Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Night

I am SO HAPPY that it is thursday night! Although we had Monday off this week has been the busiest of the semester so far. I could barely squeeze everything in today but I managed to do it. I had a spanish test this morning which I probably failed though. Well, maybe not failed but I was so out of it when I took the test. I was also pretty confused... Spanish tests have always been particularly brutal for me- the problem is that I just dont know all these conjunctions.. like how am I supposed to know the subjunctive form of all these 'berbs'? Anyways next time I will just have to work much, much harder. I cant believe it is the beginnning of the year and I am already pretty burnt out.
Tuesday for photo we are going to a farm (ahem, the AU dairy!) which is going to be pretty awesome. Normally the smell of the cows and milk would probably bother me but I think now I have attached fond memories to the smell... that is memories of Maasailand =)
I dont think I can say enough how much I miss Tanzania. For a while I have doubted my feelings on the place- 'oh, you were on vacation, of course you love it! Everyone loves a good vacation spot!'... but that's not it at all.
I dont think I am really one of those people who really can call a place a 'vacation spot'. For me my favorite places mean so much more. Its about the people, the streets, the very air of the place. Seybo is a favorite place of mine- in the mountain of the Dominican Republic- the little farm house with the Rio down the road. The Orange trees in the back, the horses, cows.. the big barrels where rain water collects and tadpoles are hatched... I want to go back to DR so bad. It has been soo long. It seems like it would be a little sad though- being there. The last time I was there my Abuela and Abuelo were there. Eneida had been gone for a while and her absence rang through the house constantly, but Miquella was still there, and as always was being taken very good care of. Now I would return not as someone's nieta, but as a visitor. I wonder if I would feel like all those people who travel to Scotland or Ireland to find long-lost relatives... longing to belong in what would have been their homeland but always an outsider.
What was I talking about again? Oh... Tanzania... and plans for next week. I got REALLY off topic, didn't I?
The summer before my Senior year I went on a cruise with a good friend of mine and her family. We went to Naasau (Bahamas), St. Maarten, and St.Thomas (USVI). I think it is interesting how I now view these places because I saw in a way that many Americans/Tourists see places, and honestly I feel quite badly about it. Naasau was beautiful- I think. We didn't get very far off the boardwalk covered in shops. I remember being excited about how they drove on the other side of the road. I only caught a glimpse of someone who actually looked like they lived there for reasons unrelated to tourism. I wanted to see more, but I was hurried along to a shore excursion. The water was amazingly cool and clear as a little tour boat took a group of us out. "Over there you will see the famous resort, Atlantis! and OVer there you will see a little Island which was filmed to put in the opening credits of gilligan's island!'. After that tour I felt like I took something away from the world- like a typical turista, only interested in the American things.
St. Thomas was a little bit different. As we pulled into the port early in the morning I sat at breakfast with my friend and her parents. I was completely enchanted by the mountains that surrounded us- the mountains that were once homes to some of my ancestors. My family had history here, and that really affects one's perspective. I can understand those people who go to Scotland and Ireland to see the land of their great-great-grandfathers- One day I will be in Scotland, looking at the rolling hills- exploring the other side of my heritage.
With this perspective I strolled into St. Thomas. With my eyes I enjoyed as much as I could as we made out way to the beach we were going to be snorkeling at. Snorkeling after a huge storm is awful by the way. Cant see ANYTHING. It rained while we were in the water. I liked it.. it felt like something REAL from st. Thomas- not a tiny roped off beach designated for fat Americans in snorkel gear.
Now St. Maarten was wayyyyy different. How? First, our shore excursion (which had been another day of snorkeling) had been canceled because of the storm that came through a few days earlier. Though the sun burned into the tourists, the Island was still saturated in the tropical downpour from the previous nights. You know how you can just tell that significant rain had fallen recently? it was amazing.
St. Maarten was also different in the sense that I ran into my dad there. It was a little random and I am extremely lucky to have spotted him. He had rented a tiny european car and drove on the opposite side of the road in it. He took us all around the island- Through the Dutch side as well as the French Side. Through the beautiful mountains, past tiny towns and houses... Stopping at photo ops to get a nice landscape- I feel that I had gotten a better picture of the small island.
By asking around my dad had managed to hunt down the most dominican place he could find. That day I ate a huge plate of platanos, rice, beans, chicken, and even empanadas. I think my friends mom even ate some Goat. On clean plates that still seemed gritty we ate this stuff- a huge difference from the super american food we had been eating on the cruise. We spent a little bit of time in the shops, buying souvenirs, etc... a little tourism mixed with exploration. A nice balance.
Like I mentioned before, I am not a very good tourist. I can't go to a place and be content with a tame version of it. I want to get to know the history, the people, the culture. Even here in the states driving past towns I always want to stop. I want to see what their city hall looks like, where people go for drinks after work- for me, the best perspective is street level.
I want so much more out of Tanzania- I want to know more, I want to make friends in Arusha- I want to be savvy with geography (uh, yes 36 km west of the highway you will find a pile of sand that moves etc, etc). With time its like my brain wants to cheapen the experience- like 'you dont really miss it anyway, you're just a tourist'- but no matter how cheap I try to make it, I can't deny that Tanzania and Africa are now a big part of me. I think that happens when you travel. These places really do become a part of you, as cliche as it sounds. The relationship is formed as soon as your eyes meet the land- as soon as your lungs breath the air and your feet hit the ground. man, I really do miss it- I am just thinking about the second I walked out of that plane- waiting to get down the steps and touch the ground. Uh- Maze- Ing.
okay I have gone wayyy off topic. Tonight I am going to hang out in the mixed media room and play with my new crayons (yay!!!). I might finish this post later because I do have more to say, but for now I should get moving.
Did I mention in the beginning that I had just taken the best nap of my life? sprawled out on the couch I slept from 4 to 7:30. What. a. week.

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