Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day 1: New Life Band School and the Maasai market

My first day in Tanzania is over, and I am glad it was not super busy. We arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport very early in the morning on Wednesday, and then it was an hour drive to Elisa and Deo’s house. There were some delicious snacks waiting for us, then it was time to go to 4 a.m. I slept until noon, I was so exhausted. 

I share a room with Kaity Klemp, Greta Duerst and Trish Helland. There is one queen size bed and two bunk beds. Guess which one I claimed? That is right, the top bunk. (: 
Elisa had the beds all ready for us. Not only were the sheets made, but she had sprinkled rose petals on all the beds. I never had that before, it was very beautiful. After climbing in bed, I pulled down the mosquito netting. It drapes around all edges of the bed. It reminded me of those curtains that sometimes surround a 4-poster bed. 

When I finally woke up, there was just enough time to grab a bucket shower and a couple mandazi (the Tanzanian version of donuts) and a glass of orange juice. The bucket shower was actually not bad. They heat up water in a large kettle and pour some in a bucket. Then you add cold water from their tub until it is just the right temperature. They have a tiny pail you can use to dip into the bucket and dump water over your head and on your body. There was more than enough water for my to rinse off with soap and water and wash my hair. It also helped that I picked up leave-in conditioner before my trip. One less thing to wash out.
A Tanzanian student practices drawing my blood

At 12:30 we climbed into their van and made the 20-minute trek to the New Life Band School, where Leah Narans was teaching Introduction to Medical Sciences and Lab Skills. They were in the last week of classes and were learning how to draw blood. After welcoming us and giving me a hug, she asked if I had good veins. Apparently the Tanzanian students have small veins and are deeper in their arms, which makes it harder to draw blood. Her own arms showed the markings of multiple blood draws. So I agreed and sat down in the hot seat. 

The student who was going to draw my blood tapped one of my veins which was closer to the surface. But Leah showed her one to the right of it. She told the student that while she could not see it, it was a larger vein with less chance to miss, she just had to feel for it. She put the strap on my arm (fairly tight, but that was OK), swabbed my arm and prepared to draw the blood. I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous having a student draw my blood, but having Leah there watching made me feel better. I knew she would make sure it was done right. Unfortunately the student did not go deep enough to hit the vein, so she did not draw any blood, but it was a good try. I will be going back today and maybe she can give it another shot.
A Massai woman sells beautiful kangas

After our time at the school, we went to the Massai market. It is only held on Wednesdays so this was my only time to go as I will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro next week. We did draw some stares, but I kind of expected that, we were the only white people in the market. We saw handmade signs, beading and jewelry and food when entering. Trish wanted to get some tomatoes, and was very frustrated when she was told no. They did not know if the food was safe, and if it was washed with their water, we could get very sick.

As we got deeper into the market, we saw the beautiful cloth for kangas. It was hard picking one, but I eventually settled on a black one with yellow and pink flowers. I also picked up two gorgeous head scarves, a brown one for myself and a black one for a gift.

The Massai want to charge us more because we are white, but I used one of our guides, Tom, to make my purchases. Instead of paying 10,000 shillings (about $6) for my kanga, it was 8,000 ($5). And instead of paying 7,000 shillings for two scarves, I got both of them for 5,000 (a little more than $3). I took a loan from the bank of Rick and Leah since I have not had a chance to exchange any of my money yet. I am hoping to go today. I am also very excited to go to the market in Arusha and to Nickson’s village. I must find a statue of a mother and baby for my mother. I was told that I could probably find one in Nickson’s village. I am really hoping so since that will be in the last days of my trip.

It sounds like I might be helping make white boards at the school today. Well, time to get my bucket shower and have some breakfast. Elisa has made some delicious waffles. Asante! (Thank you in Swahili) 

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