Friday, December 7, 2012

It’s a Maasai pants and shuka kind of night

Hey, hello, howdy, how are you?

I haven’t written in a bit and that probably doesn’t bother anyone too much besides my mom who I think is the only consistent reader of my blog anyway (hi mom!) but I figured I’d sit down and write a few things about what’s been going on. Actually the reason I haven’t been writing really too much lately is because there HASN’T been a lot going on (unless you want me to document the long nights I’ve spent fiddling around on SPSS and trying to figure out how to do things on ArcGIS ver. 3.3, but I don’t really want to relive those nights so I’m not going to write about them).

Fieldwork finished awhile ago, and the real work began for DR. At first I thought it would be nice to have whole days devoted to working on it, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be for me to sit myself in front of a computer all day, especially when the weather is so nice (except for when it was thunder storming last night and I was desperately trying to finish my draft of my paper before the power went out). I try and break up the day by taking 20 minute breaks throughout it, and taking a long break from 6-8 to play volleyball and eat dinner. I’ve been going to bed at like 9:30 to avoid working any longer in the night though, haha. I’ve also managed to read just about every fiction book in our small library, painted every part of camp (as in paint pictures of, not paint pictures on), and started reading the blog of an ex-pat housewife living in Nairobi in my efforts to procrastinate. I've also made it my personal project to help every bird that flies in through the library's open windows and doors. Sometimes they really are just too dumb to figure out how to get out on their own. My draft is finished, though, and I kept feeling like it was a bit short until I was actually holding 21 pages in my hands and realized it really was an impressive amount of work for 3 days of data analysis and 3 days of writing.  Except I realized I should run another statistical test just as I was making the final edits on my abstract but oh well. That might be today’s project.

We had two non-program days since my last blog post. The first one, we made the two hour drive down to visit the Hadzabe, which are one of the last truly hunter-gatherer groups. At first I was a little iffy mostly due to my experiences at Maasai Cultural Manyattas and just the idea that we’d just be… looking at people. I was assured, though, that it was not a façade like many “cultural experiences” are here, and that they were really happy to just share their lifestyle with the world. It was pretty neat hanging out with them, shooting bows, dancing, etc. Still not quite sure how I feel about the idea of cultural tourism as a whole, but probably one of the more authentic ones I’ve been to for something that was set up for tourists. Afterwards we visited a Datoga boma and saw a Datoga blacksmith make arrow tips which was REALLY neat. There was also some lovely metal jewelry which I shamelessly bought way too much of. Oh well.

The other non-program day was a little bit closer to home. I got to visit a batik maker’s home, and it was SO beautiful. This particular batik maker actually was primarily responsible for starting the craft in Tanzania in the early 70s and had shown in galleries all over the world. Stepping into his living room, I was totally overwhelmed by absolutely gorgeous batik wall hangings and well… anyone who knows me knows I love art. I acquired some new decorations for my room.

Then I headed down to Mto wa Mbu to just hang out. I did a little bit of shopping and mostly on my high from purchasing beautiful batiks, I decided I should get some paintings too. Oops. We went to Happy Days for a bit after that where we just played cards for a bit and poached elephants (drank Tuskers).

It’s been alternating between cold and rainy and SO HOT out lately. That’s summer in Tanzania I guess. I’ve been living in the library and totally taken over one of the large tables. I sit there and wrap myself in my Maasai blanket/shuka which is SO warm. Most nights I’m also wearing these super awesome pants I got made by the tailor made out of fabric a lot of Maasai women wear. I basically look ridiculous, but I couldn’t be more comfortable.

Today is our final non-program day. I’m chilling out right now, but I’m going to head down to Mto wa Mbu to learn how to knife paint later this morning, then afterwards a last trip to Karatu and Happy Days. With only 9 days left in the program, I’m feeling a bit down, but I’m definitely excited to be done with DR. It really has been killer. I’m also very excited I decided to travel after the program. A beach holiday after my community presentation will be well wanted and needed. Besides, I’m not totally sure when I’m going to be back in East Africa (says the girl who’s been here twice in two years… uh) so I might as well live it up.

That’s it though. Sorry, my life hasn’t been to exciting lately! I’m in my end of the semester crunch just like everyone else.

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