Wednesday, August 26, 2009


A sample. Will post more on web at some point...

Monday, August 24, 2009

We're Back!

We are officially back in the United States after what seems like forever.

We spent our last few days with the Ali family and they graciously stored our big bags for us while we were in Zanzibar. The family consists of a male intern, his dentist wife (who is also 8 months pregnant), their 1 year old daughter, and the dentist's younger sister. They were so gracious to host us for several days and feed us very well.

On Sunday evening we left Kilimanjaro airport bound for Amsterdam and arrived after 8 hours with no program (PS -- KLM is officially my favorite airline now due to actual kindness on behalf of the staff, organization, and the best airplane food I have ever had). We transferred to Continental in Amsterdam, and the plane was delayed by almost two hours yet we arrived in Houston only 15 minutes late.

What we thought would be a disaster in customs was very easy ... we got in and out in less than 30 minutes and Hailey headed to Salt Lake City and Lindsay and Michelle headed to Portland.

We start school again next Monday morning bright and early, so we have one week to get things done. On the itinerary for Lindsay and Michelle is moving into new houses with fellow classmates and getting situated there. Hailey will be in Utah and Idaho with family and drive back to Portland just in time for school to start.

This trip will go down for all of us as a life-changing experience -- one which has shaped our view of the 3rd world, healthcare in the 3rd world and back in America, as well as shaped our future careers paths.

Thank you all for following our blog, commenting, and sending emails.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Like sticks on a dalla-dalla

Pongwe. We decided to go with the “remote beach with turquoise waters” when booking a hostel on the east side of Zanzibar.
Lindsay: Why do you need to use the internet now? We’re going to a town.
Jimmie: Why do you need to buy fruit at the market? We’re going to a town.
We were both wrong. Pongwe consists of 2 hotels. A 200$/night hotel and a 30$/night hotel. The only difference is the material they use to build the walls on our charming thatched huts. There is no internet (unless you’re at the one computer at the 200$ hotel. Don’t even think about asking if you’re in the 30$ hotel). There are no fruit stands. The hotel menu consists of 5 items to choose from for dinner. Only one item will actually be available for dinner. The beach is turquoise. It is lovely and littered with the kind of shells people pay money to decorate tacky beach houses with. Overall, the choice was a good one (though it took some getting used to).
We stayed 2 days and probably didn’t put on shoes the entire time. I learned that if you don’t put sunscreen on right, you might as well not bother putting it on at all. Bad burn is better than splotchy, rash-looking burn. We read, ate whatever the “restaurant” brought us, and spent an entire night listening to bush babies attack our screen windows (they’re cute, but terrifying… like gremlins).
Our ride back (a 1$ dalla dalla, of course) had benches and open windows. It looked pleasant at first, but we quickly learned why the taxi driver warned us, “you will wait forever for bundles of sticks.” The first woman with bundles of sticks was cranky. None of the men would argue with her screams that about 100 bundles would fit on the roof. She was right, in the end. The final product was a dalla dalla with another dalla dalla-sized stack of wood on top of it. And a bike. And about 35 people in an open-air van built for 12. Plus a lovely 2-hours of glares, laughs, and yells about why the mzungu were taking up SO MUCH ROOM WITH THEIR BACKPACKS. HOW RIDICULOUS TO TAKE UP SO MUCH ROOM ON A DALLA DALLA.
Sticks are free.
We made it back, unscathed. Ate a giant meal of grilled seafood in the park (at what looked like an outdoor cooking competition, chef hats included).

We're coming home!

After much relaxing in Zanzibar, it's time for us to come home. We're getting really excited, but we know we will miss this country as well. So here's our top ten lists for the trip.

Things we will miss about Tanzania:
10) The genuinely nice people on the street
9) The ability to be so hands on in a clinical setting
8) Five hour work days
7) Filling, hearty lunches that cost less than a dollar
6) The incredible diversity of religion which according to locals is almost never a subject of contention.
5) The colorful clothing of the women on the street. Note: it is entirely appropriate to wear colors and patterns that don't match. And 5 different patterns on one person is not too much.
4) The neighbor kids -- Redre, Tom, Ceci, Sarah, Zora, and Maria
3) The Lyimo family -- Dr. Lyimo for his support and guidance at the hospital, and Beatrice for her great chapati and patient teaching of how to make said chapati
2)The Ali family -- who graciously hosted us at their house for 2 days, stored our luggage for a week, and cooked us wonderful food.
1) The always exciting dalla-dalla (25 cents to ride across town)

Things we are looking forward to back home:
10) No longer sleeping under mosquito nets
9) To no longer be considered "exotic" ... to just be a face in the crowd
8) Cockroach-free houses
7) Sushi, nachos, cheese, and all the wonderful food America has to offer
6) Clean clothes and a wardrobe of more than 5 outfits
5) The ability to drive our own car (on the correct side of the road)
4) Real coffee (not instant)
3) Paying a listed price, instead of haggling or enduring "mzungu" taxes
2) Fast Internet
1) Being reunited with family and friends

A Word About Zanzibar!

So yesterday we got back from Zanzibar, a tiny island off the coast of Tanzania that sits in the beautiful teal water of the Indian Ocean. We got there on Sunday afternoon, flew in on a little plane that left from Arusha. It was amazing to look out the window of the airplane at waves crashing on green coral reefs, seeing really old little boats touring around the island, minarets from old mosques forming the skyline...ridiculous!

From the airport we took a taxi to a little hotel/hostel called the Mancha Lodge, which was kind of in the middle of Stonetown, the main island city. Stonetown was wonderful! It was built ages ago, during the heat of the slave and spice trade that ran from East Africa through the Indian Ocean. So many of the streets are narrow, too narrow for cars to pass. And the buildings are mostly concrete, with beautiful Arab-styled architecture. The windows, the roofs- all beautiful. Zanzibar is well known for its doors, strangely enough. The doors are all carved from this great heavy dark wood, and are very very ornate- be sure to check out our pictures of them when we can post them. Some have spikes coming straight out from the planks, this style was taken from the Indian style where the spikes are used to keep elephants from ramming into the door! Lucky for them, there are no elephants in Zanzibar. Lots of cats, though.

97% of the Zanzibar locals are Muslim, so five times a day we would hear the calls to prayer rising over the streets. The women there dress so beautifully, in all bright colors and bangles and sequins, it's really great. Even some of the more conservative women who wore burqas in addition to the ever-present headscarf- these were very ornate burqas.

We ate very well in Zanzibar- lots of fresh fish cooked with the wonderful local spices. Also, they had some of the best tea we've had since we were here. Our last day in Stonetown we took a half-day spice tour. We got picked up in a dalla dalla along with some other tourists and drove North up the island to a place where there was a good concentration of many of the different spices that used to be grown in abundance. We walked around this big garden/orchard where a guide showed us how the different spices are grown. We learned a lot-- turns out vanilla beans grow on parasitic vines that wrap around trees. Black pepper, red pepper, and white pepper all come from the same pepper tree. The pepper corns are originally green, and you get the different colors depending on what you do with the corn. Harvest them early and let them dry, you get black pepper. Take the husk off before you dry them, you get white pepper. Harvest the corns later, red pepper. Neat! We got to try a lot of different local fruits- jackfruit, cocoa pod, five different kinds of oranges, we smelled cardamon leaves and cinnamon bark, it was wonderful!

That last night we ate food from the street market- so fun! We got lobster and fish kebobs drank delicious sugar cane juice. It was such a different place, different from home but different also from the other places in Tanzania- such a wonderful experience!

Love you all, thanks for keeping up with us via this blog, and I can't wait to see you all back home!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The serengeti is really all its cracked up to be

We just got back from our 5 day safari to the national parks in Northern Tanzania. We saw amazing creatures and beautiful and varied landscapes.

Day 1 -- Lake Manyara
We left late in the morning and headed out on a nice paved road to Lake Manyara about 90 minutes away. The story goes that there were some Japanese dignitaries that had gone to safari in NgoroNgoro and Lake Manyara and the roads were just terrible. So they just decided to fund a new paved road for all the visitors ... nicest road in all of Tanzania.

We checked into our nice campsite, and went on a 5 hour game drive through the park. The park is the most like a jungle, and we saw lots of awesome creatures ... babboons, dik diks, elephants, and lots of birds. We stayed in our awesome campsite complete with dinner, an awesome hill view of the park, and a local acrobatic show.

Day 2 -- Serengeti
We left super early from the camp and drove on a not so nice road to the serengeti through NgoroNgoro Conservation area. We got to the serengeti gate and everything just looked desolate ... how can there be animals out here? But then the amazingness happened. Within the first hour we pulled up to a large male lion resting underneath a tree and got within 10 feet of it! The animals there are just so used to cars that they most of the time don't even care that you are then.

All in all we saw cheetahs, leopards, lions, ostriches, elephants, and lots and lots of impala.

Day 3 -- Serengeti
We woke up before sunrise the next day so we could watch the sunrise over the Serengeti. This was simply beautiful. Highlight of this day for sure was watching a female lion hunt, miss the impala, then climb into a tree for a nap, and then climb out of the tree for more hunting.

We then drove to NgoroNgoro crater campsite for the night. There we had zebra just walking through our campsite.

Day 4 -- NgoroNgoro Crater
Okay, it's cold here. We got up nice and early and drove down into the crater. Today was the day to see black rhinos, as there are only 17 known left in Tanzania and they are all in the crater. And we were the first car to spot a rhino of the day ... it was a little black dot on the horizon, but with good binoculars we could see the horn!

We drove back to the Lake Manyara campsite for the night.

Day 5 -- Tarangerie
This was our favorite landscape of the trip ... the others were lots of brown and few trees, and this one had a river, trees, and savannah. We saw lots of elephants here and even watched a group of a dozen for about 30 minutes bathing, drinking, and playing near the water. The little babies were climbing all over each other and playing just like little kids.

Our guide David and cook Juma took such good care of us, and we had an amazing time! We camped out in tents every night and got wonderful food. But I think we are all excited to not be on bumpy roads for a while now.

Our favorite animals seen on safari:
Michelle -- leopard
Lindsay -- elephants
Hailey -- cheetah
Jimmie -- giraffe

And now we head to Zanzibar for a nice vacation that will involve lots of beach laying, snorkeling, and exploring beautiful stone town.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Last week in clinic

After 5 weeks of clinic, we are now officially on vacation! We finished our last week with Lindsay in pediatrics, Hailey in OB/GYN, and Michelle bouncing around during the day and doing OB/GYN at night. We also all spent one day in internal medicine, in which we were supposed to learn all about "tropical medicine." This included fascinating diseases not seen in the United States, such as Diabetes, Hypertension, and Congestive Heart Failure :)

We went to Nairobi yesterday to pick up Lindsay's friend Jimmie. We were pleasantly (?) suprised when we got to the Tanzania-Kenya border to find out that we had to pay an additional $25 to enter the country, even though when we arrived at the airport at the beginning of July we were told that we could pay $100 to cover entrances to Kenya.

We arrived in Nairobi in the afternoon, and had a nice relaxing afternoon in the hotel. We then headed out to a restaurant called "Carnivores" with all sorts of exotic meats. It was all buffet, and included soup, salad, and dessert. It was fantastic ... my favorite was for sure the ostrich meatballs.

Tomorrow morning we will head out on a 5 day/4 night safari. We will be going to Tarangerie, Lake Manyara, NgoroNgoro Crater, and Serengeti. Thus we will not have internet contact for about another week, but we promise to update you on all our adventures upon our return.