Our trip this weekend was definitely one for the books! It started off like any other trip; we loaded all of our things into our suitcase, put it into the classroom and climbed into the safari jeep with nothing but a small backpack with a change of clothes inside. We made great timing to Arusha National Park and had a good time talking with one another and enjoying the sights.
Unfortunately, when we entered the park it was raining and so we all pulled out our extremely fashionable rain gear and made limited stops on our way to the hike. One of the stops was at this little building. Inside all sorts of wildlife had been killed and then stuffed and stored so people could look at them. There were bees, other insects, bones from ngiri, etc, but the funniest thing for me was the birds. The birds were kept in this dresser like furniture that had short drawers each containing probably ten birds, so the entire dresser had about fifty birds. When I first opened a drawer I burst into laughter, as did Kendra who was right next to me. I don’t know what I had expected to find in the drawers, but dead birds tied up in bags were not it. The whole thing seemed like a bird morgue and kept me laughing for twenty minutes, even as we continued our drive deeper into the National Park. Looking back now, I think it was definitely something you had to witness to understand, but even now it still brings a smile to my face.
We continued along the winding roads, passing the flamingos on a lake, birds of all sizes in trees, and views unlike any other. Eventually we stopped the vehicle in a small parking lot and we all exited to begin our hike. The hike was so nice. Luckily, Mother Nature decided to hold back on the watering can for that period of time, so we remained dry and warm. Our hike led us across rivers, next to buffalo, up a mountain, and even through a waterfall! Each adventure brought us closer as a group and was a wonderful bonding experience to do together. My favorite part was probably going through the water fall. Although we were soaked afterwards, it was super fun and memorable.
We continued on our way after the hike and the drive was bumpy as always. We eventually turned up this random one lane dirt road, (not an abnormal thing to happen), however, when even the drivers started to get nervous about the drive we couldn’t help but worry. You have to understand that these drivers are not ones to get nervous about anything, especially driving, so for them to be worried about the road conditions was a little unsettling. We did not worry for nothing, for next thing we know we are up to the wheel wells of our vehicles in mud! Our first thought, we are turning around, we’ll just have a different plan. Nope! The drivers had a different plan, they decided to force the first car through the mud by pushing it with a second car.
Now, events like this do not happen regularly so you can imagine the crowd that was beginning to grow around the car! People from all over the area swarmed the vehicle and the men jumped right in to help in the now manual shoving of the jeep. It was so neat to see and amazing the community support in this community. After several attempts, raking the road, rocking the jeep, and a few more hands helping the safari vehicle rolled up the muddy embankment to safety. Shouts and cheers filled the air around us and I could feel the excitement surround us. I could tell this was going to be a great weekend!
The other vehicles followed without much trouble and we made it to Mama Ana’s house and set up camp. Our time at her place was so wonderful and she treated us as if we were all her grandchildren. During our stay we learned how stingless bees make honey, how to make fresh Tanzanian coffee, how to dance with bananas on our heads, and taste all the local foods.
Overall, one of the best parts was bonding with the other girls on the trip. Friday night in particular sticks in my head for while we were all waiting for dinner to be served we began to sing songs together under the gazebo. It was such a blast and brought out all of the girls together as a group. It made me realize that although it rained, we got stuck in the mud, and we were camping out in someone’s random backyard we were still a great group who could have a blast no matter what came our way. I can’t wait to see what is yet to come!