Journey to Africa: Part 1: Tanzania: Silas Returns

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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 ninth blog in this series. Here is the link for the page where the others can be found:


June 1, Silas Returns:


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I woke up early to do some exercises and yoga stretches with Stella, Sydney, and Maddie, and then we were ready to start the day. After the workout, we went to have breakfast and a session with the group involving a silent card game. It was designed as an analogy for cultural miscommunication, and included an anonymous compliment box.


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Next, we were getting ready for the day’s main event; a trip to the hot springs. With a private dalla dalla that Jordy called, we packed our bathing suits and travelled for an hour or more to the location. The route to get there was an experience in and of itself. The dalla dalla took us to what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. All that was to be seen were little delocalized houses made humbly out of clay bricks. They were in a land that was filled with dusty ground, dried up streams, shrubs, and some cattle and sheperds every now and then. There were also large, sparse native trees with fat trunks that are the kind that you usually see in pictures of Africa. The road wasn’t even really a road. There were so many tire marks on the ground that it often seemed more like we were off-roading. The driver of the dalla dalla had to reverse a few times to take another path across small creaks or to avoid rocks. The violent vibrating seemed to take its toll on the vehicle.


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When we arrived, we were welcomed to the exact same site that I had seen on Google Earth a few months before; a serene pool of crystal clear water cradled in a mesh of vines and tree roots. The water was beautiful. You could see the rocks and sediment floor in the bottom of it. The water looked like the carnivorous island from The Life of Pi. A stick on a rope hung from a tree, to be used for diving. It was breathtaking.


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Once we were in the water, we explored the surroundings. There was a gentle current on one side. Touching the ground was hard to do in most parts, except for where there were large rocks or logs on which to stand. The fish loved to kiss my feet. They tickled. Up-stream, there was a small opening in the fallen palm leaves. Swimming up to it was a challenge, but very worth-wile. On the other side, there was a clearing where the sun shined. However, no ground was reachable and the edges were marked with fallen branches; not ideal for a resting place. Treading water was the only option.


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Later in the evening, back in town, we went out for dinner at a karaoke bar. We had food and a few mixed drinks. We ran into our Maasai friend, Silas, from the first hostel. It was quite a story to tell. We talked for a while, and then I bought him a lemon drop shot to celebrate. I had to show him how to drink it since he appeared to be unfamiliar with it. We cheered and drank the shots.


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After some good conversations, he bought me a bottle of Konyagi (a unique type of Tanzanian alcohol), along with coke that we split between the two of us as we talked about our cultures and lives. He started telling me about one girl in our group, Sydney, and that he liked her. A few beers, a shot, and half a bottle of Konyagi later, Silas was making moves on Sydney. He brought her over to the bar and had a drink with her. A few minutes later, he came back to hang out for the rest of the night. Perhaps it was all the alcohol, or maybe he came on too strongly, but unfortunately for the Maasai, she wasn’t budging. On our way back, he accompanied us up to the place where we hailed a taxi and said our farewells. It was a great night, bonding with and getting to know this young Maasai warrior. We would be keeping in touch.


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