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Vicki’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 20 Aug 2013

Location: Penrith, UK

MapI got back nearly 2 weeks ago - where has the time gone? Sorry I didn't get the chance to update this more often - there was very little opportunity, and when I did find internet cafes they were very slow. As I had various emails to send to the Operations Room I didn't have much time left to do anything else - that was when I could send emails at all!
So - a brief summary of my trip: (I will probably have to do this in 2 or 3 goes)
We arrived in Dar Es Salaam on time, after a stop over in Dubai, where I started the students thinking about how they were going to function as a group. There was a bit of resistance to my suggestions at first, but it all resolved itself well.
First job for them on arrival - find transport to our accommodation! Charlie bravely went out and negotiated a price with a taxi driver - a bit over budget, but we got there safely. It was great to have a shower after the long journey, even if the hostel was quite basic. And the manager lent me some Tanzanian shillings so that we could buy some food - it's much more expensive using US$.
The next day was spent planning the rest of the trip and booking accommodation and transport. Then we had a 12 hour bus journey from Dar to Arusha - quite an experience! And we had the added complication of some lost tent poles, which meant I had to find another tent for 2 of the girls. I wont go into the details here but will let you know the outcome later.
There were a few days when I had to report in to the ops room, which I did via satellite phone. This would only work outside, with a clear view of the sky. So in almost every place we stayed I had to take one of the male teachers with me as a body guard - sat phones are an expensive and temping bit of kit!
Our first trek was up Mount Longido, which was part of a Culture Tourism Project by the Masaai people. This was very enjoyable for most, but quite hard physically, especially for those people in the group who had become ill due to the change in food and water. We all had to carry all of our gear, including tents. It was also a culture shock for some - the toilet at the camp site was pretty good as far as holes in the ground go - it was just that many didn't appreciate it at the time! Mount Longido is "only" 2604m but it was a good preparation for what was to come, in many ways.
We finished our trek with a visit to a Masaai boma (village) where we got a look at the inside of their huts and learned a lot about the Masaai culture. So much of Tanzania operates on a subsistence level but they seem to have a very happy, positive disposition, and we all experienced a change in our outlook and priorities in life. I know that sounds very cliched - but it was still true.
More to follow in a future entry!