27 November 2006

I'm Back

Hello all,
Yes, surprise (or it was at least for me), I'm back in TZ. I found out a week and a half ago that I needed to return to TZ to talk with the head of TAWIRI (the research institution that grants research clearance). TAWIRI, or rather a particular individual is being difficult for no real reason other than to be difficult and insisted I had to be in the country while the SF field team was collecting my data. We know this isn't true, but he wouldn't budge so it was "how soon can you leave" and well now I'm here. In typical TZ fashion, I found out after arriving that just yesterday (as I was somewhere over the Atlantic) we found out this particular person is retiring today. The new person seems like he is on much less of a power trip, so while it is still probably good that I'm here, things should go relatively more smoothly (keep your fingers crossed).

I have to say it is very surreal being here, probably b/c it was such a quick decision. That and my parents were out for Thanksgiving so just four days ago I was cooking a 12 lb turkey for the first time (very exciting). Then, to make things even more surreal I got bumped to world business class from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro (an 8 hr flight). I actually slept for 4 hours in a deep sleep (I think my first time ever on a flight). Nice reclining chairs, footrests, wide seats, etc. The food was good, the ice cream was great, and the dessert wine was fabulous! J We each got our own little TV, nice noise minimizing headphones, socks, even a toothbrush and tooth paste.

On a side note, yet just as surreal, on my little individual screen I watched “An Inconvenient Truth”. As I’m flying over Sudan, Al Gore is talking about how areas like Niger and Darfur are likely going to have even more drought problems as climate change continues to happen. The movie discusses problems of CO2 emissions with the US (as we all know) being the largest producer of greenhouse gasses and the increasing droughts, rains and other extreme weather events that result. All this as I’m heading to Tanzania where there are power cuts 7 days a week (and as you’ll remember they’ve been rationing power here since June) because the country relies on hydroelectric power and last years awful drought has left the reservoirs really low. Even in rural Tanzania people acknowledge climate change and here, in one of the poorest countries in the world I have seen advertisements on TV promoting solar power. Yet in the US, where we need to be changing our energy consumption we still predominantly use coal power. So if you have not seen “An Inconvenient Truth”, watch it, you have the electricity (and responsibility) to do.

So despite the power rationing, I’ll try to keep updating my blog. I’ll be here for 3.5 weeks and then return home for Christmas, only to return again in early January (most likely). So stay tuned for the newest installments of “Jen in Africa”. :)


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