My friend, David (who I talked with about math and evolution on previous blogs, links are below.) went on a backpacking trip in Africa recently. This is his story of the experience of other cultures.
This is the fourth blog in this series. Here is the link for the page where the others can be found:
May 26: Travel
Big day today! Today is the day we hit the road again for our next destination. Quick early morning cold shower, all packed up, and ready to go. We hand in our large bags to the bus driver to tie to the roof as we carry our personal things on hand. We’re all prepared and ready to go. Our next stop is the high lands at the base of the great African mountain, Moshi!
On the bus ride there, we get excited as we start to see the peak of Kilimanjaro just over the clouds. It’s beautiful. That was the first time during the whole trip that I saw the mountain. After a two hour ride, we reach the local YMCA where many locals are there with open arms, ready to greet us.
“Karibu!” They say as we get off the bus and they help us with our stuff with big smiles on their faces. (This basically means “Welcome.”)
“Sasaboi!” We reply. That’s “Good morning,” in Swahili.
We immediately started connecting and getting to know them as they lead us to the bag check-in. I walked the whole way with Abegail and learned about Tanzanian life from the perspective of a local university student. After that, we walked to the local school where they were hosting an introduction session. We practiced Swahili in the courtyard as the local students passed by and watched. Everybody had smiles of curiosity and joy at the sight of us. Then we were split into groups. My group installed a garbage can dedicated to us with a sign that read Operation Groundswell, and Roots and Shoots.
Next, we’re on the bus again with the Roots and Shoots guys, and on our way to the welcoming of the group by the homestay Mzee, meaning elder. As we climbed a hill to where they were, we can hear enthusiastic singing and cheering in the distance get louder and louder. It was unlike anything I’ve seen before! Elder women of the Chagga tribe were dancing and cheering ecstatically, holding us in a kind of hug of an unfamiliar manner.
They were very happy to see us. We sat with them, had some kiburu stew, (a traditional Tanzanian stew made with plantain and beans) took some photos with the group, and just hung out by the beautiful mountainside scenery. Later in the afternoon, the long-anticipated time came where the drawing of our names would indicate who was going to spend the next three nights with which families. I got paired up with Ramadhan as my Roots and Shoots translator and Paulina Gerome Kimaru as my elder, or Chagga mamma as we came to call them. It was an interesting experience. It brought me lots of joy to see just how welcome we were into their community. As I arrived at my homestay, it was quite indescribable to find myself living the lifestyle of these local people; a lifestyle that I had only previously known from T. V. and magazines. They showed me the poultry and cattle that they raised, the crops of coffee and bananas that they had in the back, and the penned rabbit they were raising to eat.
They showed me how they chopped wood. I was surprised to see a woman approaching her octogenarian years being so able-bodied at her age. Their home was in a two bedroom household, humble in design and appearance. The outside was dirt, and the inside was plain cement. The walls were simply white and covered with dirt and scuff marks with minimal regard for fancy appearances. I wanted to capture the entire environment on my camera. The rest of the family were happy to see me, and wanted to take pictures on my phone as well.
Later, we had chai tea and dinner, and exchanged stories for the rest of the evening. This was followed by an hour of watching prerecorded music videos of local hip-hop artists on a small computer screen connected to the only power outlet in the house. This happened during the last hour before bed time. Even with so little, they seemed so happy.
…To Be Continued…