Being on my third trip to Masaera, I have loved being reunited with my friends from my previous trips. When the team first arrived, we were sitting in cars waiting to exchange money when Canute, our main contact from the village, shows up asking for me. I greet him through the window and he disappeared to find professor H. Later he comes back once again asking for me, “the queen.” He decided that even though the United States does not recognize royalty, that is how the village views me after leading the trip last year. This time greeting him through the window wasn’t enough and at his request I crawled from the back of the van over the large piles of luggage to greet him with hugs and to get an update on what has been happening in the village. This was a great welcome back to Tanzania.
Two years ago, I became good friends with one of the translators named Jackie and spent a lot of time with her again last year. I knew she would probably be away at a University, but printed pictures of the two of us anyways. Since I hadn’t seen her in the village, a few days ago I went to her house to find her mom to leave the pictures with her. Even her mom seemed grateful to see me even though we could not really have a conversation.
The next day, when we showed up at Canute’s, Jackie was there waiting for me. Her dad called her after I visited her house. Jackie boarded a bus in Arusha to Moshi, took another bus to Moshi, and then a bus to Himo just to see me. I was ecstatic to see her and have her shadow me pretty much all day. When we would pass people she knew she would stop to tell them I was her friend, which always brought a smile to my face. And don’t worry; she starts school in June so she didn’t have to miss any school to make the trip.
Today, I received an extra surprise. Reagan, who translated for us two years ago, but was in Moshi studying last year, was back! Once past the initial hellos he started helping me like he did the previous trip. He took my backpack and carried it for me while he guided us to help with the mapping of the canal. After lunch, I put my backpack on and within seconds he was pulling at the handle letting me know that he wanted to carry it for me. Each day the interactions with my old friends are the highlights. I feel so fortunate that I was able to come back and see my friends again.