Sunday, July 3, 2011

Dar Es Salaam, days 1 and 2

After 2 days of travel, dinner with Dr. Rajabu, and finding our rooms (located at the University's Research Flats), we all crashed quickly on Tuesday night and slept soundly through the night.

Wednesday morning we woke up surprisingly refreshed and ready to meet with Dr. Rajabu and his dissertation students. However, we ended up taking quite a round-about way to the engineering school; after a good walk and a few directions, we found Dr. Rajabu and our workplace for the next few days. Though it took us a while to find it, at least we got some fresh air and a small tour of the campus! Dr. Rajabu showed us the engineering workspace, complete with all kinds of practice car parts, a nearby machine shop, and the various projects and prototypes from the engineering students. Most of the stove testing work is done out back in a wire garage, where they store pipes, presses, refrigerators, huge bags of husks and pellets, and about a dozen different stove iterations. Many of the stoves were designed and built by Mr. Lautsen, a stove-building expert located in Arusha. We weren't able to meet with the dissertation student working on the pico-hydro project, NAME, but Patrick and Masoud, who work on briquetting and coffee husk stove design, were around to talk to. We spent the day looking at the various stoves, and ended it with a wonderful dinner. It was a great way to get to know more about Dr. Rajabu, Patrick, and Masoud, and to taste some of the diversity of Tanzanian cuisine before heading out west.

Thursday morning was fairly relaxed and we had a chance to break out the water filterers, only to discover that one was, well, less than fully functional. How many engineers does it take to fix a water filter? Clearly less than the number in our group, because it was up before we left. We spent a very productive day in our outdoor stove area, meeting again with Dr. Rajabu and the dissertation students, as well as a new Masters student named Tsega, who is testing the ability to store and ship different kinds of briquettes. She showed us the hand-press used to make briquettes, and we learned more about different materials and binders that could be used. This could be very important information later this summer, when we may try to make our own coffee husk briquettes. An even more exciting development was James' discovery of how to make a prototype pellet stove burn raw coffee husks! We were getting some of the most beautiful, smoke-less fires we've seen, which was just great. Our work was slightly interrupted halfway through the day by a couple of vervet monkeys deciding to drop by the courtyard and hang out for a while! I (Colleen) may have been the most distracted, but they were unbelievably cute.

To top off an already successful day, Kevin and Kim got a solid plan together of how to get the seven of us (and our gear) to Kigoma, despite massive complications. Hurray! We've all been practicing our Kiswahili, and a major victory of the day was each of us succeeding in buying credit for our phones. Admittedly, Thabo and Kevin have a slight advantage on the rest of us (Kevin spent the last summer here, and Thabo already knows a Bantu language), but the rest of the group is catching up... Kind of. We took a small walk to some fields near the university, where there were games of football (soccer, to some) and cricket, and watched for a bit. Back at the flats, the group stayed up a bit reviewing the events of the past few days and going over the plan for tomorrow. I crashed pretty hard once we were back and gladly slept like a log, waking only once to hear the morning call to prayer.

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