Monday, October 25, 2010
Today is our last full day in Tanzania. Tomorrow morning we get on a bus and drive to Kenya, which will take about 8 hours. I’m excited about the drive – we will go through Arusha (where we will go to a grocery store!) and then drive around Kilimanjaro and then north into Kenya. The Kenya camp, which is called Kimana Bush Camp, is much more remote than the Tanzania site, but I’ll give more description once we arrive and I see it! We will have two nights at KBC with the other group of students before they leave on Thursday morning for Tanzania. It’s exciting and also strange that we will be able to interact with people our own age who speak fluent English! And we will be meeting the staff and faculty in Kenya… so many things to anticipate! This morning we had a meeting with Erica, the student affairs manager, to discuss the logistics of the switch, which I guess was quite a challenge for the last group. (This is only the second time this program has happened in two countries) It will definitely be challenging to adjust to a new environment and to not compare everything about Kenya and Tanzania. As much as I will miss Tanzania, though, I am ready for a change because I know we’ll have tons of great adventures in Kenya just as we did here.
Ok, here are some things I will miss most about living in Rhotia:
- The people – they are quiet, gentle, kind, friendly – the staff here at camp and the people we have met in town are the ones who have truly made us love Tanzania.
- The sounds – there are so many sounds here that we can’t here in the US because of cars and buildings. Dogs barking, cows mooing, chickens clucking, birds singing (and bird songs here totally own bird songs in Maine…)
- The language barrier – Many more people in Kenya speak English and in many ways that is a good thing. But I am very glad that we came to Tanzania first, where we really had to learn Swahili or Iraqw or Maasai in order to communicate with our neighbors. I am of course not very proficient, but I’ve come to appreciate that there understanding a language is not necessary in order to connect with a person. And another big thing I’ve learned – embrace awkwardness, because you encounter this on a daily (or hourly) basis with Tanzanians.
- Men holding hands as friends – maybe this happens in Kenya too, but how great is it to see such genuine caring between guys friends on a daily basis
- Watching the sun set from our front gate. The sun definitely looks bigger here and you watch as it speeds down the sky in about 5 minutes before sinking below the hills.
- jiggers… just kidding – these are little bugs that live in the dust and have plagued us all semester. I won’t go into details, but in the program director’s words, they represent “negative biodiversity” that we should wage war on… hopefully when the rains come jiggers (“funza” in Swahili and spelled “jiguz” by our Swahili professor) will be less of a problem for the next group
- Running to Moyo Hill – I feel like I mention this a lot, but it will definitely remain as one of my favorite memories of Tanzania. The view is stunning every time I go, and I always take a break and sit for a while looking out over the land and listening to all the sounds. You can look down the hill and watch as kids run after goats and sheep, mamas hang laundry on bushes to dry, and people carry water back to their homes on carts or on their heads. These are the scenes of Tanazania that I don’t want to forget, especially when they are framed by the beautiful backdrop of Lake Manyara and the Karatu countryside. We have learned about and seen first hand all of the challenges facing Tanzania – poverty, water access, education, land scarcity, population increases, and so many conflicting priorities relating to conservation of wildlife. But it is important to keep in mind that real people live here and somehow get through every day, and from my experiences these people are some of the most friendly, modest, and caring people in the world. It will take a long time to process all of the things that my time here has given me, but right now I am particularly aware of how valuable my interactions with Tanzanians have been.
Posted by Catherine at 2:21 AM