Our group made it to the Tanzanian coastal village of Peponi, south of the town of Tanga, for some moist sea air and a big transition from the Amboseli Valley. The temperatures, however, were no relief. When even the locals in Equatorial Africa say that it is unseasonably hot, you have to believe them! Fortunately, with the Indian Ocean lapping at the shore, a certain refreshment is at hand.
As mentioned in our last post, the travel from the Masai village to Peponi was long but painless, and the border crossing was mercifully simple. As the teachers and students settled into Peponi, they found a level of comfort that made it easy to cover substantial academic material. And to introduce Logela to the experience of swimming, and do some snorkeling, and eat tropical fruits in abundance.
After a few days of transition in Peponi, it was time to pack up again and head for Zanzibar for the final part of our expedition. The original plan had been to travel down the coast to Dar Es Salaam by bus and take a ferry to the main island of the Zanzibar Archipelago. However, the wisdom from the locals was that the bus ride on the gravel coast “highway” was less safe than hiring a boat to go direct from Peponi to Stone Town, Zanzibar’s largest city. Thus, our intrepid travelers packed into two dhows — local flat-bottomed freight boats, not beautiful but surprisingly stable — and cruised across the western edge of the Indian Ocean to Stone Town.
Islamic Icon on the Bow of the Dhow
This city, once a fishing village, gained stature in the 19th Century as a center of spice and slave trading and became the Sultinate of Zanzibar. Now, it is a noisy city where our students visited markets, museums, and took a spice tour to learn about this aspect of the local economy. They also got to see lots of historical architecture. But the city, especially in the incredible heat, was an exhausting place to be after several weeks in remote areas. So nobody complained when the time came to pack up and head out to the western side of the island for the group’s final stay of the trip, in Paje.
Arriving in Zanzibar
Jonathan Cooper, known as “Coop,” and one of our trip leaders, sent this narrative:
Habari ya asabuhi? I hope this message finds everyone at the Bellingham location of Explorations Academy doing well. Currently, the East Africa location is engaged in a class session here in Zanzibar with Aaron and the students discussing the article, “How Africa became Black.” Next I will gather the group for a final discussion on the novel “The Red Moon.” Each student will help lead the discussion based on a question that he or she has generated. At the end they will begin their final project for the literature class. This morning was a very productive one, as the group laid out a framework for the term end presentation. There was a lot of writing, editing, collaborating, and feelings of accomplishment. Moments like this have contributed to making this journey successful and enjoyable.
Before I go on, I apologize for the limited communication. Internet has been scarce, so access to any communication other than texts has been minimal. That said, let it be known that all of our voices have been behind the messages you’ve received. Our leadership team has been an example of a well functioning, well supported, compassionate, and humor-loving team. Suzy and Aaron have been a pleasure to teach, work, and travel with. I look forward to sharing more stories and testaments in person!
Guess the Spice!
Last night my Mom joined us in Zanzibar, having come all the way from Mwanza. The students greeted her with excitement, respect, and interest in what she is doing, which she promptly returned by listening to stories their last 4 weeks of travel. Hearing the students reflect on their experiences in Africa has been a refreshing and enjoyable reminder that the work we are doing is highly valuable and important.
Stone Town Market — Imagine the smells!
Thank you all for your support! I look forward to being involved with more of these academically, culturally, and personally challenging expeditions with Explorations Academy students in the future. Asante sana. Safari Njema!!
Stone Town Door
Stone Town Locals at Sunset