My mom flew into Dar es Salaam, Tanzania at the beginning of June. I was still recovering from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and my legs were even more swollen than hers from my 10 hour bus ride to meet her than from her 24 hrs of flying! Poor legs. We were both good to go the next day though and had an enjoyable time checking out the fabric market there, the national museum and hanging out with another brother from Sacramento.
We took a ferry ride to Zanzibar and enjoyed walking around the maze of streets in Stone Town and the beautiful ocean and sunset.
Then we were off to my home the UAACC. Had an hour drive from the airport to the center and my mom was already being amazed by the beautiful scenery. She was also lucky enough to have Mount Kilimanjaro visible through the clouds upon our arrival. She also got her first exposure to the traditional lifestyles mixed with new technology. I think a Maasai man herding cattle while talking on his cell phone shocked her the most.
We flew in on June 5th, my birthday. Had a nice time getting settled introducing my mom to all of my family there. Then they through a very nice birthday celebration for me with cake and dancing with the watoto! I was even surprised to have my travel buddy still around to celebrate with us. Great birthday to be surrounded my so many loving people.
The following day we relaxed at the center and just got settled in. Then on Thursday we went into my Intermediate English class. My mom had fun teaching them Spanish and Russian. She must have forgot it was English class J. They really enjoyed though and some had pretty good accents. We also had fun teaching the hokey pokey. They were totally down to do it. So much less inhibited than American high school and college students. In the afternoon my mom enjoyed doing yoga with the students. For the evening we went out to Via Via, one of my favorite clubs in Arusha. I got dressed up in my favorite Maasai attire and we joined up with some of the other volunteers and teachers for a great night. Danced until 1 or 2 am, saw a Capoeira dance group and just had fun!
On Friday we enjoyed a day in Arusha. Ate at my favorite samosa and smoothie place and went to my favorite Maasai stores. Ended up with a bunch of cloth, Maasai blankets, jewelry and of course gifts.
We hung out at the center until Sunday when we left for our grand safari to Lake Manyara, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. We had the pleasure of traveling with two of my friends who work at the UAACC, Emanuel and Joe. They had fun teasing mom when she was scared about animals attacking us J. We had a great safari. Camped in the Serengeti. Saw the Big 5: buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and rhino. Also saw thousands of zebras and wildebeests. And hippos, giraffes, lots of cool birds and hundreds of baboons! Coolest parts for me were being 6 feet from 4 lions and at another point seeing a female lion take down a wildebeest.
My mom ended her trip with a nice going away party from the center before we headed back to Dar for her to catch her flight home. It was so good to see my mom after being away for 4 ½ months. So cool to get to share the UAACC with her and all the friends I made there. It was my last time at the center for this trip too. Hard to say bye but it’s really more like I’ll see you again asap. I’m praying that I can get funding to return to Tanzania next summer to conduct research. I am still enjoying eastern Africa though. Right now I am exploring Lusaka, Zambia and loving it. Tomorrow I head off to see Victoria Falls! I will update you on that soon. Peace and Love!