I hope the Holiday Season is looking to be a happy one, and the transition into winter is welcoming! The change in seasons here is as abrupt as elsewhere in Africa, from last month bone dry and blazing forest, field and brush fires all around, adding smoke to the already dusty air and to now flash flood downpour every afternoon, usually clearing off to a cool crisp evening and a fresh sky of sparkling stars. Gardens are flourishing again, and field planting has begun.
I'm continuing work with the beekeeping and chicken projects, the school garden and tree nursery, and conducting health seminars. Together with several very enthusiastic students, we've started an after school youth group to focus on issues such as animal husbandry, sustainable farming practices, life skills, and environmental education. I just recently painted a mural of the world map at the school, and next year hope to do more educational murals, perhaps incorporating creative assistance from the students. Next year my focus will also be on building fuel-efficient stoves and completing the school and community library, which will be funded by a $2,100 grant recently received from the US Embassy.
Life in the village has been good, but I definitely have been needing to get away for a while! I just came from Dar, where I began the process of purchasing the books for the library, but I also went to see the doctor, and for some R&R on the beach! I had a couple extra days to spend on Zanzibar, where the volunteers hosted a full moon beach party! It was a great time - we ate incredible amounts of seafood - octopus spaghetti, lobster, and a fish barbeque. I wish you all could have been there! I wish every one of you could come visit to experience swimming in the waves of the turquoise blue Indian Ocean. If you were to come visit, you could also experience listening to the Muslim call to prayer on the roof of a hotel in downtown Dar es Salaam at sunset, and eating Indian and Ethiopian food! But I realize how unfeasible this is for most of you, so I hope I can share with you my experience s as much as possible.
After returning to site today, I will be leaving again on the 20th to go to Lake Nyasa (Malawi) with my friend Gwen and her family who will be here to visit, then spending Christmas with other volunteers in the town of Mbeya, and continuing on with my friend Carolyn to take the train across Zambia to go to Victoria Falls for New Year's! Woohoo!
Will it really be 2004 already? I have a feeling time will fly again next year. It will begin with even more traveling. After returning from Zambia, I have to go to South Africa AGAIN, this time to have gallbladder surgery. It has been giving me problems, and the doctors decided it would be better to take it now, rather than wait for another attack when I'm way out in the bush far from medical care. I will then return to Dar for the last few days of our Mid-Service Conference. After possibly spending a few more days on the beach, I'll be at site for the month of February, and then will be back in Nebraska for most of the month of March for my sister's wedding! YEAH! I hope to see some of you then!