Week two

June 9, 2011

Monday was my last day out in the field for a while and I headed out with Rosie and Joe. The first house they had to get the baby’s measurements and the mama proceeded to make us chai, rice and beans. The two girls there came up to play with my hair and we all thought it was pretty funny. We visited several more houses and then I joined Eppi and Ester to continue on. The children in these households were more fascinated with my hair than the other villages. It was weird because every village reacted to me differently, but all enjoyed my effort of learning Iraqw. My eye was still a little swollen from the sting, but no nearly as bad as what was to follow. On Tuesday I woke up with little vision in my right eye and proceeded to look in the mirror where I discovered the swelling was around my entire eye and not just the lower part. I took more Benadryl, slept most of the day, and did nothing.

Wednesday  was the first day where I jumped into lab work. I performed the qualitative test on all 91 samples and finally got it to work correctly because the instructions failed to warn me how sensitive the potassium iodide solution was to light. So after that all the ones that were positive I also tested quantitatively via titration. Caroline, Upendo, and I listened to music and the day seemed to zoom past. They invited me to come over to their apartments so I packed some things (movies and my laptop) and headed with them. The live about 15 minutes away, 5 minutes from town, and 5 from Eliwaza’s home. We watched Mean Girls, which they thought was absolutely hilarious and then Superbad, which they didn’t get all of the very crude, American jokes. The both live in one room places but are very nice in comparison to other homes I have seen; probably some of the nicest apartments in Haydom. Upendo proceeded to cook us dinner of rice, beans, and an omlette. I was completely stuffed because they gave me the most food, which I was quick to catch onto though they tried to deny it. I had lovely spiced chai again and they had many vegetables (this was before the management change at the guest house so I was very excited haha). We went to bed, I got bitten by a few mosquitoes, and woke up at 6:30 to get ready for work. We ate eggs, avocado, sausage, and toast for breakfast. It was a very fun adventure

Mother-in-law tongue is the large plant on the right

The field workers didn’t collect samples on Wednesday nor today so there is nothing for me to do in the lab so I help out with some paper work and then head back to the house for the afternoon. I do some data entry for Crystal and Betsy and spend most of the day lounging around. I also came to the realization that I need to read my biochemistry more and decide in the next two weeks if I can actually take that class while missing the first two weeks of instruction. The deadlines to drop the class are while I’m here in Africa so I can’t even get a feel for the class before I decide. On Thursday Christian invites a bunch of expats to hang out for food, drinks, and relaxing. There is something here called Amarulla, which is liquor from fruit in South Africa, but it tastes a lot like Baileys. Elephants eat these fruits and get drunk off them!!  Christian is the Austrian version of my brother with his sarcasm and intolerance for stupidity. He is very funny and Crystal and Betsy say he is a lot less crabby. I also got to meet several more people, Lauren (Duke med student), Heidi and Erlan (Norwegians doing cognitive psychology for MAL-ED), Norbert (American doctor) and Kenny (a South African construction worker). I had a chance to not only meet people my age, but also unwind and hear about the politics through out the complex. I also managed to be eaten alive by mosquitoes at his place, but the good news is that the elevation is too high for malarial mosquitoes to really thrive. Betsy and I also went into town to search for Amarulla (Christian sends all guests out on the hunt) and gather some fruits and veggies. Mangoes and avocados both are about 300 Tsh (Tanzanian shillings), which equals about 20 cents. They are so delicious and the guavas are also amazing.

Saturday I woke up with a ton more bug bites so we think it may be fleas or bed bugs. Crystal and Betsy had a meeting with their research assistants so I again did little and played a new iphone game I’m obsessed with; iassociate. In the evening Crystal was rather frazzled and frustrated so we headed to Christians for beer and looked at his photos from the week long trip he took with family and friends to several different national parks and even an active volcano. Of course he climbed it at night to be at the top for sunrise so on the way down they saw all of the lava flows they had walked a foot away from. We then headed over to Lauren’s because she was a little delayed in joining us. Crystal initiated the taking of shots, which I was quite impressed with. Again we were just relaxing and hanging out. Lauren also had Pringles and guacamole so I finally got a taste of home and a little bit of what I was used to. Most of the food has been rice, beans, and avocados, which I eat most days at home, but the meat and vegetable dishes have been a little new to me.

One of my favorites. She loved taking pictures

Sunday Crystal Betsy and I went for a walk and went to the Cultural Center where they have a great outdoor auditorium and examples of traditional homes for each tribe. The tribes are the Dotoga, Iraqw, Masai (one of the last hunter/gatherers), and Rangi. We were going to climb the mountain there but Betsy and I have had some stomach issues so we headed home. On the way home a boy helped us get a new kind of local fruit, which tasted like candy. We then were followed by two boys playing, another two who wanted water and a picture, and lastly a little girl who wanted her picture taken as well. I also taught her how to use my camera (don’t worry dad my hands never left it) and she had a blast, snapping about 20 photos. After that we had lunch and I proceeded to take a nap for 4 hours and went to bed early as well. I have had diarrhea pretty much everyday, which has been very draining. Crystal strongly believes it was giardia so I took a shot of salt in water and it seems much better. I will have to see if there are any improvements.

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