Hujambo! Intriguingly, the first two letters in this common Kiswahili greeting are the most important. The hu- prefix distinguishes the speaker from the herds of tourists who frequent Tanzania’s stunning grasslands and verdant forests. This original greeting has been simplified to jambo, a form more palatable to the foreign tongue. While exploring Rhotia, the small village just outside of our dear Moyo Hill Camp, my fellow SFS students and I try to attune ourselves to such subtleties of our surrounding culture and landscape, and, in doing so, strive to more fully integrate ourselves into the community of the Tarangire-Manyara region.
In this spirit, the first week of Session II has flown by with grace, adventure, and insight. After acclimating ourselves to the elevation (both physically for lack of oxygen, and emotionally for the gorgeous views and vibrant sunsets) at Moyo Hill, we enjoyed many delicious meals and attempted Swahili conversations with the staff who so generously share their time and stories with us. These sincere bonds made our first safari in Lake Manyara National Park all the more memorable. We spent the morning standing on the seats of our safari cars and recording all mammalian wildlife in various areas of the park and transitioned to gleefully surveying the diverse landscapes and expansive lake that houses so many majestic creatures.
Elephant in Lake Manyara National Park. Photo credit: Becky Gottlieb
Giraffes in Lake Manyara National Park. Photo credit: Becky Gottlieb
Evenings passed laughing over ReKAP games and pondering the questions and quotes posed by the “Mwanafunzi (student) of the Day” until we wrapped up our first week in an eventful non-program day. SFS students split themselves between biking through Mto wa Mbu, creating batik painting masterpieces, tackling a beautiful hike through a banana plantation to a towering waterfall, and bartering at the Maasai Market. The conversations we embarked on with the guides, energetic fabric vendors, and citizens of Mto wa Mbu enhanced our day with a deeper understanding of the lifestyle and environment we had the privilege of exploring.
Waterfall hike in Mto wa Mbu. Photo credit: Becky Gottlieb
Tomorrow, we look forward to continuing our field studies identifying tracks and interviewing locals about the wildlife and resource issues and interactions of the area before celebrating the commencement of our session with a goat slaughter. Sunrise will be a vivid illumination of red and orange, and until then we will count the stars and listen to the crickets sing. Kwaheri!