Reluctant Traveler: What I Learned in Africa

My sister Bec concludes her wonderful tales of her time in Africa.

bec-closeup-twoBy Rebecca Borman

Without doubt, going to Africa was one of the most educational experiences of my life.  Here are some things that I learned….

* A little Swahili:
Jambo=hello; jambo-jambo=enthusiastic response to hello
Hakuna matada=no worries
Pole-pole=slow, but is often used to say “slow down” or “take it easy” (I heard that a lot.)
Asante=thank you; asante sana=thank you very much (I said both a lot.)
Karibu=welcome or you’re welcome
Sawa-sawa=okay, as in Sawa-sawa?  (Is it okay for me to do this?) Sawa-sawa (Yes, it is.)

* That they really do say “hakuna matada”—often.

* There are still those who live the traditional Masai lifestyle.  This Masai housemeans they live in small villages many miles away from any medical facilities or shopping.  They have no mode of transportation other than walking.  One can see 2-3 men or women in the distance, walking and talking.  We often wondered where they were walking to or from.  Their homes are tinier than I could ever imagine, dark and hot.  They earn money in several ways:  they might sell some of their cattle or goats in a market, to which they would drive them on foot; and the women make crafts that they sell at these markets and to visitors in their Masai villagevillages.  They use the money to buy clean water from the government.

* There are few highways.  And the ones there are do not accommodate driving very fast because they are two lanes, used by a variety of vehicles from large and small trucks to motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles.  Passing often requires an on-coming vehicle to slow down or move over, and no one seems to mind.

* Instead of highways, there are dirt roads, sometimes tracks barely visible in the high grass.  They are rutted and sometimes muddy.  They give passengers what they call an “African massage.”  They also take passengers to see incredible wildlife.

* Our driver, Mike, was amazing…wise, experienced, and generous.  He was probably the most important factor in our positive experience in Tanzania.

mike and truck

* Tanzania has an amazing variety of landscapes.  In one 4-5 hour drive, we passed through savannahs, plains, mountains, and a rainforest .  One place we stayed had flowers that reminded us of Hawaii.  It was all stunningly beautiful.

* The skies are beautiful, especially at sunset.

Sunset behind acacia

* Climate change is affecting eastern Africa in a big way.  In the past, the great migration took place in June and July.  But, it’s getting later, because the rains, when they come, are later.  Now, the best time to see wildlife is August.  Given how much the economy depends on tourism, this is an important point of information.

* We were often only one night at a hotel, so we didn’t often have the chance to get to know the staff.  But when we did, they were intelligent and interested in learning about us and in sharing their stories.

* People in Africa work very, very hard, in a way Americans cannot imagine.  They walk miles carrying potatoes or firewood on their heads.  Or they push heavy loads of food or fuel in hand carts.  Almost no one owns or has access to a car.

* Water is a constant source of concern; many people do not have access to clean water and most are constantly worried about whether there will be enough rainfall to sustain them in the long term.

* Eastern Africa is a place worth visiting.  Seeing literally endless vistas filled my heart with peace and contentment.  Watching wild animals in their natural habitat amazed me.  Having a sundowner drink on a patio overlooking the Serengeti was priceless.  Don’t let the challenges of the trip scare you out of going.

One thought on “Reluctant Traveler: What I Learned in Africa

Comments are closed.