Thursday, January 5, 2023

Day 7: Prepping to visit the villages, the view from "The Stone That Speaks"

A relaxing morning and a tour of the Iringa area before heading off to our three-day village visits to Lukani, Idete, and Muhanga.

Today was somewhat of an intermediate day as the students prepare for their 3-day village visits to Lukani, Idete, and Muhanga.

After breakfast and a slow, relaxing morning, the students headed across the street again to Ken’s apartment to get the rundown on what the next few days in the villages will look like. Essentially, each of the three groups will have the opportunity to ask the villagers as many questions as possible, hike to various water sources to obtain design parameters, and take water samples to check bacteria levels.

The group split for lunch with most going to the well-liked Neema Café. A few others attempting to go to a restaurant called Clock Tower, which was closed so they went back to Hasty Tasty.

After lunch, we loaded into our lovely purple/blue Sprinter van and ventured to hike Gangilonga, the largest rock in Iringa, which provides an amazing valley view of the district. Our kind tour guide Emmanuel told us the history of Gangilonga, or the “Stone that Speaks.” This is a translation from the native Tanzanian language of the Hehe. It is said that the Hehe would use the large stone to speak with their ancestors, seeking the answer to their questions.

The high vantage point also allowed the Hehe and Chief Mkwawa to monitor the German’s movements and activities in Iringa Town during the guerilla resistance years. We proudly report that no students fell over the edge of the rock, allowing leader Matt to continue to boast that he has not yet lost a student on the trip. Better not jinx it, Matt!

Special shout out to our driver, Peter, who basically drove us the entire way up the hill and managed to not break an axel on our mighty, purple/blue coaster. Thanks to Peter, it was less of a hike and more of a walk. None of the students complained about this.

The students collectively chose to return to the Sunset Hotel for our last meal in Iringa before we leave for our villages. As can be assumed from the name, the sunset view is tough to beat.

We’re happy to have our third leader, Paul, arrive safely in Iringa with great energy. His flight had no issue getting out of Minnesota given the snowy weather, however he did break his flipflop which brought him great emotional turmoil.

To all the loved ones we have been connecting with throughout our trip, we will not have any wifi or internet connection during our stay in the villages. With that being said, don’t be concerned if you don’t hear from us for a few days. Although if you haven’t heard from us in a week, it’s likely our Land Rover was swallowed up by one of the monstrous sinkholes along the rural, unpaved roads. We’ll be fine!

—Blog post by Aidanne and Lucy