It is Ireland !

By now you have your boxes and can guess at some of the things I intend to share about Ireland. I will send links about the music, the land, the food, and of course – the people. You found a leather covered notebook about your family name history because the Galloways and Clarks have connections to Ireland. I hope you enjoy learning a little bit about the family name.

The material you received was wool. That is because the sheep in Ireland are prized and wool from Ireland should be cherished. I will send you links about how they care for the sheep, why some of them have paint on them and how their coats become our clothing.

I usually try hard to give you a modern day view of each country but it just feels like Ireland is so full of history even today that I can’t begin to help us enjoy Ireland without enjoying places that have importance in history. We will see castles and the Giant’s causeway. We will learn about very unusual past laws in Ireland. We will find out the real reason that Ireland doesn’t have snakes and why people burn PEAT for heat.

It is going to be a fun month so please check in regularly to learn more about Ireland!






Finding Direction in Tanzania

I sent you a compass because I wanted you to recall the prominence of vast open spaces in Tanzania. Some of these places are reached by small planes and seeing the area requires travel by foot or river. But how would you find your way if you were alone? If you have a compass and map you could find your way using them.  Here is a Website that describes how to use a compass.

If you don’t have a compass and map but know something about the area you can use landmarks. Mount Kilimanjaro is big and can be seen from many locations. It is north toward Kenya so you could orient with this mountain in mind. If you know the rivers of the area and how they flow, you can follow the waterways. But what if you don’t have any of that? If you know a little about the area like the most common direction of wind movement, you can use that. Even on a still day you can observe tree growth and discern direction.

An important thing to remember is that Tanzania is in the Southern Hemisphere, below the equator. While we use the North Star to determine direction of the North Pole in the USA because we are in the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Cross is used to determine the direction of the South Pole in the Southern Hemisphere. The North Star may not be visible from your position in Tanzania but because Tanzania is so close to the Equator, it may be visible from some places such as on Mount Kilimanjaro.

The skies of Tanzania, away from the light pollution of cities, provide for stargazing in brilliant clarity. There are even safaris on the Serengeti Plain that cater to the stargazer. Enthusiasts are able to watch the animal migration by day and view the skies with the help of an Astronomer by night. The Southern Cross can easily be seen and direction of South established. Here is a Link to a youtube to learn more about how to see the Southern Cross and use it for direction.

If you are traveling in the daytime you can establish direction with the movement of the sun. The sun moves east to west across the sky. If you stand a stick in the dirt you can observe the shadow placement and length to help determine the relative time of day and the direction.

Vegetation can be observed for hints to direction. Free standing trees are normally asymmetrical with vegetation more full on the side receiving greater sunlight. This is typically the north side in the Southern Hemisphere and the south side in the Northern Hemisphere. Wind effects can be seen on some plants as well. Wind normally travels north east and south east in Tanzania.

There are other methods of using knowledge of the country and its animals to determine relative direction. If you know the rivers of the area you can determine the direction by the flow of water. If you know the time of year and observe migrating animals you can make some assumptions regarding direction.

I hope you have gained an interest in East Africa through our virtual trip to Tanzania.  I know I have enjoyed it very much.


Eating in Tanzania

(Above Photo:By Paresh Jai from Nairobi, Kenya – Ugali & Sukuma WikiUploaded by Common Good)

The white substance in the photo above is called Ugali.  It is made of very finely ground cornmeal boiled in water.  People in Tanzania use this as an eating utensil.  They take off a piece, roll it into a ball and put an indention into it.  They scoop up other foods with it, always using the right hand.

You are expected to wash your hands before and after a meal.   Meals are usually taken sitting on the ground, often from a communal bowl or platter.

The people of this beautiful country eat many of the same dishes found in other parts of Africa but dishes including coconut and/or bananas usually originate from Tanzania.  Zanzibar – the islands off mainland Tanzania are known for spices.  A blend of Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg and Black Pepper is an important part of many of the dishes eaten here, giving them a unique flavor.




Watch this youtube video to learn 10 interesting facts about Tanzanite.  This is a beautiful stone used in jewelry.  Some say it was first recognized by the Maasai people.  Some say a man came upon a cluster of the gems and reported it to man who was looking for rubies.  There is a Maasai legend that a bolt of lightening started a great fire and the heat of the fire created the precious mineral.

Tanzanite is found at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.  Remember that this mountain has several volcanos.  The gem is mined from underground.  Here is video to watch showing a trip to the mines in Tanzania.  It shows how the gems are processed as well. That part was most interesting to me.

The gem is heated to 800 degrees to create the beautiful color seen in jewelry.  In 2002 it was made the December Birthstone. Do you want to know something really interesting to us?  Elias, Damien and Bri ALL have December birthdays!   Tanzanite is your birthstone.



Does Tanzania or China use Daylight Saving Time?

Tonight we change our clocks moving the clocks one hour forward.  One way to remember this is Spring Forward / Fall Back.  In the Spring we set clocks forward one hour. In the Fall we set clocks back one hour.  So if you go to bed tonight at 8 pm and you get up at 7 am tomorrow, you will get one hour less sleep than you did with these sleep and wake times yesterday.

I used this site to find out that Tanzania does not have Daylight Saving Time.  I did a search for China and learned that they don’t do this in China as well.  Please see the above map and see which countries use a Daylight Saving Time system.  The green areas are using a Daylight Saving Time.  The Blue ones used it in the past but don’t any longer.  The White areas indicate places that have never used a Daylight Saving Time system.

Are you interested in where this time change thing started?  Here is a internet site that gives good information about this.


Rare? Tree Climbing Lions

Well, who knew – cats climb trees!  At first I saw articles talking about a RARE tree climbing lion.  Now I see that they really aren’t so rare.  It seems that when one lion climbs a tree the other lions try it.   This article gives more insight into why they might be climbing trees.

This website has good information about the Serengeti National Park where we might see tree climbing lions.  This park is HUGE!  In fact it is 1.5 million ha (hectares,  1 hectare is about two and a half acres)

People go there to watch the Great Migration.  The animals move in mass to get to better water and the Wildebeests to the birthing plain where more than 8,000 babies are born every day!   They say when the 2 million Wildebeests run across the plains you feel the earth vibrate.  The heat makes the air shimmer.  Dust settles on everything.  Flies bother everyone and every animal.  I watched several videos trying to decide which one would give you the best feel of what it would be like to be in the middle of all this awesome activity.  I chose this one because it didn’t show as much animal killing.  I know that all animals have to eat but I just hate to watch the kill.  If you don’t mind seeing it, you can search youtube videos about the migration in Serengeti National Park.

I sent you a compass.  I did so because I wanted to emphasize that much of this country is enjoyed not through road maps but by direction and distance.  Did you learn how to use your compass?  I will post something about compass use in a day or so.