We’re spending our first days in Tanzania in the community of Maji ya Chai and experiencing village life in Tanzania.  On our first day, in preparation for our time in country, we talked about the difference between a traveler and a tourist. Travelers immerse themselves in the local culture. They try to learn the local language and eat local food. They respect local traditions and appreciate the surroundings. Tourists, however, tend to be invasive. They don’t take the time to learn the regional culture and they bring their own culture into the country they are visiting.

To really understand the value of a traveler, we put together a song to show what we learned.

 

 

On our first full day in Maji ya Chai, we helped dig a well and remove dirty water from the bottom. We also spoke with some of the locals and learned about their daily lives. This experience was a great way to connect with the community. It was tiring, but it was also extremely rewarding!

On Sunday, we went to church. It was very intense and emotional. Everyone agreed it was vastly different from anything that we have seen before. It was definitely a cultural experience we won’t forget.  After our church experience, we went back to our house where a traveling batik company gave us a workshop so we could make our own batiks. The batiks were beautiful, and nearly everyone bought at least one.

 

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Monday was the Fourth of July and we barely even remembered that it was a big holiday in the U.S.!  We took a hike to Lake Duluti where we saw beautiful monkeys and birds.  Then, we headed to the city of Arusha where we had the opportunity to meet our trip leader Ian’s best Tanzanian friend Omega, who shared some inspirational life perspective with us.  We then headed off to the craft market where we made countless new rafikis (friends), which resulted in special rafiki prices and deals!  We couldn’t believe how different life was in Arusha than in Maji ya Chai.
On our last day in the village, we visited a local orphanage. During our stay, we played soccer, played cards, and taught them several songs. In addition, we took many photos of the children, and they borrowed our cameras to take photos of us! Many of the kids also braided the hair of the girls in our group. It was a very fun visit, and we were all sad when we had to leave.
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We’re heading out on safari in the morning, so our blog posts won’t be as frequent. We’re all really excited to see the animals!