Blog from Jada and Brent
Salaama Lekum! Jada and Brent here reporting from Zanzibar, again. We have finally reached the last leg of our journey!
We spent a week of exploring and getting lost in the streets of Stonetown, 3 days of which were spent interning at local shops getting a taste of what it’s like to work/operate a business in Zanzibar, more specifically Stonetown.
Initially arriving in Stonetown came as a bit of reverse culture shock to many students. As many of you may know, Zanzibar has been under rule by many countries and only recently became apart of Tanzania. With its unique history, increasing influx of wazungu (tourists), and having spent the last 5 weeks in rural Tanzania, it felt like stepping into an entirely different country. Some students have said Stonetown is like a mixture of Spain, Mexico, Turkey, and Belgium. This comes from the narrow and winding cobblestone streets with large ornately handcrafted wooden doors of Hindu or Islamic design, that are over 200 years old.
Each street lent new adventures and beautiful sights. One particular area frequented by some students is called “Jaw’s Corner”- actually pronounced Joe’s by locals. The area was a cornerstone where locals gathered for coffee, snacks like chapatti, play dominos, and of course to watch futbal or just simply chat/catch up on news with one another.
We also had the opportunity to visit a 300 acre co-op spice farm. We learned about the different types of spices grown in Zanzibar, and the history associated with the spice trade. Though these spices have become a huge part of Zanzibar’s culture, many were introduced by the arabs. Fun Fact: Cloves account for 75% of export of spices.
After 5 days in Stonetown, our journey took us north to the white sandy beaches of Mtemwa. Where most of the group were able to receive their open water diving PADI certification. And others were able to snorkel or simply relax at our beautiful beachside bungalow resort.
The beauty seen on the reefs of Matemwe is nearly indescribable. But a few highlights students had the luxury of seeing were dolphins, lionfish, a sea turtle, octopi, starfish, parrot fish, and a variety of fish all colors shapes and size. Most everyone was lucky enough to find Nemo AND Dory milling about their natural habitat.
Back at the resort, we spent our time relaxing and reflecting on our past 3 months in East Africa, pondering also what the future had in store for each and everyone of us. Our Last evening in Mtemwa was spent gathered around a bonfire listening to the waves and looking at the stars one last time.
After saying goodbye to the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar and Stonetown, we transferred back to Dar for our final hurrah dinner in East Africa. We sat atop a rooftop overlooking and listening to the bustling city of Dar Es Salaam. Mary and Adam, our magnificent leaders of which we would not have been able to make it through this journey without, led us in a reflection of our journey through East Africa. Unexpected emotions started to flow within the group as we all realized our adventure was really coming to an end. The Leaders left us with a challenge to find two things about ourselves we want to leave behind and two things we want to take home with us.
For many it has yet to set in that our time here in East Africa is over, for now. For others it has. The one thing we have all realized is that we are not the same individuals as we were when we arrived in Entebbe. The people we have met, and places explored will be with us for the rest of our lives. Everyone in our group will take different aspects of East Africa home with them, to share with the people in their lives back home.
In short time we will bid our farewells to East Africa and to each other. It’s bittersweet, happy and sad all at the same time. Friendships have formed and a sense of family within the group. The goodbyes will be hard, but as many of us have learned we grow the most through the hardships.
We look forward to embracing loved ones at home and plunge into the holiday season. Though many of us are not ready for the cold. Winter is coming.
Goodbye from Nkula group, we hope our small summaries of our adventures/journey here has given you a window into East Africa. Many more stories will be shared when we are home with you. See you all in a few!
Jada and Brent out
Ps. A common theme through the ups and downs of this trip that stuck with me, Jada, is a Swahili quote I found at the Rwandan Genocide Museum. I found it applicable to not only myself but for the group and life in general.
Tunaanza Tulipo Fikia
“We Begin Where We End” ”