Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tanzania part two; Donovan and David

Tanzania was vibrant!  Throughout the littered, red streets and washed-out, crumbling roadside buildings, people stared back at us.  Many people.  Their eyes glistened with tired tears, or glowed with the radiance of the smile tugging at their puffy black lips down below.  The flies would dance around every scene— show-stealers who were only in it for the sweet nectars of the fruits piled in the marketplaces.
    Everywhere we went they cried “Karibu Sana (Welcome in Swahili),” to us.  Looking back, I wish I could have sat down with each of them and shared stories without a limit of time.  In the moment I would respond with “Hapana, Asante (No, thank you),” because we had to keep moving, but each person was so alive, like they all wanted to create a whole world of friendship and share it with you.
    What was also interesting, however, was that almost every person has a mobile phone.  They say the phones improve their lives: opening up business opportunities and making social connections more frequent with communication.  During our solar-lamp-building workshop, colourful ringtones would dance through the air, bringing messages from the outside world of the hot sun into the shady little room.

 This was the place where I felt we formed the most connection with people in our time in Africa. It was our longest stay, and dedicating three days to a solar lamp workshop meant we got to know and laugh with a group of fifteen village people, and share stories!

    Their faith was inspiring.  The Tanzanian people burned like fireworks for Jesus and God’s promise, and they lived out their lives taking joy in the simplicity of what they needed to survive.  A line from a wonderful song we discovered:  “All I require for life, God has given me...”  They often lit up with song and dance, which was always an incredible treat to behold.  People are the main focus in the rural parts of east Africa, and when you base your culture on God’s love for people you create a beauty scarcely found in other parts of the world.

Mbudya Island
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
October 28-30, 2016

I have had a long-held wish to swim in teal-colored, crystal clear ocean water. The island of Seychelles would come up when I searched for the world’s best places on the internet. We seriously considered going there as a part of the trip, and it looks relatively close to Tanzania on a map. Then I learned it is about 1,400 miles off the east coast of Africa, and we had two days left before flying back to Europe and England to finish the trip.

Here’s the alternative I found--and it fulfilled the wish for all four of us! Mbudya Island is a 15-minute boat ride off the coast of Dar Es Salaam.  The island is a marine reserve for day use.

We stayed at an Air BnB close by, meeting our host Sekela, who was kind and generous, driving us to find an ATM for needed cash and help to learn the best boat service to use.

Getting to the Air BnB from the airport on the south end of town was a three-hour trip, but we had a kind Uber driver named Cornelio who did an admirable job navigating the “jams”.

The next morning, we got a nice breakfast at hotel, then walked down to the place to get our tickets for the day. The trip started by walking way out to the boats. It was low-tide, and we were thigh-deep in the bath-temperature Indian Ocean before climbing aboard.

Crossing to the island was exhilarating, with spray coming up over the boat, bold blue sky above, and deep blue-green water speeding by. At one point, a single dolphin popped out of the water and dove back in ahead of us.As we glided up to the shore of the island, we were welcomed with clear water, white sand, coconut trees and thatched hut shelters. Smiles all around!

A man named Julio greeted us. We found a shelter, ordered our fish and chips lunch and Jeany and the boys settled our stuff while I went to rent snorkeling gear. Soon we were all off-shore, puttering and sputtering as we figured how to use the snorkel masks.  Drifting among coral reefs, we saw many fish, star fish, and shell creatures.

From there on the day was spent in and out of the water under a blazing sun (we all wore t-shirts but were still really sunburned by the end of the day). The boys spent the most time on the shore line, letting the sea wash pummel them into the sand.

The wish-fulfillment moment for me was floating on my back in the water, carried by the swells, and feeling pretty much one with the world. The blue sky, the teal water, and heck even my t-shirt and swim trunks were a blue and green combo that fit the picture perfectly.

1 comment:

Whidden4 said...

Wonderful bit of writing there, Donovan! We really enjoyed your eloquence in elucidating your experience. Yours was pretty good too, David! :-)