Sunday, June 13, 2010


First Impressions: I knew my two months in Tanzania was going to be an experience unlike no other when I looked out the window right before we were going to land in Kilimanjaro airport and there were no lights to be seen. We (there are seven of us: Kir, Cameron, Nate, Ian, Aadya, and Wilma) exited the airplane to a cool crisp breeze (its winter in Arusha). We entered the airport (which was really just one building) for customs and baggage, and were greeted by a mob for the customs line. Luckily all of our baggage made it and we immediately met Katie (our faculty advisor), Emma (our assistant advisor), and Pele (our local liaison, whom I will probably be mentioning a lot). We hoped into a huge van and we were on our way.

The ride to our apartments was peaceful, barely any of the houses/buildings we passed had power so we had to make our figures and building shapes in the dark. As we got closer to town (meaning there was electricity), we could see everyone huddled in bars and houses watching the first day of the World Cup. Our of nowhere we took a sharp turn to the right and we were at our new home. We are all living in Kundayo apartments, an extremely well guarded apartment complex with lodge, restaurant, and fairly nice apartments. The three boys are in one apartment and the four girls are split into twos. I’m living with Kir who was in my LTP class, I’m really excited. The apartments are fully stocked and the showers are warm (although the water pressure is a trinkle, so glad I chopped off my hair before coming here). Our beds have built in mosquito nets, wooohooo, and of course we have to boil all water that we use for drinking or cooking, and mouths have to stay closely shut in the shower. When we arrived at the apartments the restaurant had prepared mushroom soup and spring rolls since many of us slept through the last airplane meal. After our tummies were full we got settled and I’m pretty sure we all passed out after 48 hours of travel.

Learning out way: Katie was extremely brilliant because she had planned the day with us having the ability to sleep in. When we finally all started to stir around 11ish we made our first trip to downtown. Normally we will taxi to the center, but for our first day and to get our grounding we walked. This was my first true Tanzanian experience. The streets (which are very dusty) are busy with people walking all about. Numerous bars and restaurants line the streets however they mostly resemble strong standing shacks. The streets are by no means the cleanest and make DC streets look clean enough to eat off of, but they also have their fair share of gardens. We walked around the downtown area before walking to a former homestay mom’s restaurant. I have already failed at being vegetarian because she made an amazing beef stew. While eating we were also given our African phones. My number is country code (255) 0685464180. However, we were still sorta jetlagged so we then had our first taxi experience and went back to the hotel. For the rest of the afternoon we unpacked and relaxed. For dinner we all decided to go to an Ethiopian restaurant, I was pumped. The food was amazing and I now have a new love for local Tanzanian beer. I also saw the most adorable little boy, I really wanted to steal him away. After dinner we all pretended to be engineers so we could fix the tv in the lodge to watch the England vs. USA soccer game. After dancing with the antennae we were finally able to get the game. Stewart made a great point. Three days ago I was looking at 3D tvs because they are showing the cup in the US in 3D. Now I’m just trying to get a signal to watch the game. As most of you know we tied which I almost consider a victory for the US. Post game we all passed out once again.

Safari: Today was incredible. We all woke up around 7:30 to a Muslim call to prayer and hoped into a minivan safari vehicle (yes, they exist). Our drive to Tarangire Park was about two hours. It was an extremely bumpy/dusty ride but the sightseeing was incredible. We passed many villages, and I don’t think I will ever be able to figure out how woman walk with carrying water on their heads. The park was surreal. We were face to face with elephants, zebras, ostriches, impalas, a lion in a bush, and giraffes. I also experienced a whole new meaning to the concept of “off roading.” After an amazing afternoon, we all hoped back into the vans to make the journey back. The moment we got back Ghana won its first game. We could see the celebration in the streets.

We are currently all pretty tired (and tired of cars), so tonight we are going to eat at our hotel’s restaurant for the first time and watch the World Cup.

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