Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A WEEK OF SO MUCH: BEHAVIOURAL SCIENCES SYMPOSIUM AND THE KILIMNJARO MARATHON 2017



Sorry for the long blog.
This week was one for only the “crazies”.  
It started with a lovely dinner with one of John’s “more mature” (aka—older) students Bernard, who is working on his Phd at the University of Capetown.  He and his wife treated us to a great dinner at Indo-Italiano, which has (no surprise for Moshi) both Indian and Italian food!  We got there early and ordered before anyone came so we would not be stuck for hours, but we were smart and had a lovely time.

Our whole project was excited about presenting their research at the Sociobehavioral Forum, and thus when we had no water, and then no power, at first we hardly noticed.  But, after a trip to the bore hole to get buckets of water filled and the night dark is dark (no street lights, nothing but flashlights flickering, it was not easy. 

Fortunately our Internet is not dependent on power.  I have solar camping lights and battery operated fans, so we were able to see in the house and to sleep with the white noise, but it was hard to get ready for the Forum.


This year’s Forum drew a sizeable crowd, and our own Community Advisory Board and our Youth stood out in asking questions and in a discussion of “Forced Sex”.  Other projects were about Disclosure, Stigma, Medical Adherence, Post Mortem, Social Autopsy, and others. People were engaged and interested.  We were very fortunate to have the Regional Health Commissioner and the Assistant Regional Health Commissioner attend the 2-day meeting.
Cheers to our Youth CAB who volunteered not only to present about this topic, but to make pictures of themselves depicting possible forced sex scenarios.


Some of the reasons for Forced Sex:



We had a really nice group for our symposium dinner.
Assistant Regional Director with Jan Esther Vera

Charles, Seleman, Ahazi ,and Vera laugh of course at Charles
Dr. Blandina kicks off the seminar

Almost Dr. Charles does not quite kick off seminar
One of my favorite projects Sauti Vijana (Shout out Youth)


Our power and water were still off, though the water had a few drips drips by Friday.
Buckets from how we get water
Solar lights


I will add no pictures because hell began on the next two days:
Friday afternoon after the end of the Forum, John and I went to Marathon ground zero. Because we had 46 Community Advisory Board members who planned to run the 5 K, I felt like I was being thrown into the jaws of hell.  John, our CAB member Hollo and I patiently filled out the forms, and then stood in line to have forms registered (by hand of course) get the numbers and pay.  The whole system is so inefficient that it is utter chaos.  First you have to battle your way to the front of the line and hold your ground especially as other people see that you have a handful of entries.  Then you have to beg your documentarist not to take her break because she, too sees the numbers of forms in your hands and wants to flee, then you speak to people who are trying to throw registrations at this person (they say, we are in a hurry, I respond, I am in a hurry, they say but you have so many, and I say, yes and I have waited in the same line that you are waiting in, and then they beg the woman…just take my 5…. And I say ABSOLUTELY NOT..YOU WILL MAKE HER CONFUSED AND I WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACTIONS. And on it goes).  I have a stance that I use when claustrophobia begins to settle in.  Hands on hips and winged out as far as they will go.  No bending no movement except to shove potential interlopers back with my elbows.  Finally, the registration is over, money paid, numbers given, records checked and one is missing.  You have to go through all the numbers to see which one it is, then locate the registration and hand it back so that they can copy the whole thing down on the ledger book, get the number and the safety pins.  But, it is not over yet, as you have to wait for T-shirts.  And my stance on these—take 46 of whatever you can get.  It does not necessarily make the CAB happy, but there is nothing to be done.  Even taking whatever they give you can take up to 20 more minutes.  So, after 3 hours and 15 minutes we were done.  No power at home.

Saturday, the day before the marathon is not relaxing for me.  No, I have to go down to the YMCA, hand out T-shirts, numbers and transportation money for 46 people for 4 hours.  Even then, 3 people had not come by the end of 4 hours and we ended up with poor Hollo having to take their shirts and transport money.  We, by the way, still had no power or water.  John dashed to the Y, said that the electric people were coming the water was back, and it looked hopeful.  But no.  Water came back, but no power.  John’s frustration was at a peak.

Sunday, day of the Marathon, dawns very early with our driver and friend Carol Francis arriving to pick us up.  Not easy to find ways to get to the stadium and I had to walk almost a mile from the car to go into the stadium to watch. My orthopedist, physical therapist, interventional radiologist, and primary care MD would be proud that I didn’t try to run. (the walking was enough)   The race was buzzing and many of our 5K friends and CAB members had finished by the time I got in.  I walked part of the way up the last hill with my Dada friend Lightness Kaale, and we had fun talking.  Then, lots of CAB folks and others called to me when I got inside.  I had a feeling that John would be later than usual because of his hamstring and didn’t actually start watching the finish for 21K until the first 42K Kenyans arrived.  From about 2 hours/5 minutes I watched and loved it when our friend Dr. Bob from Machame arrived at about 2:15, Jan at 2:17, and John at 2:23.  They looked pretty good considering the distance.  
Bob 1

Bob2

Jan always looks like this when he runs, and he kicked from John at the end.

John looking casual really!



Aisa and her 2 watoto and sister's watoto

Bob and Nebraska

some cab members....

Happi Yea

Old friend visiting from New Zealand Jan

John, Jan, CAB

more Jan, john and cab

yea Lighty!

This should be baba an Lighty xmass picture

Melk is fine!!!!!

Rose...raise money from alumni
We all had agreed that it was not as hot as usual and only later learned that many people had collapsed because of the heat and dehydration.  One death for the first time!  But no one knew until yesterday.  So we left walked another mile to find Carol and he took me first to church to practice hymns (recorder) with our pastor, and John home.  Still, no power.
 
horrible
John got back about 20 minutes after church started because the roads were blocked off. And it took just as long to get back home.  But we thought it was a successful marathon. We had a lovely get together in the afternoon to “hash” walk, and while the runners stayed behind drinking beer, we silly walkers headed out to walk the coffee fields and the little back paths. Of course the rains came as they do at this time of year and we were soaked and full of mud. (we say matope nyingi sana).  It is very hard to remain upright in this mud as it is more slippery than ice. CRAZY days.




Home again, NO POWER!  Now our friend and colleague Ahaz was calling the power company about every hour.  Horrid.  Monday morning comes, no power and for me disaster occurs when our cook top ran out of propane.  I cannot describe the horrible cranky mood I was in when our gardener and friend Pauli arrived with a thermos of boiling hot water for my coffee.  Tears!  Suddenly Tanzania looks so much better. Finally, Monday at 8am the Power (Tanesco) man comes to the house and switches on the power.


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Sigh..now on on to the last week in Moshi.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Wow before the Marathon Life Goes on



Another short blog

We are only a few days before the Kilimanjaro Marathon and all the craziness begins.  I have made the decision not to run the 5k, and therefore will not walk it either.  It is too packed with people, and the route is boring.  Up Rau road, down Rau road.  I will however give my money, and for our donors to pay for all our Community Advisory Board who are eager to have the time together. John plans now to run the half even though he has had hamstring problems (gulp). 

So, my week is different this week, looking away from this preparation.  We are still overwhelmed with our experience in Rwanda and sorting pictures and movies, but life moves on and so I was struck by the theme of Forgiveness again.  And here is a story:
  
My husband told me about a meeting he had this week with a young person who had been guilty of stealing quite a bit of money, had been fired, and had been on the streets for several years. At some point he realised on his own that he could die on those streets or do something about himself. He went to the people from whom he stole and asked for their forgiveness and help. He talked at length to them about his life and how sorry he was. These amazing people forgave him and raised enough money for him to attend a professional school again, one that will give him a good job when he graduates. I was stunned. Again, I thought about Rwanda and how the survivors forgave the people who personally asked their forgiveness. I am forever humbled and grateful for this story of the power of forgiveness, and the strength that it takes to ask for that forgiveness. Goodness!



Our ducks and chickens don’t care about any of that and go on as they are. They are interesting and unusual.  
Charlie and No Feathers
Big Duck


John and I met with the Youth CAB to talk about the upcoming behavior science workshop and the issue of forced sex.  The group is all ready to present and had many questions for John.  I cannot stress at the end of the day what a great group they are.  They are ready to advocate for their friends and do the right thing!

photos dimmed to protect identity of Youth CAB


While we are getting ready for the Marathon, we also had a. Pizza night, and for the first time I noticed Mukesh's beautiful Makonde that was made by an old nightwatchman that he had employed in the 1960's.  Wow. Mukesh is, by the way our regular Wednesday night Pizza home, and his wife makes the best toppings.  It is a lot of fun to get together there, even though it is not as cool as the other bar down the street.

  I have spent a wonderful week with my friend Sylvie in Machame, and keep hoping that I can get more stories before I leave.  Here is a certificate of "passing" for her mother in 1919 following her work in a hospital in UK before she attended Medical School.  I love the friendship, and I'm entranced by her family story.
Note passing grade in conduct!  High Pass in academics
So then, finally the tractor came and easily plowed our garden.  The only problem was this power pole that had fallen but though the line runs into the house, it appears to be nothing.  We are all afraid to cut or take it out because we have no idea what it is!

So, at the end of the week, I think I have to move back to the love and wonder of this place, and the power of forgiveness.  The climate of politics may be terrible throughout our world, Tanzania and America not withstanding, but the power of human relationships whatever they may be has held us together for over a decade and I feel confident for more decades to come.









Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Another Week in Moshi Another day

It was Valentine's day in Moshi yesterday and the country was awash with cards at your fingertips.  If you are careful and buy your cards at the local shops, they cost about $.50, unless you buy the giant one that I found for John that was actually about $1.25.  They are almost all very loving and not suitable for friends, work mates or acquaintances...even children, but they are most flowery.  John and I had a lovely dinner (not great food) but nice to go out and share our cards and reminisce about all the Valentine's days we have spent here in Moshi.  Since 2006 I think.

After our week in Rwanda nothing can quite compare, but we had a lovely hash up at Bob's house in Machame, and while everyone was doing the hard walk, my dear friend Sylvie and I walked all around the neighborhood, "shaking" all the women who greeted us heartily and then asked for pesa (money).  It was fun and we enjoyed the talking and the beauty (with still no rain) of the day. 
I am afraid we probably gave away the last turn (the last big X) as we had just come up the road the way the flour turned.  But, we had a nice time and it was a really nice group of folks.  The beer was fabulous and Bob brought out his cigars.  But nothing can quite compare with our pastor Tony's fabulous hash outfit.
Tony in high fashion
Now in fairness to Tony, he is a Scotsman and each piece of clothing had some variation of some plaid, just all different ones.  He reported that he had gotten this fantastic outfit at Peace Park which is the local market for second hand clothes.  And he loves each article.  He was actually surprised to look down and see all the different color combinations.  And nothing like a Kibo Gold at the end of a hot day.  We chatted about my clan, the Campbells's and how wild and warlike they were...but how he lived in the midst of them.  No wonder I am hotheaded. We all love our Tony--a great pastor.  Anyone who missed his sermon las Sunday morning for the children, missed a great story, and I tell you, when he retires from pastoring he would be a great children's writer.
As I sat in Bob's backyard, it suddenly occurred to me why he has such great bird pictures.  The back yard is a haven for birds.  The weavers are not at their little homes right now, but the nests are fantastic, and the sounds of the birds were all around.  I watched sunbirds zipping to and fro and felt extraordinarily jealous.  (I am often jealous of Bob, but seeing these fantastic birds only increased the feeling.)
You can just barely see the young man taking a picture of the Kili sunset from our road, but he is there, and the sunset with no extra snow highlights the shrinking glaciers.  Even then, it was a lovely. sunset.
And here we are with Kili in the sunset full form.  Pole snow and ice.  It is nearly gone.  Who is the new US EPA appointee?  He should come to visit shouldn't he.

The rest of this week will be filled with visits to Machame with my dear friend Sylvie, Pizza and a movie at the mountain club, more fast swimming (as fast as possible) and hopefully a quiet weekend before the last 10 days of our trip.  Gracious.  The time has gone ever so fast.




Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Amazing Trip to Rwanda


Big mother Gorilla staring at us

Above almost all trips that I have taken for the last 12 years living in Tanzania, I believe the most powerful was our trip to Rwanda last week.  All I can say, is that I was exhausted when we returned, and the whole flight home thought about the experience.
1.    Seven months ago I could not walk.  I could not walk three steps without pain and I could not even sleep at night without pain that woke me up.  So who would think that I would walk 6.5 miles up and down steep hills that were laden with thick clingy mud, tall rocks and stinging nettles.
2.    I could not comprehend what it would be like to visit with Gorillas for a little over an hour.
3.    I did not even know that golden monkeys existed, and so obviously, that they are nearly extinct.
4.    I did not understand the full impact of how Rwanda kept poaching low by hiring the poachers to become “Trekkers” to locate gorilla families, and making the entry for the park high enough that a portion of every person’s fee goes to the local villagers to keep them from encroaching with their farm animals into the National Forest. 
5.    I thought, but did not really know the history of the Rwanda Genocide-when the build up began and only knew the smallest amount about the role of the Belgium’s and French in fostering the hatred between the Hutu and Tutsis.
So, here we go.  After we flew into Kigali, we were met by a wonderful guide/driver Jean Marie.   

John Bob and our guide Jean Marie
 He gave us a bit of an overview of what was going to happen and we began our 3 hour drive to the Volcano National Park and our hotel, the Mountain Gorilla View Lodge.  Every so often Jean Marie would point to a hillside with a fence and some concrete shiny rectangles and say, “there is a genocide burial ground” and name some extraordinary number of bodies buried there.  Many villages we drove through had signs for Genocide historic sites.  The roads were much better than Tanzanian roads so except for a huge beer truck wrecked on the side of one of the many mountain curves, we made good time.  Incidentally, lots of bottles of beer had fallen out, many bottles broken, and a huge number of people surrounding the vehicle along with the police; the people nearly all smashed from the amount of beer they had quickly consumed. Some were wandering dazed around the road.  We learned about Skol and Primus Beers first hand.  By the time we arrived at our hotel, the temperature had dropped and inside our lodge it was quite chilly.  There were fires of coal that gave off a little heat and we were encouraged to have coal brought to our rooms for a fire there. We did! Our rooms were big….great though the heat did not begin to get to the bathroom or shower. Our traveling buddy Bob came over for gin and tonics and we sat right in front of our fire. We walked around the beautiful landscape of the hotel a bit and saw some extraordinary birds.  But a bit of rain started, so we came to the lobby to wait for dinner.

New cottages and the volcano National Park


Our tiny coal fire took the edge off the cold
After a buffet dinner that was pretty good (especially the grilled lamb right from the grill) we returned to our rooms to try to sleep before our 6:30 call for meeting the rest of our group for the trek in the Volcano National Park.  I think that John agrees with me that sleep was hard to come by.  We were excited and anxious (mostly about how I would do) and it was really cold in the rooms. The thing that saved us was a fabulous hot water bottle in our bed when we came back to our rooms.

Bob and John at dinner in the lodge.

After breakfast, we drove to our meeting point and found that somehow the trek we had chosen “medium/hard” meant that just the three of us would be in the group! (Most groups are 8 in size but we think most people took the “Easy” hike). We watched the mandatory traditional dancing (to reoccur in our hotel every day and every morning before hikes) We were going to see a family of 10-15 gorillas. 

Traditional dancers at the meeting point

Our Gorilla family

Our guide was named Patrick (I said he must be my long lost grandson since we were namesakes and we all had a good laugh).  When he said that we could be walking to them as long as three hours it was a bit daunting.  Our trackers had not found the Gorillas yet, but could see where they had been.  As we learned, Gorillas move their nests every day to protect themselves.  Thus, the trackers had to look for signs of them and then wait for them to lie down for a nap for the day.

Trish with Pyrethrum and shamba in hike beginning

Same Trish and more Pyrethrum

My favorite Shamba pic

John and Bob starting gorilla climb
The trek was hard.  The path narrow and filed with thick volcanic mud.  At first we were walking through beautiful shambas with potatoes in the fields flowering with blue and white flowers, and with Pyrethrum, which looked much like daisies.  
 
Three Peaks Mountains (Uganda, DRC Congo, Rwanda)

 In the distance was the park and the huge mountain we were to soon enter.  We stopped after entering the park and a new guide joined Patrick.  He had a gun.  The gun was not to shoot the gorillas, or any animal but to scare away particularly water buck if they got in our way.  Apparently, they do this frequently. Patrick had a panga and we had hired a porter Jean Claude for me (and to carry our backpacks). While we had poo-pooed the idea of hiring a porter, we were all grateful for Jean Claude before much time had elapsed.  The horrible mud continued as we entered the forest and it seemed like our path was actually a small river with deep mud and slippery stones.  John’s left boot pulled apart leaving a quandary about how to some how cobble it together so he could continue the trek.  First, get the rubber part out of the mud, and then Jean Claude and he tied shoelaces around the boot to hold it together.  Very tight and uncomfortable but forward we went. Jean Claude pulled me along through the mud and lifted me up to the stones like I was "light as a feather", (ha ha) After the trackers found our gorillas (about 3 hours) Patrick and the other guide had to hack a path for us through the stinging nettles.  We had gloves though John had laid his down when he was tying his shoe together.  Bob had an extra pair of red mittens!  But we were really careful and only got a few nettle stings. 

Red faced Trish with Trackers and Patrick on the side

Another of the same
Our gorillas were napping when we arrived but as they became aware of us they slowly got up out of their nests and strolled around us and to new positions where they sat and ate or scratched each other or picked fleas and ticks out of each other.  The babies were very interested in us, and one brushed up against Bob.  For some reason it was not at all frightening though these animals probably weighed three times our weight and the big Silverbacks (the oldest of the family) were huge.  But even then, they seemed friendly and to an extent disinterested.  John said it sort of seemed like they were stoned. Lots of pictures and movies came out of this, and it was very hard to leave them.  We were privileged to see “jiggy jiggy”, with the big Alpha male and a female who was in estrus. We were told that this public display of “affection” could happen as much as 12 times in a day.

Love those gorilla faces

Quite content gorilla

People know I am a hands and foot person.  Here is a foot

Here a hand

Unconcerned momma with napping family

John and a bunch of nappers

John and I next to Gorilla feeding

Gorillas thinking unconcerned with our presence

The first nest--happy hands and toes

Gorilla planning to come down from nest

Three Gorillas together

Sleeping teenager

Silverback watching over his family (maybe)
Bob with Gorilla moving with him

Patrick taking Silverback picures

Sadly we had to return to the hotel, but our wonderful driver and guide took John’s boots to be repaired in town to a local cobbler and they returned clean perfectly glued and even sewed together, all for @ $6.  Our boots were also cleaned by hotel staff and returned to our rooms. While we didn't return until 3 in the afternoon, we had lunch and the rest of the day was ours to wander around, nap or try e-mail (which did not work).  Nor did it work to charge any batteries in our rooms.  Every outlet was not functional.  But we had room for more gin and tonics and talk about the awesome day. 

We three slept better probably because we were so exhausted, and our next day was a trek to the golden monkeys.  We also packed everything so that we could leave after lunchtime for our hotel in Kigali.  This trek was quite short in comparison.  I think we walked about an hour or less to the Bamboo forest where the trackers had found a whole clan of monkeys.  Our group was much bigger but we also had a bigger area into which we could go in search of the monkeys so we broke off quite a few times.  The funny thing was for two days John and Bob had carried binoculars, when the animals were so close to us that we could have touched them.  I think I deleted at least 100 monkey pictures, and while it was great to see them, I thought about the monkeys at the International School and what pests they are.  Indeed there are several now in the compound and they are a complete headache.  But these were cute.  There were babies clinging to their mothers, and small young ones who were very curious about these big people with cameras.  
Monkey guide Ignatious

Monkey Porter Emmy


Group photo Monkey Trek



Young Monkey

Monkey about to jump

Many monkeys
Baby and mother

Baby nursing Mother

very wet Monkey



Trish near monkey

Trish looking at monkey

John and his monkey

Trish and John after wet hike to Monkeys

Drying Pyrethrum at end of hike in mud
It was good to come back to a warm shower (in a cold room) and change clothes for the drive to Kigali.  Again, the green of the country overwhelmed us.  It had rained a little on our first day, and poured on our second day with the monkeys, and rained again on the way back to Kigali.  Everything was beautiful and green.  People seemed friendly.  Our hotel, Lemigo was very nice.  We had a nice view, the room was big, and modern, and WARM.  Snobby me, happy to have heat and wifi. 
rainy motocycle stop in Kigali

We ate dinner at a very cute Ethiopian restaurant the Lalibela (brought back memories of our trip there!) and the food fantastic.  All three of us slept well.  This was good because the next day was heavy.  
 
Delicious Dinner Lalibella
 We went to the Rwanda Genocide Museum in the morning where we stayed at least two hours.  I cannot describe it. First of all it was well laid out and they prepared you for the horrors inside through videos with survivors.  We not only learned the background history for this horrible time in 1994, but also the actual days of genocide themselves.  We were introduced to heroes, including one witch doctor who said to the Hutu Interhamwe, “if you want to die, go inside and you will be swallowed up."  She saved hundreds of people that way.  But, for most there was no help.  As we talked to our driver later (who was in college at the time) he thought it would never end because no one came to their aide.  Every day was worse than the previous.  And, he believed firmly that if anything happened to the President now or the near future, the whole genocide would start again.


Genocide museum
Cartoon about Tutsis
Hutu Ten Commandments
Witch doctor telling about saving 100's of Tutsi's

Bob and John outside Genocide Museum
Stadium where 10,000 Tutsi's killed
250, bodies buried here

More graves

Wall of Names of dead buried in the Museum (250,000)

heart shaped flowers at end of graves
I must say it was an eerie feeling to be having lunch in the Hotel that “Hotel Rwanda” the movie was named after. 


Lunch at Hotel Rwanda

Hotel itself

Mille Colines Hotel (This is the real name of the Hotel Rwanda)
The last big adventure was going through many security checks to get into the airport and through security and through more security into the horrible holding area.  By the time we were back in Kilimanjaro we felt like we were dead.  But, what an adventure.  An incredible adventure.
Last Security

Skol Beer Rwanda