After six days of orientation activities and lectures, the Spring 2016 students in Tanzania were eager to get out of camp and explore the surrounding areas. Students packed their first non-program day with activities to explore more of the natural environment and socio-cultural environment of Tanzania. After sleeping in a little, the students went on a hike in the forest within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. They learned about the medicinal uses of many plants, saw a striking waterfall, and explored an area where elephants and other animals dig for minerals.
After the hike, the students were luckily enough to have a major (and slightly overwhelming!) cultural experience when they visited a travelling market in Karatu. This huge open-air market only comes to Karatu twice a month and it attracts people from many tribes and from many parts of northern Tanzania. Just about anything can be purchased at the market, including live cows and goats, used clothing, colorful fabric, jewelry, souvenirs, shoes, household items, fruits and veggies, grilled meat, etc.
As soon as we parked our vehicles at the market, the students were swarmed with vendors trying to sell them baskets, beaded necklaces, paintings, wooden carvings, and other knick-knacks. Although the students have only had a couple of days to learn Swahili, everyone was eager to try out the some of the phrases they recently learned. The market also gave students a chance to try out their bargaining skills. Essentially nothing in Tanzania has a set price and it is expected that the buyer and seller haggle until they agree on a price. This is definitely a skill that takes some practice and it is especially tricky when you are working with a completely different currency, in a new language, and when you don’t know the approximate value of an item.
Students left the market excited about their new purchases, but exhausted from haggling and navigating a new culture. Luckily there was still time left of the non-program day to relax at Happy Days, a popular restaurant in Karatu where students can get familiar (and much missed) food like pizza and hamburgers.