Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thanks to everybody who was following me this summer. I know I promised to post more but this thing called MIT pretty much took over my life! I'm back at school now and more busy than ever, but in the little spare time I have, I've been putting together a website to showcase everything I was doing this summer. It's definitely not finished yet... I'm still adding photos and videos, but you're welcome to take a sneak-peak. Here's the link:


Thanks again for all your comments and words of encouragement!

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Hi everybody! Sorry I haven't posted anything in a while. This was my last week working here in Tanzania so it was pretty crazy trying to tie up all the loose ends. But what an amazing week it was! I promise I'll post the highlights when I get back. But for now I'm packing up my things, cleaning my apartment, saying some last goodbyes, and heading to the airport to pick up my family. Hopefully they recognize me, big hair and all!

This has been the most amazing summer. Thank you to everyone who made it possible!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Just a few pictures...

cooking traditional Tanzanian food with Abdullah's wife, Fatima. do you like my green kanga?

I gave tootsie rolls to some small children who were watching me talk to Peter. I tried to show this boy how to open the wrapper but when I went to put the candy in his hand he pointed to his mouth. I hope he enjoyed it!

having lunch with Daniel's family on Sunday afternoon. That's his son on his wife's back, and next to her is his sister.

some of the huge boulders in Mwanza. see the tiny person standing on the right?

here I am with Samson from KCMC showing our test user, Peter, how to use our folding prototype.

here I am with Joseph by Lake Victoria (this is where we got to eat breakfast in the morning!)

Let me catch you up....

July 20-22, 2007- Naenda Mwanza!

This weekend Joseph and I went to Mwanza, a place which Tanzanians call “Rock City.” It was his first time on an airplane so it was quite an adventure. He told me that he wasn’t scared at all but his palms sure got sweaty when we began to take-off! I can’t remember what it was like when I first flew on an airplane because I think I was only about 7 or 8 months old. However, I do remember being terrified of the bathrooms on the airplane. For some reason I was convinced that if I flushed the toilet I would get sucked down out of the plane, so I made my mom go in after me to flush. Don’t tell anybody!

Mwanza was unlike any place I had ever been. They call it Rock City for good reason; it looks like chunks of Stonehenge have just been dropped all over the place! There are huge boulders all over the place, with even more boulders balancing on top of them. On Saturday we went for a walk to a place called Rock Beach which was a stretch along the shore of the lake where they have some of the biggest boulders. I asked somebody if people had arranged the boulders like that themselves to which she replied, “why would they do that?” It was certainly a sight to see!

Lake Victoria is really gorgeous, and we were lucky that our hotel was right on the water. Nobody seemed to be swimming in the lake, but it was nice just to enjoy the view. All the other guests at the hotel ate their breakfast inside the air-conditioned restaurant, but we took our food each morning right up to the water, so close that I swear my toes were getting wet!

Joseph has a cousin who lives in Mwanza so we met with her to get the scoop on what to do. She took us to this shopping area that reminded me so much of Canal Street in New York City, except without all the Asian people and fake handbags. But each stall had clothes hanging in the front, and then you got to claw your way to the back to find even more goods. It was a lot of fun and I came away with some cute purchases.

When Joseph was much younger he had spent some time helping out at a rehabilitation center for blind people. I don’t know the whole story, but basically the sponsor wasn’t a good guy and the organization ended up corrupted, with money promised for the center never making it into the right hands. We had some really amazing conversations about the problems of Tanzania and what is being done to alleviate them, which ended with us deciding that we need start our own organization! I still have three more years at MIT, and even more if I go for a graduate degree, but I really think that we are on to something good here and I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

July 16-19, 2007- A Week in Review

I don’t even know where to start because far too much has happened this week! There is no way I can write about everything so I’ll try to capture the most important things. Upon some advice from my mom, here are my top ten highlights from this week (in no particular order):

1.Visited Emmanuel, a 12 year old boy who was housebound since birth because of a disability, but is now able to attend school because of a wheelchair provided by Mobility Care. When we asked him what he wanted more than anything he said “education.” Unfortunately, while the wheelchair allows him to attend school now, some of the other children are not very nice to him. We are looking into finding him a sponsor so he can attend a school in Dar es Salaam which is only for disabled children. It’s the same school where Daniel received his education and he turned out pretty amazing!

2.Returned to Moshi to visit Peter, the user who was testing our prototype. He was really pleased with the chair and offered some especially helpful feedback. He even pushed himself all the way to town and back in the chair which we clocked to be at least 15km each way! Peter was really an inspiration and I hope that I will be able to stay in contact with him. He’s an avid wheelchair tennis player and will be part of an exhibition at the PAWBA (Pan African Wheelchair Builders Association) 4th All African Wheelchair Congress this September, which I’m hoping to attend!

3.Made several new friends while waiting for and riding the daladala. 1) In the morning I walk down to meet Daniel at one of the bigger bus stops so we can ride together. A very nice man named Steven has elected himself to be my guard in the morning while I wait for Daniel. My Swahili and his English have been exhausted but somehow we still find ways to communicate, usually with large hand gestures! 2) Two mornings in a row I sat next to the same guy on the daladala so we took it as a sign and became friends. Benson was very excited that I want to learn Swahili, so he now sends me text messages in Swahili with the English translation in parentheses. 3) Later in the week I was riding in a very full daladala (what a surprise) and I was basically sitting in the lap of a Maasai man. As it turns out he’s an electrician and a tour guide working at the lodge where I’ll be staying with my parents when they arrive! So I’ll have to look for him next week.

4.Visited Usa River Rehabilitation Center to meet another wheelchair user who would be testing our prototype. Edmund was a bit shy at first but he seems excited to be part of our project. He doesn’t leave the center so he won’t be able to take the chair on public transportation, but he attends classes at the center and should be able to give feedback regarding the use of the chair in an indoor setting (which we don’t have yet). Everybody at the center was very friendly and from what I saw it looks like an amazing place. The only problem is that there aren’t enough centers like it around!

5.Took my folding wheelchair prototype on the daladala with me. Our test users have taken the chair on public transportation, but I’ve never been around for that. In order to reach Usa River to meet with Edmund at the center we had to take the chair on the bus. It was interesting to see how the conductor reacted to the chair, where he wanted to stow it, and what the other passengers thought. The wheels slide easily under the seat and chair itself can be placed comfortably in the front row against the bench, or even on the lap of the user himself.

6.Went to Abdullah’s house to meet with his wife who wanted to teach me how to cook Tanzanian food. Fatima was so excited and really put on quite a show. Her and Abdullah agreed that I couldn’t cook Tanzanian food unless I was wearing Tanzanian clothing, so after donning a piece of kanga we got to work. I explained that I really didn’t know much about cooking at all, so she gave me all the easy jobs like slicing the tomatoes and washing the coconuts. We cooked a large beef stew and a cabbage salad, but the pinnacle of the event was learning how to cook ugali, one of the most traditional Tanzanian foods. Made from ground maize and water, I can only describe it as a very stiff porridge. And it’s so filling! I felt so full after eating that I nearly had a food coma and Fatima insisted that I take “a small rest” before heading back to Arusha. It was certainly an unforgettable afternoon!

7.Was invited to have dinner with Rosemary, my Kenyan neighbor. She prepared a delicious meal and even though she had arranged a beautiful setting on the dining table, she insisted that we sit by the TV because her favorite program was coming on soon. Would you like to guess what show she was talking about? Desperate Housewives! I haven’t watched that show in a long time so I was really behind, but it was still so entertaining!

8.Felt tremors as a result of a large earthquake not too far from Arusha. As I was falling asleep on Sunday my room started shaking which seemed strange, but I have a wild imagination and came up with plenty of possible reasons for this. Then the next morning I read in the paper that there was an earthquake! The ‘quakes were estimated to be about a 5 on the Richter scale, and we continued to feel aftershocks and tremors for a few days after this. Everybody is perfectly safe, but apparently some of the larger tremors sent people running from their offices and homes!

9.Had some really amazing conversations with the staff here about some problems they have been having and what we can do together to fix them. While I’ll be really sad to leave this place at the end of the month I feel like there is so much I can still do once I return to the States. We generated some really interesting ideas and I’m excited about the possibilities that lie ahead!

10.Visited the Sibusiso Foundation to show Shirley and Christina (two other MIT students) around. I had already been overwhelmingly impressed by the center when I toured it last month, but if it’s possible I was even more amazed this time! They insisted that we stay and have lunch with them and when I explained that my friends at Mobility Care were expecting us for lunch and would be sad if we didn’t go back they said “but we will also be sad.” The staff here are really incredible and I walked away with many e-mail addresses of people who want to keep in touch!

So there you have it. While that sums up the most important experiences from the week there are still plenty of things that I couldn’t include. As you can see it was a pretty busy week!

Monday, July 16, 2007

I know how much you all love pictures....

Beat posing next to the walker he built for a small child. They don't have a design for walkers already, so the staff here came up with this one!

Joseph carving a celebratory pineapple. apparently his job last christmas was to carve the pineapple so he was really good at it!

here I am outside of TATCOT, the Tanzania Training Center for Orthopaedic Technologists. I hope one day I can teach here!

Here, There, Everywhere!

July 15, 2007- Lunch with the Namkessa’s

This was the weekend of following through on some things that I have been wanting to do for a while. Yesterday I went to the market and today I took Daniel’s whole family out to lunch! After a quick stop in town to buy a small gift for Daniel’s son, Joseph drove me to Daniel’s house so we could pick up his family. We really packed ourselves in there; Daniel and his son, little Joseph, in the front, and then myself, his brother Freddy, his sister, and his wife Emily in the back. So cozy! Little Joseph really likes cars so he was having a blast in the front, and at one point he was even playing with the shifter when big Joseph wasn’t looking!

We went to the AICC (Arusha International Conference Center) Club which had a beautiful garden for us to dine in, and a cute little playground in the back where we all took turns taking little Joseph to play. On the other side of the parking lot it also had a row of tennis courts where two guys had gotten into a heated match. Even though it was called a “club” it was certainly not a “country club” in any sense of the word. However, I’m sure it does cater a bit more to the middle and upper class.

Anyway, I had been telling Daniel for a while that I wanted to take his family out so I’m glad I finally got the opportunity to do it! We had two large platters of kuku choma, chips, and a whole huge tilapia! I didn’t think we would be able to finish but the guys really pulled through and finished everything off. Daniel pronounced himself the official winner of lunch which nobody could dispute.

Little Joseph was quite the entertainer throughout the meal. He would get up and run around, then cry a little, then get up and run around some more. He’s fascinated by cell phones, so whenever somebody’s phone would ring he would go chasing after them. When it was my turn to take him on the playground we played on the swings which he loved! The smile that washed over his face when I pushed him on the swing reminded me so much of my cousin Eli’s face when you rock him on our hammock. Something about that swinging motion just amazes those kids!

After lunch we headed into town because another student from MIT had arrived at the airport and was on the shuttle to town. Christina will be a senior in the fall, and she’s traveling pretty much all over the world to visit other students working on Public Service Center sponsored fellowships. Her plan is to photograph and document our work so it can be more effectively shared with our campus and community at school, and also to raise more awareness about the problems people face in these countries, what we’re doing to help them, and how we can do even more to help. It was nice to have some female company so we spent the rest of the afternoon chatting about school, our summer projects, and of course boys.

Rosemary, my Kenyan neighbor, had us over for tea which is always fun. She’s just such a bubbly woman! She’s a single mother and her only son is at school in the States so I think she enjoys the company too! As delicious as her tea is, it wasn’t quite enough to fill us up so we went out for dinner. Christina had just come from Uganda where apparently they don’t eat a lot of meat, so Joseph and I decided to take her out for kuku choma, even though we had just eaten it for lunch. Apparently we can never get tired of it!

July 14, 2007- Kwenda Sokoni (Going to the Market)

Last Wednesday I wrote about the chaos of finding a ride home because of the large market that was being held a few stops up from our workshop. The market is also held on Saturday, so I decided that I had to see the place where all the women were going with their large baskets of bananas and pineapples. What a sight it was! The place was mobbed and people were selling anything and everything. Those selling the same item tend to cluster together, so first I passed the women selling cloth, then the tomato salesmen, the potato guys, the women with oranges and avocados, and so on. The market is held in Tengeru which is where Joseph’s family lives, and his mother insisted on accompanying me to the market. I don’t think they get many “visitors” if any, so it was pretty nice to have an official escort!

I watched as my hosts carefully selected maize, potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes. Choosing the best, tastiest, healthiest vegetables seems to be an artform, with the buyer carefully holding each item before tossing it in their basket. I tried to ask what they were looking for when they were weighing the item in their hand, but apparently it’s not a skill that can be taught!

I bought a beautiful piece of kanga, which is a cloth that women wear here usually as a wrap, and it has a small proverb in Swahili along the sides. From the English translation they gave me, mine says something about peace on Earth. Before leaving the market Joseph’s mother said she had some business to take care of, so we sat outside and had some sodas while she scurried around. Then she sat in the car and rolled up the window so we couldn’t see what she was doing. Hmmmm. What can mama be up to? At the end of the day when we drove her back to her house, she plopped a small package wrapped in silver cellophane on my lap. I tried to tell her that I really couldn’t accept a gift and that she didn’t need to get me anything but she wouldn’t hear it and insisted that I wait until I reach home to open it. So I followed her wishes and when I arrived at my apartment I opened my package to find a beautiful set of traditional Tanzanian clothing! The blue and purple cloth has an incredible white design along the hem and it fits me as though it had been specially made just for me. I don’t know how she did it!

Before going back to town we stopped at the Mountain Village, where Joseph’s father works. We were waiting for him to return from a tour so we sat outside in a beautiful garden overlooking a large lake. The chairs in the garden were absolutely gorgeous. They had been designed so that from the sides they look like giraffes. When I told Joseph how much I liked them he said, “oh thank you. I made them.” Haha very funny. Good joke. After 10 minutes of me telling them I didn’t believe him, one of the staff at the hotel confirmed that Joseph really did make those chairs! Right now I’m trying to figure out how I can bring one back because they really are beautiful.

I was planning to meet up with some friends from work for dinner but I was so exhausted from my long day at the market that I passed out when I came home and didn’t wake up until the next morning!

July 13, 2007- On Again Off Again

The internet at Mobility Care has been out for almost two months, so I was really excited on the way to work this morning when Daniel announced that it was back up! He informed me that the technician had fixed it just before lunch yesterday, and he had spent the rest of the day sending e-mails until it was time to go home! I managed to squeeze in some quality time catching up on my correspondence this morning until it went out again. Apparently it tends to be “on again-off again” so everybody is sure it will be back soon.

There are two dogs that always walk around the property who were both very, very pregnant the last time I checked. Well of course the one day I go to Moshi they both had their babies! So the Mobility Care family now includes 16 tiny, incredibly cute puppies! We decided that maybe we can use them as a promotion, like “buy 5 wheelchairs, get a free puppy!” What do you think?

Word seemed to spread quickly that the internet was “working” at our workshop so the afternoon brought us many visitors. Toward the end of the day Emmanuel, one of the occupational therapists from Sibusiso, stopped by. A few weeks ago we had tried to make plans to go to dinner together but it didn’t work out, and today Emma wanted to redeem himself. Mr. Daniel is a huge fan of pork so after he and Emma debated for some time about the best place to go, we set off for The New Bar. Apparently it’s so new that they haven’t given it a real name yet! The pork was served on a communal platter (as always) and was mixed with vegetables. Unfortunately I picked up what I thought was a piece of potato, but which my mouth confirmed to be a large piece of fat. Mmmmm. Other than that the meal was quite tasty!

July 12, 2007- Moshi!

This morning I set off for Moshi to visit Abdullah and the guys at KCMC. My new apartment is too far to walk to the bus stand, so I took the daladala to town. When I got off I started heading for the bus stand and an older gentleman who had been on my daladala caught up and was walking with me. He was very excited to see that I knew where I was going without taking out the “travelers bible” which I deduced to be the Lonely Planet guidebook. He was very sweet and even helped me to find a good shuttle that got me there in 90 minutes, as opposed to my usual 2+ hours.

It was nice to be back in Moshi at KCMC because it had been too long since I had last visited—which all the guys let me know! “Why have you been lost for so long?” they wanted to know. It was drizzling when I got there, so we quickly packed into Abdullah’s car and headed off to find Peter, a wheelchair user who would be the next to test our prototype. Luckily Abdullah had four wheel drive because it was a crazy ride up the side of a mountain, on a road that quickly turned to mud. To my untrained eye all the roads and “driveway” looked the same, so I’m amazing that we managed to find Peter’s house. We did have to ask a few people for directions, which they usually answered with something like “turn left at the banana trees up there” or “go back to that big pothole and turn right!”

Peter leaves 10+km from town, and he has to push himself there often. The daladala conductors usually refuse to take him because of his wheelchair, and now when the roads are muddy they don’t even come up near where he lives. Peter was really an inspiration. When the front wheels on the hospital wheelchair he was given wore out after a few months he made his own from some spare wood. Now he has happy to be using a three-wheeler from KCMC which he even plays wheelchair tennis in! I told him that next time I come to Tanzania I’ll bring my racket and we can play which he’s looking forward to. The area around his house is pretty crazy, so it should provide an awesome environment to test our prototype.

As we were talking with Peter and explaining our prototype to him a kindergarten class let out and about 15 small children came screaming down the hill from our school. When they saw us they became completely silent, watching my every move. I had some Tootsie Rolls in my bag that Wenxian had left here, so I scrounged up enough and gave one to each of them. I demonstrated how to open the wrapper and eat the candy, after which all the children wanted me to open theirs. It was so cute! I’ll be going back next Thursday to talk with Peter and gather his feedback on our chair (and I’ll have to remember to pack some more candies for my new friends!)

On the drive back to KCMC we got into a really interesting conversation about “bride prices.” Here it is custom for the man to give something to the family of his wife-to-be. Usually the man gives an assortment of cows and goats, although in some tribes they also give blankets and some other small animals. According to Abdullah I would be worth at least 20 cows, which I took to be a very nice compliment! All in all, I’m not too sure how I feel about this custom. From what they’ve explained to me, it helps to unite the family of the groom with that of the bride because they have shared something very special. They were very interested that in my country the man doesn’t pay anything for his wife, and I think they all want to find wives from America now! At one point the conversation was so funny that Abdullah had to pull over to the side of the road because he was laughing too hard to drive! My trips to Moshi always provide me with a good abdominal workout.

After work Shirley and I treated the guys to some nyama choma for lunch, which was tasty as always. But I nearly choked on my food I was laughing so hard at one point! Abdullah was very happy that we were enjoying ourselves so much in his country, and he told Shirley he hoped she would come back again soon. When I asked him why he wasn’t asking me to come back he said, “I don’t have to ask you to come because I know you will be coming back very soon! But you know I will be very happy for you to come.” He went on to say that he would be most happy if I became his sister-in-law. (Everybody here refers to their fellow citizens as brothers and sisters, so I suppose if you marry here you then have thousands of sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law!)

We went to KASI after our late lunch to see how everybody was doing there. Unfortunately Dr. Nyamubi was home sick but I chatted with him briefly on the phone and we have plans to meet up soon. He also told me that he has seen my blog so if you’re reading this now, I hope you feel better soon!!! KASI is an amazing organization and I’m really excited to see how we can get involved.

I had been asking Abdullah when I could meet his wife so I was pleasantly surprised when she was there at KASI! Fatima is the cutest woman and so sweet! When I told her that I had heard a lot about her she said, “Even me, I have heard things about you!” Abdullah likes to make jokes about having multiple wives but he really just does it for a laugh. He’s very devoted to his wife and even called her “my little angel.” Awwwww! Next week she wants to teach me how to cook some Tanzanian dishes, because you know, obviously I’ll never find a husband if I don’t know how to cook good ugali. This place charms me even more each day!

Albert walked me to the bus stand and made sure I got on a good shuttle. The big bus stands are always packed with vendors, walking around with all sorts of things that they try to sell you through your window while you wait for your bus to leave. I helped myself to some “Glucose Biscuits- Boost Your Energy” and a newspaper, but sadly I had to turn down the man selling soap, the one with radios, and another who was selling socks. Ironically the biscuits didn’t boost my energy at all—rather, I fell asleep halfway through the trip. Although that might have been due to the exceptional heat being produced from all the bodies packed closely together.

It had been quite hot in Moshi once it stopped raining, so at first I didn’t mind the cold that greeted me back in Arusha. But when Joseph and I went out for dinner later that night it was really chilly! It’s very charming to sit outside under the beautiful thatched roofs at these typical Tanzanian restaurants, but sometimes I find that when the waiter comes around with the hot water to wash our hands, I want to ask him to pour it all over me so I can warm up! I don’t know how I’m going to survive the winter in Boston this year!

July 11, 2007- Lots of Wageni (Visitors)

I was feeling very rested after my relaxing trip to Zanzibar and I was excited to get back to work at Mobility Care today. Everybody wanted to hear about my trip so I regaled them with stories while we worked. Apparently I can be quite the storyteller!

We had so many visitors today! First was Bingo, or Mr. Beads as I like to call him. I had visited him in his hometown of Monduli a few weeks ago where he makes the most amazing things with beads. He had finished my things and was very happy to deliver them today. The blouse he made me is so gorgeous! I put it on, along with the headwrap he made from the same fabric and everybody was so excited! They started calling me “mama Afrika” which means “African woman.” I was even paraded around the property in my new apparel so everybody around could see! Bingo is being sponsored for a wheelchair, so after the excitement over my new clothing settled down, we measured him for his chair.

Daniel and I continued to work on the prototype of our folding tray. I was worried that it was becoming too intricate and difficult to produce but Daniel assured me that everything was simple and there was “no problem”. Then again, the Tanzanians are very fond of that expression, with at least a dozen ways to say no problem, no worries, or some variety of the sort.

A short while later we had two more visitors! Zachariah—one of our test users—showed up with Freddy, Daniel’s younger brother. Zachariah was there to be measured for a wheelchair and Freddy had come to show him the way, and also to visit us! He had his heart set on going to medical school but has been unable to find a good sponsor, so he has decided to go to the Monduli Teacher’s College to become a science teacher. Then he can save up the money he needs and pay his own way through medical school here. He would really make a fantastic teacher because he’s so passionate about the material. I wish him the best of luck!

Just as were leaving work at the end of the day, a school bus from the School of St. Jude got lost around Mobility Care. After helping them out, they offered to give us a ride to town. It was quite a sight, all of these adults packed onto this little school bus!

A few weeks ago when I was coming back from Nairobi I wrote about how I made two very nice friends, both working for the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda here in Arusha. When I was on the beach in Zanzibar this weekend Rosemary called to see how I was doing. I explained that I had been very busy because I just moved to a new apartment and after a very funny exchange we figured out that not only do we live in the same apartment, we live right across the hall! At first she didn’t believe me and wanted to knock on my door but I explained that I wasn’t there because I was in Zanzibar, but would come and visit as soon as I got back.

So tonight I went across the hall and spent a lovely time chatting with Rosemary, and enjoying some delicious tea that she had prepared for us. She has a son who is about my age who just finished high school in the states, and will be starting college in the fall. He must be pretty smart because he’s majoring in aeronautical engineering! She’s been living in her apartment for almost 3 years now so it looks much more homey than mine, and it was a lot of fun to chat with her about anything and everything. At one point we even played dress-up in her closet because I was interested to learn more about East African clothing. She’s thinking about maybe coming to work in New York after the Tribunal finishes up next year so I’ll have to return the favor and have her over for tea in Waccabuc if she does!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

You asked for it...

here I am at daniel's house with his adorable little son!

I can't remember why I have my head tilted at such an odd angle here, but I'm pretty sure I was checking to see if the tray was situated at the correct angle. at least that seems like a reasonable explanation for why I look like that!

here I am with Mr. Mangoes in Zanzibar! he really did have the tastiest mangoes.

here is Mr. Lucas working on one of the special children's wheelchairs.

Agnes and I making burgers and hot dogs on the fourth of july. note her festive clothing!

here I am on the dive boat in Zanzibar with my divemaster and official buddy, Mbwana

doing a stability test on Daniel's wheelchair.. and having a little fun!

Joseph and I at lunch one weekend afternoon.

our MIT sand castle! I swear the picture doesn't do justice to all the hardwork and sweat we poured into that.

I know I've been slow to post these.....

.... but here they are now! Read all about my Fourth of July Celebration, progress on making a foldable tray for the wheelchair, and my recent trip to Zanzibar!

June 10, 2007- Back to Arusha

Unfortunately this morning we had to leave Paradise. Usually I’m pretty sad when a vacation comes to an end, but I think this time I was okay because I knew that even though I was leaving Zanzibar, I was going back to Arusha—my home away from home. While going back to Arusha means back to work, it’s work that I love doing with people who I really missed. Awwwwwww.

The flight back routed us through Dar es Salaam which made for an interesting trip, but I was happy when we got back to Arusha. My refrigerator seems to only have one setting regardless of how you turn the knob, and that setting is freezing! So all my fruits seem to have turned to stone over the weekend. Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to buy more! Other than that the apartment is in tip-top shape. We returned from Zanzibar mid-afternoon so while we were waiting to meet with some friends for dinner I enjoyed the view from my perch on the fourth floor.

I took Mario to New Countryside Bar, a restaurant close to my apartment where they serve the best kuku choma (barbequed chicken). After I ordered the food the waitress proceeded to ask me another series of questions that I was not expecting. I presume she was asking how much chicken—half, quarter, the whole thing? But unfortunately I don’t know any of those words. Mario and I tried to demonstrate “one half” using some entertaining hand motions but eventually the waitress realized we were going nowhere fast and gave it her best guess.

Somehow we were still hungry after this (maybe we needed more chicken?) so I decided we should get chips mayai, the tasty potato omlette that I like so much and which Mario had yet to try. Joseph was back in town so he joined us for our second dinner of the night. In the middle of this meal my friend Boniphace (Taye Diggs’ twin) called because he was with another friend who wanted to take us out for pizza. I may have still been hungry after the chicken but by this point I was really full! We met up with Boniphace and his friend just to say hi, and somehow I was convinced to order a cappuccino and a nutella crepe, which Joseph happily helped me finish. I think I’ve officially spoiled myself in terms of food these past few days!

June 9, 2007- Fish Galore

I had gotten certified as an Open Water scuba diver a few months ago through a physical education class at MIT, so I was really excited to be in a place with such amazing dive sites. In Massachusetts I had to wear two super thick wetsuits, booties, gloves, and a hood so I was delighted to be diving in such warm water!

When I got on the boat the divemaster asked everybody to introduce themselves and their diving background. Well it turns out that all my fellow divers were these amazing advanced divers who had logged tons of dives all over the world. Then there was me, the baby who had just gotten certified. When he was making buddy pairs the divemaster picked me for his buddy and basically took me under his wing. It worked out amazingly because not only did he take really good care of me, but he knew where to find all the best fish so I got a really amazing tour! We did dives at two different sites of about 40 minutes each, at a depth of about 20 meters, and it was amazing!! I was a little scared when I hopped in the water and was greeted by a school of jellyfish (my archenemy next to snakes) but Mbwana, my buddy, picked one up and started playing with it to show me that they were harmless.

The fish we saw were amazing! Big ones, small ones, long ones, skinny ones—blue, green, orange… you name it! It was just incredible. Between the two dives they served up some freshly cut pineapple and bananas on a flipper that doubled as a tray. I think this place really set the bar for the rest of my diving!

I came back around 2 and quickly had lunch so I could get back onto the beach. It was quite a relaxing afternoon, going back and forth between playing in the warm water and napping on the beach. Ahh… to be in paradise. Before I had decided that I would definitely get married in Antigua, a Caribbean vacation spot that has become like a second home for my family, but I think Zanzibar might be in the running now. I guess it depends on who I marry!

After another Zanzibar sunset we showered and headed for dinner. Another restaurant on our beach was having a barbeque so we decided to go for it. We sat at a table that had been constructed from an old dhow and ate under a sky filled with more stars than I thought could be possible. They had built a little bonfire on the beach so after dinner we relaxed by the fire and just enjoyed the atmosphere.

July 8, 2007- Up to Nungwi

This morning Pandu arrived bright and early to transfer us to Nungwi, a beach on the northern tip of Zanzibar where we would be spending the next two nights. Our hotel was called Paradise Beach Bungalows, and what a paradise it was! The water was an amazing mix of dark blue and light turquoise, dotted with old dhows and fishermen paddling their boats with long sticks a la Venice. I quickly changed into my bathing suit because I couldn’t wait any longer to get on the beach and feel the fine white sand between my toes.

As I splashed into the water it suddenly occurred to me that I was in the Indian Ocean. I’ve never been in the Indian Ocean before! I was struck by how incredibly far away from home I was and reflected on the path that had taken me all the way here. I don’t want to get all dramatic and serious but I did do some quality thinking under that scorching sun.

At high tide our beach was just one of many along the coast, but at low tide the water goes out so far that all the beaches between the different hotels connect together into one long, long beach. So as the water moved out we walked around a bit, exploring this charming new place and of course making lots of friends along the way.

We were talking about how much fun it would be to make a sand castle when I suddenly had an idea—let’s make a sand castle of MIT! Emily and I had built part of the campus as a gingerbread house for a competition around the holidays (which we won I might add) so making it out of sand couldn’t be much harder. We must have looked pretty silly, 3 adults digging on the beach, making odd shapes with the sand and obsessing over the location and design of each mound. Building the Stata Center was a lot of fun—just toss random piles of sand all over the place and you’re done! A group of South African college students were taking bets on what we were making, so I tried my best to explain that we really weren’t strange people, we just wanted to make a sand castle of our school. Okay, so maybe we were a little weird but it was a lot of fun! The pictures don’t do justice to our MIT castle which lasted for most of the afternoon, until two dogs decided to wrestle in it.

It just doesn’t get cold here so as the sun was setting I was still laying on the beach. I had my feet pointed toward the water, and as the sun came down it made this beautiful pink line across the water that could have been connected straight through my feet to my head! I felt so perfectly aligned with the world, as bizarre as that sounds.

July 7, 2007- Off to Zanzibar!

This morning we set off early to catch our flight to Zanzibar! Zanzibar! I just can’t say the name enough. Precision Air runs a shuttle from town to the airport for free so after a quick trip to the ATM and a stop to get some egg chop for breakfast we arrived at their office. I suddenly realized that I had forgotten my passport (I know, so silly of me!) but as it turned out I didn’t need it because I wasn’t going out of the country—I just used my driver’s license instead. While we went to wait inside somehow the shuttle left without us, 20 minutes before it was scheduled to depart!! I could feel “airport Lou” starting to creep up inside of me but Joseph calmed that beast and handled the problem effortlessly, getting Mario and I our own private shuttle to the airport.

Kilimanjaro Airport is so cute! I had arrived very late at night when I came in June so I didn’t really see much of it then. Like almost everything here, it’s really very charming. Another MIT student, Shirley, met us at the airport because she had been in Moshi. We all jabbered away about anything and everything and before we knew it we had landed in Zanzibar! I was certainly not prepared for the heat. Arusha has been so mild, even chilly at times, so I was overwhelmed at first by the sun!

I spotted a man holding a sign that said “Tesch x3” who I deduced to be our driver. After exchanging the usual Tanzanian hospitalities, Pandu helped us into his jeep and took us over to Stone Town, giving us a detailed history of everything we passed along the way. We checked into the Safari Lodge which was nestled between stone buildings along narrow streets just wide enough for people and bicycles.

Feeling adventurous, we asked Pandu to suggest a couple places for us to check out. A short walk took us to this amazing spice market where we all bought lots of souvenirs. Along the way we passed through wheelbarrows and stalls of people selling all kinds of fruits which is always my favorite. I made a new friend who I affectionately refer to as Mr. Mangoes because he had the most delicious mangoes! He sliced one up for me in a pretty creative fashion and I munched it on the street as we weaved between the spice stalls. It really doesn’t get much better than this! I love talking to people on the street so this was a great opportunity to practice my conversational Swahili.

Pandu had told us about this amazing fish barbeque that was pretty close to our hotel so before it got dark we headed over there. I can’t even being to explain this place! It was basically a pier on the water covered in rectangular tables with people selling anything and everything to eat. The fish guys had big tables with kebabs of every kind of fish, crab, lobster, etc. When you selected your items they would pop them on the barbeque and cook it right there for you. It was really fun to watch the whole process from beginning to end. The tables always seemed fully stocked because the “chefs” had guys behind them scooping up the fish—but the funny part was that these stockers seemed to be scooping up the fish right from the sea! In reality they were just picking them from their stock below on the beach, but from where we were it really looked like they were just fishing them from the water!

We tasted Zanzibarian Pizza which is essentially this really thin piece of dough that the chef puts scoops of meat, tomatoes, mayo, and an egg on. He mixes it all together, cooks it in a frying pan, and then cuts it into neat little finger-food sized pieces. It was surprisingly delicious given the ingredients! A later pizza guy I found was making chocolate and banana pizza which of course I had to try. I took a picture with him and instead of saying cheese, he instructed me to say “yummy yummy!” I love it!

After stuffing ourselves full of food it was still pretty early, so we decided to stop for a drink at this cute little restaurant overlooking the water. It was run by a very sweet Hindu family who really chatted us up. The man who appeared to be the owner was this very sweet 67 year old guy who had been born and raised in Zanzibar, but who had traveled to lots of other places. He told us charming stories from his life and bragged about his house on the island that costs him only $4 a month! One of his sons joined us who must have been mildly autistic because he was rattling off the capital of every country and its major airport. It was a very memorable night to say the least. I have the worst sense of direction in the world (mom, you can vouch for that) so luckily my companions were handy navigators and got us back to our hotel easily at the end of the night.

July 5-6, 2007- Work Work Work

What a busy week! At Mobility Care we have hard at work prototyping our first design for the foldable tray, which is coming along pretty nicely. The only problem is that everybody is so excited to work on it, that I feel bad reminding them that they should be sure to take care of their own business first before helping me with mine. It seemed like an easy task at first—just cut a rectangular piece of wood and have it fold out onto the user’s lap. But alas it’s much more complicated than that. The user needs to maintain full functionality while in the chair—so basically this means that when folded, the tray cannot hinder the user in any way. In other words, when it’s folded you shouldn’t even be able to tell that it’s there! I’ll write more about this when I have an update, but for now we’re still prototyping and working out the kinks.

On Thursday night Joseph and I went on a wild goose chase looking for sheets and blankets for the apartment. We drove past closed shop after closed shop until Joseph suddenly had a brainstorm and took me speeding off toward Sakina. The Sakina Supermarket can only be likened to a luxurious Target. Not only is it open until close to 10pm, but when you enter you are greeted by your own personal shopper who carries your basket and helps you select your items. I wanted to buy everything but limited myself to a case of Coca Cola Light (the closest thing to Diet Coke), peanut butter and jelly fixings, and a variety of fruits including one very large pineapple.

Outside the Supermarket we stopped to get dinner and while we were waiting we had some egg chop. To make egg chop you basically take a hard-boiled egg, cover it in meat, batter it, and then deep fry it. Needless to say it’s absolutely delicious. Just don’t eat too many!

On Friday night Mario arrived from Nairobi so after picking him up we met with Mr. Daniel for dinner. I think this week must have really worn me out because boy was I tired! Mr. Daniel was thinking that we could go somewhere to dance and listen to music after dinner but I was way too tired for that. We had an early flight to Zanzibar the next morning and I still hadn’t packed so we headed pack to prepare for our trip.

July 4, 2007- Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! I hope you all had a happy celebration, wherever you were. I had promised my friends here at Mobility Care that I would prepare a real American lunch for them on this occasion, and boy did we have a feast! I had a small American flag that I had brought from home, and using some colored pens I managed to make a small Tanzanian flag to hang next to it. When Agnes arrived this morning I was totally surprised to see her decked out in full Tanzanian traditional clothing. She had even brought one piece for me to wear! Even though it’s not practical for the kind of work we do here, Agnes felt that she needed to wear it because today was such a special day. How sweet!

It was really cold today so we brought the gas stove inside to cook, and after taking care of our usual morning business Agnes and I set off to prepare the food. She was very excited to learn how to make hamburgers and hot dogs and let me tell you, she was one fast learner! I think she’s now officially ready to open up her own American restaurant here in Arusha.

I made a poor conversion between grams and pounds which led me to buy far too much meat, but luckily everybody had brought their biggest appetites today. Lucas and Agnes each packed away two cheeseburgers and Daniel had a burger and three hot dogs! I couldn’t have been happier to see them enjoying it so much. After taking a few bites of her burger Agnes announced, “now I am no longer in Tanzania. Now I am in America.” I explained that while it was lunchtime for us in Arusha, my friends and family in America were still sleeping—and everybody here was very excited that we had begun the celebration for everybody back in the States!

As if we weren’t busy enough already, today we had so many visitors! I think I mentioned earlier how KASI had found sponsors for 10 wheelchairs, so three of the new users came today to be measured for their wheelchairs. When they smelled the food coming from the office/kitchen they were delighted to partake in the festivities as well!

On Wednesdays there is a huge market at Tengeru, a town just a few stops past Mobility Care. For all the previous Wednesdays I have been in Moshi, so I’ve missed the craziness that ensues when you try to catch the daladala on Wednesday evening. Let me tell you, it was a pretty big adventure! Because the daladala stops at the market before coming to our stop, each one was jam-packed with people (and their various sacks of goods) by the time it reached us. We finally decided to take a daladala out of town toward the market, where we would get off and switch to come back. It seemed like a good idea, but when we reached the market the people rushed the bus and piled on so fast that there was no way we could get off! So we had to ride out all the way to Usa River (the last stop) and then we stayed on to come back. I’ve talked about how crowded the daladala can be, but this really broke all records. At one point I counted at least 25 heads in a space meant for 16. Now add in the fact that everybody has large sacks of oranges, rice, tomatoes, and plenty of small children! It was certainly an experience I’ll never forget.

I had found a really nice apartment and I was supposed to move my things there tonight, and then I would move myself in on Friday after the current tenant moved out. I called to tell her that I was running late and she informed me that it didn’t matter because she had already moved out! Ah, so I can move in? Yes! I hastily packed up my things so I could get over there before it was too late, but the landlord was happy to come over and let me in (and collect his money of course.)

It’s a beautiful apartment with a gorgeous view from its perch on the fourth floor. The only problem was that despite being furnished with a bed, sofa, etc, there were no blankets or pillows. Apparently I was supposed to bring my own. It’s not a big deal because I can buy those things for very cheap, but nothing was open because it was so late. So I pulled on my sweatpants and sweatshirt and I was actually surprisingly warm for the night! But hopefully tomorrow I can pick up those last items that will make the place really great.

Joseph had come over to help me move my things from the guesthouse to the apartment and to thank him I wanted to make a proper American Fourth of July dinner (because he wasn’t at our party this afternoon). Unfortunately I couldn’t come up with much given the hour, so we had a delicious meal of French fries, Crystal Light Lemonade, and the smallest Snickers bars I’ve ever seen. I’d say that was pretty American!

I would say that this was one of the best days I’ve had here, but really, every day is amazing. Each day I meet more amazing people, I learn things I never thought I could learn, and I share moments with friends that I’ll remember forever. Okay maybe that was a little sappy, but this has really been the most amazing summer. Thank you to everybody who has supported me along the way.

July 2-3, 2007

The past two days just flew by. In fact, the past month has really flown by! I can’t believe I’ve been here for a month already, and I certainly can’t even begin to think about the fact that I only have one month more. Tonight Daniel informed that he already had figured out how he could extend my stay. He has decided that he can just talk to KLM and have them cancel all their flights out of Tanzania, and warned me not to be surprised when I have to stay for a few more weeks. Ahhh, I wouldn’t mind that at all!

We’ve spent the past two days brainstorming on the Vodacom project, specifically how to make a foldable tray. The idea is to have a large rectangular tray that the user can pull out when they want to “open up shop.” The difficulty is in finding a mechanism that is simple to produce, easy for the user to use, and sleek enough so that it does not hinder the user’s regular activity. We have two ideas that seem pretty on target, so we’re ready to start prototyping!

I went running around town before work this morning to find all the supplies needed to make a proper American feast for the 4th of July tomorrow. I managed to come up with hamburger meat and Heinz ketchup, but there are no hamburger buns anywhere! I think I may have to give in and use the regular SupaLoaf bread which we make our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on. In any case it should be a really fun day!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Feeling better!

July 1, 2007- All Around Arusha

My guesthouse is very nice but after being there for a month it’s starting to lose its allure. So I decided to see if I could find an apartment to rent, perhaps something that will feel more like a home and less like a motel. A friend of Joseph’s who I had met at the birthday party last night knew of a good place so I met up with him to check it out. I should have realized that being Sunday, nothing would be open. So the office at the apartment complex was unfortunately closed but from the outside it seems really nice! He’s going to make some calls for me and hopefully I can figure it all out by the end of the week. I’m pretty sure my adventure in apartment hunting can’t even compare to what my brother will soon be doing in Manhattan! Good luck Alex!

In the afternoon I met Joseph and we went to have a very late lunch with one of his brothers who is a chef at a restaurant outside Arusha. I told him that when I open my East African restaurant at home he has to come and help me! After lunch I went to visit Mr. Daniel at his home because I had not seen him much this weekend. His wife and son gave me a very warm greeting as always, and I was also happy to find that one of his sisters and his brother were also there. After the sun had set it became very dark, so Daniel set up a lantern and we all sat around and talked. It reminded me of those rare nights at home when the power would go out and we would all sit around by candlelight.

Joseph’s friend Tony—affectionately nicknamed Tony Blair-- was having a problem with his car so we went to help him out after leaving Daniel’s house. After we gave him a lift to his house he insisted that I come inside and greet everybody, including all the neighbors and their children! I must have met half the population of Arusha by now. I love it!

June 30, 2007- Saturday in Arusha

I’m planning a trip to Zanzibar hopefully very soon so I had a chat with the agent who is helping me with the booking this morning, and then went to one of my favorites, Dreamers Café, for breakfast. They have the best donuts in town and they always have plenty of fresh passion fruit juice. But that might not have been the best choice for food given my sick stomach, and I’m pretty sure I ended up paying for it this afternoon!

Amos Winter, the instructor of the class at MIT where I learned about wheelchair technology in developing countries and a really amazing guy, had put me in touch with a friend of his who he had met here in Arusha. Boniface had been away for a few weeks but was back in town and wanted to meet me! Now is probably a good time to mention that in Amos’ description of Boniface, he said “this guy looks just like Taye Diggs.” So I set off into town looking for Mr. Diggs’ long lost twin.

After meeting Boniface I have to say that was a pretty good description! He doesn’t know what Taye Diggs looks like so I promised him next time we would go to the internet café and I would show him, or he could just look in the mirror. He was really great company and he was born and raised in Arusha so he knows all the best places to go. Needless to say we will be hanging out again soon.

I got hit with another wave of stomach pain this afternoon, maybe as a result of my poorly chosen breakfast, so I went back to the guesthouse to rest some more. My mom told me to make some toast or oatmeal which would be a great idea if I but had a toaster or hot water! Thank you mommy!

When I was feeling better Joseph came to take me to dinner. We went to the Triangle Polygon Restaurant, which brings the number of restaurants I’ve eaten in here to well over 30. When we sat down there was one of those little stand-up menus on the table that you would find at many American restaurants—you know the kind that lists a couple specials or something and has very appetizing pictures of the food. I was completely overwhelmed when I picked it up to find that it was advertising tempura shrimp and vegetable springrolls on one side, and apple pie and tiramisu on the other. It was like finding an oasis in the middle of the desert! But like an oasis it wasn’t real; the restaurant was just using it as decoration because they liked the pictures. Nevertheless the meal was still delicious. My chicken was served with a border of fresh cucumbers which the waitress saw I was really enjoying, so she had the chef prepare me a whole plate of chopped fresh veggies. Sometimes I think they spoil me too much!

Joseph’s supervisor was celebrating his 40th birthday so after dinner we went over to the party. He had an adorable little house with a small garden bordered by tall banana plants, that had been filled with tables and chairs, each decorated with a small bouquet of flowers and candles. I felt bad that I was kind of crashing this party but I was greeted with nothing less than the warmest hospitality (although that seems to be the case everywhere I go here!) A few guys were very excited to talk about American politics with me which has actually happened a few times before. Barack Obama’s father is from Kenya so everybody in East Africa seems to very excited for his campaign, as am I!

June 29, 2007- Back to Work

Sometimes it’s just nice to have some company, so I decided to go back to work today even though I wasn’t quite 100% better. Everybody was so happy to see me, and I couldn’t have been happier to see them too! They filled me in on all the things I had missed and I told them entertaining stories about my past few days, most of which involved me trying to speak some muddled Swahili.

Agnes cooks lunch out in this little gazebo/hut on the property using an old skillet over a gas flame, and I’m always amazed at how delicious the meals are that she prepares. I decided to join her today even though my culinary skills are limited to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot pockets. I think she must have been happy to have the company out there because she engaged me in conversation for quite some time! She’s only a few years older than I am so it was really interesting to see what her life is like, and what life is like for women in general here.

Whenever I go out to eat at the restaurants I’m usually surrounded by men, and if there are other women there they are usually accompanied by a husband or boyfriend. Now don’t get me wrong, I definitely have seen small groups of women at restaurants before, but they usually seem to be just having a drink and not eating. When I asked Agnes about this she thought it was pretty funny. From her explanation it seems that many women don’t like to eat in restaurants because they themselves cook all the time. It would be like Ralph Lauren buying clothes from J. Crew (or something like that). When I open my East African restaurant back in the States I’m making Agnes my head chef!

As usual we were making wali (rice) and vegetables, but I had also bought some pasta which Agnes wanted to cook. The brand of pasta is called “Mr. Pasta” but Agnes decided that they had made a mistake and that this was actually “Mrs. Pasta” because in her words “they are so beautiful.” I think they were the Farfalle butterfly shaped pasta, but it was just so adorable to listen to her talk about them!

In the afternoon we were all outside working—Beat was painting, Lucas was cutting footrests, Agnes was assembling sideguards, and Daniel and I were discussing something with Dr. Nyamubi on the phone. KASI periodically receives funding from outside sponsors to build wheelchairs, so Dr. Nyamubi wanted Mobility Care to build 10 wheelchairs! The only problem was that he needs pictures of the users to send to the sponsors so we were just discussing how I can help them out this time. (And there just might be a special gift waiting for Daniel before I leave that will help them to do this in the future after I’ve gone! But shhhh.. he doesn’t know yet.)

As we were packing up at the end of the day Daniel and I hurried off to meet Zachariah, who had been testing our chair this week. His feedback was really fantastic and he was so excited about the chair! He had taken it on the daladala without any problems which was great to hear. He also found the design particularly useful at night for when he needs to “park” his chair. Usually he has to leave his chair outside of his home because there is no space to bring it inside, but this is dangerous as somebody could easily take it. With the space he saves by folding the chair, he was able to bring it inside and store it safely overnight without worrying. So cool!

It was already late so I decided just to take the wheelchair to my guesthouse rather than drag it all the way back to Mobility Care. I wheeled it back to Kitundu and then set about folding it. Let’s just say I attracted quite a crowd! Everybody wanted to see what I was doing and it was really fun to show them, although I’m sure I looked pretty ridiculous. Several people wanted to help me carry the chair down to my room, where it is now safely “parked” for the weekend.

Joseph took me out to dinner but I haven’t quite gotten my appetite back yet so I’m not sure how much fun I was. He decided that what I really needed was a steaming cup of fresh milk, to which I tried to explain that dairy products usually make me feel worse, but “lactose-intolerant” isn’t part of my Swahili vocabulary yet. This restaurant had a small menu with mostly African food, but a few American items listed like hamburger, hot dog, and pizza. I’ve been to a few restaurants that boast these delicacies, but they never seem to have them available when I ask!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

What to do...

June 28, 2007- Rest for the Weary

Last night I really thought I was starting to feel better. My friend Joseph had come over to check on me because he had heard that I was sick, and after hearing that I hadn’t really eaten much all day he promptly took me out to get some dinner. We ordered “take away” to bring back to the guesthouse and stopped at the Duka La Dawa (pharmacy) to get some medicine for my stomach, which was starting to feel worse again. When we unloaded our feast we found that we didn’t have any utensils, so Joseph used my Swiss army knife to cut spoons for us out of the cardboard lid that the food had come in. I still couldn’t eat much, and unfortunately I started feeling quite sick again.

Joseph bought me some ginger ale, which apparently is a universal beverage for those with sick tummies. Who knew! I decided that maybe I could just sleep off whatever I had but Joseph convinced me that we should go and find a doctor. At this point it was nearing midnight, as our trip into town to get dinner had taken us on quite a tour, introducing me to about half a dozen of Joseph’s friends!

After trying two hospitals that were closed for the night, we arrived at the Arusha Medical Centre, which despite the padlocked chain around the gate, was open. The nurse at the desk promptly called the doctor who had presumably gone home for the night, and I waited patiently, looking around to be sure that this was a good, clean place to be. It appeared very nice and modern and Joseph confided that this was where he would come if he was sick.

The doctor was a very nice older gentleman with perfect English who swiftly drew my blood, ran a few other tests, and sent me back out to the waiting room. The waiting was the worst part. I’m sure I didn’t wait long but it felt like forever, and apparently I turned a concerning color of red. The doctor emerged, delivered a sheet of paper to the nurse, and retreated back into his office. Okay I’ll cut to the chase and fill you in. The nurse was happy to report that my blood came back clean, and I did not have malaria nor typhoid. Phew! I did however have some bacterial infection of some sort, for which she gave me an antibiotic and her phone number, incase I should have any problem. The doctor and nurse were really fantastic and I would recommend their hospital to any other visitors to Arusha.

My stomach pain has been coming in waves today. Sometimes I feel alright and other times I really need to lie down. Today I spoke to a doctor from the SOS International System—an emergency system for travelers that the Public Service Center signed us up for, thank you!!—and she confirmed that the medication I was given was ideal and that within 2-3 days the pain should be relieved. So, more rest! The staff at the guesthouse have all been really great, checking up to make sure that I’m doing okay. As much fun as it is to be at the workshop, I’d be pretty useless right now, so I just have to suck it up and wait until I get better, which should hopefully be soon!

June 27, 2007- Taking it Easy

Normally when I’m sick at home (which isn’t all that often) I curl up on one of the plush leather couches in my family room and watch old shows on TiVo while my mom heats up some soup. Well, there is no microwave, no plush leather couch, and the only tv is a tiny one in the front of the guesthouse playing odd shows in a language I can’t follow. I slept late today, getting up when a few construction guys resumed work on what can only be the roof directly above my room.

I made a short trip to the internet café to post some pictures--which I hope you are enjoying—but the power went out about halfway through my time there so I gave up and went to get something to eat. I went to my favorite place across the street from my guesthouse and ordered chipsi mayai, which is basically like a potato omelette. My stomach could only handle about half the dish, but I didn’t want to offend the cook by not finishing. Hmmm… what to do…. I found a couple napkins in my bag and wrapped up my leftovers while nobody was looking so I could smuggle them out, making my plate appear empty. When I got back to my room to unload my lunch I found that some of the potatoes had leaked out to the bottom. I hope I got them all out!

I slept a bit more and then spent what remained of the afternoon revising an old questionnaire and reading up on some other disability-related organizations in the area. Certainly takes “working from home” to a whole new level!

June 26, 2007- Trouble in Paradise?

I’ve been here for almost a month so it’s pretty much a miracle that I haven’t gotten sick until now. I wasn’t feeling so hot when I woke up this morning but I figured whatever it was would pass after I had some breakfast. I worked in the office, sorting through information I’ve gathered from interviews with wheelchair users. I take lots of notes in my notebook during these interviews, but usually I try to write down so much that it comes out a bit messy! Agnes loves helping me learn Swahili, so while I was in the office (which is also our kitchen and dining room) she would pick various things up and ask me to name them. Cup- kikombe, banana- ndizi. Now if only somebody could explain the subject-prefixes and verb tense markers to me!

By lunch I was still feeling pretty sick. I knew it was bad when I could only eat a few spoonfuls of Agnes’ wali, which I usually love. I decided to call it an early day and headed home to rest. I’m giving my body 24 hours to get better, and if I still don’t feel well then I’ll have somebody take me to the doctor. But it’s really amazing that I haven’t gotten sick before now!

I was supposed to go to Moshi tomorrow but the user who we were going to give the chair to was just admitted to the hospital for pressure sores. So I’ll have to try again next week. Perhaps it’s a sign that I too need to rest, as the last few days have been pretty crazy.

June 25, 2007- Lots to Do

Sometimes it’s so quiet at my guesthouse that you can hear a pin drop, and other times it sounds as though hundreds of desperate shoppers are storming into Wal-Mart on the day after Thanksgiving. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I think you get my point. Unfortunately last night was one of those shopping stampede days, so I was pretty tired today, but I had lots of fun things on my agenda so it didn’t matter how sleepy I was!

After I got off the daladala I stopped to buy bread from a tiny stand across the street. At one point the woman selling me the bread said to her friends in Swahili something to the extent of “ah this girl understands a lot of Swahili, more than she can speak,” which ironically Daniel had to translate for me! Still, I think I’ve come a long way!

On the walk from the bus stop to Mobility Care I passed a man who was clearly training for a marathon. I always read about the amazing athletes from East Africa who sweep the marathons, so it was very surreal to be passing one in the middle of his training on his home turf. If I see him again I’ll have to get his name…. perhaps I saw him at the Boston Marathon and didn’t know it!

It turns out that Agnes is a big fan of American hip-hop, so we made a big playlist of 50 Cent, Tupac, Akon, etc and played it off my computer while the two of us were working in the office. At one point we were both singing along to “In the Club” which was really quite cute.

I spent the rest of the morning riding around in my prototype, basically putting it through as much stress as I could to be sure that it was strong enough. I rode it around Mobility Care for awhile, going up and down steep ramps, small steps, and even slamming it into the wall on purpose sometimes. Later I went out onto the road outside and had a lot of fun aiming for as many potholes as I could. The other people passing on the road all had a good chuckle watching the crazy mzungu bounce around in her wheelchair!

We had arranged to give the chair to Zacaria, our test user, this afternoon, so I wanted to get as much time in the chair myself before then. Once I was satisfied Daniel and I packed up and headed out to catch the daladala. The conductor had no problem taking the wheelchair onboard and even helped me to fold it, but I later found out that he was a friend of Daniel’s which might explain why. Zacaria works for Money Maker Pumps, making a simple irrigation system produced by the Kickstart company. I’m pretty sure it was one of the showcased items in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum’s ‘Design for the Other 90%’ exhibit. He was very excited to be testing our chair and went for a quick spin around the block as soon as he sat down!

Once he came back, he wanted to give me a tour which I certainly didn’t object to. Packed into this small, two-story building were about 30 guys cutting, welding, grinding, and painting these pumps. Let’s just say I got a pretty warm welcome! I’ll be back on Friday to pick up the chair and gather Zacaria’s feedback which I’m really looking forward to.

I didn’t get enough Bongo Flavor when I bought the CD from town last week, so Daniel took me to visit another one of his friends (basically everybody is a friend!) who burns music off his computer. We all had a lot of fun picking out the songs, and I’m currently rocking out to my new CD as I type this!

The CD guy was really close to where Daniel lives, so I decided to stop by with him to visit his wife and son. I picked up some bananas on the way and meandered up a winding road behind Daniel, where I’m fairly sure no other visitors have gone. All the children love to shout out “how are you” when I pass by, but they usually don’t understand when I answer. Nevertheless it’s really cute.

Daniel’s wife, Emily, is such a sweetheart. She doesn’t speak any English but just seeing her smile is enough. She insisted that I have some wali and beef before I go and you really can’t refuse food if it’s offered to you, not that I would ever turn down wali! She’s really an excellent cook, especially considering she does everything without electricity. Daniel’s son, affectionately known as little Joseph (so as not to be confused with big Joseph), was even cuter than the last time I saw him if it’s possible. He absolutely loves cell phones and even though he can’t talk yet, he has figured out how to put the phone reasonably close to his ear and let out a little noise that sounds like “hey.” I promise I’ll photograph this next time!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Picture Frenzy!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.....

here I am at Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya

Kilimanjaro! this is officially my new desktop picture.

this is me testing the prototype on the road outside Mobility Care... I seem to have made some new friends!

here I am trying out the new tricycle that Mario is working on at APDK

this is in the gorge at hell's gate with our guide, Patrick

Monday, June 25, 2007

June 24, 2007- Back to Arusha

This morning I caught the shuttle back to Arusha, and I was thankful for the opportunity to sit for five hours without moving! A chatty Filipino man sat down next to me, and after a few minutes of talking I found out that he worked for the United Nations, and was pretty important there! He was very interested to hear what I was doing in Africa, and engaged me in conversation until we both fell asleep. At the border another woman boarded our bus (who had apparently missed the departure in the morning but had now caught up) and sat down on the other side of my UN fellow. As it turned out she also works for the UN! I was able to go through immigration quickly because I already had my visa, but the other travelers took forever waiting for theirs so I was able to have a nice long chat with Rosemary, my new UN friend. She had just returned from visiting the US, as her son just graduated high school in Florida. I really enjoyed meeting both Rosemary and Sergeant Litto, and I hope to meet up with them again soon. They have both invited me to visit them at the Rwanda Tribunal so I’m pretty excited! I also met another woman from Dar Es Salaam on the bus who invited me to come visit her if I ever go to Dar. I love how friendly the people here are!

As soon as I got back to Arusha I scrambled around trying to find an open internet café so I could post this incredible backlog of entries, but it seems that everybody decided to take the day off. After being here for a few weeks I have an assortment of about six internet cafes that I vary between, and they were all closed! So I apologize for these being so late, but I really tried.

I somehow had missed breakfast and lunch so I went across the street to Raha Snacks, an adorable little restaurant a few yards from my guesthouse where the owner is always very happy to see me. He makes the best fresh-squeezed mango juice I’ve ever had—not that I’m an expert or anything, but I’m pretty sure it can’t get any better than this!

Daniel was anxious to hear about my trip to Nairobi so we went to another new restaurant and he listened to me tell stories for quite some time. Later, Joseph joined us for dinner which was kuku choma (literally chicken barbeque). I had it the very first night I arrived but I had forgotten how delicious it is! I’m becoming quite good at eating with my hands now, and Dad, you would be proud of how much meat I can get off those chicken bones now!

June 23, 2007- Hell’s Gate National Park

When Mario asked me if I liked mountain biking I said yes because it seemed like a really cool thing to do. I didn’t really think about the fact that I probably had not been on a bicycle since the ‘90s, let alone an off-road mountain bike. We set off this morning for Naivasha via matatu, from where we would catch a cab to Hell’s Gate National Park. We rented mountain bikes at the foot of the park and began the 2km ride up the park entrance. Let’s just say I was pretty terrible at riding this bike! Once Mario helped me adjust the seat and figure out how to change the gears it got a little better, but already my legs were killing me.

They gave us a map and pointed us in the direction that would take us to a gorge, about another 8km away. Okay, no problem. It’s just a bicycle. Little kids ride bikes, so can I. What a ride it was! We had been biking for maybe a kilometer through a vast valley carved out of the mountainside when Mario suddenly exclaimed, “woah there are zebras over there!” I nearly fell of my bike I was so excited! Just off the trail was a herd of zebras grazing in the grass. And then up ahead there were impala. And then there were warthogs. It was incredible!

When we arrived at the gorge they asked us if we wanted a guide and we hesitated, but finally gave in. Boy am I glad we did. The places Patrick, our guide, took us were places that Mario and I later decided were places we would have thought were off-limits had we been leading ourselves. There were many times when I needed all four appendages to get myself through! Patrick told us lots of great stories about the area, showed us where they apparently filmed part of Tomb Raider, and took us to several hot springs. One was so hot that they were boiling eggs in it!

The gorge was totally amazing, but after finally ascending back out I realized that I still had another 10km bike to get out of the park. I did my best but unfortunately my best was a little slow. I also seemed to have a problem starting and stopping. Once I got going it was fine, but twice when I tried to stop I ended up slamming into Mario. I’m sorry!! Somehow I made it out, with a little encouragement from Mario and a little self-peptalk that involved numerous references to Lance Armstrong. We managed to catch the matatu just before it got dark and were on our way back to Nairobi, very sore butts and all (why can’t anybody invent a comfortable bike seat?)

I’ve never needed a shower more in my life! After I removed the pound of salt that had deposited itself on my body, we went out to get some dinner with Samir. We hadn’t really eaten much all day so I had quite an appetite! We had nyama choma which is a traditional East African dish of barbequed meat. It’s served on a communal tray put in the middle of table and it’s really quite an experience! I’ve only ever eaten it with other guys, and last time one of them said, “wow, this really makes me feel like a man, eating meat with my hands.” Mario and I decided that we want to open up an East African restaurant in Boston. It would be such a hit! We just need to bring back a herd of goats to get us started.

It was an unreal day, both totally amazing and incredibly exhausting! I pretty much couldn’t move by the end of the night, but it was so worth it!

June 22, 2007- Off to Nairobi

I had been thinking about visiting Mario, another MIT student, in Nairobi but I wasn’t really sure when and if I would really go. He called last night to say that he had found a really great day trip for us this weekend so I decided to go for it! There are daily shuttles that run from Arusha to Nairobi at a pretty reasonable price (especially when you bargain for the resident’s rate!) The driver of my shuttle seemed excited to have me onboard, and asked me if I would be his co-pilot and sit in the front passenger seat. Not only do I have the world’s worst sense of direction (Mom, you can vouch for that) but I was clearly the only person on the shuttle who had no clue where we were going! Luckily Teddy, the driver, had been driving this route for 20 years so he didn’t need my help. It was a really interesting drive through ever-changing scenery which I really enjoyed. Crossing the border was a little chaotic. You have to get off the bus and file your departure form on the Tanzania side, and then you can walk across through No-Man’s Land into Kenya, where you file your arrival form and get your visa. When we crossed into Kenya Teddy told everybody to put their seatbelts on. I asked if this was because it was the law, or because the roads were so crazy and everybody just laughed! Hmmm.

Nairobi is so big! I was totally amazed at it’s size, and I was really happy to see Mario waiting for me at the station. We walked briskly through City Center to catch the matatu up to APDK, the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya, where he’s working this summer. The matatu is basically the Kenyan equivalent of the daladala, except it has a limit on the number of passengers each can carry so it doesn’t get nearly as crowded as it does here in Tanzania! But the roads are infinitely more crazy so it’s just as well.

I got to spend the whole afternoon at APDK, meeting the staff there and seeing what Mario has been up to these past few weeks. He and his group at MIT came up with some really amazing improvements to the hand-powered tricycle and it was awesome to get to try it out! We took the tricycles out for a spin around the compound which was quite entertaining to everybody who passed by.

After work we headed to Upper Hill Campsite where Mario is staying. It’s a really cute compound with tiny, individual cabins and lots of tents on the lawn. Many travelers and volunteers stay there so it’s a good place to meet people. We went to this adorable Ethiopian restaurant for dinner where they served us enough food for an entire family, but it was really delicious! After dinner we met up with Samir, one of Mario’s friends from the campsite, for a drink. From what I pieced together, Samir is a Kenyan, but lived in England for five years, and now travels to really crazy places to do freelance photography. So cool!

June 21, 2007- Finishing the Prototype

As soon as I arrived at Mobility Care this morning we got right down to business! Agnes taught me how to attach the upholstery using shoelace string and how to set the front castor wheel. Our mechanism was sticking a little at first because of the extra layer that the paint added, but after playing with it a few times it was okay. Beat helped me put the finishing touches and voila—we finished!

I was so excited I had to take the chair out for a spin. So Daniel accompanied me on his wheelchair and we ventured out in search of some rough terrain. Luckily you don’t have to go more than 20 feet to find the potholes of your dreams. I wheeled that chair over the biggest bumps and down into the biggest holes that I could find and it was as sturdy as ever. We rode up and down the road for quite some time, until my arms were thoroughly exhausted. Throughout the day I road the chair around Mobility Care in a variety of conditions to see how it felt, and it was really quite comfortable! Early next week we will be giving it to somebody to test, and I’ll be anxiously awaiting his feedback.

Wenxian left to go back to Singapore (via MIT) tonight, so we were also very busy saying goodbye to him and making sure he got off safely. We really had a lot of fun working together so now I’m going to have to get used to doing this on my own. Luckily I still have Mr. Daniel to look out for me!

Daniel and I had dinner at Florida 2000 tonight. There are a bunch of restaurants around town named by American cities so we decided that we have to go to all of them! Next is Washington D.C. Bar. I absolutely love this place!

June 20, 2007- Wednesdays in Moshi

There’s no way I could possibly describe everything that happened today, because there was honestly never a dull moment, but I’ll try my best…

We set off this morning for Moshi and boarded one of the big buses. There were a lot of guys walking around the bus station with books of tickets, and I’m pretty sure most of them weren’t real. One of these fake conductors got on our bus and tried to charge me 6 times the usual price for my ticket (which is how I knew he wasn’t real). Once he understood that I wasn’t going to fall for his trick he gave up and left. Once the bus was mostly full we finally left the bus station. Wenxian and I were seated in the fourth to last row, and all the rows behind us were suspiciously empty.

A few guys came to the back behind us and were all whispering and looking around suspiciously. This is where my very creative imagination came into play. I dreamt up a few crazy situations, which mostly all ended up with my face on a milk carton. At this point many other passengers were turning around to look at the back, and the guys in the back continued whispering. At the intersection where we should have gone straight to go to Moshi, we suddenly turned right, which only fueled my imagination more. Next we pulled into the police station which I totally didn’t see coming at all. A policewoman boarded the bus, walked to the back, said something in Swahili to the whispering guys and got off.

At this point a friendly guy with very limited English decided to sit down next to me and try to explain what was going on, because I clearly looked very confused. Apparently there was a man lying down in the last row, and according to my new friend he was “dirty.” Dirty, dirty? Maybe the whispering guys were smuggling drugs? My new friend then explained that we were going to Mt. Meru Hospital, and started waving his hand across his throat. Maybe he was trying to say that the man was dead? No way. This cannot be happening. When we pulled up at the hospital a few more policemen and a United Nations security guy came onboard, whispered a few things, and left. The next thing I knew they had opened one of the back windows and were passing a man through the window to some other men on the ground. Shortly after that the bus started up, we were off to Moshi, and I never really found out what happened to the man who was laying in the back. What a start to the morning!

When we finally arrived in Moshi we headed straight to the workshop at KCMC. After chatting for a bit with all the guys, we left with Abdullah and Sam to go see Richard who had been testing our chair for the past week. After 10km on one of the bumpiest, dustiest roads I’ve ever been on, we arrived at Richard’s house and all his children came running out to greet us. Overall Richard really liked our wheelchair! He took it on the daladala on Sunday and his experience was much better than when he has tried with his old, rigid wheelchair. Usually he is turned down by several conductors, but when he told them that his wheelchair could fold he was picked up by the first one that stopped! Before we left he asked if we wanted to trade—he would keep our folding chair and we could have his rigid one! He tested the chair in some really rough situations and he was very happy with how it performed. There are a few small things that we can improve on, but I’m really happy that it’s working out so well! Abdullah is busy rounding up more people to test the chair, so next week I’ll likely be going back to Moshi, and probably once a week every week thereafter.

The guys at KCMC are really great. On the way back to town Abdullah stopped because he wanted to buy us gifts! He bought me a really cute necklace with an elephant on it, and in return I treated him to lunch. He had to go to class so I met up with the other guys from the shop for a drink before making the trip back to Arusha again. They always want to know when I’m coming back again and have asked repeatedly if I can stay longer, instead of just making a day trip. It’s really quite cute!

Of course the trip back to Arusha had to be another adventure. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until all of a sudden the bus just pulled over onto the side of the road and stopped. People started clamoring in Swahili and then about half of the bus just got off. At this point it was actually pretty dark, so I stuck my head out the window to see what was going on but really couldn’t figure out anything. Should I stay on the bus or should I get off? What if I get off and then the bus leaves without me? Just as my patience was really starting to wear thin and I was getting pretty concerned, the engine started up again and everybody climbed back on the bus. I still have no idea what happened, but I’m glad that I finally made it back to Arusha safe and sound!

June 19, 2007

Before going to work this morning we ventured into town to do some shopping. Wenxian will be leaving on Thursday and wanted to get some gifts, and of course I would never turn down an opportunity to go shopping. It was fairly quiet when we first got started as it was still pretty early, but by 9 the streets were bustling with people. It was really quite an adventure to say the least!

Mr. Beads had come into town to pick up fabric to make a shirt for me, because apparently the fabric in his village isn’t good enough? I had left him with a few special orders on Saturday, and I had written everything down in his notebook so he wouldn’t forget. So for example, for my bracelet I had written “bracelet: Tish TZ 2007.” I was really excited that he had finished my bracelet, but when he handed it to me it seemed like there was a lot written on it. I guess Mr. Beads likes to follow his directions very exactly, because my bracelet read “Bracelet – Tish – TZ – 2007.” It’s absolutely priceless. I wonder if my shirt is going to have “shirt” written across the front of it…

I can’t remember the last time it rained here. Now I’ve never been a fan of rain, but the roads are getting so dusty! I just did my laundry and I swear my jeans are an entire shade lighter now that the dust has been washed out.

Emmanuel came with another child from Sibusiso to be fitted for a wheelchair. He usually stays for a bit after the fitting to talk with us which is always entertaining. At one point everybody was talking in Swahili and the only part I could pick up was “Pork House” which kept being repeated. Somehow we ended up in a big conversation about pork and where the best place to get it is in Arusha. (Daniel’s favorite is Pork House.)

Even though Daniel is Christian, he has this Muslim cap that he likes to wear (just for the aesthetics I think). It was really funny listening to him talk about pork in that hat. I asked him if he has ever inadvertently gone into the Pork House with that cap on and he just laughed, which means “yes” in my book.

Another note about food (because I can never have too many culinary experiences in one day): I always see people on the sides of the streets with big wheelbarrows full of oranges that they peel and sell, but they’re always this light shade of green. I finally gave in to temptation today and bought an orange from one of the guys while my daladala was stopped and waiting for more passengers. First he peels the orange so it still has some of the white skin, but all the green rind is gone, and then he slices it in half. It was one of the best oranges I think I’ve ever had! Once the daladala got going the wind started blowing my hair into the orange, so the woman seated next to me took it upon herself to hold my hair back while I ate. Where else could you eat a delicious, fresh orange while a total stranger holds your hair?

Back at Mobility Care, Beat put the finishing coat of paint on our wheelchair, and it’s hanging in the storeroom to dry. Everything should be ready to be assembled when I get back from Moshi on Thursday. I can’t wait!

June 18, 2007- The start of week number three

There must be some special ingredient in the rice here, because I honestly cannot get enough of it! Cooked rice is called “wali” in Swahili and it’s probably one of the most commonly used words in my vocabulary here. Agnes made wali for lunch today at the shop, and then I ordered it again when we went out to dinner tonight. I’ve yet to meet a wali that I didn’t like! According to Wenxian the rice here is made from longer grains, and not to be racist but he’s Asian so I trust pretty much anything he says about rice.

This morning we showed Mario around our workshop and filled him in on everything we had been doing the past two weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it up to his workshop sometime to see how he’s been doing on his tricycle too!

Later we walked down to Sibusiso, the center for mentally disabled children on the same road as Mobility Care. As many times as I had seen children from the center come in to be measured for wheelchairs, I had yet to actually visit. As we walked in I was struck by how beautiful it is. It’s set on a large piece of property that used to be a coffee plantation, and all the buildings have perfect thatched roofs. We got to see our friend the occupational therapist in action, working with some of the youngest children, and then we got to tour around the complex. Among my favorites was a wonderful playground where some of the mothers were playing with their children. It’s hard to explain, but it was terribly sad and at the same time extremely heartwarming to watch. And somehow it reminded me of Patch Adams.

After our wonderful visit we headed back to Mobility Care, enjoyed a delicious lunch of wali and beef, and said goodbye to Mario. Then it was back to work on our chair. Daniel taught me how to put the finishing touches on the upholstery, which involved using a punch and hammer to cut holes and then fastening eyelets in their place. He’s always very amused when I turn out to be handy with the tools! In the meantime Wenxian finished grinding the chair and Beat painted it with the anti-rust primer. We’re almost there!

June 17, 2007- More Exploring in Arusha

I was hoping to sleep-in this morning but I think my body is just used to getting up around 7 so it wouldn’t let me. I lazed around my room trying to go back to sleep, and finally gave in and just got up when a rooster started cock-a-doodle-dooing outside my window. It’s a good thing I got up because just after I came out of the shower someone started banging on my door. I was actually kind of frightened because I couldn’t imagine who would be looking for me so early, but when I opened the door I found a small, harmless woman with a bucket and a towel. She didn’t speak a word of English, but I quickly gathered that she wanted to clean my room which I certainly didn’t object to! The floor had gotten quite dirty from all my dusty clothes and especially my shoes. I hastily grabbed my laptop and headed out to the internet café, leaving my new friend to clean.

I finally figured out how to post pictures on here so I hope you’re enjoying them! I came back to my spotless room (which I was very excited about!) to drop off my laptop, and then headed out with Daniel to do some exploring. Since it was Sunday the streets were fairly quiet and it was really nice to just walk around. We went to a small music shop where I got a CD of Bongo Flava, which is basically Tanzanian hip-hop. The locals usually get pretty excited when they find out that I know about Bongo Flava so it’s always good for a laugh!

On our way across town we passed herds of people on their way back from church. It was really beautiful to see everybody in their colorful Sunday best. We ducked into a few craft shops where I negotiated some pretty good deals, if I do say so myself. And the list of things I want to buy just keeps growing!

After a few hours of meandering around town we realized that we had completely missed lunch, so we headed over to another new restaurant to get something to eat. I think our goal of 60 restaurants in 60 days is definitely going to happen!

Wenxian and Mario arrived back from their safari just around dinnertime, so we met them back at the guesthouse, and were just deciding where to go for dinner when I got a call from my friend Joseph (who picked me up from the airport). We hadn’t seen each other since that first weekend so he was hoping that we could meet for dinner. The more the merrier! He and Daniel debated in Swahili for a few minutes, and suddenly we were off. We went to a place called Triple A, which is a large restaurant/bar with a DJ. We were totally in luck because tonight they had a bunch of live dance performances too! There was a group of acrobats that did amazing cirque de soleil-esque stunts, a group of break-dancing/hip-hopping guys, and even a disabled guy who danced on his hands! I think there may be some incriminating photos of me dancing somewhere….