It's been a long and very unlucky transit to get here but don't worry moms and dads we made it. There will be a series of unfortunate transportation events that we will cover first starting off in Rwanda. Our wonderful day started at the airport early in the morning at 6am. We arrived there by 6:30 for our 9am flight only to find after an hour of sitting and waiting that our flight was delayed to 5pm. We were all very caught off guard and slightly angry. The airport services fortunately sent us a car that took us to the world's fanciest hotel (in our opinion). Consider that our standards at this point are low, nonetheless this hotel was amazing. The hotel had hot working showers, laundry service, spa, free food, a pool, internet, white robes (most importantly) and did I mention we all got our own rooms with queen beds and tv's? We were basically celebrities for a few hours. This day was also someone's birthday (Marley) and it turned from a not so good day to the best birthday ever. Sadly our time at the hotel was coming to an end and we had to say goodbye to all those western wonders. We got back to the airport at 3pm for our 6:15 flight which was once again delayed. This time it was not to our surprise because there was a massive storm going on right before our flight. Eventually we finally made it to Dar es Salaam and quickly found a car to take us to our hostel. Surprise! Our hostel cancelled our reservations, we so pleasantly found out once we got there. So for 2 hours we drove around in search of a place to sleep. We were all tired, grumpy and some feeling nauseous but after a long frustrating journey of being rejected by hotels, we came across the Holiday Hotel. Not the Holiday Inn, but the Holiday Hotel (we're hipsters). The next morning we ate a quick breakfast then jumped on a bus to Morogoro. After a long bus ride we made it… Or did we? Just kidding – our bus passed our location so we lugged our big packs (not too far) back to the Lutheran seminary where we would be taking Swahili and staying with our homestay families for a week. Although Swahili was very difficult for most we had our wonderful homestays to come back to after a long day of school. We all had great things to say about our homestays:
Cat: Hello this is Cat! Adrienne and I had a dynamic week with ou big homestay family. These days were exhausting for our minds with swahili school from 8am to 4pm then off to home to interact and try to relate. This week was a constant challenging effort to communicate even with those in our family who knew english. In our home no one ate while guests ate, and the rest of the family ate throughout the day and not together. The Mama of the house was the only one with very little english understanding, and it was elating to understand each other more and more as the week went on. Some awkward cultural misunderstandings and many fun curious times gave us an experience full of valuable learning and more valuable questions. We ended our stay with a fun night of games, conversation and gift exchange. Then a mellow morning of goodbyes. So happy to have met and sad to leave as we were just beginning to make great connections.
Cassandra: We had an amazing time with Mama Esther! It was an honor having her be our mom for a week. We had many fun times with out family including dance parties with Tina the houseworker, holding screaming baby piglets, making dinner for the family and laughing at each other for pronouncing certain words in Swahili. Our time felt too short but was definitely worth it.
While we weren't at our homestays we were either in class learning Swahili, at chai (tea in Swahili) time, playing volleyball or tossing around the ole frisbee. There was one day where our amazingly wonderful and blessed leaders let us watch Lion King, a movie that was so necessary for this trip! We also had a lesson on Tanzanian culture where we learned many things that were both surprising and enlightening. It's crazy how different American culture is to this culture! One of our teachers had silly shirts every day, one saying "refuse to be broke" and another Nike-slogan-gone-bad that said "always hard" which probably was supposed to mean always tough. The last day of our homestays our group separated into 2 groups, one going to hike this beautiful and "sexy" mountain as David would say and the other went to the Maasai Market. Both groups had an equally great time. Highlights of the mountain included a refreshing mid-hike waterfall to wash away the rivers of sweat cascading down our glistening faces, a former German mission almost in ruins that now serves as a campsite for travelers, and breathtaking views of the city of Morogoro and surrounding mountains. Highlights of the Maasai Market group included so many cows, Kongas, goat meat, skinning of cows, seeing the traditional maasai clothing and a few girls getting proposed to a few times. We also received our diplomas for our weeks worth of Swahili! Sadly we had to leave the day after the mountain and masai market and hopped on a bus to Iringa. Hey look, our bus was 2 hours late picking us up from Morogoro. You could easily say the Tanzanian transport Gods aren't happy with us… At all. All of us have had many ups and downs especially considering this being the halfway point of our trip but overall have had a great time. We're now in Iringa and so ready for our Safari!