Monday, September 12, 2011

September 11th

Writing this blog today reminds me of how different a world I'm in. Back home, I'm sure images of the towers falling pervades every channel, and the front cover of the New York Times has every story dedicated to the tragedy. Here we are so completely removed. No news, no TV, and only ten Americans.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself...
We began in the JFK airport, where we met up and boarded an eight hour flight for Z├╝ruck, Switzerland. The plane service was fantastic! I watched two movies and had a delicious dinner. When we arrived we stayed at the airport for about two hours, and then boarded another eight hour flight for Nairobi. Spending all that time on airplanes was pretty disorienting, and it would've been close to intolerable if the plane service wasn't so excellent.
Then, we stayed at a hotel in the suburbs of Nairobi and ate dinner. It was dark, so we couldn't see very much of Nairobi, but what we did see was incredible. The highways were totally packed with people (driving on the wrong side of the road!), and the driving was so crazy that all of the stop lights were deactivated, because no one would pay attention to them.
We flew to Lodwar to following day, which was quite a different experience. We went through security who didn't make us spill out all of our water, and got on a small propeller plane.
This one!

 The two hour flight felt like a roller coaster at times, but we managed to land safely. The weather getting on the plane must have been high 60s, and rainy. The weather getting off was about 100 degrees, dry, and sandy. The culture difference was really too much to describe. Everyone was living in grass huts, and brightly dressed women were walking around carrying things on their heads. People gathered around us trying to sell us things, and goats were wandering around the town at will.

The drive from Lodwar to TBI was about an hour, on (very!) bumpy dirt roads. The level of vegetation and human settlement gradually diminished to nearly nothing, as we drove further and further into what I can only describe as the middle of nowhere. Eventually, we came upon the compound of buildings that is to be our home for the next ten weeks. It's situated near a big muddy river, which provides water for all of the surrounding trees.
Here's our dorm:

We were immediately served a delicious lunch and shown to our rooms. We each get our own room, our clothes are washed for us, and our beds are made for us. So it basically feels like living in a resort. The heat is intense, but so far it's manageable. One just cannot be lax about drinking water, and sunscreen is a must. We slept outside on the veranda in mosquito nets, and I heard people chanting and beating drums in the distance as I dozed off.

My computer gave out last night, which explains why I'm posting this a day late. It seems to be working alright now. My plan is to post something every Sunday that I'm here.
This is #1!

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