The past week has been one of the best of my life, but I’m a few days late posting this blog because I haven’t had any service due to camping in the middle of the Serengeti. Before getting to the Serengeti expedition, I have to recap a little bit from the end of the prior week. Through the School for Field Studies, I had the unique and insightful experience of staying with a local family for one day, gaining a look into what local life looks like in Rhotia, Tanzania.
The experience was eye-opening, fun, and definitely moving. In the morning, my two classmates and I helped make tea, then prepared lunch with the oldest daughter of the family. We talked about culture, daily life, music, and just life in general. It has been so interesting throughout this month learning how others think about America and different events happening in the world. It is also interesting seeing how life moves without technology.
After lunch, we washed dishes, clothes, and played with the little kids of the family for awhile, which was amazing to see the pure joy shared, even with no real verbal communication due to the language barrier. Overall, my homestay was such a positive experience as the family was so welcoming and warm towards us. It was undoubtably an experience I won’t forget, and I’ll carry the ideas and insights I learned back home with me.
The past weekend was full of having fun with classmates, working on assignments, and packing for our upcoming expedition. On our way to Serengeti National Park, we drove through Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a protected volcanic caldera full of breathtaking wildlife, landscapes, and natural resources.
The crater was one of the coolest places I’ve seen and the habitat seemed to shift from jungle to savannah to forest, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a real-life Jurassic Park. I finally got to see my favorite animal, hippos, up close, and it exceeded dreams and expectations. After leaving Ngorongoro, we drove through authentic Maasai tribal villages, which was really amazing to see (albeit from the car) how the tribal people live and the differences between different groups and lifestyles.
After a long, bumpy, and extremely dusty ride, we arrived at the gate of Serengeti National Park, and I could already feel that I was about to see and experience things I have dreamt of my whole life. As rain clouds rolled in over the plains, the landscape seemed like something you could only see in movies or in dreams – yet there I was living in it.
The first night there, it really sank it. I was camping in the middle of the Serengeti. I slept like a baby to the sounds of baboons and hyenas around our campsite. The next morning we started a field exercise driving through the park, seeing hot air balloons over us as we watched lions, hippos, buffalos, and more. We even got to see a baby leopard with its mom.
Then, somehow, the next day topped it as we saw a cheetah, “Mufasa,” and more as we joked and had so much fun in the car. That last night, as we sat around telling scary stories, jokes, riddles, and more around the fire, we saw a hyena walk right by us in the sight. I don’t know why, but I just got overwhelmed with a sense of knowing I am where I am supposed to be, and I know the feelings I want to chase in my future. This trip has given me so much insight into myself, my future, and my dreams. Although I never want to leave, I’m excited to go back with these new ideas and pursue the life of my dreams in the future.