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Finishing up Volunteer Work and Finding Tanzanian Treasures

November 29, 2015 by  

Continuing my Discover Corps Experience Tanzania: Day 10 and 11

 

The morning hours of days 10 and 11 were spent much like previous mornings. We returned to the classroom and assisted with the English lessons. Afterward, we changed clothes and headed back to our classroom renovation project.

My classroom of students during my volunteer work.

My classroom of students during my volunteer work.

The women and teens put on the second coat of paint while the men, with the hired helper, finished the ceiling. We touched up areas and painted the window frames. We wished we could repaint the entire school, however, that was not to be.

Working on the new ceiling.

Working on the new ceiling.

On Day 11, we stood back and admired the work. Not perfection but quite okay. We took our “after” photos with big smiles.

Celebrating-1
The school gave us a big send off with the teachers and principals presenting us with cloth as gifts (similar to my birthday) as the children sang. We felt their sincere appreciation of our efforts.

Getting gifted with cloth.

Getting gifted with cloth.

The volunteer work provided me what I’d hope for: an opportunity to give of myself and touch the lives of others. It’s not that my group did that much, but I think more importantly, it was the positive interactions between the volunteers and Africans, cultural exchanges made with respect and love. We learned from each other. I’d be happy to volunteer again.

Debi in the renovated classroom wrapped in her gift of cloth as a skirt.

Debi in the renovated classroom wrapped in her gift of cloth as a skirt.

Crossing Maasai Lands

Crossing Maasai Lands

AFRICAN ADVENTURES

On the afternoon of Day 10, the Discover Corps volunteers were off  to Chemka Hot Springs. We are told the location was rather remote. That was an understatement, for sure. We turned off the main road, then navigated down a road so dusty we had to proceed slowly or kick-up a Dukes of Hazard type dust clouds. We passed very few people, many abandoned shacks, and were sure we were going the wrong way. The Baobab and Acacia trees were our only friends.

Surreal scenery along the drive.

Surreal scenery along the drive.

 

 

Veronica and I shouted stop when we saw a sign that read Visitor Information Center – really? This easily wins the award for the most off the beaten track Visitor Center I have ever seen. Of course, no one was there!

The long lost tourism office.

The long lost tourism office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived to a small parking lot surrounded by green trees. ” Just wait,” said our driver, and he was right. Here was an oasis in the desert.

The Oasis

The Oasis

We discovered a hidden natural spring with the clearest Caribbean-blue water. Unbelievable! The swimming hole looked inviting and the teens discovered a rope swing. In no time, they were Tarzan and Jane, leaping into the water with a yell. A few of the men joined in, but I just dangled my feet in until they got nibbled on by the fish. I’m not sure why I didn’t go in, it’s not like me, but that day I sat out  and pondered.

 

Debi relaxes at the water's edge

Debi relaxes at the water’s edge

The location was stunning, a total surprise to everyone. I enjoyed resting in this slice of African jungle, just a stone’s throw from the dry desert. I felt like I had in India, or what I called,” Incredible India.” Every day I would discover some unexpected gem; that’s what this was — a Tanzanian Treasure.

Discover Corps volunteers posing at Chemka Hot Springs.

Discover Corps volunteers posing at Chemka Hot Springs.

On the way back to basecamp we are treated to a spectacular African sunsets, yes, another Tanzanian Treasure.

 

A Tanzanian Treasure- the magical sunset.

A Tanzanian Treasure- the magical sunset.

 

Send off from the school.

Send off from the school.

Day 11 Adventures: The afternoon of day 11 allowed us to celebrate the previously mentioned completion of our school work.

 

After lunch, we were off on a trip into downtown Moshi. We thought we were going to meet an artist and didn’t understand that we were going to have another art lesson. Secy, the artist,  introduced himself and his works: dramatic paintings that capture African culture and wildlife in vibrant colors.
The plan was  for us to choose one of his works and try to recreate it on an already painted background.

Try is the word. Like with our batik lesson, we started off  unsure of ourselves. Some of the paintings were marvelous. I enjoyed myself but was pretty embarrassed with my project.  A painter I am not!

Debi's attempt at painting an elephant.

Debi’s attempt at painting an elephant.

Secy’s studio contains a shop filled with carvings, artwork, instruments and tourist souvenirs. This is the only time during my trip that  I feel like the ugly American. I didn’t want to buy these items and the sellers were very pushy. I felt very uncomfortable and tried  to sneak out and enter the bus.
The evening was relaxing and a few of us walked to the local convenience store, which turns into a bar at night, for a Safari beer.  We didn’t linger because we had two safari outings ahead of us. I packed an overnight bag, laid out my clothes and checked my camera bag. I was ready for bed and more than ready to see the real African treasures: lions, elephants and giraffe.

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