Our Tanzania Big 5 Lists
When people go on a wildlife safari in Africa, they often keep their eyes open for the BIG FIVE, those iconic animals that everyone thinks of when they hear "Africa": lions, rhinoceros, cape buffalo, leopards and elephants.
On this trip, having never managed to spot a leopard, we scored 4/5 of that list, but we saw gazillions of other grazers (e.g. antelope, impala, topi, waterbuck and eland) and billions of browsers (e.g. giraffes).
But as we leave Tanzania this evening, we thought it would be fun to list our own BIG FIVE of things that we saw and did during our time here.
Trish's BIG 5
1. Friends. It was great to see friends in Tanzania. We connected with people with whom we used to work and with some other friends from Canada. We also got to know some new Tanzanian colleagues, especially during the workshops we led. Independent travel can be quite solitary, so it was great to have so many connections here.
2. Swahili. After grunting our way through basic Turkish for three months, oh what a pleasure it was to be able to communicate easily again! Dwayne and I were pleased that we remembered quite a bit of Swahili after being away for 12 years, and we learned more words and expressions through the workshops we facilitated. (By the way, for any development heads out there, you maybe interested to know that "theory of change" translates to "nadharia ya mabadiliko". :-).
3. Safari. Dwayne and I have had a number of chances to see African wildlife over the years, but it is still magical. And seeing three of Tanzania's amazing national parks with our kids was wonderful. You can imagine how cool it was to spot lions while standing up in a Landrover with the rooftop popped open.
4. Food. I like Tanzanian food. The fruit is especially good. This is also home to the best rice on earth, IMHO.
5. I guess my #5 is simply being able to see again how big and varied the world is, and witness that with the kids. This is a pretty low-income country, and many things in Tanzania don't work well so most people struggle to get by. On the other hand, there is great beauty and generosity, and if you are connected in your community, most situations turn out quite well. So, it's a big world, after all.
Isaac's BIG 5
1. Serengeti National Park. In Serengeti, I liked it because there we saw lots of lions.
2. Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. Like Serengeti, I liked Ngorongoro because there were lots of animals. We saw lots of wildebeest and buffalo. We also saw 5 rhinos!!.
3. Playing with my friend Baraka on his PlayStation.
4. Swimming with dolphins off the coast of the island of Zanzibar.
5. Mangos. The mangos in Tanzania are really awesome.
Zoe's BIG 5
In reverse order....
5. All the fresh fruit and colourful fabrics. Tanzania has awesome fresh fruit. We had a very good smoothie with mango and yogurt in Mwanza. Also, the women wear awesome colours, fabrics, and patterns.
4. Shopping for Christmas gifts in Iringa. There are beautiful handicrafts here. It's awesome for trinket shopping.
3. Zanzibar beach time and Christmas in Ruaha. The Zanzibar beaches are beautiful, white sand, lots of shells, and all around beautiful. For news about our Christmas in Ruaha, see the other postcard.
2. Swimming with dolphins. We went swimming with dolphins off Zanzibar. It's both beautiful and kind of scary to see wild animals that close.
1. Going on a safari in Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. I have never seen so many animals in one place. The zebras were migrating in Serengeti when we were there, so there were animals everywhere. Ngorongoro Crater and the space around it are beautiful and lush. In 2 days we saw 62 lions and 5 rhinos!❇
Dwayne's BIG 5
1. Catching up with friends and colleagues from when we worked here between 1998 and 2002. Thanks again to Rama and Baraka, Jean, Mutta, Mallumbo and his family, Makuhi & Kwezi and Patrick, Eric and Esther, Grace, Jim and Josephine, and Ralph & Louise & Hugo and Hannah. And meeting some new friends: Liberata, Zakayo, Rashidi, Philip and Jeannetta, Chris and Heather and kids, Paul and Laura & Wes and Ella, Brett and Cristina, Peter and John from AICT MUD, and Timothy at AICT Geita.
2. Volunteering with World Renew Tanzania to design and facilitate five learning events with staff and their partners. This turned out to be a lot of work in a relatively short time, but it was great to work with Tanzanians who are catalysts for change here. It was also fun to work with Tricia again, and to see her proficiency in Swahili come back.
3. Seeing what has and hasn't changed here. Having only been back here once before in 12 years, it was striking to see a number of significant changes: more traffic here in Dar, the explosion of mobile phone uses -- especially for sending money and paying bills via cellphone-- the influx of Chinese investment and business people, a lot more visible wealth and audible English in many places.
But at the same time, it is discouraging to see many people who still go without the basics of clean water and air, regular electricity, and easy access to nutritious food and decent schools. Despite the great wealth that is being uncovered and often exported from this country, too many people still aren't benefiting from the economic development that is making some very wealthy.
4. Watching our kids roll with things. Zoe and Isaac are remarkably adaptable and resilient kids. And after six months of travelling they have become adept at making themselves at home wherever that is today, making friends quickly with other kids, and even finding really creative things to do when Trish and I were busy working. Being away from home, family, school and friends can be really tough sometimes (for all of us), but it is great to see how they are experiencing life here, even as they have had to face some pretty unusual situations. But they've done really well: Isaac even asked to take a bijaij (motorcycle taxi) the other day. I'll be very curious to see how this short exposure to life in Tanzania influences their worldview and interests in the future. But for now they are healthy, safe, and thoughtful, so we're grateful.
5. Going on safari. Okay, it's completely touristy and over-priced, but it is absolutely amazing being 3 metres from lions, zebras and giraffes amidst breath-taking scenery. And as a would-be-National-Geographic-photojournalist, I love getting to snap pictures to my heart's content. One day, I'd love to come back with a really BIG camera with 2 feet of glass, but for now, it was great to see all that we did in Ruaha, Serengeti and Ngorongoro and take a few snapshots on the 4/3rds.
Gotta fly! Kwa herini!