Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mosquito Nets and A Chorus of “Picha!” (A First Night and Day After Account)

Upon arrival in Kilimanjaro airport of Tanzania, I went through the necessary visa applications, fingerprinting, and luggage collecting.  I was blessed in finding all of my luggage safe and sound, while many in my group had an unfortunate time finding that their luggage had not yet arrived.  I was directed outside, where I promptly had a try at my very first Kiswahili conversation with a local, our dereva (driver).  I must say my professor, Bwana Mutima, has all of my gratitude, for my words were correctly spoken, and polite.  The dereva was pleased, and smiling, and helped me follow along with words I was unfamiliar with.  I must admit, I too couldn’t keep the smile from my face.
My first step and breath outside was in Tanzania, and it was brilliant.  The sun was shining, the temperature is absolutely perfect, with a spectacular breeze and spots of clouds.  I always had considered Africa extremely hot, and here now in Arusha (or more specifically, Moyo Hill Camp) the weather is so perfect it alone would be a reason to live/vacation here. 
We drove 2.5 hrs to reach our camp.  My dad would be so thrilled to know I’m trucking it across the African soil in a hardcore, tough green land cruiser, complete with grilled lights, pop-off roof, and thick-treaded tires.  Our dereva never drove beneath 160km unless going through a town, as there were speed bumps.  Within only an hour in Tanzania we spotted giraffes, zebras, and a baboon.  We stopped in Karatu for a bit of shopping and money handling, then continued through Mto Wa Mbu (literally meaning “river of mosquitoes”) and Rhotia, our “local” town. 
Night came only too soon, and blissfully so, for after 48 hours of traveling I was quite ready to sleep.  I’m still catching up on my sleep schedule.
The night was filled with hyenas yipping, dogs barking, and a lone cricket in our hut that refused to quit chirping between 4:30 and 6am.  If you know me personally, you know that this terrified me to no end that there was a cricket in my room.  And I can absolutely say with certainty that everything in Africa is indeed bigger, including crickets.
I slept well beneath a canopy of mosquito netting, or chandalua
My morning began at 6am, with a walk around the compound.  It was wonderful, just a bit of a crisp chill, and I met many locals along the way.  Children on their way to school ran directly towards me, smiling and waving, some shouting “picha!” and wanting me to take their photograph.  They were giggling upon seeing their faces on the camera’s screen.  I met this same group later that day walking back from town, and it was here that I had my second conversation with a mtoto msichana, a small girl of 6yrs that I had taken a picture of earlier that morning.  She gladly told me about her day at school, and then asked if I had a pencil (una penseli?) that she might have.  I did not, but her bright smile did not diminish, and she told me that she had to walk home with her brother, and that she hoped to see me tomorrow.  I hope to see her, and her friends, again too. 

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