Saturday, August 14, 2010
Maasai men making fire
Gathering water with Mamas. A leather strap attached to the container is placed on my head. I am holding both sides of the leather strap. It was about a 10 minute walk from the water back to the boma
Everyone left around 5, and it was time to crack down on our written report, which had us up until 3 am and then again at 6 am. Finally, at 9:30, we handed in our reports and headed to Amboseli park. We saw lions this time, and came even closer to elephants, hippos, and cape buffalo. At Amboseli lodge, we sat down and drank the most delicious and well-deserved cappuccinos I have ever had, while doing our best to protect our food from sneaky monkeys (unfortunately for one student, his chocolate bar was a victim). The next and final full day, we had a de-briefing of the program, packed, and later that night had a “Maasai prom.” We took over the kitchen to make food for taco night, and came to dinner in our Maasai gear. No one had the energy to dance, but a few friends and I spent some time jumping with the Maasai guards. The next morning we prepared to leave. I like to imagine Mt. Kili was saying goodbye to us, because she stood outside our camp more visibly than ever. After 5 weeks of being together, our goodbyes to the African students were short and sweet, and before we knew it they were gone. Twenty-four hours later, I was back in New York. I am thankful for the hot showers and running water, but I already miss Kenya. It was an experience I will never forget and will always appreciate. And to everyone involved (readers, family, SEBS, SFS, and my lovely new friends), I must say:
Asante Sana! (thank you very much!)… for everything.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
In other news, yesterday we were able to fit in some time for community service. We volunteered at a mobile health clinic, which was held on a Maasai man’s property. Signs were placed around the property to designate different health “sectors.” I worked in the nutrition sector and was given the task of handing out de-worming pills to mothers and children 5 and under. It was hectic for about 30 minutes, but afterward things quieted down and we spent most of our time chatting and playing with babies. I enjoyed meeting the community health workers and the head of the clinic, Dr. Kimono. Having a degree in nutrition himself, he was very excited to hear that nutrition is also my focus, and made sure that I received his contact information in case I decide to “marry a Kenyan man” (his words) and work here permanently. Afterward, we were treated to fresh fruit, sodas, and of course, more goat. Aside from that, our days and nights have been spent in front of the computer. Although I am feeling stressed now, I am looking forward to our presentation, when our chumba will be packed with community members here for the results of our presentation and the free lunch. Everything we have done so far has been building up to this point, and it’s hard to believe that tomorrow is almost here. It promises to be a very long (and hopefully rewarding) day. Wish us luck!
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
The best way to experience another culture is to experience their food. At least that's what Andrew Zimmern (from Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods) says. If culture is related to cuisine, then it must be a good sign that the food in Botswana is delicious. I have enjoyed everything I have eaten (except cucumbers, which I just do not like). Just a warning, Batswana love meat, so it is a little harder to be a vegetarian. My mom in Mochudi told me that eating a meal without meat is almost as if you didn't even eat at all. If you like meat, then you will enjoy the meat in Botswana, which seems tastier and fresher than in the US. I'm sure that it is indeed fresher and uses fewer growth hormones and chemicals in general. Many families raise their own cows, goats, and chicken so they know exactly how their animals have been raised and how fresh their food is. A traditional meal includes a maize or sorghum meal cooked so it has the consistency of mashed potatoes, vegetables that remind me of spinach, and usually beef. (I'm sorry if my description of food is lacking as I much prefer to be eating it than writing about it) There were a few things that surprised me about food in Botswana. For example, they eat pasta. My family enjoys covering it with a meat gravy, but other families add ketchup (their version of tomato sauce). They also have supermarkets, which provide almost everything that one in the US would. However, there are many street venders and small shops that sell food as well. Fast food gaining in popularity as KFC, Chicken Licken (a South African chain that reminds me of a slightly altered Chick-fil-a), and Pie City (serving primarily meat pies, which look like hot pockets, not fruit pies) are popular places to stop and get a quick bite.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Well a lot has happened in the days… almost too much to write!
We went to a mangrove to study juvenile fish. It is a great place for growth and diversity because a mangrove is very difficult to manor in and can protect the young fish from more experienced pray. We snorkeled for about an hour in water that was less than 2 feet. The grass was just about as tall as the water and it was very hard to see where you were going because of all the sediments. Many of us experienced stings from stinging cells on the grass and had the marks to prove it afterwards! The trick to seeing life in this difficult environment was to remain still and let them come to you. When everyone was still schools of young fish flew by. One school went on forever and I could only estimate over 500 as they went by me in all directions. The important thing to know about mangroves is that they are great for protecting against storms. However, since they are beachfront land, they are often torn out for development. Here on LC, the mangroves are thriving because of lack of development. Already most mangrove ecosystems are gone, but those that are left should be saved- not only to help cushion the impact of storms but to help the declining fish population from decreasing further.
The next few days were filled with studying and learning the various coral types, fish and plant life of the sea floor. Every single student was amazed at how much information they could learn in less than a week. Corals and fish now have names instead of shapes and colors. We took a large quiz only to find out how much we all have come to know.
Scuba dives are amazing and I am enjoying every single eyeful. The reefs are so large! I think this will spoil me for future dive places. There are just so many places to look… and not enough air in your tank! I have done 6 dives already and each location seems to be more beautiful than the next!
In my dives I have seen Great Barracudas, turtles, and countless fish. It really boggles the mind at how little we know about the ocean. Its vast resources have been largely unexplored below the surface. Even as a student who has taken oceanography there is just so much more out there. I wish everyone could dive at least once here, to understand- or maybe even take a glimpse into another world.
Yesterday we were filmed conducting scientific research while diving. We took transects, quadrates, measured and even took notes on our slates. ( A transect is generally a large tape measure that is extremely difficult to place in the environment. Because of the moving currents and life, it always ends up fallings somewhere hard to retrieve!) We were evaluating biodiversity at the bottom. We were looking for sites of disease but luckily did not find much. The reefs here are in good shape.
Our second dive that day was a lion fish round up. We searched the dive site for these invasive species that have no natural predators in the Caribbean. There is much question about how these pacific animals came to these waters but many believe it was from the pet trade. Because of this, many researchers have permits to catch these animals. We were fortunate to witness 3 captures in only 30 min!
Today is a very special day….my Birthday! I have the unique opportunity to live immersed in research and who else could say they spent their 21st birthday in paradise? Today we will work on our final presentation proposals. It seems so quickly that we will all have to think about what we will be doing for the remainder of our time here. Two students and I are tackling sustainability issues of the research facility. As we all know, there is always room for improvement! This facility is cutting edge as an off the grid building but there some issues that we would like to see addressed. I will update you on that when the project is approved.
Today we will learn about the ICON station that is just outside our lagoon. It is a pole that was installed by NOAA ( National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) to record temperature, salinity, and a ton of other measurements. Central Caribbean Marine Institute pretty much overseas it and uses its data for studies. We are learning more info about the ICON today from one of the in house scientists.
Around 2 we will conduct Whelk counts and maybe even do some cliff jumping!
Hope all is well!