We Are Not in Kansas Anymore

“We with our quick dividing eyes
Measure, distinguish and are gone
The forest burns, the tree frog dies,
Yet one is all and all are one”
~ Rainforest by Judith Wright

After enjoying an egg and toast breakfast, we loaded up two vehicles with our luggage and headed to Iringa. Many of us had arrived in Dar es Salaam after dark, so our van was a buzz with excitement as we drive through the city noticing crowded vans and colorful katangas. The drive to our first step was filled with many new scenes. In between practicing Swahili and trying to open starburst without using hands, we noticed things like the many bags of charcoal alongside the road, fields of sisal, brown mud homes and the enormous number of people working and biking alongside a major road.

You could not help but wonder how far and how long people walk to get even the necessities. There were multiple times that we saw young boys herding cows and goats along the roadside going to or returning from grazing. It seemed like no time until we were stopping to check tires and eat a great buffet lunch where many had their first taste of Ugali, as well as their first cultural restroom experience. At a later stop, two of our team members (who will remain unidentified) were spotted demonstrating the ºSquatty potty positionº needed for a successful restroom experience! After lunch, we continued on our journey while admiring the jagged edge of the mountain range jintting into the sky.

Before long, we entered Mikumi National Park and with cameras poised, the hunt for wildlife began –each side of the van being given specific instructions to peer out their windows without ceasing and to sound the alarm when wildlife was spotted. Due to the sharp eyes of run team members and Muhamad’s willingness to pull over, go back and go up, this 50 km. proved to be all that we could possibly ask for.

Beginning with a zebra family who stopped traffic to cross the road in front of us, we left the park with photos of elephants galore, warthogs, gazelle and a whole herd of stampeding baboons –many of them moms with babies hanging on tightly. Dawn was sure that she saw one baboon with a snake in its mouth, but I am not sure of anyone actually captured that on film for verification. The rest of the ride may not have been quite as exciting, but was very bit as amazing with the giant …..trees and the beautiful mountain scenery that unfolded before us. As night drew closer and we could feel the temperature drop, we arrived I Iringa, checked into our rooms, ate dinner and called it a night. I think we are all beginning to realize that “we are not in Kansas anymore”.


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