Africa: Want a Postcard?

While I’ll be doing my best to update facebook and the blog while I’m traveling, sometimes it’s really nice to send/receive a good old fashioned postcard.

If you want one while i’m in Africa – let me know.  You can leave a comment here that includes your mailing address or you can email me at jessicagarlock (at) gmail (dot) com.  I will do my best to honor all requests!! Knowing the international postal service – I can’t promise that you’ll get it or get it quickly, but I will get it in the mail to you!!

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Africa: Fanta!

If you have done any traveling around the developing world, one thing you will soon learn: Coca-Cola products are king and Fanta is a large part of it.  Yes, Fanta.  That stuff that nobody thinks about in America.  It comes in a variety of colors flavors, but the most popular one is orange (both a color and a flavor!).  I don’t touch the stuff when I’m in the states, but as soon as I’m somewhere where the water isn’t safe and need to drink something other than beer – fanta it is!

I don’t know what else to say… when it’s 90 degrees out and the humidity is at 98%, a beer tastes great.  But so does this liquid orange sugar.  We would buy a big glass bottle (or a coke sometimes – made with real sugar!) in the village in Samoa and share it between several of us, and it was like nectar from the garden of eden or something.  Maybe it’s the glass bottle.  Maybe it’s the sugar cane.  But it’s good.  I’ve had it in the middle of a super hot day sitting under a tree or whatever shade we could find at the store, or after a night of dancing at Mt. Vaea with a plate of Samoan barbecue and never been an unhappy camper.

Fanta commercials were widespread – in the newspaper, on TV Samoa, at the movies and on the radio – the same way you see coke and pepsi ads here.  I was lucky enough to find this gem on you tube – a Fanta ad from Tanzania.  I’m so grateful I will once again be reunited with one of my favorite products of globalizaton…

Africa: Away for the Holidays… Again.

It’s not quite Thanksgiving and I’m already over the holidays.  We all bitch and moan and then bitch and moan some more about how the holidays have lost their meaning, blah blah blah yet everybody’s out at the mall/craft fair/whathaveyou, buying up all kinds of goodies. I’m not opposed to receiving a gift or two for a holiday I don’t really celebrate for what is technically someone else’s birthday, but that stuff just gets out of control.  (And thanks mom and dad for sending me my Christmas stuffs before I leave! Haha.)

I haven’t been home to Ohio for Christmas in a long time.  The last time I attempted a trip, there was a blizzard and I got stuck in O’hare and almost didn’t make it.  It was horrendous.  I usually love travel, but that time of year with all of the potential for bad weather and short tempers is just a recipe for disaster.  Or maybe I just have bad luck traveling to Ohio – the last time I was home there was a crazy ice storm.  Maybe it’s a good thing I’ve been making the family travel to me for a few years now.  They certainly don’t seem to mind.

But, back to the original thought here… while this trip to Africa was largely planned over this time period because it is my break from school, it is also largely an attempt to get away from the over-marketed madness known as Christmas.  There will be some Christian celebrations around me I’m sure, but there is also a large Muslim population so I’m hoping it will be a rather laid back affair, if any.

Will I be homesick?  Sure.  There’s always a certain amount of nostalgia that comes with the childhood mind’s eye of the holidays and other memories.  My little brother still wanting to believe in Santa so bad, the Christmas Eve children’s mass at St. Rose, begging to open one present on Christmas Eve before going to bed, baking a zillion cookies with my grandmother, even going to the ER one year for Christmas after an unfortunate popcorn stringing incident.  That’s what I think of when I think about the holidays – not what present someone got me or being pissed off while fighting my way through crowds at Ala Moana.

So whatever you end up doing for the holidays – enjoy them and don’t get caught up in the madness.  I won’t if you won’t.

Africa: Are you EXCITED?!?!

If I had a dollar for every time I am asked this question, I would have no financial worries about taking this trip.  My standard response is “yes!”  It kind of reminds me when I got back from peace corps and people would ask “how was it?” and I knew that all they wanted to hear was “fine/great” or some variation thereof.

So , the short answer is yes, I’m very excited.

The long answer is yes, I’m very excited, but the trip really couldn’t be coming at a worse time in terms of getting laid off from work and getting grades turned in before I leave and that I’m not going to have health insurance for a while and my vacation payout won’t come in until February and I’m having to tell all prospective employers about this trip and I’m going to be a mess when I return and literally walk into the classroom a few hours after landing in Honolulu and will be hating on the first world more than usual for a few weeks.

This is very much a #firstworldpain, I realize.  But it is where I am at, currently, and am going to have to suck it up in the next 3 weeks and get sh*t done and go.

The other long answer that is a little not so #firstworldpain-ish goes like this – of course I’m excited!  I’m excited about getting off the rock.  I’m excited about getting my hands dirty and sleeping under a mosquito net again.  I’m excited about meeting new people.  I’m excited about seeing lions and tigers and giraffes and elephants.  I’m excited about the work I’m going to be doing.  I’m excited to do something I’m honestly excited about.  I’m excited to practice my Swahili and say things wrong and have people laugh at my feeble attempts.  I’m excited to have kids not know what to do with the crazy mzungu.  I’m excited about trying new food and banana beer.  I’m not excited about the flights and the jet lag and the inevitable illnesses, but the stuff I’m excited about definitely outweighs the stuff I’m not excited about.

Africa: Blogging and Search Terms

Many of you are aware of this blog and have read it (thanks! I’m all warm and fuzzy inside) because you know me and can’t wait to hear about how sick I’m going to be in Tanzania and are interested in this Africa trip. (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers love nothing more than a graphic story about illness, especially when it means throwing up or losing control of your digestive system at a super inopportune time.)  I still remember some epic boil stories from Samoa… but I digress…

As I’ve gotten more into the blogging thing, I’ve been learning more about publicity, search terms, and other internet-ish stuff like that – which may be useful someday if I really decide to do the blogging thing long-term.  Dooce, I am not, but hey, I do like to put some words on paper, or on a blog from time to time.

I was looking at some of the search terms that have landed other folks onto this page, and found some of it quite funny, so I thought I’d share.  (Who knew how many people were searching about bugs on a regular basis?)  Anyways, here they are, in no particular order:

        • deadly insects
        • generalizations of africa images
        • green spiders in south africa
        • sick out today again
        • kelleah young (why does this NOT surprise me?)
        • funny capitalism jokes
        • insect fair
        • typical creepy crawlies in southern africa
        • house insects scorpions
        • poisonous insects in tanzania
        • west african map studies
        • deadly centipedes
        • tanzania scorpion centipede
        • globalization comic funny
        • tanzania poison spiders
        • african map without labels
        • 3rd world africa
        • globalization funny comic
        • 3rd world facebook
        • map of the whole world labeled
        • globalization and development funny
        • globalization class funny
        • globalisation funny comics
        • globalization comic
        • 3rdworld suffering from capitalists
        • funny 3rd world
        • funny globalization comic
        • case study globalization comic
        • african kanga
        • 3rd world map
        • african poisonous insects
        • degree of helpfulness
        • africa traditional gender roles
        • map of the whole world with countries in it
        • underdeveloped arms
        • the world is just keeps getting smaller and smaller

So, those of you who have been reading regularly – thanks!  I really appreciate it.  Those of you who have randomly showed up here it appears you are interested in insects more than anything else.  So be careful!

Africa: B-a-n-a-n-a-s (literally, not figuratively)

I grew up with bananas as one of my favorite fruits.  Tasted good.  Easily transportable. You could slide on the peels, so there’s some entertainment value, which does not often come with other fruit varieties.  I didn’t know what I was missing eating the regular old dole or chiquita imported-for-american-consumption banana until much later in life, and discovered that there are a lot of other kinds of bananas and most (if not all of them) taste better than what you’re buying at the supermarket each week.

I was reading about what kinds of meals we’ll be served at the volunteer house and what the main ingredients will be – ugali (similar to cassava), beans, rice, curry, etc.  Fresh fruits and juices, etc.  And then it says – lots of bananas! (There are over 120 kinds of bananas in Tanzania!)  That is a lot of bananas and a lot of variety of bananas.  I’m told there is even banana beer (this I’ve got to try) made from mashed up fermented bananas.  I mean, if they’re in abundance, why not?

Once again, Samoa comes into the discussion.  Because they have the best bananas that I’ve had so far in my life.  Those short “apple/manzanita” bananas are so sweet and flavorful and make stellar banana bread… and there always seems to be a bunch hanging somewhere nearby that is in some stage of ripening to yummy perfection.  To the right here, is a picture of the “vending machine” ———> at Taufua Beach Fales in Lalomanu…  where it seems there is an endless supply of the super sweet ones. Those, along with the green (unripe) bananas that were either boiled (preferably in coconut cream) or baked were a staple in Samoa.  Along with banana chips, supo fa’i (banana soup), and panikeke with fa’i (fried dough with chunks of banana in it), the banana was very much my friend.  But we didn’t have 120 different kinds.  I don’t know how many we had, but it wasn’t that many.

I am certainly looking forward to the diversity I will be encountering while in Tanzania, I just didn’t know it would include bananas too!

Africa: Zanzibar? Safari? Both?

I’m going to have two free weekends while in Tanzania.  The question is, what am I going to do on those weekends?  I’ve been doing some research and have come up with a few possibilities…

Normally, when I hear someone say Zanzibar, I make a face because it is the name of a horrible Waikiki nightclub.  But I’m talking about the real Zanzibar – the island off the coast of Tanzania that sits in the Indian Ocean.  I kinda have to put my feet in the Indian Ocean while I’m there, right?  And it’s going to be hot. And I’m used to living on an island so it will help me with any homesickness I’m having.  I could come up with any list of reasons as to why I need to make this side trip, but since I’m going to be all the way over there… how can I not?!?  It appears to be a relatively cheap/easy trip for the weekend and I’ll be able to do some research here before I go, and it sounds like the in-country folks with CCS have all of the scoops for us as well, which will be helpful.  This may be the closest part to a “vacation” that this volunteer vacation will be.  And this looks like quite a view.

The other thing I can’t really go to Tanzania and not do, is a safari.  It won’t be a full week long or anything like that, but it appears there are plenty of weekend packages and lots of places to go: several nearby wildlife conservation areas, including Ngorongoro Crater (also referred to sometimes as the 8th natural wonder of the world).  It looks amazing, and worth checking out. With lots of amazing photo ops like the one here.  I better go get some more memory cards soon!  I’m a little bit scared about all of the pictures I’m going to be taking!

Needless to say, there are some fun and adventure-filled weekends to look forward to!