Monthly Archives: December 2012

Journey to America, Part II

Mom declared it a computer-free Christmas so I haven’t been able to finish telling you about my journey until now, so here’s the rest of the story about how I ended up in the frozen tundra of Upstate New York.

Here’s what my looooong trip looked like from Nairobi to Amsterdam to Detroit to Syracuse to Seneca Castle:

NBO to AMS to DTW to SYR to COLD

NBO to AMS to DTW to SYR to COLD

We spent the day of December 19th hanging out in Nairobi.  I want to re-iterate how super awesome the people are at the Nairobi Hilton!  Every single person knew my name and loved on me like you wouldn’t believe.  To all my East African canine travelers, stay there next time you’re in town!

Throughout the day I alternated between walks around the city (to a chorus of “he’s so cute”) and napping on the couch until it was time to get back in the car and head to the airport.

Napping

Napping

Nairobi

Nairobi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7:05 pm

We’re in the car headed to the airport in Nairobi.  I can hear mom’s heart beating and because I’m her therapist I know she’s nervous.  I’m pretty sure it’s my fault.  We’ve got a really long trip ahead of us and I know she’s nervous that something will go wrong with me.  I try to reassure her.  I know that I’ll bark and bite (just kidding, I don’t bite) my way through any problem and that eventually we’ll get to where we need to be.

Mom’s carrying me in my custom-made African dog sling so we’re looking super stylish when we arrive at the airport.

Slinging around

Slinging around

 

8:04 pm

We enter the airport and go through the first of many “security checks”.  The people want to know what I’m doing there, but mom just ignores them because she knows they won’t understand.  At the check-in counter we’re told that we have to go see the manager even though mom confirmed me on the flight months ago with Delta.  Oh Africa, when will you ever understand the awesomeness of the dog?

We spent almost 45 minutes with the manager explaining what I do and showing him all my paperwork.  When he was finally satisfied, we were released and allowed to check our bags.  We still had more than 2 hours before the flight so mom wanted to take me outside for a potty-break since I’d be forced to hold it for a really long time once we were inside.

As we tried to leave the airport the Security man asked if there was a problem and mom told him she was taking me to the bathroom.  The man said, “but there’s a bathroom just over there” and pointed to the human women’s bathroom.  What a dummy!  First, I’m not a human and second, I’m not a woman.  Mom laughed and explained that I didn’t use a toilet, and that I needed to be OUTSIDE to do my business.  I guess I should come with a sheet of instructions to hand out to people in Africa!

10:34 pm

We’re finally on the plane!  When our seat-mate came, mom said, “I hope you don’t mind dogs” to which he replied, “They’re not my favorite”.  But let me tell you, I won that man over like nobody’s business and had my head in his lap by the end of the trip.  In fact, mom asked him if he was now a dog lover and he said that yes, he was, as long as they were all like me!

Also, a big shout-out to the KLM flight crew.  They were so nice and made sure that I had lots of water so I wouldn’t get dehydrated on the 9 hour flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam.

On the KLM plane to Amsterdam with my new friend in the background

On the KLM plane to Amsterdam with my new friend in the background

 

6:19 am

We’re in Amsterdam!  We don’t have much time here so we go straight to the gate for our flight to Detroit  I’m a little embarrassed to say that I had to go potty so bad that I tinkled on the floor and they made mom clean it up with the only thing she had available: her scarf.  Sorry mom!

In Amsterdam. More waiting.

In Amsterdam. More waiting.

 

8:35 am

And we’re on yet another plane. Our seat-mate this time is a dog-lover and he’s also from Upstate New York just like mom and me.  He doesn’t mind when I snuggle up against him and sleep the 9 hours between Amsterdam and Detroit.

AMS to DTW on Delta

On the Delta plane to Detroit

 

11:03 am

We’re back in America!  We have to wait in a long line to actually get into the country.  Lucky for me theres’s a rug that looks like gravel so when I stealth-pee no one can tell and I don’t get in trouble.  (And even if someone did see, I dare them to hold all that fluid in for more than 9 hours.  Humans are lucky because they can get up and go to the bathroom anytime they want on an airplane, but us dogs, we’ve got to be strong!)

After getting through customs, we get our bags and a nice man looks at my papers and writes DOG OK on a form and we’re off to yet another gate to wait for yet another plane.

There’s a bit of culture-shock in store for me in this Detroit airport.   First, there are these scary moving stairs thingies so mom puts me in my sling so I don’t have to figure out how they work.

Moving stairs = scary

Moving stairs = scary

Then we enter a colorful hallway with a moving sidewalk!  Can your imagine, Americans are so lazy they need their sidewalks to do the walking for them!  Mom knows I need the exercise so we just walk the normal way that humans and dogs have been walking for centuries, one foot in front of the other.

Avoiding the moving sidewalk

Avoiding the moving sidewalk

Disco Detroit

Disco Detroit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1:31 pm

We’re on a tiny plane this time, headed to Syracuse.  Mom and I are pooped.

2:58 pm

We’ve landed in Syracuse and we’re done with planes for a few weeks, hooray!  Uncle Ben and Grandma meet us at the airport for our last leg of the trip, a simple one-hour drive from Syracuse to Seneca Castle.

Uncle Ben has brought me a big puffy coat to wear and I quickly realize it’s because it’s FREEZING in America.  Seriously mom, after all this travel (66 hours to be exact) we’re in an inhospitable ice land.  WHY?

New coat

New coat

Also, while I appreciate the new coat, it makes me look fat.

TAKE ME BACK TO TANZANIA!!

TAKE ME BACK TO TANZANIA!!

 

 

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Live Blogging: Journey to America, Part I

6:31 am

I’m going to attempt this live blogging thing today as mom, Tito taxi, and I make our way to Nairobi in the car. Almost exactly one year ago I did the exact journey, except in reverse.

Here’s what our journey will look like:

Mwanza to Nairobi

Mwanza to Nairobi

Of course it’s pouring rain this morning, but I suppose it will make me miss Mwanza a little less…

Don't leave without me mom!

Don’t leave without me mom!

Grrrr, that’s my annoyed dog sound. I tried to upload a photo but I guess we’re already too far away from Mwanza and so the connection is too slow. Don’t worry, mom’s taking lots of photos and will upload them just as soon as she can!

6:43 am

We’re just past Kisesa, where mom works at the Health Center, and the sun is rising in front of us.  It’s super pretty but also reminds me how early it is.  This puppy needs his sleep!

Brilliant sunrise through the rain-soaked windshield

Brilliant sunrise through the rain-soaked windshield

6:58 am

I just had my first cow sighting of the day and we all know how much I love cows…HOORAY!

Cow, YES!

Cow, YES!

7:10 am

Our car problems have started just outside of Magu.  There was a funny noise as we went over one of the many speed bumps on the road from Mwanza to Sirari.  Tito taxi pulled over and sure enough, the car was broken.  Also, mom and I are a spectacle so we’ve gathered a bit of  a morning crowd of assorted drunk men.  Eww.

I'm pretty sure that all these men were drunk.  On principal, mom refused to give them money to buy beer at 7:30 in the morning

I’m pretty sure that all these men were drunk. On principal, mom refused to give them money to buy beer at 7:30 in the morning

8:15 am

The C-V joint on Tito’s car broke just outside of Magu so we had to pull over and Tito went to town to find a new car part. And my brilliant mother accidentally locked the keys in the car. So now we’re standing outside on the road surrounded by people who are fascinated by me and my mom. Wish us luck!

The broken C-V joint, whatever that means

The broken C-V joint, whatever that means

9:08 am

Guess who got to see more cows while we were waiting for the car to get fixed?  This little doggie, that’s who!  Oh, and then I tried to eat some of their poop, which got me in trouble with mom.  Oops!

Cows!  And check out those horns.  JEALOUS!

Cows! And check out those horns. JEALOUS!

9:20 am

While we were waiting for the car to be fixed (it’s going on 2 hours now), a nice man from a little shop nearby brought over some of the tiny fish called daga and let me have some.  Amazingly enough, this is my first time eating daga since moving to Tanzania, even though most local dogs eat daga everyday.  They were interesting.  Salty and slightly crunchy, but I didn’t have time for breakfast before we left so they were good enough for me!

Trying daga

Trying daga

10:41 am

We’re finally on the move again, YAY!  We’re just now crossing the ‘Narrow Damaged Bridge’ which makes mom and I laugh every time we see it.

HaHa, I wonder how long this bridge will stay damaged?

HaHa, I wonder how long this bridge will stay damaged?

11:19 am

Now we’ve passed Speke Bay, one of my favorite places in Tanzania.  Too bad we can’t stop in and say hello to everyone.  They’re also doing roadwork in this area and we have to drive on a dirt road (I’m unsure if you can actually call it that).  This road gets Tito taxi’s car all dirty, something which really, really annoys him.

Um, I suppose this is a road

Um, I suppose this is a road

11:28 am

We’re driving past the Serengeti Western Corridor gate.  I really wish I can go inside, because I love me some animals, but I guess I’m too much animal for a National Park.

11:35 am

Zebra sighting.  This basically makes my day.

ZEBRAS!!!!

ZEBRAS!!!!

1:58 pm

We’ve finally arrived in the border town of Sirari.  Mom and Tito taxi do something at an office while I wait in the car.  Lots of people gather around to stare at me, so i go and I hide underneath the seat so they can’t make fun of me.

2:49 pm

It took us almost an hour to do all the nonsense required at the border and we’re now on the Kenyan side of the border in a town called Isebania.  Mom and Tito taxi had to go and do more stuff in another office and again I had to stay in the car.  Then they went to a funny little office where mom argued with a man about something and eventually forked over some money.  He then proceeded to sit behind a weird, loud machine and made a paper that Tito taxi had to keep with his car in case there was an accident.  They also made me go to the Veterinary office where they looked at all my paperwork.  Mom told them that I was healthier and better vaccinated than any human who crossed the border so they sent us on our way.

Funny man, funny machine

Funny man, funny machine

4:45 pm

There’s Christmas carols on the radio in Kenya.  I almost forgot this is why mom and I are going to America!

5:13 pm

A crazy or drunk person (or maybe both) jumped on our car in a town called Sotik.  I did not like this man so I barked until he got off and was chased away by some other people outside.

6:16 pm

We’ve been driving for 12 hours now, but then we see a double rainbow and all of us are instantly happier.

Smile, it's a rainbow!

Smile, it’s a rainbow!

6:31 pm

More zebras alongside the road.  We were going to fast to get a photo, but I promise you, they were there and I saw them.  Mom says we’re near the Maasai Mara so that’s why there’s zebras here.

8:17 pm

We’re now passing the Great Rift Valley overlook, but unfortunately it’s dark so we can’t see it.  Luckily I got a nice view last year when we drove this way so I’m not too upset.

The sun is setting on our long day

The sun is setting on our long day

11:15 pm

I’m finally here in the Nairobi Hilton with some food and some water and I think that’s totally awesome.  Mom’s too tired to type up all the stuff that I made her write down today after we lost our internet connection, but I promise I’ll make her fill in the rest of the trip with photos first thing tomorrow!

Good Night!

Really?? I finally get to sleep now?

Really?? I finally get to sleep now?

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Swanglish

Everyone always assumes that Swahili is a difficult language.  For example, mom’s French teacher in high school used to make jokes about Swahili all the time saying that French was easy compared with the East African Bantu language.  Now, I can’t say that I know a single thing about French, but I do know a fair bit of Swahili after living in Tanzania for a year.

This is where people speak Swahili

This is where people speak Swahili

A French Swahili book

A French Swahili book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One simple rule to live by: when in doubt add ‘i’ to the end of any English word and chances are you’ll not be far off from the Swahili.  I’ve put together a list of some Swahili words here that are either: a) useful; b) easy; c) from the Lion King; or d) some mangled form of English and Swahili, ie. Swanglish.  You’ll all be speaking Swahili before you know it!

 

Swahili lessons in Tanzania

Swahili lessons in Tanzania

So let’s begin!  Also, every language teacher knows that it’s easier to remember vocabulary when paired with a picture so I’ll be “illustrating” this Swanglish lesson as we go.

First, some useful terms that everyone should know:

  • Karibu: Welcome
  • MamboWhat’s up?
  • PoaCool (also the answer to Mambo)
  • ShikamooSay this when addressing an older or superior person
  • MarahabaThe response to Shikamoo
  • Habari …..How is… (insert whatever here, such as morning (za asubuhi), work (za kazi), etc.)
  • NzuriGood (also the answer to any habari question)
  • Jambo: A grammatically incorrect way to greet someone and ask how things are going

 

Jambo on Store Signs

Jambo on Store Signs

Jambo on a plastic chair!

Jambo on a plastic chair!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for some easy words that are more or less the same as English (remember the ‘i’ rule.  Also, Tanzanians are not big on spelling so go ahead and butcher words!  For example, mom’s name is spelled either Sarah, Sara, Sala, Sera, or Salah and as far as Tanzanians go, they’re all correct):

  • Krismasi: Christmas
  • Keki: Cake
  • Wiki: Week
  • Tunachagi Simu: We charge phones (sim cards)  
  • Polisi: Police

 

Twiga eating keki

Twiga eating keki

Krismasi in Tanzania

Krismasi in Tanzania

 

 

 

  • Bia: Beer
  • Intaneti: Internet
  • Mimi: Me
  • Treni: Train  
  • Sukari: Sugar
Twiga checks out the intaneti

Twiga checks out the intaneti

There's bia in my yard

There’s bia in my yard

 

 

  • Ofisi: Office
  • Hospitali: Hospital
  • Benki: Bank
  • Namba: Number
  • Rula: Ruler
My mom works at a rural hospitali

My mom works at a rural hospitali

 

There's an ofisi near my house

There’s an ofisi near my house

 

 

  • Penseli: Pencil
  • Baiskeli: Bicycle
  • Friji: Refrigerator
  • Vocha: Voucher 
We have a friji in our house

We have a friji in our house

 

Baiskeli on the road

Baiskeli on the road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know you all remember the movie ‘The Lion King‘.  Well, I bet you didn’t realize you were learning Swahili while you watched!  Here’s some words you might have heard in the movie (and also some other animal-related words too):

  • Simba: Lion
  • Rafiki: Friend
  • Hakuna Matata: No worries/problem
  • Asante SanaThank you very much
  • Pumbaa: Careless
  • Sarabi: Mirage
  • Shenzi: Barbarous
  • Mbwa: Dog (most important word EVER)
  • Twiga: Giraffe (second most important word)
  • Safari: Trip 
Twiga looks like a twiga and he's also my rafiki

Twiga looks like a twiga and he’s also my rafiki

I'm a cool mbwa!

I’m a cool mbwa!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And lastly, a list of miscellaneous Swahili and Swanglish words:

  • Jift: Gift
  • Baridi: Cold (always good to know when ordering a bia!)
  • Mzungu: White person
  • Kwanza: January or First
  • Sista: Sister (or a general term for any woman/girl) 

 

Mwanza Kwanza Electronics, it must be the FIRST electronics store!

Mwanza Kwanza Electronics, it must be the FIRST electronics store!

Have a Coke baridi!

Have a Coke baridi!

Look!  I'm a jift!

Look! I’m a jift!

And there you have it.  Your first swahili vocabulary lesson!  Now don’t even ask me about grammar.  First of all, I hear Swahili grammar is super hard.  But also, I’ll remind you that my first language is Bark and there’s no grammar whatsoever, only intonation, which is also very important.  But maybe, just maybe, in a few months time I might be able to give ya’ll another lesson.

KWAHERI!

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Shipping Cats

I don’t think I ever properly introduced you to my friends and (former) housemates: BlackCat and WhiteCat.  BlackCat and WhiteCat belong to mom and Aunt Amanda’s friend Jilli.  When Jilli moved from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam she needed some animal lovers to watch her cats and everyone knows that Mwanza’s animal sanctuary is located right here at my house! BlackCat and WhiteCat quickly integrated into our household and we all became good friends.

BlackCat, WhiteCat, and me

BlackCat, WhiteCat, and me

Well, I knew there was trouble brewing when Jilli showed up on Friday night with a big cage.  Mom used to put me in a cage when she left for work, but I hated that darn thing and I can’t stand the site of these animal torture boxes.  The cage sat around the house for the whole weekend so I kind of forgot about it, but a few hours ago everything changed.

Jilli put a Maasai blanket in the cage and then mom put me inside to see how I liked it.  Even though this cage is WAY bigger than the one I used to have, I still didn’t like it.  I believe it’s for unmannered dogs and therefore I clearly do not need to be in one ever again.

Nope! Not for me

Nope! Not for me

First Jilli captured BlackCat and put him inside and LOCKED THE DOOR.  This is when I realized that this was no joke.  Jilli was actually preparing to take her cats somewhere.

Stuck inside

Stuck inside

Poor BlackCat

Poor BlackCat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WhiteCat was smart and hid in a suitcase in Aunt Amanda’s room, but eventually he was found and then placed in the cage with BlackCat too.

At least they have each other

At least they have each other

WhiteCat goes in

WhiteCat goes in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as my kitty friends were in the cage, Jilli and the Maasai carried the cage up the driveway, out through the gate, and then into the back of a waiting car.  Where the heck were they taking BlackCat and WhiteCat?

Stop! Bring them back!

Stop! Bring them back!

Where are you taking my friends?

Where are you taking my friends?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started freaking out so mom explained that Jilli was taking the cats in an airplane to Dar es Salaam.  I bet it must be scary for a kitty to be in a cage in an airplane without his mom.  But I suppose BlackCat and WhiteCat will be ok because they have each other for comfort.  BlackCat and WhiteCat will stay in Dar es Salaam for a week with Jilli and then they will do the long flight like I did a year ago.  Mom says that I shouldn’t worry because BlackCat and WhiteCat are very lucky that they are moving to America, especially since WhiteCat was just a Tanzanian street cat that never could have dreamed of such a good life.  Apparently they even get to go to a special kitty hotel in the Amsterdam airport between their flights.

I wish mom had let me know a little sooner that BlackCat and WhiteCate would be making the trip to America.  I could have given them some pointers and told them what it’s like to go on an airplane for many, many hours.  Except that when I went I got to sit with my mom (lucky me)!

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye

I’ll miss my kitty friends, but in the end I’m happy for them and excited for their adventure.  Jilli better let them e-mail me from time to time and perhaps I can even visit when I’m back in America too!

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December in Tanzania

Well, it’s December here in Tanzania (and I’m assuming in other parts of the world too), which means I’ve been in Africa for a year!  A YEAR!  That’s a doggone long time!

Last page in the calendar

Last page in the calendar

This is a picture my great-grandma painted for my mom and gave to her for Christmas last year.  But G-G, what’s with all the white stuff, and the clothes, and the tree?  I’m confused since that’s NOT what December looks like in Africa.  Nope, it’s sunshine and nice weather all the time here, in fact.  Look here, just last week, with the sun in my eyes:

I'm not even wearing a coat!

I’m not even wearing a coat!

There’s Christmas songs playing and they really confuse me.  “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”  But the WHOLE year is like this, it’s ALWAYS wonderful.  I don’t get it.

Although, I did overhear mom talking to my grandma and she said that the main reason she likes Tanzania is the weather and the nice environment it provides for me, which must mean that these things are different back at “home”. (I refer to home in quotes because New York may be “home” for mom, but Tanzania is “home” for me).  Now I’m all worried and stuff because I also have heard mom making plans about bringing me “home” for Christmas and how I’ll be in for a big shocker.  I’m scared, REAL SCARED.

But at least mom is trying to make it festive here in our tropical wonderland.  Mom’s friend Colin, who is now in my ginger posse with Twiga, brought her some stockings from America.  Together they decorated them, one for her and one for me.

Waiting for our stockings to dry

Waiting for our stockings to dry

I don’t entirely understand the concept of a Christmas stocking, I’ve never had one before (FYI, big fail on your part mom, for not getting one for me last year!)  Apparently, you hang them up and then Santa comes and leaves gifts in them.  Now that is an idea I can get on board with.  Gifts!  Treats!  My favorite!

We don't have a chimney, but we do have a wall

We don’t have a chimney, but we do have a wall

Unfortunately, mom thought it would be fun to play dress-up with the stockings and since she is bigger than me, she got me into some unfortunate, compromising positions.

On my foot, why??

On my foot, why??

On my face, why??

On my face, why??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On my head, WHY??

On my head, WHY??

After all was said and done, I figured I could look ridiculous in the stockings for five minutes if it meant that I would eventually get treats out of the deal.  And we all know how much I LOVE my treats!  Bring on the roasted pig ears!

So, to all you folks stuck in frigid temperatures back at “home”, I scoff at your weather…

Temperatures below 80, pshtttt!

Temperatures below 80? Pshtttt!

…but please, pretty please, be kind to me when I get “home”.  And don’t make me go outside!

 

 

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