Friday, January 3, 2020

Day 1: Hamjambo (hello!), everyone!

Today was our group's first day in the beautiful country of Tanzania. We landed in the Dar es Salaam Airport last night after two transcontinental flights stopping in Amsterdam, Netherlands and Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

We arrived at our hotel, The Wistas Inn, at about 1:30 a.m. It was a nice but bumpy ride on the local roads with our very kind driver Twaleeb. The two civil engineers Peter and Catie were surely interested in the pavement and the infrastructure surrounding our hotel. After unloading the bags from bus and receiving our room assignments we were challenged with fitting everyone in each room under one mosquito net and figuring out the AC. Multiple rooms failed at one or both of these tasks, but we all survived the night.

We started the next day at 8 a.m. with a wakeup call from the local roosters around the inn. We then ate a tasty breakfast consisting of spaghetti, eggs, and rolled tortillas. The group travelled to a pump and water supply company called Davis and Shirtliff. Davis and Shirtliff also supplies irrigation, power and water treatment services. The staff was surely pumped to see us!

Rosemary, one of the workers from the company, taught the students about the different options we have for pumps and also explained some previous projects for student comparison. We got to see the warehouse where pumps, PVC, and solar panels similar to the ones we use for our projects were stored.

After leaving Davis and Shirtliff we took the bus through very busy Dar Es Salaam to lunch on the coast. Upon arriving we were greeted by beautiful views of the Indian Ocean off the deck of the Sea Cliff Karmbezi Café. Lunch was phenomenal and surpassed much of our expectations.

After lunch we visited the mwenge carvers’ market where we could practice our Swahili and bartering skills. We left with carved knives, coasters, dishes, soccer jerseys, a variety of handcrafted weapons, and a plethora of paintings. Our bartering skills varied from paying way above the asking price, bartering through the window of the bus as we pulled away, and using a coin flip to settle a standstill. All in all, it was a pleasant experience for everyone, and we left with beautiful handcrafted gifts and goodies.

After an eventful morning we got a break back at Wistas where we could rest, play cards, and try the Tanzanian beers. Serengeti Light received high remarks from all. The group then took the trip for dinner at the Slipway Waterfront Restaurant. We all enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the Indian Ocean as we ate a phenomenal dinner while listening to a local band from the area. We then travelled back to the hotel after Will and Ken got their ice cream!

Finally, the tired group went to bed to get some sleep for the big day of travel tomorrow. We will be going to the city of Iringa which is an unknown amount of time from the hotel. The group is having a competition as to who can guess the total travel time tomorrow without going over! Guesses are ranging from 9-13 hours. Updates will come later as to who wins the competition.

Peter D.