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By Betty Levitov

“I imagine i am getting it,” Betty Levitov’s youngest scholar stated, sitting on a porch in Harare, Zimbabwe. “You’ve had a very likely deadly ailment, and confronted loss of life, and now you’ll just do approximately anything.” the coed was once attempting to fathom why a instructor could take 13 childrens from a small midwestern liberal arts collage on a three-month trek throughout Africa.
The resolution, a studying adventure like no different, unfolds in Levitov’s completely enticing account of her life-changing stint as a mwalimu (“teacher” in Swahili) with an Australian bus motive force and 13 university teenagers from Nebraska in tow. The group’s wanderings take them—and us—through seven nations. via dhow journeys and donkey rides at the Swahili island of Lamu, scuba diving and spice excursions in Zanzibar, camping out within the Namib wasteland, and swimming at the fringe of a cataract at Victoria Falls, we come across striking humans, new customs, and fascinating arts (along with malaria, flat tires, a motorcycle coincidence, and a hostage crisis). because the scholars apprentice themselves to African chefs, fishermen, carvers, and batik artists, we find with them a sophisticated and intricate connection between humans often worlds apart.

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She arranges a meeting for me to meet him at the Bamboo. She is right about Mr. Mushi. I like him immediately. His wide, toothy smile signals a welcome, and his very serious eyes suggest an active mind. He says he once had a paid teaching job, but he doesn’t explain why he’s no longer employed. He tells me he occasionally finds work as a cultural liaison to visitors and political officials. I order coffee and sandwiches for both of us, and while we eat, we talk about arranging a meeting with our group for lectures and discussions about Tanzania.

I befriend the manager, Enil Kiwia. She is friendly to all of us and takes time to sit with me for a few minutes when the morning rush subsides. She doesn’t like the boss and tells me, “She’s hard. Too hard. ” Enil says, “I know someone you will like. He’s very smart. A 34 | m r. m us hi teacher, mwalimu, like you. Your students have to meet him. They will learn. ” She tells me that Mr. Mushi comes to town from the Moivaro village, fifteen minutes away by daladala, the public minibus. “I give him free coffee,” she says.

Eleven days after we get off the plane—eleven days late—Gavin appears. It is early evening and I am drinking a Kilimanjaro beer at the Jambo with the Belgian architect of the café, who also lives in Arusha and who comes to the café every night. Gavin stands in the doorway, scanning the room for me; he is sooty, unshaven, wearing sunglasses and a black cotton sailor’s cap turned down over his ears. This is the vision of Gavin I will become the most familiar with. We hug, and he introduces me to his travel buddy, Alex, a rider since Johannesburg, a Kenyan who seems twice Gavin’s height.

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