Thursday, August 6, 2009

Seminars, Safaris, and Sweetness

My apologies for such a long hiatus on the blog front. Every chance to be online over the past two months has been spent pouring over graduate program and potential advisor websites in preparation for application time this fall. Exciting, but distance from TZ, yet fun to get buried in, and ultimately time consuming.

But, after three straight days of just that, I’m ready to relax a bit, have some fun and share some pieces of Tanzania. Per usual, I have no idea where to start.
It has been an awesome, busy, full last two months. Bullet points perhaps?

June was filled with…
-Recovery from May 30 summit of Mt. Hanang, our backyard volcano, fourth highest mtn in TZ (ft), and one wonderful hiking day with fellow PCV’s and about 30 seventh graders (who all practically sprinted up the mtn in flipflops while it totally kicked my ass).
-Preparation for and eventually completion of our Katesh Kid’s Environment and Health seminar. Myself and five other PCV’s put together a 4 day seminar for the top 6 sixth graders from our respective primary schools. Students learned about ecology and tree nurseries, gained HIV/AIDS awareness, played awesome team-building games, and painted billboards to share learned messages with others students back at school. Way too much fun.
-Visit from Jules! Neighbors henna-ed us and killed a chicken in her honor... it was tasty.
-Meeting with various community groups to discuss needs within the village, project ideas, available resources, etc…
-Corn, sunflower, and onion harvesting... by hand.
-Cooking, baking, and hanging out the neighbors... Swahili’s getting there!

And then July….
-Trip to Moshi... Kili wasn’t out, but got to meet some more cool PCV’s and eat pizza (twice)!
-LOTS more meetings and action planning! I love motivated people.
-More harvesting and village activities.
-Getting ready for my mom to visit but saying good-bye to two awesome PCV’s Stephanie and Amy... congrats on completing two years!
-MOM VISITING! Really too much to say about this. Perfect white sand and turquoise water of the Zanzibar beaches plus an unexpected banana tree beating new year’s festival. Unbelievable safari-ing in the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire NP... my mammal and bird siting list goes on and on, but would you just be impressed if I said 18 lions (two almost catching a lost wildebeest about 20 ft from our vehicle), hundreds of elephants, zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, buffalos, gazelles and impalas, a selection of hyenas, warthogs and jackals, a few sleeping owls and many impressively colored birds. And six days in the village where between all the visits and food/gifts been given in her honor we barely had a moment to ourselves or a less than completely full stomach (this time it was a very large rooster).

And throughout it all, I keep falling more and more completely in love with my neighbors and community members. I have never met such an instantly welcoming, including, thankful, delightful group of people. Endagaw has completely captured my heart. I laugh, giggle, see and hear something new everyday. And I can’t tell you how many times I welled up with tears of happiness at the kindness and immediate familial acceptation and respect they showed my mother. You know, I think they just might love me too. And for that simple love, I can’t wait to get back tomorrow to continue sharing life in Endagaw with them (even with the 6 hour bus on one of the worst roads ever... you rock Mom for hackling that ride... twice... and with style).

Alright, enjoy the pictures from May and June below. And as always, thinking of everyone back often and joyfully. Miss you and love you! Thank you for making me the happy person who can enjoy this adventure to the fullest!

Tara Magnolia

PS. Madagascar is reopening! Yipee! Congrats to all my friends who are able to return to that beautiful and hopefully peaceful island that first captured my heart.


Robyn said...

So glad to find another post this morning! Thanks for the beautiful pictures!

Robyn said...

P.S. You look absolutely GORGEOUS in the pic on top of the mountain...simply glowing!

Ryan Marsh said...

Tara, your pics and stories made me well up with tears of joy and envy. You rock so f-ing much! I can't wait to be back in Africa...

Brendan said...

Beautiful photos, esp. the one on the mountain. I guess the landscape is nice, too.

Maureen Lee Maloney said...

Getting closer...I can't wait to see you!