As a 14 year old, I decided to embark on a 3 week expedition to Tanzania, Africa, with 9 others from my school. I was the youngest that was going, as was instantly adopted as the ‘baby’ of the group (story of my life considering my birthday is the very end of July, I was always the youngest in my year!). We had to raise £3,000 each, and we managed to do this in just a year and a half.
Flights? What Flights?
So I have always had pretty rubbish luck when it comes to flights being on time. 90% of the time flights are either delayed or cancelled! This time was no exception, our flight from Manchester was cancelled, meaning we had to be put up for the night in the city, and spent two nights in the unbearable heat in Dubai (it was only supposed to be a 5 hour stopover, but because of the cancelled flight from Manchester, we had to wait for the next available plane). Finally, literally 3 days later, we arrived in Dar Es Salaam airport, Tanzania, and set off exploring the city. We made our way through the Usumbara Mountains for the first week, I managed to get the group lost (I’ve never been good with a map..) but it only added 3 miles onto our 5 day hike, so wasn’t the end of the world.
We spent the next 5 nights at our camp in a small village in the Usambara Mountains, where we helped a school by re-painting whiteboards, taking gifts and stationary for the children and concreting the classrooms walls. It was honestly one of the most rewarding experiences, and I will hold it close to my for the rest of my life.
15th Birthday, with Ants!?
I had been a little bit stingy with my money, as I was worried I was going to run out. So, for my 15th birthday, that was celebrated with rice and veggies sat on the edge of a drop on one of the nearby mountains, the 9 others I was with had all put money together and bought be a packed of custard cremes from the (very limited) village shop. I was soooo excited, don’t get me wrong, I loved rice and veggies, which is what we had most nights, but this was definitely the best present after the lack of sweet things! I opened up the packet, so excited, to then find out they had been infested with ants. So I didn’t get to eat my birthday custard cremes…
In a while crocodile..
In our last couple of days, we went on a safari! We were lucky enough, (when our safari van finally got moving, two hours later than planned because the engine was overheated) to see three female ‘Simba’ (lions) alongside zebras and elephants. We pulled up to the lakeside, where there were hippos bathing on the other side, far away from us. Because they were so far away, our tour driver told us it was safe to get out and take photos, as long as we didn’t make too much noise! We were all still whispering in excitement as we got out our digital cameras to take photos. All of a sudden, everyone became silent, I was the furthest in front and just figured that people were in awe of the creatures…
I heard someone from behind me whisper my name, so I looked up from my camera to see them pointing in front of me. It took me a second but then I saw it.
A massive croc, maybe about 5 meters away? The tour guide slowly got his tranquilliser gun out and asked everyone to slowly and silently make their way back on to the bus. As soon as I move, the alligator opened his mouth, thought his body didn’t move. I was absolutely terrified. I moved as slow as I can, although all I wanted to do was scream and run – the two opposite things to do in this scenario. We all safely got back onto the bus, and I thought my heart was beating outside of my chest. While I was trying to understand what had just happened, the safari guide turned around laughing, and said ‘I thought he was going to get you’. All I could think was thanks mate. That really makes me feel better.
What I’ve learnt..
This is pretty straight forward, no underlying message here. What I learnt was – never get that close to an crocodile again. Ever.
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