I left for Tanzania, flying out of O’Hare International Airport, Friday, the 5th, and arrived late on Saturday, the 6th. Following almost two hours of waiting in customs, due to me having been asleep on the plane when they handed out the required paperwork, I was finally able to retrieve my luggage and rendezvous with the rest of the crew. That first night had us driving into Arusha and after a late night dinner at Klub Afriko (the hotel in which we are staying), I crashed hard.
Per COVID policy, the other students and I are required to stay in the hotel for the first week while we undergo a test and await our results. It is really not as bad as it sounds. In fact, with the eight hour time jump that comes from the East African time zone, the extra time to adjust in is quite welcome. The students here with me are great and we get along well. Currently, there are eight of us, but we expect one more to fly in tomorrow, the 12th, making for 9 students in total. Since we are all in quarantine together, we get to be treated as one big family group, so restrictions are light as long as we do not leave the premises.
Southern Highlands One-horned Chameleon (left); Spikeball in the back garden (right)
Klub Afriko is a small 16 bedroom hotel situated on a hillside in Arusha. Sitting at 1400m above sea level, the temperatures here are a comfortable 65˚-75˚F depending on cloud cover. We are upon the cusp of the rainy season here in Tanzania, and it shows. Aside from the main dining hall, our go-to hangout spot is the garden outback of the hotel where we play a lot of spikeball. Behind the garden, there is an old unfinished building where we like to play soccer in the afternoons. The whole compound is surrounded by an incredible amount of biodiversity with both plant and animal species abundant. This makes me all the more excited for the next three months I get to spend here. If I am finding such a variety of plants and animals on the plot of an urban hotel, how much more will I get to experience in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Zanzibar! Throughout quarantine, we’ve been having daily lectures on the history of biodiversity and conservation in Tanzania. Today’s lecture outlined our trip itinerary. We are set to leave quarantine on Saturday and if my next few months are half of what was described today, the pictures you will see in the following months will be on par with National Geographic.
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