Hi all. Sorry that this blog is coming a little late. The past week has been spent on Pemba, the sister island of Unguja. Pemba is a hilly, rural island with a rather small population. While there we spent two days in the northern part of the island and the remaining 5 days were spent in the central city of Chake Chake.
Our trip from Unguja to Pemba was great. I was given the opportunity to ride in the copilot seat, which was amazing! Upon arriving, we had a few lectures and went to the movie theater. The theater was quite the experience with its bootlegged movie being played on an antiquated projector and metal folding chairs interspersed with typical cinema seating; however, it was loads of fun.
The next day we learned about traditional charcoal production on Pemba and visited a local kiln. Also, we traveled to Negzi Vumawimbi Forest Reserve for a tour and lunch. While there, I learned about the Pemba Tree Hyrax which has ended up being my tentative topic for my ISP.
The next day, we visited a rather large farm and a rubber plantation. After our lectures, we made our way to Chake Chake to meet our homestay families. After the reception, I traveled to my homestay with my host sister. Upon arrival, all of the children on the street were so amazed by the “mzungu Rashid” who could speak some Swahili. My homestay consisted of the parents, four adult children (one was a student on break), a three year old boy, and a seven year old girl. The family was really nice and welcoming, but spoke minimal English.
The next few days flew by. We visited a salt production farm and the site where the Pemba Flying Foxes roost. The flying fox is quite the animal with a wing span up to 70 centimeters and a weigth of more than 650 grams. The people running the conservation club, however, made much racket to get the bats to stir which ticked me off. How in the world can someone think it is alright to harass a nocturnal animal at noon in the blazing sun?!
The next day was spent on Misali Island, a protected island off the coast of Pemba. On the boat taxi from Pemba, we were able to see huge jellyfish that resembled plastic grocery shopping bags. While there we walked through the forest on the island and spent time snorkeling on their “Garden Reef”. After a really good lunch, we were given the opportunity to snorkel again. Our final day of lectures consisted of field trips to an essential oil distillery and the Ivo de Carneri Pemba Public Health Laboratory.
The last day of our homestay was a day off to do whatever we wished. I ended up staying at home and watching cartoon movies with the two children in my homestay. We watched Tinga Tinga Tales and Kirikou, over and over and over again. That evening, we had a Maulid ceremony which is a typical part of a Zanzibari wedding. We danced to traditional music and ate halua and drank tepid coffee. It was quite a fun experience, possibly the most fun I have had since arriving.
The return trip to Unguja was quite the debacle. Our flight was thought to be at 10 am and it was actually at 4 pm. The flight at 10 had 6 extra seats, so 12 students and the assistant director ended up staying on Pemba for an extra day. Our extra day was extended by an hour and a half due to late planes returning to Unguja.
Yesterday was our first day with a new lecturer, the author of our main text and a great lecturer! We snorkeled on a reef off of the Pange sand bank which is just off the coast of Stone Town.
Today is more snorkeling and surveying and tomorrow we are off to Jozani Forest for a few days, which may or may not have Internet, so until next week kwaherini!