Sunday, August 8, 2010

Island Life

August 8, 2010
The first of my blogs from the island of Zanzibar! I am writing from my beautiful hotel room I share with Nia and Asabe with a view of the Indian Ocean. We arrived in Zanzibar two days ago, and I have been really enjoying my time here. Stonetown is unlike any place I have ever seen –narrow streets lined by tall buildings, old and new architecture, crystal clear water with white sandy beaches, a night market where local chefs prepare exotic seafood dishes such as octopus and jellyfish, and an interesting combination of locals and European tourists that leaves me feeling anywhere but Africa.

Abuso Inn, our last home in Africa, 2010
On the academic side, so far we have heard from interesting lecturers about the ecosystem and wildlife health issues affecting both the forests and the seas of this island. Director of the Africa Programs from the Wildlife Conservation Society was one of my favorite visitors, as she spoke about the health concerns associated with the Zanzibar Red Colobus monkey of the Jozani National Park. They have limited information about the disease issues of the animals as well as public health concerns for park visitors. I would love to do research in this area as there is such a need for it. Today we also visited a seaweed farm off the coast of the Indian Ocean. Seaweed farming is a great practice both because it is ecologically sustainable as well as it provides a source of revenue for the island’s women. Many of the local women have begun seaweed farming as it affords them a modest wage and time out of their homes. Dried seaweed is popular on the global market as an additive to food, beauty products, and as a direct food source for many parts of the world. After the visit to the ocean, we hiked through the forest to see the primates on the island as well as the mangroves. While I love the ocean and the beach, it became clear to me today that the place I feel most comfortable and inspired is the forest. I could spend hours among the trees listening to birds, watching butterflies float by, and wait patiently for a curious primate to cross my path.

Getting close to a Zanzibar red colobus monkey in the Jozani Forest
On a personal note, I find myself missing mainland Tanzania. While Zanzibar is absolutely breathtaking and unique, it has many tourists and vendors that make me feel very distant from the humble villages in which we lived and worked for the past 3 weeks. I miss the smiling faces of the children as they ran out of their homes to greet you; I miss the sound of village music; and I miss the African wildlife like giraffe, elephant, and baboon that became a regular sighting throughout the country. I am starting to feel the missing pieces of my heart that I left in Ruaha, Udzungwa, Morogoro, Iringa, and Tungamalenga. Leaving Africa on Tuesday will not be easy. Like I expected, I am changed and hopefully for the better.

Jocelyn, me, Sukuman, and Asabe feeling African in our head wraps

1 comment:

  1. I have LOVED reading all of the stories and looking at the pictures and imagining all that you have seen and, wow, wow!!!