Thursday, March 1, 2012

Machi (March) Already?

In January I found myself among friends, working at HD, and exchanging farewells.  February brought me to Tanzania, where I have been studying mazingira (environment), visiting national parks to study animals, playing with children, bargaining in the market place, and visiting one of the Natural Wonders of the World to see lions and rhinos and so many other animals.  I have found myself laughing every day, and forging friendships to last a lifetime.  I have washed my clothes in a bucket, chased cats and dogs from the kitchens, cleaned the red mud from my shoes, and climbed mountains in the Tanzanian highlands.  I’ve made ughali over a fire, herded livestock, and struggled with my share of town drunkards.  I have established relationships with locals and staff members here, and eaten ice-cream in the midst of rural Tanzania.
   And now I find myself already standing in the commencement of March.  Classes are finishing in Tanzania, and professors are handing us evaluations along with final grades, as well as final words of encouragement and gratification.  Tanzania will be my home for only a couple weeks more, and already I’m missing my banda and the people here.  I am missing Yohanna, the Maasai gentleman who runs the duka, drives our cars, and is a friend to talk to at any time.  I am thinking of my professors and their funny stories of living here, and their families.  For example, today our environmental policy professor Mwamhanga compared the proposition of a land-use management plan to that of explicating the benefits of your future fianc√©: you make a list of the reasons that this plan of management/marriage is favorable. 
   The rains are falling more consistently now, and at night our dreams are accompanied by the pitter-pattering of raindrops outside our open windows.  We spent yesterday evening around a bonfire, roasting marshmallows (yes, we found them), and swapping stories.  And then I ate toast.  We adjourned to our rooms, tucked ourselves into our blankets, and slept away the night of the leap day, and last day, of February.
   On March 19th we depart to Kenya, to begin our directed research.  To my friends, time is slow, but to me it is moving so quickly.  Only a week and a half of classes, a week then in Serengeti beneath the stars, and then we move into the last 6 weeks of the semester.  The last 6 weeks of my life in East Africa.  I’m a bit sad to see it go.
   Lakini (but), on the other hand, I’m very excited about seeing my family and friends.  I can now imagine my return home, and sharing my stories, as well as hearing the stories of my home while I was away.  I’m excited about seeing my mother in NY; sharing cheesecake with Red; playing with my nephew while joking with Miranda; gossiping with D; Chipotle/Noodles dates with Chloe; kayaking with my father; playing games with my brother; reconnect with The Gentrys in our living room, while watching silly television; work alongside my friends at BRHD.  I’m excited to stay and excited to leave.  To share and receive.  These four months of 2012 are full of living, and it’s a wonderful way to start the year.

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