you’ll just have to read my post to see how this song relates…muahaha
The first full week of April this was a week of welcome change and renewal; essentially a week of us students reconnecting, freaking out about our policy paper, having dance parties, hiking, and listening to lectures.
On Saturday morning, us students met one last time at Kundayo and said Kwaherini to our Arusha host families. From there, we got on a bus to head to our “rural village stay” in the village of Uru Shimbwe on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Our rural village experience included staying in a huge guest house provided by the archdiocese from around here. Which basically means that this week I got to see Mt. Kilimanjaro from our balcony while living in what felt like a hostel with the most awesome 13 other people I could’ve reasonably asked to be with who I’ve missed dearly over this past month. Happiness.
Sunday night, we got to hang out with some local Chagga people and gathered around a fire as they showed us how they harvest, grind, roast, and brew the coffee beans that grow on the slopes around here the traditional way. Monday we got to go on a hike around the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro (which, according to some lists floating around the internet, makes the top 10 most beautiful hikes in the world list).
On the slopes of Kili, we hiked down to the base of this gorgeous waterfall. We admired it, awe-struck, and then my friend Danny and I noticed that there was a little cave behind the waterfall. This cave was potentially accessible if we crossed the stream (against the advising of the more cautious of the students), climbed over some logs and rocks, and climbed up the rocks that composed the mountain behind the waterfall into the cave. We went for it. Our combined senses of adventure [or as some call it, “lack of personal safety”- potato, potahto] tend to feed off of each other. As we started climbing, some other girls followed us until 6 of us were in the rock’s crevice behind the waterfall, drenched in the spray, whooping and laughing out of pure exhilaration.
After a while, we walked back through the soul-feeding scenery to have lunch and beer at a woman’s house who is a friend of a friend of my professor. On the way back, we passed by 2 women doing laundry in the stream at the bottom of the valley. Long before we saw them, though, I heard one of them belting out a song in Kichagga, reverberating off of the mountains and down the valley. Really, it was the most appropriate and perfect music for a day such as this.
We spent another 2 days among the tiered farms of Kili with dance parties every night and then left Thursday morning for our retreat. Our retreat was at the Irente Cliff Lodge in Lushoto, perched on top of a cliff, surrounded by the Usambara mountains and cliffs. We were actually in a cloud half of the time. We spent most of this time talking with two missionaries, Steve and Susan Vinton from village schools international [http://www.villageschools.org/]. We discussed in depth the “NGO culture” here, community development, how westerners interact and interfere with the best intentions but how messed up we make things, and what all of this means for us (hence the City & Colour song above). For me, at least, it was definitely a weekend of trying to reconcile different knowledge and beliefs into something coherent that I can explain why I subscribe to with a clear conscience. (Again, if you want to talk about it, you know how to get a hold of me.)
Sunday (4/13) we left for Dar es Salaam. The week of being remote and unplugged was nice and peaceful, but I was excited to leave for our final destination. After some struggles between out 2WD bus, hills, and slippery mud, we made it off the mountain; a couple of popped tires and hours later we were on the road. When we were about 40 minutes out of Dar, we hit traffic due to flooding. With all of our stops, what was supposed to be a 6-hour journey turned into 20 hours, and so we made a last-minute reservation and checked into a hotel at 4am Monday morning. Let the last chapter of this adventure begin!