From May 29 to June 20 of 2004, I traveled to Tanzania, an East African country, where I climbed Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro, attested to the incomparable sight of wild animals, and most importantly, met simply beautiful people.
My journey began when a friend told me about her experience spending six weeks in Peru as a volunteer for Cross Cultural Solutions. What interested me was the fact that she got to travel, volunteer, and experience living in Peru. Cross Cultural Solutions, a non-profit organization, offers programs year round in ten different countries for a duration of 2 to 12 weeks. A year ago, the idea of flying to a foreign country by myself and living with strangers would have been daunting to me, and the sheltered part of me would have had to walk away from going to Africa. I told myself, “It’s now or never.” So, I took a deep breath, stepped away from my comfort zone, and signed up for an adventure to Moshi, Tanzania for 3 weeks.
This is, by far, the best thing I ever did in my life. I lived with natives of Tanzania, who taught me everything from using a cell phone to call New York to showing me where to get the best price for fabric. I taught the children in the Ludao Day Care to sing, “I’m a Little Tea Pot.” I witnessed a blackout with beautiful stars. I got my tour guides chuckling when I, this big city girl, screamed while being chased by a bee on the Kilimanjaro Mountain. I traveled in a very packed dalla dalla, really a minivan as a form of local public transportation, with too many people, in my traditional Tanzanian outfit, laughing all the way home. I felt right at home when walking around town, I bumped into many “friend” I’d made, my Swahili teachers, tour guides, house mates, and other CCS volunteers.
Please check out my photos. I hope one day you will get to experience the joy of crossing cultures. Many thank-you’s to Cross Cultural Solutions.
Camera: Minolta 700i (35mm Color Negative Film)
Performers carried out the traditional Ngoma drumming and dancing at the Honey Badger Cultural Centre, which also offers visitors traditional dances from a variety of local tribes including the Wachagga, Wapare and Maasai and a traditional Chagga meal.
Maasai performers sung and danced on stage of the Honey Badger Cultural Centre. The Maasai people are equivalent to the Amish in America. They continue to live in traditions that were established thousands of years ago as the communities around them step into the modern world with cell phones and the internet.
The sunset was approaching nearby one of the pinnacles on Mt Kilimanjaro, which has the highest peak in Africa. Scientists predicted that the glaciers that are covering the peak of Kilimanjaro would melt completely by 2015 to 2020. Currently, the local areas rely on Mt Kilimanjaro for their water supply.
A vegetational formation on edge of a meadow on Mt Kilimanjaro.
A man was pounding on a piece of burned metal into a desirable shape that would later become a tool selling for one thousand shillings, which equals to one US dollar. This was part of the Marangu Educational Tour the Cross Cultural Solutions staff took the volunteers to. Marangu is a small town on the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro where many Chagga people live.
A Chagga chief spoke about the underground bunkers the Chagga people used during the tribal war with the Maasai people. The underground bunkers were used to hide women, children and food supplies while the men fought with the Maasai people, who were trying to reclaim all the cattle. The Maasai believed that all the cattle were given to them by their rain god, “Ngai.” Therefore, anyone who possessed cattle must had stolen them from the Maasai.
A Chagga child of age 5, grandson of the Chagga chief, stared at the foreigners.
A volunteer, Stephanie, was taking a photo of the beautiful sunrise outside our hotel, which rests on an escarpment, during the second day of our safari trip to the Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater.
A baboon and a baby baboon sunbathed by the dirt road in the Lake Manyara National Park.
A giraffe strolled down a plain in the Lake Manyara National Park.
A giraffe rested standing on a plain near the Ngorongoro Crater.
An Africa Hawk Eagle stood on a high tree looking for prey.
Three zebras, part of a very big herd, were on the grassland near the Ngorongoro Crater. Every zebra’s strip pattern is distinct, just like a human fingerprint.
Two wildebeests fought by the horns.
An elephant ate behind a bush. Elephants are the largest land animal with terrible eyesight, but with superb hearing and sense of smell.
A Maasai tribesman stood against a mud house in a kraal, a compound made up of many mud houses, near the Ngorongoro Crater. The Maasai depend heavily on their cattle, since they are the main source food, e.g., milk, blood, and meat.
Brigitte, a four-year-old student, bit on a Lego piece in the Ludao Nursery and Day Care.