Thursday, July 14, 2011

Safari na Kwaheri Afrika (A Journey/Safari, and Goodbye Africa)

So here I am at the end of my Tanzanian adventure. In some ways I feel like I've always been here, and in others it seems to have flown by. I leave tomorrow evening for Amsterdam, then Detroit, then Moline, Illinois, where I will spend a few weeks with the family before heading back to Charleston for RA training. I have loved every day of being here and will miss it and the people I met here immensely. I think I have learned a lot, but it will take some time to see how deeply it goes and where the changes manifest themselves in my life. I do know that every individual has an obligation to be a responsible consumer, because when we buy products from companies that abuse and underpay their workers, we are directly responsible for the oppression of those people. And I do believe that God will hold us responsible for shutting out the suffering in the world that we cause, directly or indirectly, so turning a blind eye is no longer a viable option. I know that I can love people even if I don't seem to have much in common with them, that a common faith can be a great unifier, and that hot showers are manna from heaven.

For our last big hurrah in Tanzania, we set out on a Safari that lasted Wednesday and Thursday and took us to Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater, one of my favorite places on earth. ( Wednesday we spent the day driving through the area surrounding Lake Manyara, getting sunburned and coated in thick red dust, sleepy from our 6 am wake-up but excited. We saw elephants (one strolled right up to our jeep), wildebeasts, monkeys, baboons, various birds, impalas, gazelle, giraffes, hippos, and waterbuffalo. It was great seeing all the animals in their native habitats rather than in the Disney Safari ride at Animal Kingdom, which is going to be extremely lame to me henceforth.

After a sweet boxed lunch picnic and a long, bumpy drive back to our campsite, where we stayed in cozy little rooms, we had dinner and turned in early (after some episodes of Dexter, duh). The next "morning" (read: middle of the night) at 5 a.m. we woke up, had breakfast, wherein I ate 5 pieces of homemade bread with the best butter I've yet tasted, and headed to Ngorongoro, about an hour away. We circled around the top of the crater and then drove down into it, a bit precariously, where we spent a few hours seeing lions sprawled out on the grass, massive herds of zebra and wildebeasts making their way across the crater's basin, warthogs, gazelle, a gigantic elephant, and even an elusive cheetah. It was one of the most beautiful places I have been to so far in my life, and I'm so grateful I got the chance to experience it firsthand. I will miss this place, it's landscapes, hospitality, food, meticulously chaotic cities, and the crisp, cool village air. But I hope I'll come back someday and see more of all the beautiful things that East Africa has to offer.


Isaiah 10:1-3
1 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
   to those who issue oppressive decrees,
2 to deprive the poor of their rights
   and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
   and robbing the fatherless.
3 What will you do on the day of reckoning,
   when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
   Where will you leave your riches?

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