Sunday, September 19, 2010



I’ve been in the States for a couple of weeks, soaking up cheese, showing skin, and enjoying American culture after 27 months away! I was in Tanzania before coming home. I met up with my friend Shawn there, and then what’s better than one person from Massachusetts… but three?? His parents joined us for a week as well and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with all of them.

Some pitchas.

A viewpoint in the Usambara Mountains, Northeast Tanzania. I don’t know why my belly looks pregnant—it’s not. (Too much African beer, maybe?)

Tanzania’s version of a magnolia! (Louisiana state flower :)

Market scene in the Usambara mountains

Cute girls we ran into along the hike

More cute, this time in a field

Actually, kids not only looked cute, but they mad fun noises too. While we were hiking, I was telling Shawn a story, describing an incident in Cameroon that had really irritated me. I made an appropriate noise of disgruntled angst to describe my frustration. Apparently, at exactly that moment, there were about 15 Tanzanian children lurking in nearby bushes. Apparently, they all thought my sound effects were entertaining and immediately imitated them. So we were bombarded with this ridiculous sound, repeatedly, coming from 15 directions, and choruses of giggles. I couldn’t stop laughing because apparently, I sound a lot like a goat. My goat noise, in Tanzanian surround sound. I’m currently aiming to eliminate that sound from my repertoire..

Post hike, a stop in Tanga on the East coast, overlooking the Indian Ocean.

On the island of Pemba, Shawn contemplates the water and a traditional boat.

From the lighthouse of Pemba. The lighthouse was over 100 years old, built in the colonial heyday. And as you can see from my semi-crazed expression, the elevation was a little intimidating!

Zanzibar, the beautiful island off the east coast of Tanzania, in the Indian Ocean. In Stone Town, the main city, they have a bustling night market where you can buy amazing seafood! (Octopus tentacles, anyone? Not bad! Just a little chewy. And you can see the little suction cups.) Here, a vendor prepares the classic “Zanzibar pizza.”

Zanzibar night market. It's outdoors, in a big open square surrounded by gardens, a royal palace, and the water. Not too shabby.

We went on a space tour: nutmeg straight off the tree.

Cinnamon: the part we eat is just bark scraped off the trunk. That lighter colored patch is where it was just scraped off.

A little less all-natural: Konyagi, my favorite Tanzanian liquor. My grandfather was a sugarcane farmer, what can I say, I like things... beverages... (alcohol) made from sugar!

View from an old sultan’s palace in Zanzibar.

The traditionally constructed doors in Zanzibar are made of carved wood. Me + Shawn, Mama Shawn, and Papa Shawn.

Hey monkey. In the Jozani reserve on Zanzibar.

On to the Serengeti, where we spent a couple days. The giraffe and I got into a staring contest.

Hyenas are ugly. Sorry, hyenas.

The elephant and I had a heart to heart.

More Serengeti friends

Warthogs! I’m the only one who thinks they are cute. In the background, flamingos.

Wildebeest, like hyena = not pretty. Lovable though!

Fat-bottom hippos.

One last animal shot, this one from the Olduvai gorge. Apparently, as we monkey/men evolve, it seems the position of our big toe turns inward. Alas, in the image on the far left the monkey toe sticks straight out to the side. In the middle, the more-evolved human toe turns in, aligned directly with the foot. And what is this third specimen? A new creature of a more evolved state, whose big toe turns yet further inwards, moving further from monkey-dom, and towards some supreme form of human intelligence?! Oh wait. That’s just my ugly crooked foot. I’ll console myself and just pretend I’m more evolved. :)

Standing on the edge of Ngorongoro crater.

Alas, I’ve got a few more weeks in America now before I head to Guinea, where I will return to a healthy diet of leaf sauce and leave Ben, Jerry, and all their amazing ice cream behind. Til then, amigos, watch out for that little funny-dressed kid, either inappropriately trying to use modern technology (iPhone?!!), or standing baffled in a grocery store aisle near you!