University of Wisconsin–Madison

Afrika: Mwanzo Mpya 6

Friday, June 26th 

Life at Moyo Hill Camp

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I’m sure many of you have been wondering what life is like here in Rhotia. Well, let me give you a quick over view of our life at Moyo Hill Camp.

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Our camp is located inside a small town called Rhotia within the Karatu district in Tanzania. The town is located on the slope of the Ngorogoro crater. It is very mountainous and hilly, which is something I did not expect. Because of the elevation, it also not very hot here. A typical day is about 75 degrees and cloudy until at least 1pm, and temps drop to about 50 degrees at night.  However, when you go into the Rift valley, temps get VERY hot and it’s usually sunny.

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Camp is very pretty and open with lots of vegetation. This is the center of camp, where this a large gazebo that we chill in to do homework and just hang out when we have free time. This is the center point for the classroom, academic offices, bandas and dining hall.

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We all stay in these little houses called bandas. Each banda is named after an animals and has two living sections, each has two bunk beds and a bathroom. I live in Chui (leopard) left with 2 other students, Madie from Virginia and Zabibu from southern TZ.

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It has been different getting used to sleeping underneath mosquito nets all of the time. Camp also has very frequent power outages, so it is hit or miss if you will have electricity when you need it.

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The bathroom is very different than what I am used to in the states. Luckily, unlike most places here, we have an actual toilet. The shower is not separated from the rest of the bathroom like in America. Also, the heat is activated by a switch on the wall (like a light switch). However, the heat does not work if the power is out (obviously) or if we are running on our generator (which is pretty often). We have all become very used to cold showers, in the dark, with little water pressure. We also had a big slug living in our shower for the first 2 weeks… and we don’t know where he went….

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Above is our personal water facility. Clean water is hard to find in TZ, so we have ours trucked in (very expensive). However, this means all water is safe to drink and use, whether it be out of the tap, shower, laundry water or canteens. This is the biggest expense for SFS.

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Above is our dining hall. Every day, we meet here for breakfast (7:30am), lunch (12:00pm) and dinner (7:00pm). We also use this space as a common area, or the patio that is right outside.

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Our meals vary only a little every day, A typical breakfast is crepes, eggs, roasted veggies, toast and some fruit. Lunches and dinner are usually carbs (plain pasta and rice), roasted or fresh veggies, ugali and fruit. Once in a while, we are treated to chapati, guacamole, mac n’ cheese, etc. Mostly, we are offered carbs, fried foods and a lot of things aren’t flavorful. It’s not as healthy and delicious as I thought it would be here.

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Above is our breakfast….every day. Toast, crepes, roasted veggies, bacon and a mix of pineapple and watermelon.

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Above is a typical lunch. Pasta, ugali, spinach, roasted veggies in sauce and green beans.

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Above is a typical dinner. Pasta, lentils, tomatoes and cuucumbers, pilau rice and banana. 

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Above is a view to the side of the dining hall. After every meal, you are required to wash your dishes in the buckets. Also, every day a new ‘cook crew’ is designated. Every person does cook crew every 6 days. Cook crew gets to the kitchen at 6:30 am to help with cooking breakfast, and after dinner has to wash all of the pots and pans from the day.

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This area is where we do our laundry. There is a spigot to the left that dispenses fresh water, and every banda has their own bucket (however, there are extras on site). Every Monday and Wednesday, mamas from Rhotia come to camp and will do your laundry for 5,000 Tanzanian shillings (~$2.50 USD). This is a great way for these families to earn extra income. However, you are able to do your laundry whenever you want, and all undergarments must be washed by yourself.

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We also have two buildings that house administrative and professors offices. Camp professors do have office hours, but they are not as strict as back home at Madison. Office hours are typically 8am-9pm, however the professors are not in their respective offices throughout this entire time. We are encouraged to walk around camp and look for them, as many of them also live in Moyo Hill.

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Here is the building that houses the classroom, library, printing room and SAM (Student Activity Manager) office. All of the buildings are always unlocked, with the windows and doors usually open- which gives a nice airy feel.

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Above is our one classroom for all 30 students. If we are not having a traveling lecture, we are in here for a couple hours every day. We have classes 6 days a week, Monday-Saturday, with Sundays as non-program days.

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Here is our library and cubbies. We get all of our assignments back in our individual cubbies. Also, almost every book in the library has been donated by past students.

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These are houses for the staff and professors. Besides having 3 resident professors, there are about 7 chefs, 4 drivers and 4 guards that live on sire.

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These are our safari land cruisers. If we go anywhere, we take these bad boys. Each one has enough seats for 1 driver and 8-9 students. Each one also is able to open its top so we can stand on the seats during safaris. These things have some massive power.

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We also have some areas for recreation. We have this volleyball court that we also use for Zumba and meetings. We also have a large fire pit out back, where we have bonfires, and a slack line. Finally, we also use a soccer field at the nearby primary school.

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Finally, this a view (from inside camp) of the gate you saw in the first photo. Anytime we leave or enter camp, you must get through this guarded gate (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). We are able to leave and go into towns as pairs, but we must sign in and out and be back by curfew (6:30pm).

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Now you can see how I have been living my life over here in Tanzania! Things have been crazy and busy, but I have made many great friends and have assimilated into this lifestyle well. Tomorrow, we head out for our 3 nights, 4 day camping trip in the Serengeti!!!! I won’t have internet, so be patient for my next post!

Love,

Amanda

7:39am