Maji ya Chai, Tanzania - Thursday, June 17
Holly and I walked to a local vegetable market, while our go with the United African Alliance Community Center students around the village to take photos for their National Geographic On Assignment project. The walk was down a long dirt road. Everything is always covered with dust, including my body. I have never been so dirty in my life.
In the afternoon we went to Arusha market with Mamma Killerai. It was the wildest street market that I have ever seen. It is a Mexican market on steroids. From the time we got off of the bus we were being hustled to buy something. They never gave up. They followed us from store to store trying to sell us everything from jewelry to batik wall hangings. I have to admit…I bought 18 necklaces (for good price) so that maybe he would go away. It worked but then a whole new batch of men came around selling something else. Mamma led us to all the stores that we wanted to go. The most interesting purchase of the day was made by Jacob when he bought a green guitar. How we are going to travel around Africa and go on safari with that will be a treat for me to watch. We shopped for 3 - 4 hours and everyone was wonderful. It has been amazing how well this group gets along.
We went out to dinner and had pizza and even though the electricity went out three times, and dinner took three hours and some students that ordered pizza got a random chicken dish because they had run our of pizza dough; the kids had wonderful attitudes and just went along with all the experiences.
Another eventful day…let's just say, that Peter getting his eyebrows singed from the fire does not even rate in the top three things that happened today. We started off the day with Peter trying to get the charcoal fire going. I was outside collecting my clothes off of the clothes line when I heard a burst of fire. I looked over and could tell that something had happened to Peter. He had been blowing on the fire and it back drafted towards his face and he lost some length on his eye lashes and singed his hair and eye brows. He was ok but it was scary thinking about what could have happened.
We ate breakfast and soon Mkala and the small bus arrived to take us to the orphanage, Our students were so excited. We brought the orphans clothing and pencils, games, hair supplies and other items. But mostly we brought them 13 students who wanted nothing more than to spend the morning playing with them. We hugged on them, sang with them, played soccer with them and loved being with them. They, in return, were so appreciative of us spending time with them.
We left there with a mix of happiness and sadness and drove about five minutes down the road to a giant open market. We saw things that I have never seen. In the center of the giant field were Massai tribesmen with their bright red clothing selling their goats and cows. There were thousands of peep. Around the animals were people selling everything, from bananas to used shoes. I cannot begin to describe this scene with proper adjectives. We came to this market to buy two goats that we plan to roast over the fire to feed to our guest who are coming to our compound on Saturday.
Peter, Erin, Dominque and Mnissi bought the goats and we stuffed them into the small trunk of the bus and drove off towards our final destination of the day. We stopped along the way and dropped off Mnissi and the two goats and continued to the waterfall.
Our bus was not powerful enough to take 18 people up the steep grade and soon we were out pushing the bus up the hill. After about an hour and many "get out and push" we parked the bus and continued with a hike. It really was a beautiful place that we were hiking but Mkala was walking too fast and not taking any rest stops and several of us were having trouble keeping up. We finally made it to this beautiful waterfall and enjoyed the accomplishment of all that was involved in getting there. We started our walk downhill to the bus. I was very excited to sit back down it the bus and head home. We were all exhausted and it was dusk. We had finished our hike just in time. As we were driving down the hill, everyone was happy and chatty. We had one final steep hill to go up and the bus driver gunned the engine to try and get enough speed to make it up to the top. When he did the tires hit a slick part of the road and in an instant we were jolted into the left ditch. We were all ok but startled that we had slid off the road. The bus was angled and jammed up against the hill. We had to exit through the driver door on the right and jump out of the bus. Were we going to be stranded again? It certainly seemed so but miraculously the local villagers came out and pushed the bus upright so that the driver could back out of the hillside. We walked to the top of the hill and slowly drove the rest of the way home.
As a reward, Peter and Erin gave us the last day in Maji ya Chai off to do what we needed to do; pack for safari, take pictures, tell our local friends goodbye, etc.
Day 7 - Our last day in Maji ya Chai
Very relaxing day. We needed this. Nothing scheduled until late afternoon when the locals are coming over to eat. This is our goodbye party to the community leaders. Baboo has skinned the goats and roasted them over the open fire all afternoon. Two gymnast come to entertain the elders and we sing our Deep in the Heart of Texas song. We have special food that the mamma's have prepared and we say goodbye to the people in the village that we have grown to know. It is sad for me to tell them goodbye and I barely know them.
At some point a giant safari vehicle arrives at the front of the house; ready to take us on the next leg of our adventure.
We sit around the campfire and tell highlights of this past week. The students share from their heart and Betty starts to cry and she says her highlight has been making so many news friends.
It makes me tear up also.