Many mornings, I would wake up and think to myself, “What the hell am I doing here?” I intended to join up with Moshi and Ikaji to start a safari company that would direct tourists to Kondoa and then ultimately get them involved in environmental projects. 

It made sense because the company would make a profit and everyone would benefit, but I pulled out. I got cold feet. I would have been a little anchovy swimming in a sea of sharks, and I was way out of my league.  

Ikaji was definitely a shark, and he just wanted to make money. He had no interest in the environmental work, and as a group, we decided that working together would be a mistake. Moshi, although he wanted to work again on the safari circuit, agreed with the decision. Looking back, it was good that these plans fell apart since, a few years later, Ikaji was arrested for financial crimes. 

Rather than trying to establish an entire safari company, Moshi and I decided to focus on the smaller cultural programs that paired village tours with environmental projects. We’d take a small group of people to see Cheku village for example, and then have them buy and plant a few trees with a teacher and group of students from the local elementary school. The travellers who embark upon small tours to visit the villages like Cheku don’t freak out when they use their last piece of toilet paper. They don’t mind a little dust in their eyes and feel comfortable being uncomfortable. This is a small niche of people, which was perfect, because if you brought too much tourism to some of these areas, they would be destroyed.

In our society, we base success on money, so, for me, if I think about it in those terms. The larger venture was unsuccessful, but when I took away the idea of money, focusing on smaller tours made total sense—but there would never be huge profits in them. That’s the problem with working on environmental projects: they serve another purpose that doesn’t feed the beast of Western capitalism.

Only one person could make a living out of this, and of course it would be Moshi. 

Not me. 

Kondoa is just a little speck of dust on the planet. The people here are like Dr. Suess’s Whos in Whoville. An entire world was existing on a tiny piece of dust, and you had to really listen to hear what was going on. There was a beautiful, harsh, and sometimes even ugly reality that was happening simultaneously with our own.

I wanted to listen.