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Tanzania Mission, Day 1: Leaving the tourist behind

A gorgeous afternoon in Dar. Haley tried the shellfish, Kassie tried the goat. Lucas tried...everything.We're been in Dar es Salaam for 24 hours, practicing Swahili, buying elephant-print kangas in the market, eating cones of tiramisu-flavored gelato, and watching fishermen tend their nets along the pier. But haunting us all day has been the reality that we are currently dwelling in a sanitized, monetized, seaside villa version of Africa and that the real trip begins tomorrow.

Actually it began tonight when we had dinner with Edward Mgeni, the amazing Country Manager for Global Volunteers who is also our team leader. Dinner was everything from curried vegetables and banana soup, to french fries and pizza. And conversation ranged from the number of students enrolled in the three Pomerini schools (Edward knew the exact count, by day), the role of women in the village (they do a LOT, traveling many kilometers for firewood) to the number of cars (two in a community of 4,000).

We talked about how we'd be put to use in the village, but more importantly, Edward encouraged us to spread out in all directions after our orientation—to get to know people, to feel the community.

If the pleasure of Edward's company is any indication, we feel it already.

Okay, time for bed. We hit the road at 6:30 AM for a ten-hour journey that will include a fifty-mile short-cut across Mikumi National Park. We're not allowed to stop without a permit, though if there are safari animals roaming about we're allowed to drive really slow to snap a few photos. Or really fast if a bull elephant is charging.

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