Week 8

Done with our stay in the hostels and now we are on our way to our rural homestays. This is a change. These houses are made out of clay and limestone and have roofs are made out of tin and this is what I pictured when I first pictured Africa. The toilets are holes in the ground and you have a bucket of water to shower with. I feel like I never get clean. There is no toilet paper so we carry it with us in our backpacks. People just use a bucket of water to clean themselves. I don’t think that cleans anything* There is no running water in some of our houses and some of us don’t have electricity. This is the real Africa. They get their water from wells and sometimes they pack it in pretty far from their houses. My family is very nice and I have 10-year-old brother and 8-year-old sister. My uncle is 22 and my dad and mom are both 34. I don’t get fed much, and I never really sleep under my mosquito-ridden room, but hey it’s an experience. I leave back to normal civilization in about 4 days, so I think I can stick it out.

Week 7

I’m starting to lose track of weeks now and I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but for a few weeks we were just staying in stone town going to class everyday. We left Stone town and headed towards Pemba today. It was crazy; the airport has one security checkpoint. The airplane was like a puddle jumper and it was basically like having your own private plane for a 30-minute cruise. There is a seat right next to the pilot that gets filled and then the other seats are 3 wide and 5 deep. You can see every instrument and sitting next to the pilot is pretty cool and would cost a lot of money back in the states. We are staying in a hostile for a couple days and then headed to another set of homestay families. The hostile overlooks a portion of the ocean, but it has no hot water and no drinkable water, which means we have to steripen (water sterilizer) everything we drink. Pemba is more rural and less people than the larger island we were previously on. There is no Wi-Fi really here and there aren’t any actual restaurants.

Week 6

Heading back into town from Jozani was hard because it is such a cool place. For my research project over the course of 4 weeks I will stay in Jozani studying the old growth forest and how to keep it healthy and preserved. We are now heading to stay back with our homestay families for four days and then we are off to an island called Pemba, which is just another island in the archipelago of Zanzibar. Headed back into Stone Town means Wi-Fi, actually decent food, and some normal hotels to hangout at. While in Stone Town we had some lectures on coral reefs and sandbars and then headed out into the field to put what we had learnt to the test. A short 30-minute boat ride on a boat that you wouldn’t trust back in states, we reach a very nice secluded sandbar that is beautiful and has very little impact from human interaction. Here we found cuttlefish, octopus and hundreds of fish and coral species as we snorkeled and studied intertidal pools

Week 5

This past week we’ve spent four days in the only National Forest in Zanzibar. The Jozani National Forest is 5000 hectors of old growth forests, mangrove trees and a lot of monkeys that are endemic to the islands. Red Colobus Monkeys are only found on Zanzibar and are very interactive and social with the many visitors that come by. Although they aren’t very smart compared to other primates, they are still fun to watch and study. This isn’t like any other national park you’ve been to. The signs are 20 years old and the there isn’t even a map you can look at while walking the maze like trails. We decided to walk a 7km trail and figured it would come back towards the camp. Turns out it doesn’t, and it left us in the middle of the bush walking in the dark to find a road. We finally found a road and some people gave us a ride back to the camp. Don’t expect things to be organized here and don’t expect anyone to be on time. Island time is quite a thing here.