Monday, July 26, 2010

Greek Inspiration

Sometimes in life, you have the opportunity to meet really inspirational people. The kind of people who make you a little jealous of their life, but also ready to live your own to see what amazing things you can do. That happened on Saturday.

On July 22, Logan and I went to the Saadani Safari Lodge (really expensive place) to have both a gin and tonic and a nice dinner. While we were there, we met the owner/manager, Mark, a man we had been e-mailing back and forth with for sometime, but hadn’t had a chance to meet. We talked a while about our project, but business called us away, and we didn’t see him again until we were leaving after dinner.

The next day, there was a politician in town running for election, and we gathered in the crowed in the middle of the village to see what was going on. At that time, a man came up to us and started talking to us, his name was Kostas and he is a business partner with Mark. He invited us to dinner the following night at the lodge to discuss conservation issues in Saadani Park.

The next night, we sat at a table with 17 others among them were tourists, researchers, and individuals that worked at the hotel, all who were interested in conservation issues. We sat next to Kostas and his lady friend, which turned out to be both education and very very interesting. I say interesting because Kostas and his friend are both Greek, and they would sometimes chatter away in greek, bickering about something endearingly. You could tell these two had a long history together because they knew the other’s arguments inside and out. However, listening to both of them was very inspirational, and a simple question had the capability of setting either off lasting 10 minutes. But because they are both so dynamic, you’d forget that you hadn’t said anything more.

One of these questions we asked to Kostas was, “How long have you been in Saadani?” This prompted him to talk about his life story. He was born in Burundi, and has been moving around East Africa to all the National Parks for a long time and arrived in Tanzania for the first time in ‘94. He told us about his adventures around Tanzania until he was marooned in the southern part of the country with a group of researchers he happened upon. While in their company, one man asked if he had been to the place where elephants swim in the ocean. This is when he made his was to Saadani, when it was still a game reserve.

From that time, he has never left Saadani. He is now a manager (of some sort, not exactly sure of his title) of a very nice lodge, and has started a non-profit company, LTD. This company takes the profits it makes and re-invests it into the community of Saadani. The village is not the only benefactor of this generosity. He is currently working on building a lodge nearby that will protect a religious site and prevent a developer from coming in and building a hotel on the hill of the site.

The entire time he spoke about his life and his plans, he had to keep reminding me, “Bon appetite! Bon appetite.” The food was delicious, and I would start to eat it while still listening to him.

For a young person like me, meeting and hearing the story of someone like Kostas is extremely inspirational. It continually reminds me that often times, you just have to live your life, and things will happen to you. You can’t always make your life awesome or interesting, it just happens. For me, at this point in my life, this is especially important because I am trying to figure out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. What should I study in grad school? In what direction do I want to start taking my life (career-wise)? Where should I live? What am I interested in? Etc, etc, etc. I have hope that I am going in the right direction, even though I have no idea where that direction is pointing yet.

Logan (about the whole post): Ditto

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