l'aventure africaine

our travel journal

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Goodbye...sort of.

Oh, decisions are tough.

We have been doing some thinking about our blog, and its purpose and audience, and have decided to move our little old selves to a private blog.

There is no mystery or scandal in our decision. We have had no exchanges with the powers that be about our blog at all…

The third goal of Peace Corps is "helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans," and we have enjoyed using our blog as a format for sharing about our experiences here.

However, I forget the specifics of the story, there was once a PCV having a difficult day, as a person is bound to have in life, PCV or not, and, understandably wanted to turn to someone for support, and wrote home…. Unfortunately, on a postcard, that, during its journey out of the country, was seen by someone who took offense to the message. The incident nearly jeopardized the whole Peace Corps program in the country.

We did some pondering and soul-searching (yes, being a bit dramatic here) :) and thought about who we were writing for and why, and realized our most important goal is to keep in touch with family and friends, and share our lives here with them.

We have been doing that publicly, and it has been a lot of fun. Peace Corps is, understandably, though responding to the greater risks to the programs that the expansion of things like blogs and myspace and facebook accounts present, and requiring greater oversight by staff of what goes on in cyberspace. I mean, there has always been risks from frustrated letters falling into the wrong hands, or rogue postcards, but anyone can find and read what we post on the web!

It is not that we have negative things we need to say. Michael and I are grateful to this country for its hospitality, and all we’ve learned here. We are also grateful to Peace Corps for allowing us to be here. So many programs similar in purpose require the participant to pay for the privilege to serve. Not only do we not do that, we are supplied with medical care and safety support, as well as numerous other supports. We are finding though that being careful to write in a way that cannot offend anyone is compromising our original purpose, to share our lives with friends and family. It’s not that what we have posted here is not true or genuine… just….reserved.

So, we've created a blog that is “invite only.” I know, so exclusive. :) It will add an extra step to those of you who’d like to continue reading…you’ll have to set up a name and password, and sign into our blog to read it, so I hope we are worth the trouble. To find us, we’ll have to send you an e-mail, so, if you would like to continue, mail me ( supergirlmpls at yahoo dot com). Don’t be shy, okay? We don’t want to lose those who stop by just now and then…

Thanks for reading, and understanding our decision about this move. Farewell from Blogger!

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Oh, before I forget, the way our students said “See you happy” was n-shuf-k ferhan… I’m trying to be better about answering questions!!

The promised elephant picture -- check out the two little ones!

So, a little bit about our trip!

Mike and his new friend...

Because of the way the flight connections worked out, Michael and I “had to” spend a night in Amsterdam on our way to Tanzania. We had millions of things we wanted to do in the city, and only one afternoon, but we made the most of it! We really wanted to visit the Van Gogh Museum, but even more than that wanted to go to the Anne Frank House. We did, and I don’t even want to try and say something about how powerful it is, because I am afraid of making it sound trite. We wandered the city, took pictures of the beautiful canals (too many that I’m sure we’ll regret later…but you just can’t help yourself, you know?), and ate amazing sushi.

The next day we met my family at the airport (yay! after 2 weeks shy of a year since we’d seen them!) and flew off to the Kilimanjaro airport to meet our guide, Emmanuel, and crash for the next couple of nights in Arusha. In Arusha we were waiting for the rest of our party, as well as doing some jetlag recovery, and just chilling and catching up!

We took off the following morning for Tarangire National Park, which is a gorgeous park full of elephants and baobob trees. We were closer than I ever thought we could be to some of the animals, just because we’d spot them off the road, and they’d keep going on their path and pass next to our vehicles. We saw oodles of elephants, as well as some giraffe, ostrich, impala, dik dik, and all sorts of birds and lizards and turtles… oh! and our first lions!

We ventured next to a “permanent tented camp” (meaning, very nice tent, like with ceramic toilets and hot showers…nicer than our house here) :) on the shore of Lake Eyasi. The lake is beautiful, but we were here for some culture. We woke up early one morning and went on a hunting expedition with a tribe in the area that retains its more ancient customs, and observed some jewelry-making later that afternoon.

A baby zebra in the crater.

Our next stop was Ngorongoro Crater, which is the largets unbroken crater on earth. It is what is left of a volcano that is believed to have been larger than Mount Kilimanjaro. The crater is FULL of wildebeest and zebra, and is one of the few places you can see black rhino. We also saw our first hippos and hyenas. The wildebeests have a season for having young, so that numerically some of them will survive the hyena and lion attacks, and grow up to be adults, and while we were there there were tons and tons of little wildebeest guys. We had a very “circle of life” moment our second day in the crater when we were driving along and came upon a hyena chasing a little wildebeest. He put up a good chase, but he never had a chance… poor little guy.

Me doing some Maasai dancing...just jumping up and down...way fun :)

Our final stop was the famous Serengeti, stopping at Olduvai Gorge, and a Maasai village on the way. The two million wildebeests who live on the plains migrate in a large ovaly shape, and driving through the middle of that many animals is just CRAZY! We saw a cheetah as well driving into the park, and saw our first and only leopard, after LOTS of looking, the next day. In the park, we stayed in a mobile tent camp that was also very nice, but the crazy thing is you are staying in the park which means all night you can hear baboons... and my brother and our guide heard lion noises… creepy…

The highlight of the Serengeti came on our last day when we woke early for a hot air balloon ride over the park. What from the road looks uniform, from above you can see is a complex system of paths through the grasses. It was fun to see the animals from a different perspective than “animal crossing or standing near the road.” We saw birds doing a mating dance, and a hippo out for a morning stroll, and an elephant who was really not a fan of the balloon – and our first hot air balloon ride was cool just for the experience – even if it hadn’t been set in such an amazing location!

After the balloon ride we high-tailed it back to the airport (and saw Kilimanjaro from the jeep window – our first time, because on our way in it was dark…) and started the trip home!

It was a wonderful two weeks – seeing and doing amazing things – and just to be with family would have been enough!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New hobbies...

Personal growth is important, right? Peace Corps is an amazing place to learn more about yourself. What sort of assumptions you have about how the world works, personal strengths and weaknesses... time to re-evaluate who you are and where you are headed... exercise more and learn new hobbies...

We knit, play soccer, learn about photography.... and we have to admit, one of our favorite new hobbies is making faces.

Yeah, we don't have a TV. :)

Some of our favorite evidence...

Here's Jack trying to get in on some face-making action...

Okay, he's got a little work to do... but look how big he's getting!

So, this last picture is Mike being scared of an approaching thunderstorm. He's not usually scared of thunder :) but we are driving around the SERENGETI!!! Where we could get stuck in a lot of mud...and be trapped...out with some lions...

That's right, we just got back from an amazing trip to Tanzania with my (jana) family where we were "on safari" looking for all sorts of crazy cool animals, and learning about local culture and such.

Life has been a little hectic since returning. I headed immediately north to be a trainer for a Volunteer Support Network training weekend (you may or may not remember when I was a trainee last September...). The training was for the most recent Small Business Development and Youth Development volunteers, who arrived in country about six months ago. Our group (a very cool bunch of SBD volunteers...) is now ready to listen to and support their fellow volunteers -- hopefully making for easier transitions, good overall morale, even fewer people who feel like this experience is not for them and choose to go home, and just some genuinely happy volunteers!

Mike came home and jumped straight into teaching English, and getting ready for our first weekly health club for the youth in one of our neighboring douars. It took place last Wednesday, and went really well. Mike did a short lesson with a group of pre-schoolers, and a group of 4-6 graders, and then did some coloring and drawing.

So, all to say, we didn't get a blog post written yet about our trip, but soon!

Also, this past Wednesday marked one year since we arrived in Morocco. Crazy.

Our one year anniversary also means it is time for some new Health and Environment volunteers, who arrived in country last week sometime --

WELCOME you guys!!!

Alright, see you happy, and get ready for some crazy elephant pictures...