After a long night’s rest and delicious breakfast at the luxurious Ilboru Lodge, we all jumped on a bus again and headed to the School of St. Jude. Upon arrival, we were all immediately overwhelmed at the sight of the property. Once the security gates swung open, we were greeted with a beautiful sight of colorful playgrounds, multiple two and three story buildings, smiling faces and a pristine education environment in what felt like the middle of the jungle.
After hearing the impressive story of the original vision of Gemma Sisia, she gave us a tour of the schools and the boarding houses and campus. It was truly awe inspiring to us all to hear that she started with a school for 3 and now hosts 1,167 students!
The needs for education have been visibly apparent to us all over the past weeks, so to see this grassroots school building a future for Tanzania was just what we all needed as motivation to get us fired up to climb Mt. Kenya!
After an incredible local fare lunch, we headed into downtown Arusha which was an intense and novel cultural experience for most all in the group. We stood out a bit to say the least in the bustling streets, but did not deter us all from attaining our personal supplies. A group of us soon headed to the local second hand market with precautionary measures in check. Gretchen’s tattoos led the way through the streets and stalls and were quite fascinating to the locals who stared, pointed and seemed to appreciate the artwork. Once the word spread amongst the local shopkeepers that we were looking for down jackets, we became the heart of the chaos of the market. From the Michael Jackson’ish black leather jacket Ali found to the pink fur trimmed pink down that Sam found- negotiations were ready to begin. “Canadian shipping taxes” are apparently pretty high in Arusha (ha) and things are “not broken” but “fashionable” (ha ha), but we managed to work out a compromise that had everyone calling us Rafiki by the end. Exchange rates and conversion factors were a little tricky and got a bit lost as Sam soon paid nearly $180 US Dollars for 3 Kangas, soon to realize Rachel and Toni only paid $18. Upon realizing, she and the shopkeeper exchanged sheepish looks after which the shopkeeper laughed and gave Sam her money back.
A big pizza dinner was wolfed down in preparation for departure to Meru the Stiggy’s, with anticipation running high for the adventure that awaits!