So many amazing things have happened in the past few weeks that I hardly know where to begin! Highlights include our homestays with Rhotian families and an epic expedition to Tarangire National Park.
Before our Tarangire expedition, we all got to experience what it was like living with a family from Rhotia. We were warned beforehand that some of us might spend the day working and others might spend the day drinking tea in the family’s sitting room. I definitely got the latter experience, but it was still a great experience nonetheless. Mama Shoo, the mama I stayed with, helped found one of the organizations we volunteer with here in Rhotia, Project Rhotia. She is one amazing woman with incredible ideas and a love of exchanging ideas with others. On top of having great conversation, I also learned how to chop vegetables and meat without a cutting board, and also how to make the traditional Tanzanian dish ugali.
Coming back from our homestays and exchanging stories was really fun because everyone had such different experiences. Some people did a lot of sitting and talking, others watched movies with their family, some helped cook and clean, and a few people helped repair a cow shed with manure and mud. At the end, we all agreed that our homestays had been positive experiences.
On Monday, we left early for an incredible expedition to Tarangire National Park. It was definitely the highlight of this semester so far. The first two days consisted of an academic exercise in the morning and then a game drive in the afternoon. Driving around the park with the tops down, looking for animals, is one of the most exhilarating experiences in the world. I was extremely lucky to see many incredible animals, including elephants, giraffes, beautiful birds, impala, dik-diks, mongooses, a cheetah, a pride of about 20 lions, and a group of African wild dogs. These wild dogs are quite rare, and it was actually the first time SFS students had ever seen them in Tanzania. Thanks to our awesome drivers, everybody got to see the wild dogs.
The other three days were spent outside of the park. We went to Manyara Ranch for a game count, walked through part of the wildlife corridor between Tarangire and Lake Manyara, interviewed Maasai families, and visited the Burunge Wildlife Management Area. Overall, it was the perfect mix of academics and fun.
Now that the expedition is done, it’s good to be back at Moyo Hill. The conversation at dinner the night we got back included us talking about how much this place really feels like home. It was so good to see the staff who didn’t come on expedition with us, and it was good to sleep in our own bandas again. Now, we have three weeks of classes, and then our next expedition adventure—Serengeti National Park!