The Africa Chapter of my travels has come to a close. I’ve been in India for a week now (slowly settling in but more on that another time). I am finding it hard ard to believe that Tanzania was only a week ago. One week can take you pretty far down the road it seems. There is a fair amount left to say about Africa so I’m going to try to sum it all up in one more blog post.
My 4 weeks in Africa easily falls into the category of being unforgettable. The continent is pretty amazing by my measure: the unending Sun, some of the Planet’s most extraordinary animals, the enduring spirit of the people. The list goes on. I was surprised by how “at home” I felt my entire time there. At ease. This was due in large measure (likely entirely) to the people. The African Impact staff, my fellow volunteers, and mostly the Tanzanians themselves. The people were without a doubt the stand out feature of the entire experience. And it wasn’t just the people themselves (though they were (mostly) of the finest calibre), it was the interactions with them. They had something that what I’ll call “Normal Life” fails to have far too often: authenticity. Getting a returned “Hello” on the streets of Canada or the UK can be a task in and of itself, sometimes an impossible one. Now my point here isn’t to trash talk Normal Life; I actually really like Normal Life. I enjoy going out for a long run on a Sunday, binge-watching something on Netflix, a nice proper cup of coffee, having access to a hot shower with something that resembles pressure. Fuck, I even enjoy my job most of the time. So yeah, I am not sticking my nose up at Normal Life! But it does have a way of wearing you down. Getting you off your centre. And it’s probably because you spend so much of your time and energy focusing and working towards shit that just isn’t that important to you. Paying mortgages (for people that actually have a residence), meeting client schedules. Feeling obligated to do something. Constantly chasing down something.
Sorry. I started to ramble a bit there. So back to my point on interactions. First, my fellow volunteers. In addition to just being fucking wonderful people (mostly in any case), everyone is there for a similar reason. They have that spark that makes someone spend their holiday volunteering. You get a lot of likeminded folks together in a camp-like atmosphere and it leads to something pretty extraordinary.
The African Impact staff were also spot on. They do a good job at creating a chilled out atmosphere and were keen to take on feedback. That goes a long way to creating a respectful environment.
And finally, the African folks themselves. They showed me so much appreciation for being there. And they were extremely welcoming. Everyone treats you like family; like you have an entire country full of kakas and dadas. It is really something special and I am super keen to go back. Maybe do some more volunteering. I certainly need to go back and climb Kilimanjaro someday. Also, there are so many elephants I didn’t have the opportunity to meet. I heard some of them were very disappointed that they didn’t run into me (perhaps over me).
Not sure how to conclude all of this. Perhaps I’ll go with: there is a part of my heart that has been permanently reserved for Africa.
Now that all of that is over with, there was one more notable thing I’ve done since my first post that I’ll share. The other weekend I headed out to the Maasai village of Kitenden. I spent 4 days a week working with these guys so it was nice to see where some of them were from. Probably best to let the pictures do the talking.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more.