Parker in Africa - June 20, 2006
Dearest Friends and Family,
I'm on vacation now, as many of you are, and life is pretty good. After coming down from Kili I had to spend about a week and a half marking final exams and compiling grades. Believe me, grading a stack of 80 tests with questions like "What do you measure temperature with?" is not what I'd call fun. I broke up all this grading with a few trips to Arusha where my only American friends live. On one of these trips I went on a Masai "cultural hike" which is just a long, hot walk through a Masai village where we get to go into a family's house, meet a traditional healer, and are seriously overcharged. I did learn some interesting things about the Masai culture though, which I will hopefully learn much more about through some Masai teachers at my school, as it is a very interesting and unique people. Anyways, I went on this hike with some fresh American volunteers who are here doing AIDS education for a couple months, and I came to realize that I'm starting to become a little weird. The way I speak English has changed so much that people keep asking me if I come from a different country, and I freaked out when I went into the S. African chain supermarket in Arusha (mainly there for the expats in the area). After spending some time with the new volunteers I have discovered how out of touch I am with my former reality, and how hard it's going to be to readjust when I get home.
Oh well, that's still about 6 months away so no use thinking of that now. After I finished filling out report cards I was invited by and American church group to go on safari with them. A group of about 17 from Virginia came to Moshi for a few weeks to do some mission work and then to go on safari, and one of their members go sick before that trip so they had a free bed in the deluxe Safari lodge in Tarangire Park they had booked. I lived like a queen, or rather as if I was plopped right onto the set of 'Out of Africa' for about 2 days. And better yet, I didn't have to pay a cent except for the drinks I had out on the deck of the lodge while watching the moon rise over the elephants drinking water in the river below me. I definitely got spoiled, eating fancy food and staying in a 'tent' with a hot shower built into it. This is not to mention the actual safari - you know, the elephants, giraffes, and zebras, but I'll get more into that later, as I'm going on safari again at the end of this month with my students.
After my vacation from African reality I had to change gears completely, as I boarded a bus to Mwanza, a city on the shores of lake Victoria. An uncomfortable ride that was supposed to last 12 hours ended up taking 2 hours, and I feared for my life on more than one occasion. I arrived safely though, and I am now enjoying the nice weather of L Victoria. Mwanza is a fairly large city with a lot of Tillapia fishing and surrounded by big boulders. I'm all by myself and there isn't a lot to do around here, but I brought my climbing shoes and am trying, with little success, to find a place to do a little climbing. Surprisingly no one around here ever really though about climbing the beautiful rocks surrounding the city, and it's a little awkward climbing around the rocks alone among the many shacks, or homes, built all over the hills. While traveling alone is not completely desirable, It has given me a nice chance to do some writing reading, and thinking-which can be difficult to do at the school.
Okay, enough for now. I know most of you are now on summer vacation and probably have less care to read my ridiculously long emails. I finally got some pictures on the web, so you can check my website to see some pictures of me dressed like an African woman! Oh, and before I forget, if you wanted to send money to that orphanage that I talked about before, the director told me that it's best if you give the money to me and then I handed him the cash. Because of my busy schedule lately, I haven't been there in a while, but I still really want to help them.
I always love hearing from y'all!
Lynch Rocket Lab