Almost immediately after posting my last blog post, I was struck down...with a fever that is. I had decided to take a "mental health" weekend. So completely American of me. I know. I booked a hotel room with air conditioning, got a manicure and pedicure and planned to spend my entire weekend working on research and ironing out my plans for the next 6 months. Nothing went as planned. I guess I shouldn't even be surprised at that by now. I ended up getting strep throat which, for the first few days, only presented as fever, chills, body aches and nausea. As horrible as I felt - and trust me, it was pretty bad - I am extremely thankful I had found myself a nice little air conditioned room with A/C, a toilet and a shower to spend my weekend in. I pretty much stayed in bed, curled up in the fetal position, for 48 hours. By Sunday morning I caved. I couldn't get my fever to break and all signs pointed to malaria. Thankfully, by Monday morning I figured out it was strep throat - very uncommon here, but relatively common for me. I received lots of prayers, emails, messages and texts. Thank you, thank you, thank you! All of my friends and I have been sick a few times now and we always talk about how great it is to get messages from friends and family. Laying in a hot room for days on end gets a bit boring while you are trying to recuperate and in the fever-filled haze we inevitably check our cell-phones and emails every 30 minutes or so for some hint of what is going on outside.
I'm fully recovered now and am realizing how quickly this portion of my program is coming to an end. This past weekend Jenn, Ashley, Roger and I went back to Bwejuu (our favorite hide-away) for Jenn's birthday weekend. Keavy, our fifth amigo, got a bacterial infection and was house-ridden for the weekend. We missed having her around, but have decided it's a great excuse to repeat the seafood feast we had on our final weekend here in Zanzibar in early December.
Ally, Iddi and the gang at Pakacha Bungalows threw quite the birthday shindig for Jenn. The ocean perch you see in the picture above was, without a doubt, some of the best fish I have ever had in my entire life. And, as usual, everything was caught fresh for us that day. We also went on a dhow boat trip this weekend, had bonfires and played plenty of card games. All in all, another great weekend.
I'm sure some of you are thinking all I ever do is go to the beach! Sometimes I even feel like that. In many ways I'm anxious to be back on the mainland and back to "work". Our time here in Zanzibar is really specifically for language learning and most of us have put our research and volunteer interests on hold while working on getting a handle on the language. As for me, my original plan was to move to Dar es Salaam for the spring semester so that I could take some courses in Tanzanian foreign policy and local government systems. I've done some more research and connected with other U.S. students who have taken courses in Dar and the university appears to be a bit lax and unorganized. After a lot of thought and research, I've decided to pursue my own research interests independently next semester. One of the advantages of this is that I will be able to begin work immediately after Christmas. University wasn't scheduled to start until late February. My new plan allows me to use my time more wisely here. I'm hoping to partner with more schools and orphanages over here in Tanzania and explore some new programming possibilities. For those of you who remember Mama Jane and her orphanage in Arusha, I've reconnected with her and hope to see her over my Thanksgiving break to explore helping her further. I can't wait to see her again!! What an amazing woman.
I've got a few other things up my sleeve that I can't wait to share with you, but until I get final approval I'll need to keep my mouth shut. In the meantime, I'll try to stay out of trouble and stay healthy. Love you all!