Dear Whoever is Reading This Blog,
So I made it to Tanzania and managed to lose no luggage and only a little bit of spirit in the approximately 26 hours it took for me to travel here. Though I’ve been enjoying myself so far, I’ve never felt so out of my element in any of the activities or travels I’ve done before this. To get here, I took a flight to the Schipol (sorry if that’s spelled wrong, my internet is too slow to make it worth looking up) airport in Amsterdam, then a connecting 8-hour flight to the Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania, about an hour outside of a northern city called Arusha. While in Amsterdam, there were definitely some moments I just thought, “I should get off here, what am I really doing signing up to live on a compound with rugged conditions surrounded by a region full of animals trying to kill me?” To be fair, I think it’s a rational way of summarizing my living situation.
I have found, though, that most of my least favorite decisions were ones I made out of fear, so I boarded the plane with a big group of randos also on my program, and here I am. My first full day here (Tuesday), I definitely started to wonder what the heck I had gotten myself into. If you know me at all, you know how much of a NARP (Non-Athletic Regular Person) I am, and I can tell ya there aren’t many of my kind here. We live in little round buildings called bandas here, and yesterday I walked into my banda to hear my roommates discussing the last races they’d run in. Though I have major respect for people who run often, it can be a bit intimidating when you realize how much more physically powerful the people around you are than you. All is good though, maybe this will have a positive impact on my lifestyle habits.
Tanzania (or the distance I have seen on the road between Arusha and Rhotia) is so beautiful. Watching the landscape rush by through the window of our truck, I couldn’t believe that I was actually here. Though we have the Blues in Walla Walla, the mountains here are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We passed the beautiful Mount Maru on our drive to the camp, and all you could see was the outline of a peak coming through the morning fog. We also passed Lake Manyara National Park, where we will be doing our first expedition this Saturday. Apparently, the baboons we could see on the side of road are major pests here, and quite the kleptomaniacs as well.
The Moyo Hill Camp where we’re staying is a closed-in compound right outside of the small village of Rhotia. We took a tour of the town and it was absolutely gorgeous. The soil here is a bright red color, so even large patches of roads and paths where there’s no vegetation are vibrant and colorful. When our group of students walked through the town at first, the local school had just let out, and all of these little children in school uniforms giggled at our surely strange-looking appearance. They were all very excited to meet us, though, which was comforting given how out of place we all looked.
On my last note, the fruit here tastes worlds better than the same fruit in America. I’m already afraid to go back to the United States and eat bananas there again, because their Tanzanian counterparts are so much better. They’re so sweet and flavorful it’s incredible. I almost choked on the pineapple I ate the other day because it was so juicy, and even though I usually don’t like watermelon, I have to say I loved the stuff they served us. Fun fact, bananas are one of the most widely-grown crops in Tanzania. You can throw that out if it ever comes onto Jeopardy, so you’re welcome.
Oh also, there are geckos in my closet and that’s fun.
I’m gonna go for now, but surely there will be more to post in the coming days. Hope all is going well over there, enjoy the winter, suckers.