Tuesday, April 18th:
I was thinking of the kids at the Zion Home today… they are going back to their classes after the long spring break and Easter holiday. Today also felt like back to school for Sher and me, starting with Edgar in the morning. He took us the airport in the morning and on the drive there, we talked about politics and stereotypes and more African history. By the time we found our departure gate at the Julius Nyerere International airport, my brain was still processing. My heart has also been so full on this trip. Emotions are heightened for me in Africa… I think Sher never expected to see this side of me! All the emotions with the kids of The Olive Branch and then the YouTube video that has me crying every time, as well as my intense excited reactions to all the breathtaking scenery that we are exposed to over here. And then I heard some sad news about a friend back in Canada that had me crying in the airport. Sher brought me chai and we eventually boarded for our next part of the trip in the northern parts of Tanzania.
The flight from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro was another quick one and filled with students returning to their schools. We were greeted on arrival in the gorgeous Kilimanjaro region by our next tour guide, Omari (he also goes by the name Peter), and his associate who had booked us for the safari. The associate, Zoe, presented us with gifts of typical Masai clothing which was really thoughtful since we were learning and hearing so much about them and their traditional clothes. The Masai tribe actually came from Ethiopia during a civil war and settled all over different parts of neighbouring African countries but they seem to have gained a lot of respect and the ability to uphold their customs here in Tanzania. They still maintain their traditional way of life and are famous for many things including their style of huts, their hunting practices, and their dances. A lot of the paintings we have seen so far feature the Masai people, I’d say that they are the most well-known tribe in Tanzania.
Zoe didn’t stay with us for too long but she left us in good hands with Omari. He is so knowledgeable and can answer almost any question I’ve thrown his was so far. He told us all about the animals that we were passing on the highway, more about the history of the region, and a lot of history about the tribes of Tanzania. He also showed us a famous ridge that starts in Jordan and runs past Tanzania. Omari then took a break and left us with another guide that took us on a long hike to have a local lunch prepared at a family’s farm and then up to the top of a hill to see a huge baboa tree and a lot of funny crabs in the creek. We passed some monkeys as well but we couldn’t get a good photo. At the end of the night, we checked into Octagon Lodge which is close to a few of the national parks where our safari will start. At dinner, we chatted with a German who is living in Nairobi and is here in Tanzania for work. His job is very similar to what my dad does- he is a highway engineer who is helping to plan a huge project. Apparently, there was a proposal for a highway right through the Serengeti national park. Of course, this was a bad idea for the animals and the environment so it wasn’t approved. He is part of a project to basically find a better option and determine how it can be done with less impact on the animals and local tribes. We learned a lot more by talking to him and he gave us some more advice for our time here.
By the end of the night, my brain was stuffed full and couldn’t handle anymore. So many tour guides in one day and so much knowledge from each one was a lot to think about! While unpacking, I was sad to see that the clay mug that we had personalized for my brother and his wife was broken from the last plane ride…. and we also had left our purchased paintings at the hotel in Dar es Salaam. With no emotions or brain space left to think about it and no power to do anything about the damaged and missing stuff, I tried to sleep but the loud rain kept waking me up and then I would imagine that a snake was trying to get into our room. More nonsense nightmares! I thought I had left those behind in Germany!