Saturday, June 26, 2010

Intro to Saadani

Hello Everyone!

This blog post is going to be about yesterday’s events. In the morning, we woke up and realized that our temporary guesthouse was just 50 yards from the Indian Ocean! One interesting thing was the tide. It was amazing how far out the tide was in the morning. It was about 100 meters from the shore! After walking around on the beach for a while, we decided to check out the village, its people, and the water situation. We walked two kilometers along the beach from the guesthouse to the village and went to the tourism office to meet some of our contacts there. Grace Lobora, the warden of Saadani National Park, is our main contact there, but she is away for a couple days. Instead, we spoke with two other tourism officials there. Their names were Mr. Pantaleo and Salehe. We talked for a long time about the many problems facing the village, mainly a lack of access to clean water and education.

This is the water situation: Nearby, an old windmill used to pump water into the village. Some time ago the well went saline and has since broken down. Now, the villagers take their bikes to a nearby river, which currently runs slightly below the sand on the riverbed. There, they dig about a meter into the sand and use buckets to fill old gas cans, which they strap to their bicycles and ride back to town. Our friends at the tourism office say that there is a lot of water-bourne disease in the village due to this. I promise to include pictures of these processes as soon as I can.

While speaking with Mr. Pantaleo, we picked up on some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that the water table around the village itself is actually very deep. He told us it is about 300 meters. We may have to go a kilometer further inland of the current pump. There, the water table supposedly sits at 100 meters. There we might place the borehole and an electric pump, powered by the generator at the tourism office. The water will be run to the village via a pipe to provide water to the already existing fountains placed around the town. Are you thinking, “do they have enough money for that?” The answer is: no! But wait!!! Here comes the good news: The Ministry of Water in Tanzania has budgeted about 10,000 US dollars for the tourist office to provide the villagers and tourism office with a clean source of water. Also, there is a private tourist lodge nearby that has made significant contributions to the village in the past and is likely to participate in this project as well. After combining these funds, we should have the money to complete this project.

Currently, Monica and I are busying ourselves with setting up meetings with the key players of this project: Village leaders, TANAPA (the tourist office), Saadani Safari Lodge, and ourselves. We must work very very quickly to finish this project in time, but we are confident that we will make it happen.

To switch gears a little bit: We moved from the tourist guesthouse to one that is locally owned. Our ‘landlord’s’ name is Bruno. It’s a beautiful little cabana about a seven-minute walk south of the village. I never imagined we’d be staying at such a peaceful little place while we are here, while still staying within our budget. The cabana does not have electricity or water, but we have buckets to take a shower with (the same water from the river) and candles and a kerosene lamp for the night. They are giving us a very significant discount to show their appreciation for what we are trying to do here.

The weather is warm, and Tanzania is just coming out of the rainy season, so it rains a little almost every day. Some times it is a downpour and at other times just a light sprinkle. I have met many of the old friends from the last time I was here, and it has been good.

When we get organized, we will put up pictures.

That is all for today. Until next time!


  1. I want to see pictures of the place that you are staying. It sounds nice. Is it weird to have your own place, and not be staying with a host family?

    What will you guys do for "fun"? Is there a gathering place where a lot of people visit/hang out?

    How is the language barrier?

    Anyway, stay safe!

  2. It's kind of nice to not be staying with a host family, because we get to have our own schedule. We eat when we want to, and don't feel obligated to hang out downstairs when I'm super tired and just want to sleep. :D Of course, we don't have a downstairs in the cabana.

    For fun - reading. I just finished Game Change today, and I'm about half way through End of Poverty. Also, I'm going to start studying Swahili. Logan goes between studying swahili and reading super dense Paul Farmer books. We also walk on the beach too. Except that yesterday, when we were hanging out with a bunch of kids, both of us received injuries from stepping on sharp rocks in the shallow water that cut our feet. Tomorrow - tuesday - is going to be a beach day. :)

    There is a gathering place in town to hang out and watch football. There was one night we were supposed to go watch the USA vs Ghana game, but we fell asleep super early (at about 8 pm), and missed the game.

    Language barrier - the villagers get a good laugh out of Logan trying to say really complicated things in swahili. But he's got down the greetings, and numbers (mostly - but one woman got a good laugh when he forgot 150). Everyone is very understanding, but I think they're a little confused when we don't know a ton past the greetings. Most conversations are just the greetings though, and I can recognize those and respond properly. There are several people who speak English, and when necessary (as you may or may not have read already) serve as interpreters when we need to talk about important stuff.

    Also, we'll post pictures asap. :)