Friday, March 28, 2014

Last few days in Kenya -- Full Disclosure

March 26, 2014
                This week has been one for the books. I don’t even know where to begin with this entry. I guess going back a few days would be better in terms of clarity. We got back from expedition and jumped right into finals week (mid-semester that is… never had a mid-term that counted for 40% of my grade). Paige and I commandeered Daniels office so that we could study in peace, which worked out perfectly because he was on off-days for most of our study time. Exams were pretty much the same as in America but with one glaring difference. We are in Africa.  I know that seems redundant but let me explain…in Africa there are wild animals much bigger than a squirrel in our backyard, including baboons. Baboons that enjoy bananas even more than students do. Baboons that don’t care if you’re in the middle of taking an exam right near the banana stash. We heard a big thump and a few students looked up in the rafters of the kitchen and saw a baboon the size of a black bear casually strolling along with a banana in its mouth. Never in my life have I had to flag down a teacher or proctor for the purpose of informing them that a baboon has invaded the testing area! The babs were chased away but came back three other times! One was even bold enough to steal the entire bunch of bananas! It was quite the distraction but we all somehow finished our exams on time anyway.
                After exams were finished, some students decided to paint a side room off the chumba, lovingly referred to as the smush room (even though it was never used for that purpose, for all you Jersey Shore fans). They painted a giant map of the united states and we all placed a red dot where we come from, with instructions for future KBC kids to continue the new tradition. We also had a blue wall with a double rainbow, where we all signed our names and what school we attend. It was a really cool way for us to leave our mark on Kenya.
For our last non-program day we all hopped into the land-rovers for a group hike in Chulu Hills! Unfortunately, this day would prove to be a pretty big test for me. I found out the hard way that dehydration is actually a seriously debilitation condition…Hydrate or die as the saying goes. Turns out Mike wasn’t telling us to pump water down our throats for his health! Anyways, I’ll start at the beginning. We started out on the hike and everyone was breathing a bit harder within minutes (apparently no one told us that this hike was pretty difficult). Meanwhile, Daniel and our guards were pretty much sprinting up all the hills and pathways, which were just cattle trails through the bush. After about 20 minutes, my legs started to drag and I noticed it was getting hard to breathe due to a few cramps in my sides. Being stubborn and not wanting to fall behind, I tried to keep going. This lasted for all of 10 seconds until sharp pains were shooting through my ribcage and my heart was racing. I quickly grabbed Zoe, who was walking behind me, and she helped me sit down while Sipaya called for Mike to come back. Turns out my medications had made it difficult for me to retain water that day and I was pretty dehydrated. Luckily for me, Mike had a few rehydration salts handy (imagine drinking salt water … on purpose. Yuck). As my pulse was taken and I drank my salts, all I could think about was how devastated I would be if I got sent back to the car to wait for my friends.  After a few minutes, Mike said “Okay let’s keep going.” I think it was then that I finally realized that I was holding my breath for that verdict. Payton and Zoe (two friends from camp) were basically my body-guards. Payton was in front in case I stumbled and Zoe was in back for the same reason. Sipaya led the way, taking breaks every 40 feet or so, saying he was an old man and got tired easily (My ego appreciated his attempt). Mike stuck with me like the fantastic SAM that he is, even taking my back-pack for me to make the trip slightly easier. We finally reached the summit of a particularly large hill and I saw the other students waiting in the distance. As we slowly approached the group, a few of them cheered and clapped. It made me feel amazing to reach the top of that dang hill. I had confessed to my small entourage earlier that I sometimes felt like I wasn’t physically cut out for this line of work due to my back issues and days like this one. After we slowly trudged back downhill to the cars, Mike told me “You did it! Don’t worry you are cut out for this”. Sometimes you really need that affirmation, no matter how confident you are in your path. I learned a pretty big lesson that day – that it’s totally okay to lean on people if you need to and to HYDRATE, all day every day. Seriously, it’s kind of a big deal!
Leaving KBC and my Kenyan family was extremely sad and difficult to do. It leaves you with a kind of homesickness that can’t be remedied as easily as the kind you get for America. The only thing you can really do is hope that the story isn’t over yet and life has a funny way of bringing people back together. Maybe someday I’ll make my way back to Kenya and visit my extended family again. Or they will come to visit America. Regardless, I will never forget my Kenyan family. My brothers Martin, Charles, and Harrison will always have to deal with emails from me! Harrison made me promise to stay in contact with him and promise to try to visit again someday because he will miss me so much. It’s amazing the kind of connection you can make with people in 7 short weeks! Martin and Charles are also waiting for my future visit…Martin even told me he would keep me in Kenya forever if he could! I will always be Daniel’s namesake and he has inspired me to continue my Swahili so that I can be fluent one day. I’ll miss Moses hanging out in the Duka and saying hi to Francis every night at dinner. My friend Isaac, who still talked to me even with a huge language barrier; who always yelled “Dan!” every time he saw me, to which I yelled back “Iss!” My pseudo-grandfather, Olioborr, and my amazing professors. Okello, who made everyone’s cup of joy overflow with his positive attitude. The fantastically crazy kitchen staff who always made early morning cook-crew fun. Sipaya and Kioko, who were always ready to give you a good laugh or have a serious conversation about life. And of course, I’ll miss our fantastic SAM, Mike, who handled every curve-ball our group through his way with patience and positivity, and still managed to become a friend to each and every one of us.
This is baadaye to Kenya, I hope to be back one day because she has stolen a bit of my heart and bitten me with one heck of a travel bug.
Asante sana for reading!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Expedition to Lake Nakuru National Park

March 18th
At seven am sharp we all piled into our land cruisers and began the long journey to Lake Nakuru national park. Everyone was so sleepy that the car was basically silent for a couple hours as people attempted to catch up on much needed hours of sleep. Daniel Kaaka was our driver and he did a wonderful job of keeping those of us who couldn’t sleep entertained. I, of course, took advantage of the quiet for a quick cat nap. We stopped at several places on the way to Nakuru but the most memorable was a little strip of stores. It was there that we all grabbed our roll of toilet paper from the car and headed hesitantly into the local bathroom. Sure enough, it was a hole in the floor surrounded by unidentified liquid, most likely from patrons that used the stalls before us. I rolled up my pant legs and popped a squat (When in Africa right?). Afterwards I got the opportunity to purchase a hot dog (kind of) and a mocha milkshake! That thing was so delicious; the hot dog was a little weird and I found out later that it was actually a chicken hot dog. Regardless it was a nice dose of American food (or dessert, whatever).
                After the full ten hour drive (yes ten), we finally got to our home for the next week!! On the drive into the park we actually witnessed a leopard slinking away into the brush! Apparently it is extremely rare to see them in the wild so we all took that as a good sign for the week to come. At the camp we were given two bandas for all the girls so I had twelve roommates for the week; it was kind of like summer camp. There was a lot of snoring happening so not a lot of us were able to sleep well but it didn’t slow anyone down in the least. Anna and I smushed our beds together and somehow arranged our mosquito nets so that we could kind of snuggle each night. It was a nice change from the solo twin beds back at KBC. Of course, I had to get used to her hand reaching out in the dark in an attempt to find my hand! Not ready to sleep yet, I was wandering the compound with a few other students when our flashlight caught something in its yellow glow. Staring back at us, no more than twenty feet from the fence, was a pair of glowing feline eyes. A female lioness was barely visible in the black shroud of nightfall but we could make out her sleek form as she slowly paced away from us. It was then that it finally sunk in that we were living in the middle of a national park for a week!
                On the first day we had a field lecture on invasive plant species in Lake Nakuru National Park. Of course, it’s difficult to get thirty college kids who love wildlife to think about plants in a national park…Somehow we made it through with decent notes in hand. After that we had the privilege of listening to a guest lecture by one of the senior researchers in the park, who was a woman (which made all us girls feel pretty empowered). It was interesting to finally have a tangible park to compare with the Amboseli Ecosystem. Especially because Nakuru is a fenced park, whereas Amboseli is not; this makes for some drastic differences in the local ecosystem. Later that night we finally got to go on a game drive! We basically got to just drive around looking for any animals we could find. The next morning we had a field exercise with Kiringe where we got to drive around and count animals again. We were lucky enough to witness a troop of baboons scatter due to some unseen predator stalking them.
                Every single night we got to have a game drive simply for the purpose of trying to see new wildlife. It was nice to sort of be a tourist and not have to worry about counting all the animals we saw for academics or anything. It was on one of these game drives that we actually saw our first group of lions!! We were driving along and I noticed a bloody carcass on the ground. When I mentioned it to the group they all turned their attention in that direction. It was then that someone saw the lions, lying lazily right behind their kill. The group instantly hushed and we each took about a hundred pictures. The views got even better over the next few days! We witnessed a lone lioness attempting to hunt a small herd of Grant’s gazelle. Unfortunately for her, the large male in charge figured out her game and quickly spurred his herd into movement, all the while guarding his females. It was like Animal Planet in real life, only better! The best lion moment, however, was when we witnessed a breeding pair of lions interacting. We watched the male court the lioness, flirt a little, and then mount her. We got to see their mating process and even saw their behavior after the fact! It was an incredibly fantastic thing to actually see in the wild.  On the last game drive, we saw four lionesses alongside two giant males interacting on a giant hill. The lionesses seemed to be lounging lazily but their eyes and ears were alert to any new noises. We realized that they must be searching for a new hunt and we got really excited to see one take place again. Three of the females got up and trotted across the front of our trucks with a warthog in sight. Unfortunately they missed their target, but the hunt was still exciting to watch. I spent the entire week looking for the elusive striped hyena to no avail. One day I’ll see those beautiful creatures.
                The nightly activities were almost as much fun as the game drives! On one of the nights, Lucy’s rap was a game inspired by the show “Whose line is it anyway?” It was hilarious watching everyone act out their assigned celebrity. There was Oprah, Britney Spears, Shrek, Eeyore, and the SAM Mike was even tasked with impersonating Ms. Frizzle! That last one was scarily accurate, but a real person acting like her just looks inebriated! It was hilarious. Another night, we all met by the campfire to hear some of Shem’s stories from when he was completing research in Nakuru, many years ago. He said we were a lucky group because he doesn’t often share his stories with groups of students. It was nice to just sit around a campfire and listen to the man that had become something of a pseudo-father figure to us over the past six weeks. He was certainly a typical crazy college student back then, just like all of us!
                On the day before we headed back to KBC we got to visit another lodge! It was nice to relax, order some food and get a drink or two. I attempted the pool but I thought my limbs would fall off from the frigid temperature so I quickly abandoned the water for the hot sun. The next morning we woke up bright and early to pack up the white rhino again and head back to camp. This time, the ten hour drive seemed to fly by just a smidge faster than five days before. Maybe that’s because we were driving back to two assignments and three finals, or we just slept most of the way. Either way, we made our stops along the way, only staying for a few minutes at each one to save some time. It was a fantastic week that I hope to never forget and hope that there are 7 or 8 more like it in the near future!
Asante sana for reading!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"Get your menthol'd self over here!"

March 4, 2014
                Today was a bit of a difficult one for me. It was extremely hot and I don’t remember ever feeling so utterly exhausted before – most likely I was dehydrated so I quickly chugged a bottle of water. As I was sitting outside, stressing about an assignment that was due soon, I noticed something in the reflection of my laptop. The thatched roof of our kitchen, bathed in a backdrop consisting of the clearest blue sky I’ve ever seen. Once again, I’m struck by the majesty of this place, of Africa in general. I’m in Africa. Even after almost 4 weeks it still seems surreal. Even on the most stressful of days here, I’m still one of the luckiest people in the world and I know I’ll come to remember even these days fondly because it means that this impossible dream was real.
                The past week has mostly been filled with classes and homework but on Wednesday we had another non program day! For this day we decided to go on an early game drive. Seeing the wildlife was probably the only way to get us out of bed before 6am. We all piled into the land cruisers around 7:30am and drove to Amboseli National Park. As we reached the parking lot, the mamas swarmed our cars, shoving bundles of hand crafted bracelets into our vision, yelling out various prices. It was a custom we had all been forced to get used to over the last month and yet we all got sucked in at the sight of that one bowl or one bracelet nestled in the midst of 40 more. A lot of us left that parking lot with more items and fewer shillings in our pocket. As we drove through the park, we saw many elephants, including an entire bond herd that crossed in front of our cars. We even got so close to one bull elephant that I was able to get a picture of his eyelashes. It was absolutely incredible. After a few hours, we were getting ready to eat lunch when the car in front of us started waving frantically at us and pointing off to the right. They mouthed “hyena” and waved again. It was then that we spotted a hyena basking in the sun near a small body of water. It sat up and regarded us for a few moments before relaxing back down into the grass. It was then that we realized there was another hyena taking shelter in a pipe directly underneath our car! Its nose peaked out from the shadows, followed slowly by the rest of its head as it surveyed the surrounding area. We finished up the day at another lodge, which has come to be the favorite among students as a form of relaxation. I ordered a mocha latte and French fries…I know it sounds incredibly stupid to order from a lodge but you have no idea how delicious their coffee was and I haven’t had Heinz ketchup in over two months. Let me tell you, after 5 weeks of African style cooking (which is fantastic by the way), it was amazing to partake in some American goodies. Everyone swam and lounged out in the sun for a few hours, some of us enjoying the alcoholic side of the lodge as well. There was a drink called the Ostrich Kick that was really good! Especially for those of us that don’t really like the taste of liquor. The drink was made from a double shot of Kenya Cane (rum), mashed squash, orange juice, and pineapple juice. It was a little strong for my blood but it was definitely a popular choice! To wrap up our fabulous day off, we did a short game drive on our way out of the park. Alas, we have yet to see any lions yet but I have high hopes for Lake Nakuru National Park next week!
                On Thursday we had an environmental policy field exercise in which we got to interview local farmers about the prevalence of human-wildlife conflict in their area. Groups of three students were each given a guide and tasked with interviewing at least five or six families. We were given a list of predetermined questions to use and a specific area in which to conduct our interviews. The most memorable part of the day was when the animals attempted to interact with us. At one of the households, a tiny pup took issue with one of the students in our group. His tiny yet ferocious attempts to scare her off his property were nothing short of adorable and hilarious. Once the mama quieted him so that we could proceed to ask questions, he promptly took up residence in the dirt directly in front of the student. He glared at her for the duration of the interview and immediately began barking at her every movement. It’s safe to say there was no love lost between the two, even if he was adorable. We stayed away from him regardless due to the prevalence of rabies in many of the animals that reside in East Africa! We had another instance of adorable animal behavior towards the end of our exercise. We were heading back in the direction of our car when the littlest goat kid I’ve ever seen began to follow us. He started bleating loudly and prancing along after us, most likely trying to find his mother. We tried to shoo him back into the boma he came from but he kept after us like a baby duckling. Finally our guide had to pick him up and actually carry him back, to which he responded by screaming bloody murder for a few seconds after. We’re pretty sure he attempted to follow us again but by then our car was pulling away from the site.
                For the rest of the week/weekend we helped prepare to go on expedition in Nakuru! We packed up all our bags and helped the kitchen load adequate supplies into the “white rhino” truck for transport to our camp. We also filled three 100 liter jerry cans along with about twenty 22 liter jerry cans with clean water for the week. Tomorrow we wake up bright and early for our 10 hour journey north to Lake Nakuru National Park! My alarm at 6am is going to feel like hell but maybe it means everyone will sleep in the car!
Until next time,


Friday, March 7, 2014

Child of the Maasai

March 1st, 2014
                On Wednesday the whole class piled into the land cruisers and headed out to another giant hill. As we stood at the bottom, our Wildlife Management professor Shem calmly begins to climb the steep rocky slope, asking that we follow. Like obedient children we filed slowly behind, taking care not to slip on the gravel so as to avoid a domino-effect landslide of students. As we reached the top we chose our seats in a semi-circle around Shem. He told us to come closer so that he could be near his children for one last field lecture. With that sentence I felt my heart squeeze with sadness as the idea that we would soon leave this place took root. When the lecture ended we all took our sweet time heading back to the car in an attempt to savor every second of the day. Our SAM Mike was not too happy about that…he was ready to head back to camp and we took a good half hour getting down the hill. On the way down, I felt my foot slide forward as it hit loose gravel. In a split second I realized three things: I was going to fall, my expensive camera was unprotected around my neck, and a classmate was directly in my way. I quickly leaned into the fall, landing hard on my shins. The momentum caused me to slide a few more inches down the slope, causing some pretty colorful bruises and a few burns but both my classmate and my camera came away untouched. Later that day we got the opportunity to visit a cultural manyatta. A manyatta is basically a Maasai boma created specifically for tourists, to show “traditional” Maasai culture. The women and warriors came out to greet us, singing a welcome song. The women hopped towards us and each pulled a student into the mix, while the warriors did their traditional dance and had jumping contests off to the side. Once the song was done, we said a quick group prayer and headed inside to see their homes. The houses were very small, each about the size if not smaller than a college dorm room.
                Thursday was the highlight of my week. We had a homestay where pairs of us were dropped off with predetermined families to spend the day. I’ll start by saying this was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done and yet it was also one of the most rewarding days of my life. My classmate, Rachelle, and I were dropped off around 8am with our cell phone, a bag of food for our family and a 22 liter jerry can filled with clean water. About five minutes into the visit, our phone died and we hadn’t been given a walkie-talkie. We sat in silence for a few seconds, fighting the rising panic of being in a strange country, in a strange place where no one speaks English, and no way to contact SFS if we needed help. Finally, I decided that panic would help no one, least of all us. I turned to Rachelle and reminded her that SFS has never needed to extract students before and that someone would be by to check on us around 12 or 1pm. The first few minutes with our mamas were strained as we made our first attempts at communication. The term “survival” Swahili suddenly made so much sense. From the very start they wanted us to be as involved as possible. When we made tea, one of the two mamas put the grinds into my hands and pointed to the boiling water. She showed me how to pour milk into a cup and then pointed to the boiling water again. Once the tea was ready she guided my hands as I poured the hot mixture into each cup through a strainer. They seemed pleased with my progress but also became concerned when they saw tears in my eyes. We were inside a home the size of an American full bathroom with a tiny hole in the wall to let smoke escape. That’s right the fire was inside the house. The smoke was almost unbearable, but luckily the mamas understood and we drank our tea outside. I was instructed to pass out the cups of tea and I instinctively gave the first one to a man sitting just outside the home, dressed like a Maasai warrior. This seemed to be a good move, both he and the mamas seemed pleased and he introduced himself as the husband to one of them. Survival Swahili – the man always gets served first. Thank goodness for little victories. After tea we went outside and when I say the flies swarmed, I mean it was like something from a horror film. I have never seen so many in my life; they coat your face and arms, flying back immediately after being shooed away. The children had flies coating their mouths and noses and the mama’s carried cloth specifically for fanning the swarms from their bodies. After adjusting to this new obstacle, we were instructed to grab a rope and an empty 22 liter jerry can each. We walked over to a couple of donkeys and loaded one up with 4 more jerry cans as well. At this point, I had started to open up a little and the mamas took notice. One placed my hand on the donkey’s ear and said “hold.” I guess it was a way to keep the donkey still. One mama, Nalamala, took it upon herself to be my teacher for the day. Every few feet on the way to the water pump she would point at something and tell me both the Swahili word for it as well as the Maasai word. It was difficult at times for us to understand each other but we helped each other learn. When we got to the pump, Nala positioned me by the handle and said “piga!” I assumed the duty of filling over 8 jerry-cans in an African version of pumping iron. Once the cans were filled, a rope was tied to each one and we were told to hold still while it was placed on our heads. Yes, our heads. A rope handle was fashioned kind of like a headband and the jerry can hung down behind us, resting in the curve of our spine. The walk back to the boma was the longest ten minutes of my life: my head, neck, and spine protesting the weight vehemently. Lunch consisted of Ugali (a cornflower and water mixture) and cabbage boiled with sugar water. I actually enjoyed the two mixed together, the cabbage giving the ugali necessary flavor. After lunch, the husband decided to teach me the Maasai words for his livestock and tell me more about them. He treated me like his own child, patiently answering my questions to the best of his ability. Afterwards, I went with Nala to gather firewood. Actually, we were waiting by the livestock and she pointed at a machete on the ground, saying “go.” I was terrified for a second that she wanted me to slaughter something… the husband laughed and pointed at the trees off in the distance. Once we were out in the trees, Nala became a woman no one would want to mess with. Put a machete in that woman’s hand and she’s a firewood machine. We quickly gathered two giant bundles, one to place on each of our backs like we did with the water. While we were waiting for Rachelle and her mama to finish, we tried to chat some more. Nala told me I was an “mtoto wa Maasai” which translates to “child of Maasai.” She truly did become my mother for the day. Finally, we headed back to the boma to wait for SFS to pick us up. I amused myself by creating a game with their children. I would puff my cheeks full of air and press my pointer fingers into them, making a funny noise as my cheeks deflated. The children quickly picked up on the game and we played for a good half hour. I also taught some of the boys how to whistle with their hands. All of a sudden, Marie (the other mama) came over with a tin of beads and some wire. Both mamas immediately began making a bracelet, Nala asking me to sit next to her while she did. Every three rows or so she would hand it to me and have me repeat her pattern. Eventually she was satisfied with the length and placed it on my wrist saying, “Rafiki. Remember Rafiki.” For those of you who are Lion King fans, Rafiki means friend in Swahili. Once our car came to get us, we each hugged our mama and got into the car. All the children ran over and reached for me through the window. I placed my hand out and they each grasped it in turn over and over again. Nala sidled over and told me I was welcome to stay with them. It warmed my heart to know I had made the same impression on them as they did on me. It’s a day that I will never forget.
Kwa heri!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Hyena is My Spirit Animal

February 28th, 2014
On Friday, February 21st we got to go on a nature walk with Kiringe, our Wildlife ecology teacher. We learned how to distinguish between different animal tracks and dung, which was a little difficult when you think of how many hoofed animals there are in East Africa.  During the walk we had two rangers with us because we were walking around in the Kenya Wildlife Sanctuary. They had to carry weapons just in case!! Daniel said that us students were too concerned with where our feet were hitting the ground, that we needed to look up because even a wildebeest could charge us and we wouldn’t know! It still amazes me the differences between these classes and my classes back at Penn State; we sure didn’t have to worry about random wild animals charging us during field lectures! One of the groups even saw an elephant!! The students were joking around saying the teachers were playing the game “take the wazungu into the bush and see if they can find their way out.” We would definitely get lost without our guides! When we got back to camp we had a little bit more class and then we all settled into the Chumba to watch the Lion King! Pretty much everyone in camp knows me as the hyena girl now so every time the hyenas came on screen, our S.A.M. Mike looked at me to see if I laughed….I always did. It’s amazing how a simple movie can transport you back to being a little kid, where nothing matters but that moment right there.  

On Saturday I got to experience the Kimana medical clinic for the first time… It was better than I expected, even though I hate going to the doctor regardless. There was this bathroom where they told us to produce a “sample” if you catch my drift. Everything is about poop in Africa, not even joking. Anyway, it was basically a stall with a hole in the ground… Mike told me to get creative. It was one of the weirdest moments of my life. Then, when I went to leave the bathroom, I realized the door was locked from the outside!! I was stranded in this bathroom for a full 10 minutes before the lab technician came looking for me! It’s become the running joke the past few days. Immediately after I got back to camp, we loaded up the cars and headed over to the local primary school where I got to help teach 12-13 year olds about plants. It was a little difficult to teach with the language barrier but our group was really creative and acted out a lot of stuff. After the lesson was over we got to go play with the kids outside and take a lot of pictures. One of the kids, John, was in love with my camera so I let him take some pictures of him and his friends. Those pictures mean more than any I would have taken that day and he was pretty good at it! We were about to leave when six little girls descended on me and started taking the bandana out of my hair. Six sets of hands started pulling at my hair, moving it around and braiding sections. I’m told at one point I had a nice Donald Trump comb-over. After a few minutes they decided on putting my bandana back on a different way and told me that I looked “very smart.” Once we got back to KBC a few of us decided to head into Kimana for a few hours. We walked around, ate some Chapatti from a local restaurant, and relaxed at a bar with a few beers. It was a very nice addition to a packed day. That night I got to lead RAP, which stands for Reflection, Announcements, and Presentation. After I gave a recap on our day and opened the floor for announcements, I had everyone play this game where you place a piece of paper on your back and everyone in the room writes something they like about you. It was a really good chance for everyone to bond a little more and everyone loved reading their papers afterwards. I have never had a better night sleep than that night, if only because I have never been more exhausted before! (In the most amazing way of course)  

On Monday we had another field exercise with Kiringe, where we got to walk around in the bush and identify plants. We measured the distance of trees from a way-point and identified key species. Of course, the part most of us remember is when we got within 15 meters of a zebra herd!! They weren’t too happy to see us but we were so excited to see them! On Tuesday we got to have 4 full hours of Swahili, which I loved. I immediately emailed my advisor about continuing Swahili once I’m back in the happiest of valleys. I was also blessed to receive a once in a lifetime hug from Okello. As he would say, my cup of joy was overflowing that day! That night also, Shem (our wildlife management teacher) sat down with us at dinner and told us he wanted to sit at the table with all of his children. He asked us about our days and told us stories from his youth, leaving out the juicy parts because “fathers don’t tell their children those stories.” Everyone here is absolutely phenomenal!

Asante Sana for reading!