Hello everybody, this is Marc writing the last blog post for the 2014 Tanzania trip from the Philadelphia airport.
The group had a series of action-packed days since our last post. After a relatively uneventful ferry ride from Bukoba, we made one last trip to Hotel Tilapia in Mwanza to take advantage of their free Wi-fi. In case we haven't described this place in earlier posts, Hotel Tilapia is this extremely fancy, touristy place in the city of Mwanza that sells food and drinks and has a great view of Lake Victoria and the city. You can tell it's a fancy place because 1. the bathrooms have actual toilets instead of holes in the ground and 2. they have soap (which is unfortunately a rare commodity in Tanzanian public restrooms). After a couple hours at the hotel, we were picked up in two safari cars by our safari tour guides, Richard and Victor, and headed to meet up with William at the ranger college we toured a month earlier. The college was holding their graduation that day, and since William was a member of some board associated with the college, we ended up spending a couple hours watching part of the ceremony. After that, we were off to the Serengeti!
We spent two days in the Serengeti National Park and one day in the Ngorongoro Crater on safari. We had a fantastic time seeing all the wildlife, which included giraffes, elephants, lions, monkeys, baboons, cape buffalo, thousands upon thousands of wildebeest, zebra, hyenas, and a cheetah (my favorite!). We took hundreds of pictures between the nine of us. If we weren't close enough already, it seemed to take a whole other level on the safari as we spent a lot of quality time in the cars, eating food, and camping together. We also spent the second day celebrating Megan's 21st birthday. That night an elephant came right up to where we were camping to get a drink of water. We got about 10 feet away!!! Talk about awesome (and a little scary).
After the safari on the third day we ended up in the city of Arusha. We spent this last night in Africa all hanging out in our hotel, listening to music, goofing around, and just having a great time! The next morning we went to the infamous Arusha market where we were met by lots and lots of vendors with tons of crazy souvenir items. Even though our bartering skills have improved a lot since the beginning of the trip, most of us ran out of money shopping at the market (myself included). It was probably a good thing we didn't have more money coming into the market! After the shopping, we packed up and headed to Kilimanjaro airport. Here we said goodbye to William and to Africa.
It was bittersweet leaving Africa. We all had such a great time and had become attached to the beautiful land of Tanzania. Most of us, however, were also longing for home. There were lots of confused emotions all around at the airport. One thing is for certain, however: this was a trip that none of us will soon forget. I am blessed to have gotten to travel to this land and build relationships with the locals and the other amazing students who joined me on this trip. To all the parents out there: you raised some awesome kids! Thank you all for reading this blog of our trip and for supporting us along the way.
P.S. One of the things we are most excited about for home is to take a shower. We all smell a bit like Africa!