Friday, November 9, 2012

Pangani mini-vacation

I had a nice but short beach vacation in a YMCA near Pangani, a town south of Tanga in Tanzania.  I went with some nice Danish people I met who are volunteering at a place near where I'm doing my field work.  It was just what I needed to clear my head for a few days and re-energize for the rest of my field work.  It was a beautiful beach!

The path down from my room.  My room was a small circular hut that was too hot at night and the fan didn't work, but taking a cold bucket-shower before bed helped with that.  I paid for the beach, not luxurious accommodation.  

That's mine, with the clay-colored roof.  Next to some mango trees that a baboon visited regularly.  

At night I would take a walk over to the nearby cliffs to watch the sunset.  There were some mangrove trees on the way, which made me wonder if they destroyed other mangroves to make a nice beach for tourists, but I never asked.

There were lots of tiny crabs on the beach too.  While laying on the beach (I had SPF 50 on, don't worry Mom!) I threw a small stone at a crab and it ran to the stone and buried it.  I remembered suddenly my Marine and Coastal Ecology from fall semester, where my professor was from Tanzania and told us many things about mangroves, and I remember in particular his story about walking along a beach with another biologist in Tanzania, and he accidentally stepped on a small crab.  The biologist he was with told him to be careful of the crabs, and when my professor asked why the biologist said that the crabs help plant the mangroves.  My professor didn't believe him at first, because he thought mangroves grew where their seeds floated to.  But the mangrove tree has two kinds of seeds, and one of them is small and round and these crabs, who eat things that look like mangrove seeds, grab them and bury them only to forget about them (like squirrels and acorns) and help plant more mangrove trees.  I didn't expect to be able to see it in action, but there it was!  

I didn't take any pictures of the crabs (they were too quick and hard to see with the sand background), so you'll just have to believe me.  I have some cool pictures of freshwater crabs I've seen in Amani for the next post.

I saw some fishermen a few times on the beach where we stayed.  They were doing something with the net (untangling it?) until the light was gone.

They work from before sunrise to after sunrise, which here is always around 12 hours.  The boats look hand carved.  Sorry that the picture is a bit blurry.

 It's not Michigan but they had a nice sunset.

Now I'm back to the daily grind, but now I feel like it's easier. The first month felt like climbing up a hill, and this last month feels like sailing down the other side.  There may be a bump again when I go to Dar Es Salaam for the last interviews, because Dar is a stressful place.  More swindlers, rubbish and traffic.  My translator will be like an escort then, because as a woman of European-descent I have to be careful.  Makes me sad but that's how it is here.  Even my translator, who lived in Dar for 5 years doesn't like it.  There's good and bad everywhere though.


  1. It's a lovely beach. It reminds me more of Florida beaches than Lake Michigan, especially the mangroves. They're the big land builders in Florida, too.

    I'm glad you got a chance to unwind for a while. Godspeed.

  2. A little vacation is always a good thing, plus at a lovely beach? Sounds perfect.