Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back from Africa

We returned home on Saturday after an arduous journey on 3 different airplanes. Including layovers, the entire trip took 36 hours, way too long. But the trip was fabulous, wonderful beyond our wildest dreams. We spent hours watching the wildlife but we also had some experiences with the Tanzanians and learned a few things about their life styles. Here a just a few pictures.

One of the first things we did was to visit an elementary school in Arusha. These children are in the 2nd level, about equivalent to 2nd grade in the U.S. They sang a song for us in English - they learn English right from the very beginning of their schooling. They asked us a few questions in English, rather personal questions I thought, but they're still at a very basic level. After the 7th level they take a test to determine if they can continue with their schooling. If they don't pass, that's the end of their education and they are left with a rather dismal future.

We stayed in several tent camps and this was quite a different experience. The tents are very large and have "bathrooms" included. The bathrooms have a toilet, shower, and sink. The sides of the tents all have windows that are a mesh screening. Inside, you can roll down some canvas to cover the screen at night. Mosquitoes and malaria are an ongoing problem in Tanzania and we needed to be vigilant. This is the shower bucket. When we wanted to take a shower, the staff hauled hot water to our tent and filled this bucket. Inside the shower stall, we pulled a chain to start the water flow, got wet, stopped the water, soaped up, then started the water to rinse off. What amazed me was the fact that the young women at the camp hauled 30 liters of water, which weighs 30 kilograms or nearly 70 lbs on their heads. And we were a bit of a hike away from the water source. All over Tanzania we saw women, but not men, carrying their loads on their heads.

This is the veranda of our tent at dawn. Our morning wake up call was a cheerful "Hello Hello" and a tray with tea and biscuits.

This baboon was just in a fight with an intruding baboon. His face is scratched and bloody. It was quite a serious fight with lots of screeching and wrestling, but it was over in just seconds as the intruder wisely decided to leave.

An elephant mother and her baby. Elephants are very good mothers - they seldom loose a baby. (As opposed to the wildebeest, who lose 60% of their young.) When the herd moves, the babies are always sandwiched in between the large elephants, protected from any predators.

Warthogs are very funny looking creatures. The tusks are for digging in the dirt, not defense. Their necks are so short they have to get down on their knees to dig, which makes them very vulnerable to predators. When they run, they trot very fast and their tails stick straight up in the air, giving them a comical appearance. They nearly always ran away as our vehicle approached and seldom stood still enough to have a picture taken.

More pictures to come. As I was opening my mail after our return home, I was delighted to find a check from the Amazing Art Quilts show. My piece "Summer Solstice" was selected as one of the juror's choices. What a nice surprise!


cmkalina1 said...

Awesome photos! I can't wait to see more! Welcome home.

Gerrie said...

What a wonderful trip!! I wondered where you were!! Congrats on the award.

Twila Grace said...

Wonderful photos, giving me a glimpse into life there. I saw, an very much like, your quilt at the Amazing Art Quilts in Staunton--congratulations!