homestay with Iraqw to fine dining at Gibbs Farm

It has been a few weeks since I have last blog, pardon my absence. I am floating in a cloud half way between dreams and reality and it is sometimes hard for me to remember that life is not on pause at home. If you are wondering how I am, the answer is simple, I am living in bliss. I am so content and just in my element here. The classes are engaging, challenging, and super interesting. A few days ago I had a traveling lecture for my Swahili language and culture class. We went to a man’s home a few villages away. His name was Daniel and he was an English speaking Tanzanian in the Iraqw tribe. He was such an amazing speaker it absolutely blew my mind. He was beyond knowledgeable, he knew way more than I did about United States. The focus of the lecture was to speak with us about resource utilization in his tribe. The Iraqw live off the flora and fauna. Their homes are made from mud and wood (no metal whatsoever), they use plants as herbal medicine, dyes for clothes, to eat, for shade, and timber. They use animals for food, labor, clothes, ect. But, with all this he talked about the importance of sustainability. This man built a methane chamber on his property that has hoses to his home to provide fuel for lighting and cooking. This mechanism only needs three ingredients: water, cow urine, and cow dung. How cool is that! People like him are living plastic free, waste free, and don’t even burn wood for fuel! I will for sure post some photos of my day with him. Teaching us some dances and music, and showing us his home (including his old home he built that was literally underground). He told one story of two elephants walking over the top and it only made a tiny crack in the mud, casual.

Today was busy, relaxing, and stressful all at the same time. It was our homestay day, a time to go into the community and spend a day with a Rhotian. Me and another student Katie were partnered together and went to a home only minutes walk from campus. This family spoke absolutely no English, and I speak basically no Swahili, making for a day of awkward laughter, hand gestures, and a Swahili-English dictionary. We arrived at 9:00 which was apparently cleaning time. We got a tour of their cow’s little mud hut/barn and we took the cows out and then shoveled (with a small plastic scraper) the cow poop in a pile. After this we used weaved mats to transfew the poop/dirt combo to a larger pile, which I believe was used as fertilizer for their farm. Our next chore was using these shrub/herbs to sweep mud. This task was rather confusing to me because all of the floors were made from dirt, so we were basically moving dirt around, but hey, I did what I was told. We also ended up sweeping outside the house, which was literally in the dirt, so I don’t know it was a little confusing but whatever. AfFter this we headed into a building that was not their main house. It was super random cause it was really nice compared to all of the mud buildings nearby. This house was made from concrete, and had glass windows and even a TV! I still don’t really know whos home it was, but anyways we mopped it up with some rags and water.

Our next task was cooking. This including drinking tea for a while. I poured a normal spoonful of sugar into my mug, and Mama looked so confused and took my mug away and added two more spoonfulls, I thought it was pretty funny. For lunch we had goat meat (I helped prepare it but didn’t try), tomatoes, onions, cabbage, rice, and ugali. Ugali is just corn meal and water, making for a bland white mush, like mashed potatoes that taste like nothing. Clearly I am not a fan, but the people here absolutely love it! The kitchen was super interesting, they cook over fire, and they have a type of stove top made from house, similar to what the walls are made of. I still don’t get how mud can dry so hard that you can build a whole home out of it, these guys definitely know what they are doing. Anyways, the kitchen had no ventilation, so when we were cooking it was sooo hot and smokey my eyes didn’t handle it well. Cooking was quite an experience though, one of the highlights! I am still so confused about the family lineage at this house, cause there were like 11 kids and 7 adults, I didn’t know who was mom of who. They were all super excited that Americans were in their home. They yelled “wazungo!” (white person/ foreigner) like every two seconds. They were also super intrigued with my camera and phone, so I clearly took a million photos. From 2-4 we didn’t do much, cleaned dishes, got a tour of their farm, and played with the kids. I was exhausted.

Next week is our first expedition, and I am super excited! We are spending five days at Tarngire National Park. We will be sleeping in tents and going on safaris during the day for lectures and field research. How cool is that!

One more adventure I forgot to add was Gibbs Farm, a coffee plantation I visited last Sunday (no program day). It was the nicest lodge ever, ahh so pretty, they grew all their own produce, and the lunch was the best food ever. First time seeing leafy greens in three weeks, I nearly cried tears of happiness. There was also some delish quiche, zucchini soup, cheese, desserts, and all kinds of amazing food. Ahh YUM! The tour of the plantation was cool, saw so many exotic plants and learned about coffee. By the way the coffee there was soo yummy! I had a lot of java!

It has been a few weeks since I have last blog, pardon my absence. I am floating in a cloud half way between dreams and reality and it is sometimes hard for me to remember that life is not on pause at home. If you are wondering how I am, the answer is simple, I am living in bliss. I am so content and just in my element here. The classes are engaging, challenging, and super interesting. A few days ago I had a traveling lecture for my Swahili language and culture class. We went to a man’s home a few villages away. His name was Daniel and he was an English speaking Tanzanian in the Iraqw tribe. He was such an amazing speaker it absolutely blew my mind. He was beyond knowledgeable, he knew way more than I did about United States. The focus of the lecture was to speak with us about resource utilization in his tribe. The Iraqw live off the flora and fauna. Their homes are made from mud and wood (no metal whatsoever), they use plants as herbal medicine, dyes for clothes, to eat, for shade, and timber. They use animals for food, labor, clothes, ect. But, with all this he talked about the importance of sustainability. This man built a methane chamber on his property that has hoses to his home to provide fuel for lighting and cooking. This mechanism only needs three ingredients: water, cow urine, and cow dung. How cool is that! People like him are living plastic free, waste free, and don’t even burn wood for fuel! I will for sure post some photos of my day with him. Teaching us some dances and music, and showing us his home (including his old home he built that was literally underground). He told one story of two elephants walking over the top and it only made a tiny crack in the mud, casual.

Today was busy, relaxing, and stressful all at the same time. It was our homestay day, a time to go into the community and spend a day with a Rhotian. Me and another student Katie were partnered together and went to a home only minutes walk from campus. This family spoke absolutely no English, and I speak basically no Swahili, making for a day of awkward laughter, hand gestures, and a Swahili-English dictionary. We arrived at 9:00 which was apparently cleaning time. We got a tour of their cow’s little mud hut/barn and we took the cows out and then shoveled (with a small plastic scraper) the cow poop in a pile. After this we used weaved mats to transfew the poop/dirt combo to a larger pile, which I believe was used as fertilizer for their farm. Our next chore was using these shrub/herbs to sweep mud. This task was rather confusing to me because all of the floors were made from dirt, so we were basically moving dirt around, but hey, I did what I was told. We also ended up sweeping outside the house, which was literally in the dirt, so I don’t know it was a little confusing but whatever. AfFter this we headed into a building that was not their main house. It was super random cause it was really nice compared to all of the mud buildings nearby. This house was made from concrete, and had glass windows and even a TV! I still don’t really know whos home it was, but anyways we mopped it up with some rags and water.

Our next task was cooking. This including drinking tea for a while. I poured a normal spoonful of sugar into my mug, and Mama looked so confused and took my mug away and added two more spoonfulls, I thought it was pretty funny. For lunch we had goat meat (I helped prepare it but didn’t try), tomatoes, onions, cabbage, rice, and ugali. Ugali is just corn meal and water, making for a bland white mush, like mashed potatoes that taste like nothing. Clearly I am not a fan, but the people here absolutely love it! The kitchen was super interesting, they cook over fire, and they have a type of stove top made from house, similar to what the walls are made of. I still don’t get how mud can dry so hard that you can build a whole home out of it, these guys definitely know what they are doing. Anyways, the kitchen had no ventilation, so when we were cooking it was sooo hot and smokey my eyes didn’t handle it well. Cooking was quite an experience though, one of the highlights! I am still so confused about the family lineage at this house, cause there were like 11 kids and 7 adults, I didn’t know who was mom of who. They were all super excited that Americans were in their home. They yelled “wazungo!” (white person/ foreigner) like every two seconds. They were also super intrigued with my camera and phone, so I clearly took a million photos. From 2-4 we didn’t do much, cleaned dishes, got a tour of their farm, and played with the kids. I was exhausted.

Next week is our first expedition, and I am super excited! We are spending five days at Tarngire National Park. We will be sleeping in tents and going on safaris during the day for lectures and field research. How cool is that!

One more adventure I forgot to add was Gibbs Farm, a coffee plantation I visited last Sunday (no program day). It was the nicest lodge ever, ahh so pretty, they grew all their own produce, and the lunch was the best food ever. First time seeing leafy greens in three weeks, I nearly cried tears of happiness. There was also some delish quiche, zucchini soup, cheese, desserts, and all kinds of amazing food. Ahh YUM! The tour of the plantation was cool, saw so many exotic plants and learned about coffee. By the way the coffee there was soo yummy! I had a lot of java!

kitchen at my homestay.  Ray of light shining through the smoke
kitchen at my homestay. Ray of light shining through the smoke
cute pie
cute pie
kitchen in color
kitchen in color
Mama being adorable
Mama being adorable
such a priceless moment
such a priceless moment
kitties (paka) in the kitchen!
kitties (paka) in the kitchen!
another highlight PUPS
another highlight PUPS
not to toot my own horn but this photo is also amazing
not to toot my own horn but this photo is also amazing
a lot of flower pica, sorry not sorry
a lot of flower pica, sorry not sorry
photographed at Gibbs Farm
photographed at Gibbs Farm
coffee plan. Gibbs Farm
coffee plan. Gibbs Farm
seriously obsessed with this photo, Gibbs Farm
seriously obsessed with this photo, Gibbs Farm
such a pretty and inticate slower, Gibbs Farm
such a pretty and inticate slower, Gibbs Farm

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