Posted April 14th, 2017 by Ana Rau
Exotic and moving are the two words the come to mind.
Imagine your airplane is landing on two parallel dirt paths in an open woodland, “terminal” is a small sign for Coastal Airlines nailed to a tree. And the sign is spattered with hippopotamus dung. And you are met by a guide shuttling you to the lodge 20 minutes away, with giraffe and elephant sightings along the route.
Imagine being in a village so remote the nearest clinic is a 3-hour walk away, the nearest primary school an hour walk for its young students, where most villagers live in a one room hut with dirt floors. Yet some of the avocados raised in the village orchards are sold in Europe; the milk from village cows is made into yogurt you eat for breakfast on an international flight out of Dar-es-Salaam.
Imagine being an honored guest, sitting on the only visible chairs, greeted by cow-tail waving dancers and an energetic band of assorted drummers and kazoo players, women singing call-and-response messages in haunting harmonies. And after the requisite speeches and formalities, sharing a meal prepared by the village women – rice, free-range chicken, avocado and tomato salad, the most succulent pineapple and bananas imaginable.
Imagine staying in a lodge so elegant the ebony tree trunks holding up the ceiling beams each are carved with a special image by the craftsman who placed the beam. Where over breakfast you can view hippos wading across the shallow river and exotic birds building dozens of nests in branches overhanging the banks. Where each guest suite has its own plunge pool for a cooling dip before an afternoon rest. And dinner features meals that meet fine dining experiences in any major city.
Such are just a few of my memories from our recent Tanzanian experience with Africa Bridge and Papa Barry, as the villagers so affectionately call its founder. All six of us visitors chose to add additional experiences in Tanzania before linking with Africa Bridge. Greg and daughter Mary hiked Mt. Meru; Marty and Margaret from Seattle, along with Lew and me from Portland opted for more safari in the Serengeti. But the absolute highlight for me was the time in the villages supported by Africa Bridge, and to better understand the invaluable support provided for the most vulnerable children in Tanzania, indeed some of the most vulnerable in the world.
As someone lucky enough to have traveled extensively, my Tanzanian experience is definitely at the top of my best cultural and nature-focused trips ever! Thank you, Barry, for all you do and for sharing your beloved Tanzania with us.