Tuesday, June 21, 2011

last post

Okay I don't have that much time to write this so I'll attempt to make it short and sweet. Last time I wrote on this I told you all that the guys were going to live in a real Maasai village for the night. Well we did that and it was quite incredible. Let's just say it was an eye-opener and put some things in perspective for all of us. We made a fire, told stories, played with Maasai children, learned some Maa (the Maasai language), and slept until we awoke to a beautiful sunrise the next morning.

After that, we walked back to the group and packed our things to get ready for safari. We separated in four different safari land cruisers and went on our way. We went to Lake Manyara the first day and saw the Ngorongoro crater from afar. The sights were incredible and I do not think I'm capable of describing them through this blog (the pictures will show you more clearly haha). They have a LOT of monkeys here. Their monkey population is probably equivalent to our squirrel population back in the states. Anyway we set up camp that night to get ready for the Serengeti the next day. The camp that was set up was fairly well guarded against wild animals because it was sort of like a compound like Maji ya Chai.

We stayed in the Serengeti for a couple of days. Our living arrangement was different in that was really out in the open. We all had encounters with hyenas and lions that lurked directly outside of our tents when we slept (don't worry, it was safe even though that's hard to imagine when I say it that way). Anyways, the Serengeti was amazing. We saw the following animals in our two day safari and learned a lot about each of them: lions, elephants, hyenas, jackals, zebra, rhinocerous, cheetah, buffalo, giraffes, ostriches, antelope, wildabeast, hippos, crocodiles, gigantic stork-like birds, gazelles, etc. We saw these animals in their natural habitat and drove up close to each of them. Today we even saw a cheetah hunting down some gazelle... it was wild to say the least. Fun facts that we learned: male lions don't hunt; the females do. The males are not as fast because they are bigger. White rhino and black rhino are not different because of their color. They are different because of their mouth shape.

Anyways, we are back in Mto wa Mbu for the night. We will stay in Maji ya Chai tomorrow which will be our last day in Tanzania (sad face). Each and every one of us on this trip got incredibly close and we are all quite sad to be leaving. Some of the group are spending some time in Europe but others like myself are going back home on Thursday. I expect there to be some tears when we all finally have to part ways...but hey, hakuna matata (no worries) because we will all be friends and hang out when we get back to the states.

Okay this is officially my last post. I hope you all enjoyed reading this blog and may you all enjoy the pictures that we have gathered collectively Most of them will be on facebook (we have about 9 million pictures).


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

mto wa mbu; part two.


It is Wednesday night and we are now about 3/4 of the way completed with our journey here in Tanzania. With each passing day I get sadder knowing that it is going to eventually come to an end. I've met some incredible people and have made wonderful friends on this trip that I'll probably be friends with for a very long time. For now though, I'm trying to enjoy every single minute while it lasts and record as much as I can into my travel journal and here so I can retain the memories.

As mentioned in my most recent post, I considered the bike ride into Lake Manyara to be one of the greatest days of my life... little did I know that the next day would be one of the most interesting and culturally shocking. We went into an actual Maasai village yesterday and participated in a celebration. They were celebrating the circumcisions of two men and four women that were circumcised that morning. They killed a cow and the fathers of the circumcised sat on the cow's head symbolizing their sons and daughters path into adulthood and newly constructed connections with the divine. It was an amazing experience but it made us all feel very shocked. They do not even sedate the circumcised... and these are grown men and girls just hitting puberty that are getting circumcised. It was a good example of how the Maasai have kept their traditions in the face of modernization. While there we also ate goat that was just killed. It did not taste very good to me haha. We also participated in dances and were asked to express happiness. The Maasai consider these circumcisions a very enjoyable occasion... they want everyone to be happy while it is all going down.

Tomorrow the five men in our group (including myself) will branch off from this compound and live with real Maasai men for a night. I'm excited and nervous at the same time for the experience. I expect it to be one of the craziest things I'll ever do.

Okay gotta go internet is dying. kwaheri!

Monday, June 13, 2011

mto wa mbu


Today was probably one of the greatest days of my life. We rode bikes around Lake Manyara and saw stampedes of zebra and buffalo. We saw gazelles sprinting in an open field and thousands of flamingo on the horizon. The bike ride in itself was very adventurous and I've never seen such wonderful sights in my entire lifetime.

We arrived in Mto wa Mbu yesterday. This is the village where our professor (Dr. Arens) lived for two years and did his research in the 1970's. Compared to the lifestyles in Maji ya Chai and Arusha, Mto wa mbu is somewhere in the middle. We are all having a wonderful time. Yesterday afternoon we visited the orphanages and donated money to help them out. We sang American songs to the kids and they sang African songs (in Kiswahili) to us. When we get home we are planning on organizing fundraisers to raise even more money for these kids in need. My heart goes out to them all.

Thankfully there is an Internet cafe here so I am able to share these experiences with you all. I plan on posting on this blog once more later in the week. I think we leave on Sunday for safari so I obviously will not have internet access while there. Thank you for taking the time to read this!


Friday, June 10, 2011

last day in arusha


This is our last day in Arusha. Tomorrow we'll be venturing off to Mto wa Mbu and we'll be staying with the Maasai people in that village for a week before we embark on our four day safari. Arusha has been very fun and exciting. Last night we went to an semi-Italian restaurant and had a great meal while watching some performers juggle fire and such. After we ate, we went to a club and spent about three hours there. The club scene is a little different here in Tanzania as it seems to be much more chill and relaxed compared to clubs in America. We sang karaoke and had a good time singing and dancing.

Later today we will probably go into the Maasai market again to buy our last souvenirs from Arusha before we leave. Arusha has been great but I think most of the group (including myself) are eager to move on and check out Mto wa Mbu! Tomorrow we will be having lunch with Mzee Pete (from Maji ya chai) before we leave for Mto wa Mbu. I'm definitely going to miss the food from this hotel but I'm anxious to see more wildlife in a more rural setting. It's not too scenic here because it's very much an urban setting.

Anyways, this will probably be the last day I have internet for a while as I'm not too sure what the computer situation is in Mto wa mbu. I'm hoping I can gain internet access at least once so I can relay my experiences to you all. Farewell!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Ah only 14 min to write this one. I know I just wrote on this yesterday but I wanted to elaborate on some things:

-We stayed in Maji ya Chai the first week. Maji ya Chai is a commune founded by former Black Panther Peter O' Neal. Peter was exiled from the United States in 1969 and fled to Algeria but has lived in Tanzania now for over thirty years. They call their commune the United African Alliance Community Center (UAACC). The commune offers housing for people traveling through the area and also provides schooling for kids. Everyone there was so welcoming and friendly. Everyone in our group bonded with the kids and had a great time with each other. Overall, the week was very relaxing and chill (besides the Kilimanjaro hike which was simply an epic adventure).

- We are now in Arusha (we got here yesterday). The city of Arusha is about one hour away from Maji ya Chai. It is a very large and urbanized city so the atmosphere is obviously very different. I think we all got major culture shock when we ventured into the city and experienced the urban life first hand. It's a city so the people constantly want to sell their stuff to tourists like us. That was kinda annoying and made some of us paranoid but it was a great time for us to practice our Kiswahili! We are staying at the Impala Hotel and being taught by Dr. Arens. Mwagi taught us in Maji ya Chai. The hotel is very nice and a major change of scenery. Tomorrow we will go to the markets to continue practicing our bargaining skills haha. They have some really cool stuff that I have already bought like spears.

ok gotta go!
- msafiri

Monday, June 6, 2011



I have six minutes to write this post! Ah! curse you sporadic internet. we are in arusha now; the city is crazy it's much different from maji ya chai which was more of a rural commune. I apologize that this post is going to be quite short but here are the main activities we have done.

- hiked mt kilimanjaro
- went shopping in arusha
- performed ngoma (music) for the people at the village of maji ya chai. we performed a Zanzibar dance that was taught to us and also performed some American music (we did the Thriller dance).
- so many epic journies that I can't even cover now.

Bottom line: My whole group and I are having an incredible time and have grown so close in only one week. Our Kiswahili is getting better as well. I've never more incredible experiences than this in my whole lifetime. Culture shock times one million but it's GREAT and I absolutely love it. Three more weeks!!!!! Kwaheri!!!

- msafiri

Friday, May 27, 2011

Safari inaanza (the journey begins)!


Hamjambo (hello)! The journey begins! My name is Mike Cronin in English but my Swahili name is Msafiri (or traveler). Along with seventeen other companions, I will be embarking on an epic journey to Tanzania later today as a part of the Stony Brook Study Abroad program. This blog will describe some of my experiences with the program.

Who I am: I grew up on Long Island, NY but I now live in Rockland County in upstate New York (not geographically upstate but everyone insists on calling it upstate). I am entering my junior year at Stony Brook University and I am studying history. I intend to become a high school history teacher. My concentration is United States history but I want to learn more about global history and particularly African history.

Why I chose this study abroad program: Quite honestly, I'm bored with my country and seeking a once-in-a-lifetime-experience. I chose the most obscure program that I could find and thought this would be really cool because I might never be able to come to Africa again.

Anyways, I need to go to sleep because I got a flight to catch later! I'm hoping I could write on this blog once a week. Whenever I get internet access, I'll try my best to add whatever I can here.

Kwaheri (goodbye)!
- Msafiri