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Family, Genus, Species

A treacherous day and a half of traveling transformed into an exciting adventure thanks to beautiful and strange souls along the way. During an 8 hour layover, I took a short sojourn into Dar Es Salaam where I was thankfully greeted with kindness at a random hotel I accidentally stumbled into and was given a free breakfast and permission to nap in their lounge. Then, while I sat at a restaurant by Kilimanjaro's international airport waiting for my family to arrive to the glorious country, I was given a book and friendly time passing conversation by a fellow wanderer named Sander. Since I underestimated the value of a travel VISA, I had 1000 Tsh, equivalent to 50 cents, left to my name, and therefore was unable to afford any food during my 6 hour wait. But, by the grace of the universe, the waitress at the restaurant took a liking to me and served me a complimentary meal in exchange for my Facebook information. Sick deal, amirite?

My family finally rolled into the airport at 9 pm, groggy and wonderfully. I was so excited to show them around my new home, but soon realized is we were no longer in the Tanzania that I knew. We drove through lush landscapes and ate expensive meals with luxuries like ground coffee and cheese. It was glorious, but it was difficult to relate the current experience with how I'd lived the past two months.

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So there were three phases of our little vacation. First was the classic safari. Five days in a Land Cruiser with the family and our all knowing guide David, surrounded by elephants, cheetahs, lions, zebras, wildabeasts. I got an early birthday present delivered by my parents: a camera. Which is so necessary for a safari because it is honestly a glorified photo shoot. In the best possible way. When we weren't bumping down African park roads, we were hardcore glamping at tented camps, where they greeted us with champagne flutes. A couple of years ago, being trapped in a metal transportation box with the family for five days straight would have sounded like a certain kind of hell. However, it was not just a family trip but a family reunion, since we have only been a complete set a few days in the past year so it was great to be together and watch the dynamics of our quirky family at work. My absolute favorite part of the safari was the final morning in Ngorongoro Crater, which is actually a caldera from an ancient collapsed African mountain. We woke up at dark and saw the most beautiful light reflecting the green grasses and reflective pools of water. It also had 360 views with beautiful scaling backdrops. Although we saw the fewest exciting animals, the simply presence there was enough to wow us all. 

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So after five days straight of sitting in a car on top of two days of flight travel for all four of us, we decided a 12 mile hike in Kilimanjaro was the perfect idea. Obviously, there were some nerves in the beginning and we all felt underprepared. But it all worked out beautifully and I felt so lucky to be climbing on the Roof of Africa, even though if it wasn't a summit trip. One obvious problem that did surface was the use and exploitation of African porters who carry entire propane tanks and tents without proper equipment, often without any pay since the tip filters down the food chain before reaching them last. I might be doing further research into the subject and might have a more detailed post later, because I was enraged the entire time.

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After we conquered the first quarter of Kilimanjaro, we jetted off to Zanzibar which is an island in the Indian Ocean with a colorful history of innate doors and slave trade, bonus Freddy Mercury of Queen was born there. Initially, when our taxi pulled into a coastal village, I was a little concerned about our accommodations, whether it was completely a mess or they had evicted villagers from their homes in order to make a mzungo paradise. We turned left through some banana leaf thatched gates and were greeted by Milo and Milky, two Polish men with long dreadlocked hair. Milky moved to Zanzibar after leaving his former life in Kenya and seems like a Peter Pan character of sorts. He has a band named The Homeless with his musical friends of Zanzibar because he considers himself homeless. He has an extroidary relationship with the village where his resort is, and strictly only hires people from it and pays them fare wages. He is definitely a zany man who has denounced his Polish origin and has been accepted by the people of Zanzibar. They also had free yoga classes in the morning which was prime. The second day we were there, we tourist-ed hardcore by taking a spice farm tour and visiting Stonetown, which is the historic major city of Zanzibar. The spice tour was in a demonstration farm so it easy to see each plant and herb. It was a sensory tour where we were asked to guess each plant by sight, smell and taste. 10/10 would recommend for a friend. It was incredibly educational and a fun activity. We got to Stonetown in time for a sunset drink and dinner at 6 degrees. When we got back to Zanzibar Boutique Bandas Resort, Milky's band was jamming the night away. 

Tanzania is a truly magical place and I was so grateful to share it wit my family. 

Julia Bridgforth