Safari Day 5: Serengeti & Oldupai

Despite being in Tanzania, we actually spent very little time in the Serengeti (H has a secret conspiracy theory about why this might be: essentially that our guide 1) effed up, and 2) prefers off-roading and scaring the animals in Ndutu). Just a quick drive through on our way out of the Ngorongoro area and back toward Lake Manyara and eventually Arusha. Honestly, though, I don’t feel like we really missed out; we’d already had Tarangire, which was incredible as far as the wildlife, and we’d had the amazing scenery of Ngorongoro and the off-roading experience in Ndutu, so I’d already taken tons of pictures of wildebeest and zebra herds. (Amazing how quickly you become blase about dozens of beautiful animals roaming free.) I snapped a few pictures of interesting birds and lizards, but we were driving too fast for a lot of the rest of it, which was the same as what we’d seen before anyway. So I’m not regretful, and at least I can still technically say that I went to the Serengeti.

After the Serengeti, we went to Oldupai Gorge (it is often written as Olduvai, but this is because the original Europeans misunderstood and misspelled the Maasai name for the place), which is the place where the oldest human ancestor remains have been found and has therefore been dubbed the “birthplace of modern man.” There’s a very small museum there with a pointless accompanying lecturer, since everything the lecturer says is also written, also in English, in the museum, but I enjoyed it anyway (the site overall, not the pointless lecturer). The gorge itself was very striking in a wild, remote kind of way, and it was pretty cool to stand there and think about our ancestors leaving footprints in volcanic ash millions of years ago. You can read more about it here.

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Safari Day 2: Ngorongoro Crater

This was my favorite place from the trip.

The jagged mountains like hands cupping pistachio green fields within and the huge clouds in the endless sky overhead were such a perfect backdrop that they made the animals look nearly fake, they were so striking (really, is there anything more striking than a zebra?), often so close, and yet placid at the same time. The whole atmosphere was sort of other-worldly.

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The year in books

I sometimes like to look back on the past year in terms of the books that I read. This stems from the BPS Reader’s Workshop requirement that students read 20 books a (school) year; given that none of my students ever really seemed to hit this number, I often wondered if I actually read that many books in a given year, and resolved to up my pleasure reading to try to meet the same requirements that were placed on my students. I also find it a good way to “measure a year,” as they say in Rent, because while I often look back and feel that no time at all has passed since the beginning of the school year, usually I’m shocked to see what I was reading at the time because it feels like ages ago.

Also, now that I’m on Goodreads, it’s a lot easier to keep track of these things.  Continue reading

Baba Marta

Честита Баба Марта to all! Today was my first experience with this holiday and tradition, and while I had heard about it, nothing prepared me for how charming and lovely it was in real life.

There’s nothing really to it, and I think the simplicity is a large part of the appeal. It’s not tied to any religious holidays, there are no ceremonies, rituals, or stressful dinners associated with it. It’s just a day for friends, family, and co-workers to give each other мартеници for health and happiness and wish each other “Честита Баба Марта” and await the spring.

What are мартеници, my American readers ask?

These are мартеници:

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Random notes on a lazy Sunday

So wonderful to see a former student of mine traveling, writing, and thriving even after not graduating on time (or in a conventional sense) from high school. She’s getting an education the old-fashioned way – living it – and recently came home after witnessing first-hand the protests in Egypt:

I chose to explain my experience in Egypt during the protests this way because, since I have gotten back to Boston, many people have been talking about what is going on as if it is a joke. So what better way for me to explain it than to put you in my shoes? Hopefully you can learn the lessons I have.

One: Things are never as passive as you perceive them to be at first glance!

Two: We take too many things for granted!

Three: It is one thing to stand up for yourself, but it is another thing to stand up for a stranger you later will call your brother!

Then there was this in yesterday’s NY Times, which was an interesting connection and taught me a little more about some Bulgarian history – always good to know.

Also inspirational: Finding decent Mexican food in Sofia! We finally tried Taqueria last night before heading to BSD and found it completely satisfactory (smoke-free is a nice touch). Overall a very pleasant night out, which has led to a slow start today, but that’s what Sundays are for, no?