Maddie '17, Tanzania, 4/30/2016
Today we woke up near the base of Oldonyo Lengai, a striking volcano in the midst of rolling hills of Tanzania dotted with farms and Masai villages. We woke up early and had a breakfast of hot tea, crepes and eggs around six. Our campsite was in the middle of nowhere, and all we could see for miles was the vibrant green landscape interspersed with volcanic ash and rock from the most recent eruption in 2007. That morning, we prepared for what we thought was going to be a full day. We started our hike and soon found it to be way easier than originally expected. We wound through the foothills of the volcano, took in the breathtaking scenery and watched out for good footing in the crumbly volcanic rock. By the time we made it down and out of the foothills and found ourselves directly next the to volcano, we only had a short walk until our guide, who calls himself Teacher, told us that our walk was over. We stopped at the jeep road where our safari cars would pick us up around eleven and ate our lunch. This was a surprise to all of us, and many of us were confused when he said that we had made it to our destination, as we thought the hike was going to be long and grueling. After lunch, we got picked up by our safari cars and we made it to the next camp around
. This camp was located right next to a Masai village, and as soon as we stepped out of the car, swarms of women and children surrounded us, trying to sell us jewelry.
As we approached our campsite, it became apparent that this was definitely the nicest campsite we had been to. The showers were clean and for the most part weren't covered in insects. There was a large kitchen for the cooks, a clothes lines, a covered eating area and a place to buy soda. After a quick change of clothes and a snack, we decided to hike up to the nearby waterfall. The hike wasn't far, but it was beautiful and involved many river crossings. We were pretty much soaked by the time we made it to the waterfall itself. After not having showers for almost a week, swimming in the river made me feel like a new person. By the time we made it back to our campsite, it was only about
in the afternoon, which left a lot of time for showers and much needed rest.
This being my second time in Tanzania within the past year, I came into this trip thinking I already had an understanding of the country and its dynamic culture. I should have guessed that this trip was going to wildly shift my understanding of Tanzania and its culture. Traveling with my school and on a GIS trip always gives me a different perspective of any place I have gone before. The connections that I have made with the people we have met along the way have deeply impacted me. Even though this is my fourth foreign trip, I am still always learning things about traveling. Every experience that I have while traveling is so valuable and something that I can take with me when I come back home, and I am so lucky to spend my last GIS trip in Tanzania.
Alia '17, Tanzania, 4/20/2016
I feel like time here is non-existent, as if time weren't a part of the equation of the everyday life. I usually look ahead and plan my future, but this trip has made me live in the moment more often. We have experienced so many different environments, ranging from the sandy shores of Lake Victoria, to the lion-filled Savannah, to the beautifully verdant waterfalls. The views take my breath away. The most important lesson I have learned is to embrace inter-connectedness. It is crucial we respect the campsite,
respect the lions while we're looking at them so close, leave no trace, and be aware of whatever is surrounding us. Coming here and not being able to speak Swahili opened the opportunity to communicate, not through language but through love, which they understood. Our guides are some of the most caring, compassionate, and genuinely interesting men I have ever met. The stereotype that all there is in Africa is hungry children is broken within my eyes. I observed when the Hadzabe hunted birds. I was with Alex the caring and attentive Masai that lead a 7 mile journey. I was in front of Lake Natron, which seemed so close yet so far. I was present, just watching everything; I stepped back and only stepped in when I needed to. (If you know me, you know that I'm always in!) I will take the ability to step back and observe with me everywhere I go. They say the world is a book, and if you don't travel you've only read a page. I have turned over to a new chapter.