Saturday, October 2, 2010


After Kenya, we headed down to Tanzania. The first 10 days we spent volunteering at an organization for troubled youth and people impacted by HIV/AIDs. Chris and I were in charge of teaching computer skills (Xcel, Word, Powerpoint, etc.) to 15 teenagers. It was a difficult task, mainly due to the unpredictable power source, but the kids were great. I think we spent most of the time saying "Save you work!" and redoing everything we had already done. As part of the time volunteering we made a three day trek up Mt. Meru with some of the teenagers from the program. This was an additional part of their skill training so that they could work in the tourism industry one day.

Meru is 4,500 meters high (approx. 14,750 feet) and we hiked all the way up from the savannah bottom! It wasn't quite as high as Kilimanjaro at 5,500 meters, but the best part was that on the morning of the ascent we got to watch the sunrise over Kili! This was a totally amazing experience being the highest mountain I've ever climbed and it felt like a major accomplishment once we were done. The best advice we had during the trek was to go "poly poly" - that's Swahili for slow. The other great saying was to be "kichizi kama ndizi" or cool like a banana. Both of these sayings helped me through the rough times going both up and down the mountain. Who knew coming down would be harder on the legs than the way up? Live and learn.

After our stint volunteering we needed a fun break so we took a few day excursion to the Ngorongoro Crater. Chris and I both expected Ngorongoro to be a highlight safari because of all of the tv shows we had seen about it on the Discovery channel. You'd think that you would see more animals in the crater because they are captive, but that didn't turn out to be the case. Instead, we spent most of our day watching the safari truck get worked on and waiting for a different truck to pick us up when the plastic sack tied around the radiator didn't do the trick on the old truck. Once we finally got into the crater we did enjoy the stunning views, hanging out with our new pals on the excursion, and laughing at all the safari vehicles chasing down animals - half of the entertainment of going on a safari. Luckily we made it back to Arusha safely and enjoyed some of our favorite Zanzibar macchiatos at Africafe before catching a prop plane to the actual island of Zanzibar.

We headed to the island of Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania where we enjoyed a spice tour in Stonetown and the beautiful beaches of Paje on the east coast. Zanzibar is a totally amazing place and I would truly recommend for everyone to go if they ever get the chance.

Upon leaving the island the local immigration officers tried to extort $200 from us by saying that we didn't have the correct visa papers. We (well, actually Chris) held our ground and we didn't have to pay in the end. This was followed by a nightmare two hour boat ride back to Dar. I seriously thought I was going to die on this speedboat going wrecklessly over the bumpy waters at top speeds, but hey, this is pretty much par for the course for Tanzania. You have to go through the lame things (trucks breaking down, corrupt people, and machete bearing strangers) to enjoy the good stuff (perfect beaches, Kili at sunrise, and glorious vistas).


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