1;50. After batting mosquitoes enough inside the house for half an hour, I, without my glasses, set up the tent outside and slept like a baby till 6:30 when I was awoken to go run the "fun walk 8k with an American breakfast following.." Little did we know, it was a half marathon, or 9k, that didn't start till 7:30 (meaning MUCH hotter), and one samosa was the reward. But it was for the rotary club, I got a t-shirt, and they raised 135,000,000 shillings (a little more than 100,000 dollars for 25 TZ schools to have drinking water so that made me feel super good AND I ran it-the whole thing-in the Dar heat! Aside from the heat, it was a beautiful run, taking me by the seaside. The afternoon was spent in the WARM Indian Ocean water with TZ kids asking me to teach them how to swim. First three kids bombarded me and I explained it was too dangerous in the best Swahili I could muster. Then an older guy, probably early 20s, late teens, came and I figured one-on-one I could manage-and succeeded :) Then I took a much needed nap on the beach and finished the night off with a delicious barbecue and early bedtime as I had to be at the airport at 4 am the next day.

So hopefully that wasn't too long ;) More on Cairo to come next week when I return.

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