10/8/09: Zanzibar, Tanzania
Before leaving on our African tour, Zhou and I had heard that we would have internet coverage every few days through the continent. Having been spoiled the last ten years on high speed connections, we immediately assumed that with all the fast internet we’d come across, we could Skype and Google Chat without any problems.
Today, nearly one month into our stay, we tried talking through the internet for the first time. We sat on the beach with “excellent” wireless connection to our PC and struggled for 15 minutes to try to reach my parents. When we finally did get through, they could hear us fairly well, but we couldn’t hear a word they said. We talked at them for a half hour before our time limit was up, although I think the connection cut out five minutes before we finished talking.
On one hand, it’s amazing to me that we can sit on a beach on a remote island off the coast of Africa and be heard by two people in their home halfway around the world. On the other, we have learned not to take our high speed connection at home for granted.
Here are some of the other things we have learned during our time here in Africa:
Cell coverage here is amazing. I can’t believe that Zhou can’t get cell coverage at her parents’ home outside of Philadelphia, but our tour guide can get coverage in the Impenetrable Forest nowhere near a big city in Uganda and our safari drivers can get coverage throughout the Serengeti.
Africa actually gets cold at night. Fortunately, we have our Lafuma Warm ‘n Light sleeping bags! They have been very good to us both on frigid nights in Uganda and Kenya and on hot nights in Tanzania.
Kenyan peanuts are better than Ugandan peanuts. They just are. They’re cheaper too.
Never wear white in Tanzania. It took a little less than a full day for the white shirt I was wearing to became tanner than David Hasselhoff. I suppose that’s ok when you change shirts at the end of the day, but unfortunately I had to wear this for the next two and a half days as well.
It’s hard being tall here. I have bumped my head on so many things here that I’m beginning to feel like Tim Taylor walking into his basement over and over and over again. A quick list, with approximate number of times in parentheses: the truck (12), trees (countless), hut roofs (5), bus roofs (1, but it was a jagged metal beam), safari jeep fold-out roofs (10), truck lockers (1, at full speed getting out of the rain), truck antennae (1, as it got snapped by a tree on a safari), doorways (3), showers (2, but as a percentage this is like 50%), etc. I really wish I would have kept a stat on this – I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.
Exercise is not a right, it’s a privilege. Luckily, I probably wouldn’t get fat if all I did was eat ice cream and watch TV for two years. However, I have never felt as out of shape as I do now. An example of life here:
I’m sleeping peacefully on the bumpy bus when an abnormally large bump nearly sends me flying out of the seat. In the split second I open my eyes to catch myself, I notice my sandwich in front of me. Now that I’m awake I might as well eat lunch, so I scarf down the sandwich just in time to fall back asleep again. If I’m lucky I’ll then wake up for dinner.
Needless to say, I’m looking forward to hiking in Nepal.
Tents can be more comfortable than beds. Most of the best nights I have had thus far have come while sleeping in the tent. We don’t use pillows, but the thin mattress pad has actually become quite comfortable. We slept on beds in Nkuringo and the Masai Mara, and both times I was quite excited to get back to the tent. (This is not the rule though, as the beds here in Zanzibar aren’t too shabby at all. If only our mosquito nets kept the bugs out of, and not in, the bed.)
Puzzles for Postcards
Incorrect SNL Headline Anagram when a Native Zanzibarian Died
Fey Cried Murder
Ohio Picture: Sunset over the Indian Ocean in Zanzibar seems like a logical place for a good ol’ O H I O.
Picture of the Day: It was tough, but I finally overcame my watermelophobia (fear of watermelons). Not surprisingly, it didn’t really have much taste to it.