Kenya and Tanzania - and Dubai - Fall 2015 travel blog












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school visit

In Tanzania schools are called "Schule," a nod to the days when it was a German colony and formal schooling first began. The Germans left when they lost World War I and then Tanzania was a Britishn protectorate. Every OAT trip we have been on included a school visit. These school receive a portion of our trip fees and it's nice to attach some names and faces to this support both on the school's end and ours. The primary school here had 670 students and sixteen teachers, not an ideal staff/pupil ration from our perspective. As the government promotes education, there is a constant need for more classrooms. Staffing does not seem to be a problem, but many of the teachers live on site and there aren't enough homes for them. The kids greeted us with an enthusiasm normally reserved for rock stars. They sang for us; we sang for them. When we had some one on one time, we were surrounded by kids. Most spoke little English so we quickly ran out of discussion topics, but our cameras were a big hit. They loved getting their pictures taken and seeing the photo. We wondered how often they got to see what they looked like. They wore uniforms, but many were in poor condition, dirty and torn. They loved to high five and shake hands. By the time the visit was over, I probably had the germs of two hundred kids on my hands. They seemed in need of hugs. Fred said parents here generally are not demonstratively affectionate with their kids. At times I felt like a Christmas tree with kids hanging from my boughs. We left behind some school supplies brought from home with the head teacher, whose shirt collar was so frayed, it was about to come loose from the shirt. The need is great, but we are never sure what to bring to these schools.

Then we stopped at a modern, well equipped hospital built by an American anesthesiologist who almost died here after developing a pulmonary embolism while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. The poor medical facilities shocked him and he returned here to improve the situation. He returns to the US regularly to get grants. A new building housing radiology services was being funded by General Electric. The contrast between this hospital and the one we saw in town was stark, starting with the fact that this one had no mud on the floor.

A short drive brought us to the rim of the Ngorogoro Crater, a unique spot in the world that has been on our bucket list. As the African continent is tearing into two, the tension zone is populated with a series of volcanoes. The Ngorogoro Crater was formed by one of these and has the largest intact crater rim in the world. We are staying at the Rhino Lodge on the rim at an elevation high enough that our room has a wood burning stove and hot water bottle for the bed. However, it's still warm enough for me to be wearing sandals. From the overlook we could see numerous green areas below and will head to the crater bottom tomorrow to see the largest concentration of animal life within a confined area. We are forbidden from leaving our lodge, because large and dangerous animals graze right beside it. Numerous large scat piles in the yard confirm that this is not an idle warning.

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