By Solomon Herring
So far, I have been in Tanzania for two days, and all I have to say is that my experiences have completely blown away all expectations. Despite being hindered by a dreadful case of jet lag, due to the 7 hour time difference between here and the United States, I have done my best to immerse myself in Tanzanian culture. My adventures began the day after my arrival,as I was given a tour of Arusha, the third largest city in Tanzania. I was blown away by hectic streets, where cars drive on the wrong side of the road, and motorbikers weave in and out of traffic, nearly seconds away from getting into an accident. I made my way through vibrant street markets, with vendors hard at work and crowds of people jam packed together. The hectic nature and the hustle and bustle were quite invigorating, as the energy of the city was contagious, preventing me from becoming fatigued, despite experiencing serious jet lag.
Throughout my tour of Arusha, I made my way from Nyumbani Hostel to the city’s Massai market, a journey that consisted of cramped dala dala rides, and walking on foot through crowded streets. Once I made it to the Massai market, I was able to purchase a wide array of fascinating trinkets, which will be excellent collectors items to take home.
Hopefully I will be able to find a way to bring back my hand carved Massai spear back to the US. Fortunately, I was able to leave before I ended up spending too much money, as I was bombarded by countless vendors, urging me to visit their shop. From there, my guide, Venance, treated me to some local Tanzanian food,which was very tasty. The rice and mint, and beef curry that was exquisitely rich, definitely made me excited to try more Tanzanian cuisine.
Finally, we made our way back to the hostel, where I quickly crashed in my room and took a much needed nap. My first day in Tanzania allowed me to experience the liveliness of a major African city, however, on my second day I was able to venture out into the countryside and see exquisite natural beauty. Arusha is a very unique city, as it is a bustling urban center that is little more than a 40 minute drive from the countryside.
My second day in Tanzania consisted of volunteering at a dog show with others from the hostel at a Polo Club, located at the base of Mt Meru, which is a breathtakingly beautiful area. I was surrounded by lush greenery, rolling hills, and tropical plants. After months and months of planning I was finally at the slopes of Mt. Meru, surrounded by fields where wildebeests and gazelles roamed freely. Needless to say, the natural beauty of the Arusha region completely exceeded all of my expectations.
The beauty of Tanzania is not limited to the country’s natural landscape, as the people are extremely kind and hospitable as well. Interacting with Tanzanians has definitely been an eye opening experience, as I have been able to witness a sharp contrast with westerners. Unlike those in the west, who are constantly stressed and beaten down by a debilitating pressure to live up to the expectations of ourselves and others, Tanzanians simply go with the flow. They do not follow a strict schedule, and to put it bluntly, being punctual is a rather non existent part of Tanzanian culture. Being immersed in a culture where everyone lives in the present and doesn’t worry about the future is definitely refreshing, especially considering the fact that I spent the last year being stressed over balancing school and work, while maintaining a high grade point average. Balancing so many obligations,grinding to meet my personal expectation of one day becoming a lawyer, while at the same time living in a global pandemic definitely tested my sanity. However, I am finally in a place where I can escape that stress, and live life in the moment. It is for this reason that I can confidently say that I am more excited to be traveling abroad now more than ever.