Arriving at Mount Kilimanjaro last night was a combination of excitement and relief. After 15+ hours on an airplane, it felt great to stretch my legs and walk down a flight stairs on the runway directly from the plane. The first thing I noticed after getting off the plane was the stars! The night sky was amazing with the most stars I have ever seen. The drive to Arusha was interesting with the random speed bumps and crazy drivers passing each other. We were greeted with smiles as we arrived to Outpost Lodge, which was comforting and welcoming. The rooms were better than I anticipated, especially with the ample hot water and shower pressure. Thoroughly exhausted, we went to bed soon after arriving in Tanzania. We began our adventure today at the Blue Heron; a serene outdoor restaurant with phenomenal service and food. We then ventured to downtown Arusha. It was overwhelming as the Tanzanian men flocked to us trying to sell us anything from paintings to bracelets to anything in between. At first it was interesting, but then it became intimidating as “hapana” did not detour them from following us for the entire duration we were in Arusha and even back to the Outpost Lodge. I was very grateful to have guides that kept an eye on us and the Tanzanians following us. With regards to the Outpost Lodge, it is a quaint set of cabin-like rooms in which two or three people are in each. In the same establishment is a restaurant/bar area with couches and tables; a perfect hang-out spot, but with limited internet. Tomorrow we will be in the Tanzanian school – I am very excited!
Category Archives: First Impressions
All the time I had been preparing for this trip and all the way here on the plane I would think to myself of what I imagined and what I should expect. Since the time I have stepped off the plane at Kilimanjaro airport I can see that my expectations and first impression seem to have matched to a point. As no one can actually predict fully what to expect I can’t say that I was expecting everything that I have encountered. The very first thing I noticed was the known lack of electricity. I can only remember a few times in my life where I have seen such a dark and black night. It was quite beautiful. But we had to drive here, that was pretty nuts. They are constantly passing each other and I felt like we had some close calls, but it was quite fun, got the adrenaline pumping for sure. Also, the helpfulness of the people is something that I have noticed and really needs to be included into my first impressions. They seem to always want to help us, whether it is with speaking our Swahili or explaining part of their culture. It is quite fun and interesting to learn about the cultural differences between the Tanzanians and what we have in the United States. But at the same time going into town was unbelievably hectic. Like most big cities everyone was walking around but we did get hounded by some street vendors. Although I expected them to be on us they followed us all day, not something I thought they would do. So it gave me the impression that the streets here are pretty crazy. And one last thing to mention in my first impressions is the ability and want to use and reuse things. I saw numerous pairs of sandals in town that were made out of old car tires and it seemed like a lot of things were just recycled or reused. Trash cans are very rare and I feel as if everything needs to be reused to be acceptable in the culture. So my first impression overall of Tanzania is a friendly and helpful culture that wants to share their stories and experiences with us and will do what they can to make us feel as home as possible, even though we are at their home. It is quite amazing and I am excited to keep learning about the people, the land, culture, and myself as well. This is going to be an excellent trip!
As I had heard from many other students, it just didn’t seem real that we were actually in Africa once we got off the plane, but the past couple days has begun to erode at that first conception. Between seeing the big dipper up-side-down, catching a ride back with Nelson in a luggage van adventurously taking over the road, and seeing monkeys in the trees at lunch; my first impression about Africa is that things are different. While I attempted to prepare myself for the new experiences that were to come through this trip, I feel like I could never have been able to prepare for the trip. Whether it was with interactions with Arusha townspeople, or witnessing the animals and wildlife from the average kicking back in the chair, the culture is different here in Tanzania.
Overall, you could put it that my first impression of the trip is to judge the value of new things I have seen, and my second impression is to try as much to not judge people and life and Tanzania as much, but rather to be as open-minded as possible. I realized that, of course, things are going to be different, because I have not been exposed to things for my entire childhood, but for this location, these people have and this is there identity and way-of-life.
I am already very impressed with the amount of English that Tanzanians I have met are equipped with. My biggest regret thus far is not knowing as much Swahili as I would have wished. Although many do speak English, to further be a guest of the culture, I would have wanted to have been able to speak more swahili.
Also arriving to the Arusha International Airport, it was obvious to see that we arrived in a third world country. Both in Detroit airport and in Amsterdam, facilities were gigantic, full glass windows, and hi-tech trains moving between terminals. In Arusha, there were no walls, the terminal was no bigger than two classrooms, and bugs were flying all around us. Although it was an elegant facility, it was clear we were near African wilderness. Also walking about Arusha it was clear to see that, like many other places of the world, Tanzania is heavily affected by impoverished peoples. Overall I am very excited to explore the schools and many other locals that I will be able to meet.
After about 30 long hours of travel, we arrived in Kilimanjaro. We were all so tired and I don’t think that I had more than 3 hours of sleep total on the planes. We then waited in line for quite a while to get our Visas but my luggage arrived with me so I was very happy! In the bus ride over to the lodge, I was super tired and it was dark so it was hard to see anything. But, what I did notice right away was that the big dipper was upside down! Also, the driver’s seat of all the vehicles is on the right side instead of the left and traffic moves in the opposite direction that we are used to (which is really hard to get used to when we are crossing the streets!) After breakfast this morning, Diana and I decided to take some pictures of the lodge. The scenery is very beautiful; I love all of the colorful flowers. While we were taking pictures, one of the workers for the lodge came up and taught us a ton of interesting things such as the different types of banana trees here (there are 7 but only 3 for eating as fruit). Going into town this morning gave me a much different first perspective. I was a little nervous when we were walking around and people just tagged along with our group trying to sell us things. Yet, they were all very friendly and it was great to talk to them. I learned many different Swahili words from them, but it was definitely a situation that caused a mixture of emotions. I still can’t decided how it compares to the vision I had before I got here. There are paved roads and lots of cars, but yet it is still much different than where we live! People just walk along the streets so close to the road that there were multiple times I was scared we might hit someone. What sticks out to me the most so far is really just how willing people are to talk to us. For some, it is probably just because they think they could get money out of us, but for others it seems like there is genuine interest in whom we are and where we come from. I hope that this continues to happen so that I can get the most out of this trip.
At the moment I stepped off the plane Wednesday night, I knew I was in a different country. The plants, trees, and flowers were beautiful, but very different. It was very warm, especially once we walked in the airport with no air conditioning. These were my first impressions of Africa, but I was experiencing a mixture of emotions. I was super excited to actually be in Tanzania. After being on a plane for such a long time, it felt really good to be walking around again. I had been preparing for this trip for a long time and I could not believe that I was actually here. I was also slightly nervous; I am not entirely sure what to expect on this trip. On the drive to the Outpost Lodge, we really could not see much because there are no street lights. But, I did learn one thing. Tanzania drivers are wild! It was a crazy drive from the airport. I was also very impressed with the Outpost Lodge. I sometimes feel like I am staying at a resort! The scenery is absolutely beautiful. I am staying in a room with three other girls and it felt strange to all crawl into bed last night with mosquito netting around us! When we went into town today, I was slightly overwhelmed. There was a group of guys that followed us wherever we went, trying to sell different things. I was offered paintings and an assortment of bracelets. I enjoyed conversing with these people. They were even able to help me with my Swahili! But, it would have been nice to walk around Arusha without people swarming us wherever we went. Overall, though, I have a very positive first impression of Africa. The people I have met here have been very nice and helpful. I have also enjoyed getting to know the people in my group better. I am sure we are going to have an amazing time here, a life-changing experience. I am looking forward to all that lies ahead for us in these next three weeks!