Friday, December 31, 2010

twenty ten flashback

Since I'm way too much of a procrastinator to send Christmas cards, I thought a little year review on my blog would be more appropriate. Don't mind the fact that is the last day of 2010 and I am just now getting to this written recollection (even though I've been planning to write it for a weeks now). I work well under pressure. I'm just excited it's not 11:00 tonight and I'm not sitting here trying to type as fast as my little fingers will type. I'm way too cool for that....I obviously have NYE plans and they don't include being on the internet. :) Without further adieu, I present you:

MY YEAR

I started off the year by jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet in Hawaii. Keith and I spent my winter break on the island of Oahu and soon after Christmas Keith’s brother, Marcus, and Marcus’ girlfriend, Chelsea, joined us for some tropical traveling. Marcus somehow convinced all of us to go skydiving. Keith was quite impartial to the idea since he had plunged out of a plane before but Chelsea and I were not on board AT ALL. I’m still not sure why I did it, but I did. And I am so glad I did. It was an awesome experience. But, I am also confident in saying that I won’t ever do it again.

after jumping out of the plane but before vomiting (it was a bit of a rough ride)

Other highlights of our Hawaiian adventure included hanging out with huge sea turtles, rock climbing, snorkeling, camping in a VW camper van, getting free tickets to the Aloha Bowl, seeing President Obama buy shaved ice at his favorite spot, kayaking in the ocean, and snorkeling for the first time. It was a great way to start off the year.


me, Keith, Chelsea, and Marcus bringing in the new year in Honolulu


February was busy with Keith, Cliff, and me winter camping, snowshoeing, and hiking.

lounging on our snow couch during my first winter camping experience

March brought me my first international trip (if you don’t count our neighbor friend, Canada). Keith has family that lives on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico and I joined him and his brothers down there for a week of spring break amazingness. I loved Mexico and I have so say that it is one place that I’ve visited that I cannot wait to go back to. We slept on a rooftop overlooking the Sea of Cortez, four-wheeled to waterfalls and a lagoon, ate amazing fish tacos, snorkeled with sea lions, took a bus to La Paz where our days consisted of hitting the local beaches, and we finished off the trip by visiting a few more beaches (and bars) and souvenir shopping in Cabo San Lucas.

our entire group the last day in Cabo (friends Chris and Angelina, me, the Benz brothers posing as usual, and Chelsea)

April was full of work and great times in our normal day to day life.

May started out with me running Bloomsday, a local 12k race. It was the second time I participated in Bloomsday but the first time I ran it and I was extremely proud of myself for running 7+ miles without stopping. I like to refer to myself as a ¼ marathon finisher because I’m nerdy like that.

I finished my 4th year of teaching 2nd grade in June. The following 3 weeks consisted of preparing for our trip to Africa, which we departed for on June 30th. I still can’t believe I went to Africa. It was the one place I have always wanted to go since I was small and it helped me realize that I can go anywhere my little heart desires. I can’t wait to tackle my 3rd continent and eventually venture to all 7. I realized that anyone can travel if they want to badly enough. It all depends on where your priorities are. Sure, I sold a few personal possessions, settled on eating eggs for dinner a few too many times, and skipped out on a few weekend trips in order to save funds, but I made it to and from Africa all in one piece (without selling any organs on the black market). And I wouldn't have wanted to do it without my favorite traveling and life friend, Keith.

July (and much of August) was spent in Tanzania, as you know if you have read my blog before. Summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro, hitting the safari trails, and backpacking through Zanzibar were the highlights. Oh, and Cliff turned 1 on July 7th! While we weren’t here to celebrate with him, I’m sure he had a dandy time.

with a group of kids on a beach in Zanzibar (before they attacked me when I tried to give them stickers)

August in the United States meant trying to cram a Coeur d'Alene summer into a few short weeks. We met my family for a few days of camping in central Idaho. It was fun to catch up and get at least one camping trip in (it's a bit different spending 7 weeks of your summer in a sleeping bag compared to actual camping in the coniferous forest). We also decided that we needed a new mode of transportation. When we flew back across the pond in mid August, we were convinced from our travels that investing in a scooter was necessary. So, we bought the cutest little Yamaha scooter with red flames. Thank you craigslist. It doesn’t go above 30 and it sounds like a weed eater going down the street but I love it.

my fam on the steps of our cabin we camped in

We went on our annual raft trip with Keith’s shift from the fire department over Labor Day weekend. Every year they go to Riggins to raft the Salmon River and I have been lucky enough to have been invited for the last two years. It is a great time had by all and I can attest that the Riggins night life is more exciting than it looks. September also meant the beginning of another school year was upon me. I am very lucky to work with a great staff and I truly love my job. As I've mentioned, I have a great class this year and they make me happy every day. These little guys are a great little bunch.

me with my friend Kim rafting the Salmon

In October, Keith and I decided to start lightly remodeling the house. Keith has lived in this house for 8 years with many different 20 something men and when I moved in last year we were both ready for a bit of the bachelor pad to leave (some of us may have been more ready than others *cough*). With a house full of white walls and 10 year old carpet, we got busy adding our own bit of character. We removed the carpet from all three bedrooms and added wood laminate flooring. Then Keith made one of the spare rooms his “adventure” room to store all of his (and a bit of my) gear in: mountaineering gear, climbing gear, skiis, sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, et cetera. He painted the walls slate grey and one accent wall is brick red. I decorated the other spare room and I painted the walls chocolate brown (it looks good for those doubters out there) and have plans to add white and green accents and a light tan/cream sofa bed. Right now, it’s just our cute brown pup sleeping in his cute brown room. Our bedroom has darker laminate floors and we painted 3 walls khaki and one wall dark teal. We were going for an ocean idea and I think we succeeded. Even if it wasn’t a success, it’s staying that way for a bit. Painting is overrated. Next on our list this spring will be tiling the dining room and kitchen, new carpet in the living room, and painting the living room, dining room, and kitchen. We may be hiring out for the paint job….

I welcomed turning 28 in November and successfully threw myself 3 birthday parties. What can I say, I love holidays. We spent Thanksgiving at Keith’s parents’ house since the roads were too crummy to travel to see my family in Kamiah. Kevin and Maureen are great about welcoming me to all of the family holidays and I’m very lucky to have such great boyfriend-in-laws.

I finished my 2nd to last semester of graduate school in December and am preparing to graduate in May with my Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. I was very ready for my winter break. Keith and I spent time with both families and have been putting our season passes to use and skiing as much as we can (he more than I since he only works 10 days a month...). My winter break has also been full of spending time with good friends, sleeping in, and training for my 1/2 marathon coming up.

my mom, sister, and I with over Christmas with our new shirts :)

I’m excited for 2011 and what it has to throw my way. I have 50 days until my ½ marathon in Austin, Texas, only 5 months until I graduate, and a summer full of semi-local travel plans is on the horizon. It will be a great year.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

my next adventure

Never fear, blog fans....I'm back! I figured since this is essentially my diary, I better take better care of her and update her more often.

So, what has been going on in my life since we left off in Africa? Well, see the post below for some of my thoughts post-Africa. It is very difficult to explain my thoughts but I know that I must write them down before I forget them all together. I just wish that I could explain the affect that my African trip had on me to those outside of my brain. Ho hum...maybe someday.


A recap of my few months...
Keith and I returned from Africa to quickly depart again on a raft trip on the Salmon River near Riggins, Idaho. I don't know why I feel the need to add 'Idaho'. As if anyone reading this isn't familiar. Maybe I have some fans out there besides my mum and pops. Anyway, it is an annual trip taken by Keith's shift at work and their significant others. Good times, for sure!


Soon after, a new school year began for me and life has been pretty busy and normal since then. I love my class this year. Some years they are just good, other years they are great. This is a great year. I am ready to graduate with my Master's in the spring...well, technically, I'm not ready as I have mmmmuch still to do. But, I will be ready by then.
Keith and I went camping with my family in September and took a family photo. :)


In other news, I turned 28 last week! I LOVE my birthday and am oh so lucky to be celebrating a 28th one. Yay life!

As for my next adventure, I'm officially signed up to run a 1/2 marathon in Austin, Texas on February 20th. Yikes. I'm excited for the challenge but nervous as I've never ran more than 7 consecutive miles. I was so proud of myself when I finished Bloomsday last year (a local 12k, for those of my fans not from these parts) that I decided that I could do a 1/2. I'll let you know how great of an idea this is say, February 19th. With a little less than 12 weeks to train and a good month of enjoying eggnog and not running, I definitely have my work cut out for me. Thanks to a boyfriend that bought me a new pair of running kicks, I'm ready to get back onto the running wagon......yeehaw.


For those of you wanting to join me under that little yellow star in a few months, I am currently accepting applications. Apply within.

life in America, post-Africa


A summary of my thoughts in life post-Africa....

*not a Leach creation

So, we've been back now for almost 4 months. When I really think about it, it seems crazy that I was in Africa 4 months ago. Life is just chugging along here in Idaho. I think about Africa more than I thought I would. I often feel grateful for my luxuries and feel guilty for them, as well. I can't wait to share all of my knowledge and artifacts with my students. I have told them about how I traveled there but I haven't delved into it as much as I would like. I am busy (!!!) at work and with my Master's so I haven't had the time to organize photos and plan any lessons. I can't wait to show them my pictures. The town where I teach is tiny and has a large poverty population (in America's standards). Many of my students have not been out of the area or experienced anything but rural-Idaho. If anything, I hope I can teach my students about the world and the people of the world, even if they don't have the ability to experience it first hand. More education, less ignorance. That's my goal.


Speaking of ignorance, there is a house a few blocks from where we live inhabited by proud Aryan Nation supporters. Their garage door is always open with white power flags, confederate flags, etc. The other day Keith drove by to see a snowman in their front yard with a pointed head resembling a KKK hood. I kid you not. It disgusts me, enrages me, and saddens me. I so badly want to instantly transplant them to Tanzania and see how life would change for them. Too bad I don't have the power to do so. I understand how people have different beliefs, but really? How can people be so ignorant and hateful? The lack of diversity and the few Aryan Nation supporters that live in North Idaho are my main complaint about living here. I love living in Coeur d'Alene, otherwise. These people make me even more grateful that I have had the experience to travel nationally and internationally and experience cultures outside of the Pacific Northwest.

I think often about what life is like outside of the United States. I have an even stronger desire to travel now. Americans are often in a delusional bubble. The current headlines are complaints of being patted down inappropriately in airports. Aren't there larger concerns going on? We fight over TSA security, but complain that nothing was done when terrorists slip through the cracks. It confuses me. It exhausts me. Don't get me wrong, I love America. But, I also love the freedom and education that traveling has given me. My one international trip has teased me and I can't wait to travel internationally again. Too bad I have to work 9 months out of the year. :)

So, what's next you might ask? Well, this summer will be full of traveling nationally. Since Keith and I missed the entire summer here last year, I can't wait to take small trips around the area in 2011. My next international trip? Maybe Europe. Maybe Asia. I'm unsure. That will probably happen in twenty-twelve. For now, I'm living vicariously through Keith who will be traveling to Australia this coming spring. No one told me I should be a firefighter instead of a teacher. The dude works only 10 days a month.

I leave you with a picture of a school in Tanzania. All the schools looked exactly like this...no windows, no books, minimal furniture, chickens roaming. I am thankful for where I teach and the resources I have, but I also am envious of the simplicity of these schools at the same time. Is that weird? Probably.



I soon realized how the teachers in Tanzania deal with the minimal resources, lack of funds, and roosters roaming their classrooms:



And it all makes sense...

Friday, August 20, 2010

a tour of Paje

One of our last days in Africa was spent in Paje, Zanzibar. We would often walk around the villages that we were staying to see how life was outside of our hotel room. I found it fascinating how many people travel to Zanzibar and don't truly get an idea of what life in Africa is like. All of the expensive resorts are surrounded by high concrete walls separating the resort from the people, trash, and animals of the village. The resorts were all inclusive with beautiful pools, spas, bars, restaurants, and shops. People staying there are catered to and have every outing arranged through the office. They fly directly to Zanzibar and ride in a personal taxi to their resort. They stay for one week getting massages and pedicures and then are back to their homes. ANYWAY, we liked to walk around the villages, say a few words that locals may understand, take pictures, and observe life like we will never see it again. Here is a village through our eyes:

The kids were the cutest things alive. They were soooo very excited to get their pictures taken and then they giggled and laughed and LOVED to see it played back on the back of your camera. Keith and I both took tons of photos of them just so they could see themselves. To think about how many of them rarely see what they look like...no mirrors, no cameras. We literally made their day. They played in the streets with anything: old water bottles, empty gas cans, tires, old tools, knives, broken cardboard boxes. This guy below was hilarious! He wanted his picture taken quite badly and then when Keith was taking it, he started doing this karate/kickboxing/dancing routine that was complete with sound effects. He made probably 5 videos with us and was the happiest kid ever to watch them. Keith and I loved it...possibly more than he did.

video

We also met a man in this village that asked how long we'd been in the area so we told him that we had been in Africa for 6 weeks and only had a few days left. He looked at me, then at Keith, then at me again and said, "you're WHITE!" In case I didn't realize that. Sadly, I thought I had a pretty good tan going on. He dashed that thought. He couldn't get over the fact that we (more specifically I since Keith is darker complected than I am) had been in Africa that long and weren't dark. I'm unsure if he is confused on the thought of races/genetics or what. He almost acted like he was under the assumption that he was dark because he lived close to the equator and was in the sun all the time...in all actuality, he's just black.

homeward bound



Author's note: I wrote this a few days before leaving Africa. Keith and I have now been back for one week and we are happy to be back in the US of A.

Goodbye, Tanzania! You have been good to us but tomorrow we depart. We are currently on our 5th day of traveling in order to get home. Day 1 involved taking a taxi to Stonetown where we arrived by ferry more than 3 weeks ago. Day 2 will took a ferry back to the mainland and spent a day in Dar es Salaam (which was be Day 3). Day 4 was the little bitty 10 hour bus ride back to Moshi (where we began our trip and where we fly out of...and where our extra backpacks and clothes are being stored at the time being). Today we spent in Moshi repacking, buiying souveniers, and showering before flying out on the 12th. I will be more than happy to return to Coeur d'Alene after 6 days of being in transit. I'm getting quite excited to come home, mostly to eat the food I have been dreaming about at night. I equate my anxiousness to how I felt before I left for Africa. I was still having a great time in Coeur d'Alene but I was getting quite excited for my journey. I'm still excited and having a great time in Tanzania but I am looking forward to the comforts of home. In no specific order I'm excited for: french toast, tap water, consistent hot showers, my bed, milk, clean clothes that haven't been shoved in a backpack for 7 weeks, apricot beer, red beer, cold beer (this sounds much more alcoholic-ish than I intend), using a toilet that flushes (or a toilet at all in some cases), and seeing my dog. Things I will not miss about Africa when I get home: using bug spray 24/7, brushing my teeth with bottled water, and eating the same breakfast for the 42nd day in a row. Hotels fees include breakfast here so being the cheap couple that we are, we eat the free breakfast every morning. Even if we weren't cheap though, we wouldn't have an option most of the time, as nowhere serves breakfast different than what every hotel offers. So, every morning we wake up and solemnly walk to the hotel restaurant to eat a plain scrambled egg (sometimes you get more than one and then it becomes 'eggs'), plain bread (sometimes they spice it up for us and toast it), tea, and fruit. We get really excited when our fruit is something different than bananas or oranges. And there's a double bonus when the hotel has salt and pepper for our eggs. But it's free so I will enjoy my last one tomorrow.

**So after 40 hours of flying we arrived in Spokane safe and sound. I have thoroughly been enjoying all of the things I listed above. The next morning after arriving, we enjoyed an amazing cafe breakfast at The Blue Plate of biscuits and gravy, french toast, and OVER MEDIUM EGGS. I may not ever eat a scrambled egg again. And now we are back to normal life. Keith has already started work and I will soon. Our pup, Cliff, is very excited to have us back and we are busy making up for our lost days of summer in Coeur d'Alene. We are off to raft in Riggins this weekend with a group of firefighters and their significant others and I have been enjoying getting back into the groove of showering daily, going on runs with Cliff in the trees, and eating out of the fridge whenever I'm hungry. Life is good.

Friday, August 6, 2010

an update on the life of a beach bum


After many days in Nungwi (where a goat grazes on the beach above), at the northern tip of the island, we ventured south east to a beach called Matemwe for 6 or so days and are now even farther south on the east coast at a little joint called Paje (Paw-jay). This will be our last beach stop and I'm sad to say that we will be leaving the beautiful, warm waters in a few days to begin our long journey back home. However, it is quite overcast and windy today so perhaps the beach gods are telling me I need to hit the road. Matemwe and Paje have both been great for their own reasons. Matemwe was a very remote and quiet beach with few people, hotels, or restaurants. The water was an unreal shade of turquoise, as it is everywhere around the island, and the sand is the consistency and color of flour. Each morning after the tide went out, the shallow water was full of village women gathering seaweed to dry. The rest of the water was full of fishing dhows waiting to be taken out for their daily run. Around four o'clock, the fishing boats would start coming in and the beach would be crowded with men, women, and children waiting for the fishermen (pic below is of the first boats coming in one day). The peaceful beach would come alive with the cheers of a good catch, yells of negotiations and prices, and the slapping of sticks tenderizing octopus (octopi??) and squid(s) in the sand.

We went snorkeling (me) and diving (Keith) one day while we were at Matemwe which broke up the monotony of island life for a bit. Snorkeling was amazing. I snorkeled an awesome coral reef near an small island called Mnemba. Mnemba is uninhabited besides one resort, which costs a mere $1500 a night to stay...per person. Yep, you heard me. Needless to say, I only snorkeled there and did not even touch foot on the actual island. Anyway, the snorkeling was the best that I have experienced and I saw amazing fish, lobsters, eels, corals, plant life, etc. Keith's diving was a bit murky but he saw a sea turtle swim by him so murky or not, I was jealous. Other highlights of the snorkeling trip include me losing a toenail and seeing dolphins swim right next to our boat. The dolphins were cool. The toenail loss, not so much. I bruised it four months ago on a snowshoeing trip and I think the descent of Kilimanjaro might have done her in. I thought everything was fine and figured if it were to fall off, it would have done it a few months ago. So, here I was putting on my wetsuit next to an Austrian dude on our boat when I looked down to see all of my toe nail polish had come right off. Reaching down to pick it up and comment how weird it was, I realized that it wasn't just the polish but the entire nail. I'm pretty sure the Austrian was not impressed and now has an unfair impression of American women. Other than watching the local fishermen and worrying about diseases and fungi that enter the body through nail-less toes, most of my days consisted of reading in the sun, running on the beach, and planning my upcoming school year. It was relaxing and grrreat.

Paje is where we sit now and while it is a bit more busy, we are glad to be here. Matemwe was a bit too remote for us after almost a week of being there. The food options were slim and you can only stare at the same things for so long. So, Keith and I rented a scooter again to drive down the coast in search of another beach and different accomodations. We came upon Paje and decided to pack up our things in Matemwe and head south. We piled the two of us, our two backpacks with all of our belongings needed for the past month, four 1.5 liter water bottles, and a can of Pringles onto our little VeSpa and headed down the road. We were quite accostomed to the locals staring at the two whiteys scooting down the roads, but I think it's safe to say that we had even more people staring and laughing at us with all of our cargo. I was told by navigator Keith that it was very important that I not wave to any children on the sides of the roads, itch my leg, adjust my backpack, or to basically move any muscle whatsoever. I okay with this, as I was not going to be the one to cause our mode of transportation to become unbalanced. I was determined not to make us tip. Everything went smoothly for the first 30 minutes. Here we are all happy and ready to hit the road. Keith warms up the bike with his backpack tied to the back...and then I get my backpack on and squeeze into the slot between Keith and his backpack.












Then it began sprinkling a bit of rain. Then the rain began feeling a bit more like what I would imagine pellets of a BB gun to feel like. Then we noticed we were passing many scooters parked on the side of the road under trees or buildings and we were the only ones still trucking along. Keith made some mention about how we were too tough for that and we were "hard-core bikers". As we plugged away at the miles, we passed a sign that said our destination was 20km away. About 15 wet and not-so-pleasant minutes down the road and we see another sign claiming that our destination was....20km away. Of course, why would we not be making any progress whatsoever on a scooter in a rain storm. We passed the time by laughing at the people staring, the situation, and ourselves and soon we were within a few miles of the finish line. And then the monsoon came. In all honesty, I'm really not sure what a monsoon is but I'm pretty sure I experienced my first one. The rain came down in sheets, the roads became flooded, and to make matters more difficult the traffic thickened.

Trash floated down the streets (the drainage system isn't a priority here) and were were inches deep in water that looked like chocolate milk, felt like bath water, and smelled like a toilet. Pleasant, really. Then like the scene out of a movie, in case we weren't already soaked and filthy, a bus happened to pass through a flooded part of the road at the same time that we did and we were completely drenched. You know the scene, were the woman is waiting at the bus stop in her nice work clothes and a bus comes by and the water flies up and comes down on her like buckets? Well, that was us. Except we weren't in nice clothes and we were on a scooter. This is the point where Keith mentions that there is a fine line between being tough and being stupid. I'm pretty sure we crossed it.....a few times. In hindsight, I think all of the scooter drivers parked and waiting under the trees and eaves may have been a bit more intelligent. In the end, we made it and besides being completely soaked with the nastiest water ever, it was actually kind of fun. We were pretty happy to see that our 3 cameras, laptop, and ipod survived the monsoon, as well.
Since arriving in Paje, our life has been much more uneventful. I've passed the time by watching kite surfers, eating tasty pizza, and drinking banana and cinnamon smoothies. We depart tomorrow and I'll update this again on our way back to the states.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

the peeps of Africa

An overview of my observations of the African people:

~There are a lot of them here. I know that sounds ridiculous and ignorant but holy population! I'm aware that I'm in Africa but there are people everywhere. When we were on the safari we didn't see as large of populations but otherwise there are always people around. We see many walking along rural (or what seem rural) roads that are miles away from towns and towns that are supposed to be "small" still are much more densly populated than our cities.

~The kids are extremely curious and cute. Most of them wave to you and stare at you as you go by or yell "Jambo!" There have been a few that have asked for chocolate or money and that is a bit annoying, but most of them just want to wave to you or give you a high five. I like the little guys. :)

~They are always busy doing something. Whether they are washing their clothes in a bucket, carrying goods on their heads to and from the market, or sweeping the sand (not sweeping off sand, but actually sweeping sand) these people just look busy...even if they are doing nothing.

*hauling some food for his cows*

The one thing they are not busy doing is picking up after themselves or cleaning. There is trash everywhere. In many places it looks as though there are small landfills. But, it's just part of the street or beach. You walk around a corner of a street and an empty doorway has become a miniature landfill with cats, chickens, and goats eating what they can find in there. It is probably one of the most telling signs that we are in a 3rd world country and I am very thankful for the fact that I pay federal and local taxes. You don't give a lot of thought to it until you visit a place where there is no road maintenance, drinkable water, appropriate disposal of trash or recycling, or building maintenance. They burn a lot of their trash or it sits on the ground and floats in the gutters. There are kids playing soccer in piles of trash and as they slide to the ground to catch the ball, I try not to cringe. Keith and I have had many conversations where we try not to get discouraged by how many people here are negatively effecting our planet. I do my part by recycling, conserving electricity, and trying to make a more minimal carbon footprint. But then I come to the most populated continent and there is so much irreversible damage and you wonder how much of an impact you are really making. But every person counts, right? You want to educate and help but there are bigger issues at hand...such as survival.

*a typical corner in Stonetown*

~Education is a luxury and only available to those who can afford it. Another reason I'm thankful for the taxes that pay. In the 80s, 90% of children in Tanzania went to primary school. Now less than 50% do. Parents must pay for primary and secondary school and if they can't afford it then their children stay at home. Swahili is the primary language spoken but English is also widely known. However, students don't learn English until they go to secondary school so if they can't afford it they have less of an education and therefore less job opportunities. I have an entire different outlook on my profession.

*you can easily tell which kids go to school when they are all in uniforms*

~A lot of people must be missing shoes around here. Since arriving I have decided that I to open a shop here where I sell just one shoe and if one loses a shoe or breaks one, they come to my shop to replace it. There are random shoes everywhere, but not the pair...just one. I have found one lonely shoe on beaches, in the bushes, on trails to town, in town, in streets, in front of restaurants, and in the ocean. I really could make a fortune with this new business idea of mine. This all goes hand in hand, I'm sure, with the trash issue.

~They love Obama. When asked where we are from and we say United States the next thing out of their mouths has something to do with our president. They always say something positive or ask if we voted for him. Our safari guide, Deko, explained that so many people are happy that Obama is our president because now it means that there is more equality. According to him, white people used to not like black people in and now it shows that we have moved past that and we are equal. He also told us that people in Africa say there is an acronym for Obama: Original Born African Managing America. Interesting because I'm pretty sure he was born in Hawaii but I think I understand what they are trying to communicate. There is Obama paraphinalia everywhere....from shirts, to blankets, to stickers on the back of dalla dallas (the minibus/minivans that cram up to 20ish locals in them), to underwear sold on the streets. They LOVE Obama.

*he didn't get the memo that the election was in '08 and not '09*

~I have met two types of Africans: obnoxious/rude and friendly/laid back. I suppose that could describe many people no matter what culture you are exposed to. Mainly the people in Nungwi, Stonetown, and Moshi have been the more obnoxious ones. Now that we are in Matemwe, which is a much more low-key and chill place, the people we have met have been great (and there's very little to no trash!). We are staying at a little joint that has 6 rooms/bungalows and a heavily vegitated courtyard. It is right on the beach and has a little Rasta bar and restaurant. This is our favorite beach so far....and I would say mainly because of the people. They are actually interested in talking to you instead of trying to sell you something. I was getting extremely tired of people in general when the majority of conversations would be similar to this: Jambo! Jambo. How are you? Great. How are you? Good, how did you sleep? Good. Are you okay? I'm good. Where are you from? United States. What is your plan tomorrow? I'm going to lay on the beach. Do you want to go snorkeling? Nope..........silence. At this time they have left and moved on to their next victim. Now, you're probably thinking at home that this doesn't sound too bad. Well, it wasn't for us the first 75 times or so....in the first 3 days. By about week 4, it was getting pretty old. That conversation literally happened for us at least 6-8 times each day. Keith spiced it up a bit for us and has reacted differently purely for our entertainment. These reactions include: 1) turning it around on the seller and tried to sell him something 2) repeating everything they said (the real mature route) 3) acting like he was person that is cognitively delayed (I know, I know....so not appropriate, but we were running out tactics). I just really get tired of the fakeness. Everyone greets you and is very friendly but as soon as you let them know you are not interested in their service they want nothing to do with you. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I will say that all of the people that I've met that are not in the business of selling something to travelers (and even a handful of those who have helped us/sold us something) have been more than welcoming, friendly, and approachable. They make jokes with us, ask Keith and I if we are brother and sister (apparently I look like a tan, bald dude), ask us if we are Obama's kids (I must really be getting a tan), and truly want to know about us. In conclusion, I am really excited and relieved to be in Matemwe where the peeps are nice, the beach is nicer, and I have no decisions to make except whether to lie in the chair or in the hammock . More from Matemwe soon....