Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tanzania's Treasures

Where to begin….this was one of the most eye-opening, fascinating, and physically challenging weeks of my life, so far.  Last Saturday, we woke up at 5am to hop on the bus to drive to Tanzania.  It was roughly a 7-hour drive to Arusha city, not including the 45-minute stop at the border to fill out visas forms.  Arusha was hot and humid, which reminded me of New England and the east coast in general.  Our safari guides were members of a NGO called “Dorobo,” which leads tourist trips to national parks and to visit and observe various ethnic groups, such as the infamous Hadzabe!  Every semester, for the last 40 years, the St. Lawrence KSP group gets the opportunity to interact with the Hadzabe (“Hadza” for short) for a weeklong adventure of hiking, hunting, and gathering, filled with countless unforgettable conversations, life-lessons, laughs, and traditional Hadza dancing (but, we also taught them the Cotton-Eyed Joe and Build Me Up Buttercup). 

Break down of the week:

Saturday – arrived in Arusha, drove (in the coolest safari Land Rover) with Mama Maggie (one of my newest role models), and camped out in “the bush” next to a waterfall!

Sunday – three hour hike to the top of a ridge where we had lunch and drove four hours to the Hadza camp!  (It looked a bit like New Zealand.)

**The Hadzabe are a nomadic, hunter-gatherer community, one of the last one’s to hunt with their own hand made bows and arrows. (I made my own arrow with the help of a Hadza man named “General”)

Monday – woke up at 7, hiked to the Hadza village, and met about 30 Hadza men women and children.  Dug for tubers with the women and roasted and ate them there on the spot.

Tuesday – “The Long Walk”…..we walked across part the great rift valley, the Yaedza portion.   This walk took us about 6 hours, and we stopped to witness a Hadza shoot and kill a bird, and they dug out a bee hive for honey…they eat the honeycomb and the bee larva right from the tree trunk! I ate some too…best honey I have ever tasted.

Wednesday – “The Hunt.”  Carina, Sam, and I went hunting for eight hours with “General,” a 28 year old Hadza man.  Though we didn’t kill anything, we got to experience what hunting is like for them on a typical day. General said that they typically only successfully kill 3 animals a week (per person). 

Thursday – drove back in the safari trucks to the Dorobo camp in Arusha

Friday – drove with Njau back to Kenya, back to Karen.

TZ pictures:

The safari trucks that can plow through ANYTHING

Growing illegal things....

 Hadza women

 Bao Bob tree!  The Hadza climb them daily to rest in the branches and get water from the hollow trunk inside.

Too cute...couldn't resist

 We all ate the honey comb

The Hadza drink this water daily and their stomachs are conditioned for it, so they don't get sick...incredible!

 While hunting with General, these thorns got my legs pretty bad. Oh, and I also got stung by a tste tste fly!

 Making fires on the spot is crucial for their livelihoods

 Possibly the best hunter in the community

 The six hour walk across the Yeadza part of the Great Rift Valley!


The Massai and the Datoga graze their cattle near, and sometimes on, Hadza land. This creates several conflicts between the ethnic groups.  

Post GRV walk

 Young Hadza hitting the target on the second try...

 The face of sheer concentration

 They get stung approximately 100 times when they dig the honey comb out

 General scouting for animals from above the bush

The cave!  General took the three of us to this really neat cave where they rest often while hunting.

 Sean and the huge rock we would rest on, next to our camp spot

 One of the most beautiful places I will ever set my eyes on.  I did not want to leave!

Making new pegs so we could climb the BaoBab tree. The pegs rot after a week, because the tree moistens them with water from the inside-out.

One of our three camp spots!

 Made it to the top!

 Emlyn and I, sweaty and happy

 Post GRV walk...

 Camp fire scary stories and much needed massages


 (An old picture from hiking Mt. Longonot)

More difficult than it looks...

 Making arrows...I was struggling a bit with this.

I will never forget my week in TZ, having met and exchanged stories with such incredible people - our Dorobo guides, the Hadza, and other Dorobo staff.  I learned more than I thought I would about this hunter-gatherer community, Tanzania and it's government, Tanzanian people, and myself.  I feel very lucky. 

Today is Sunday, February 23rd, and I am about to start packing for my Urban Homestay Component, which is three weeks long!  I meet my family in three hours! 

Funny/Scary/Painful Facts:  
***There was a lion two miles away from our camp spot the last three days of the week!  On Wednesday night, I actually heard it roar, very far away, when I went outside to use the outhouse...I'd be lying if I said I walked slowly back to my tent......I sprinted.  

***Every single person out of the 18 students (including myself), got sick with traveler’s diarrhea, more than 5 students soiled themselves, the safari trucks had to pull over more than 20 times to let us out….the rest is self-explanatory.   Haha!  It’s funny now, but it was a bit awkward having several Tanzanians watching you use their dirt roads and bushes as bathrooms…

"But who am I to blow against the wind..." - P. Simon