Our retreat was short and sweet. On December 3rd, we arrived and checked in to the hotel which took an hour and a half. We were then shown to our rooms, which were mostly triples. As soon as we opened the doors of our rooms, all you could hear throughout the whole hotel were screams. We were not in any way prepared for what we saw. We knew that this was a nice hotel but the rooms were like fully furnished, beautiful apartments equipped with a living room, full kitchen, and two bedrooms. One of the bedrooms had a huge bed, adorned with tons of pillows and was the type of bed that you just want to jump onto. So that’s what we did! I ended up getting that bed which was amazing and was quite a change from the tents that we had been sleeping in for the last few weeks. Each bedroom had its own bathroom with hot water and tons of hotel goodies – shampoo, foot scrub, etc. We seriously felt like we were back in America.
The hotel workers came by our rooms to drop off our bags a few minutes later. I asked one of them how much this hotel costs per night. He said, “is there something wrong with the room?” I had to assure him that there was not a thing wrong with the hotel and that it was the nicest hotel I had ever stayed in before he would tell me how much it cost per night.
Dinner was buffet style and was delicious. We sang happy birthday to Peggy and ate cake for dessert before heading back to our rooms to finalize our presentations for the following morning.
After breakfast, we all met in the conference room and gave our presentations about our projects. Us, General Culture students went in the morning, followed by the Biology students in the afternoon. The presentations were quite interesting but it took so long to get through all of them that we started to loose focus by the afternoon.
After the presentations ended, I went to the Maasai Market with a few friends to spend the little bit of Tanzanian money I still had. As I didn’t have a lot, I figured that I should spend it instead of exchanging it and loosing money in the process. The fact that I only had a limited amount of money with me made it so much easier to bargain. The only negative thing was that it took me so many months to realize this. I ended up getting a bracelet for half as much as I had bought a similar one for a few days earlier. At least I have a technique which I can use from now on.
That evening, we had a nice dinner in a different dining room, set up just for us. We all dressed up for this event and enjoyed our last night together as a group. Some people were much more emotional than others but we all know that we will see each other back in Portland.
The following morning, about half of us boarded a bus to Nairobi. The other half of the students decided that they were going to stay in Arusha as they were traveling around the country independently from the program before returning home.
It was a long drive, especially when we hit traffic coming into Nairobi. A majority of the students stayed at a hotel while the rest of us went back to Riruta Satellite to stay with our host families. My host sister, Peris met me in town and took me home. I was so happy to see her and she was just as happy, if not more happy to see me.