Thanksgiving, Dolphins, and Stone Town!

Blog from Matt and Jo

During this past week of Thanksgiving celebrations, we are sure our friends at home are finishing coursework, reviewing the past semester and stressing to the max about upcoming finals. While they are anxious about freshman year, we are nonchalantly celebrating a Thanksgiving party with our homestay families, exploring the beautiful and historic streets of Stonetown in Zanzibar and swimming with dolphins in the Indian Ocean.

This past Tuesday, our last full day at the Fox NGO, we spent the day preparing for and celebrating a Thanksgiving party with the staff of the NGO, as well as our homestay families from the Mufindi Highlands. Preparations included making hand turkeys, decorating a large, festive poster, lots of cooking (with the intention of feeding around 37 people!) and putting together some performances to entertain our guests. During the celebration, we were all given the opportunity to introduce our homestay families, share something that we are thankful for and introduce the history and culture of Thanksgiving to our Tanzanian families. Some of the performances of the evening included the song Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley, as performed by Reed and Rory, Amazing Grace, sung by the whole group, brief speeches by Rory and Jo and some additional singing by Fox NGO staff members Amari and Ngojea. After the performance section of the night was finished, we welcomed our guests inside to eat. (Karibu Chakula!) The meal included rice (wali), potatoes, beef stew, beans (marahage), greens, and turkey (bata mzinga)! The turkey had been freshly killed the day before, and we were all provided the opportunity to see where our food really comes from, and what it takes to prepare it for our consumption. As we ate, everyone intermingled and enjoyed the delicious food prepared for us by Mama Upendo, along with the help of some group members.

The following day, we bused to Iringa, where we spent a relaxing afternoon in the city, which has become very familiar to many of us. The next day, we were off to Dar, on one of the all too familiar 10-hour public bus rides. On the 25th, we took the ferry Kilimanjaro-V to Stonetown, Zanzibar! We have spent the past three days exploring Stonetown and hanging out with our awesome new Zanzibari host families. We were placed in pairs in homestays around Stonetown with Muslim families of either Indian or Arabic origins. Friday, we had some free time to explore, and Saturday was spent in the homestays, where everyone settled in nicely.

Before starting our internships, we had one free day to partake in a group activity. The general consensus was for swimming with dolphins! We all got up bright and early on Sunday and bused to a beach on the southern tip of the island. There, we boarded two small boats, and went out to sea in search of dolphins. Before long, our guides spotted a family of about ten dolphins on the surface, and they shouted frantically “Jump in! Jump in!” So we did. At any given time, we could see anywhere from five to thirty dolphins all around us in the water. The experience was truly incredible. After about an hour, we rode back in to the white sand beach, and enjoyed a lunch of rice, fish (samaki), salad, chips (chipsi), and fruit (matunda).

Tomorrow we will begin our internships, which we have all been looking forward to. Jada and Brent will be working in a T-Shirt Printing shop. Matt, Aiden and Reed will be doing painting. Audrey and Max will be studying woodcarving. Paiton will be working with a Woman’s Cooperative that makes pillows and Rory and Jo will be working at a spa, studying natural medicine and massage.

More to come. Well, one more….

Jo and Matt