Day 4

I sit in my canopy mosquito shielded bed as I listen to the digital-sounding bird of the African night. All else is quiet. My impossibly thick Marley twists sit neatly atop my head like a crown, balancing as if I was African royalty carrying the weight of the family’s necessities. I told myself I wouldn’t get in the beach today- an alluring 3D view that called my name… I refused to suffer the consequences. And I kept my promise. Instead, I couldn’t resist the pool. The water cool enough to soothe my sunburnt pores but warm enough to play like a child in the streets of a New York summer. The water was perfect. I had to get in. I had to swim. I had to splash. I’m three Kilimanjaro beers deep as we play Marco Polo in the shallow end. I  use others as my shield…I still get caught twice. Who knew I could still have so much energy after I danced every drip of my sweat under the firelit moon to the beats of our ancestors now evolved into modern dancehall music. The arches of our feet calling through the earth, our kindred spirits…we dance in a circle, a ritualistic celebration. We are here together, under the burning moon. The sun is so bright that when it is no longer visible, the moon immediately makes its debut as if to say, “Did you miss me? I was never really gone.” Americans of every shade all attempt to mimic the dance moves of the Tanzanian performers we watched before dinner, while also adding our own spice. The spice of the  potato salad was the perfect kick. Best potato salad I’ve ever had. One of the best days I’ve ever had. When I think of summer, I’ll think of this: carelessly dancing under the sun’s moon, various cultures blending into one, like a papito, the African people, the fruit, we Americans, the ice, and this land, our coconut shell. We spoke in two different languages with the same rhythmic tide. At the Dar es Salaam orphanage this morning, I was Simba, and we all Twende’d and we “Jina lango ni Daryl. Na wewe ni nani” and we were crocodiles, and fish, and took imaginary photos, and “tano”ed. At the KCC community center later on that day, they contoured their bodies, while also contouring our minds, and i got the COOLEST PANTS EVER. They look like a lion’s favorite gear. We talked about traditions and future endeavors through the past and present. I feel an overwhelming force of gratitude sweep me to a level pure contentment. I am here.

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