Tanzanian Adventures: Beginning of An Adventure

Traveling to Tanzania has not been a small task. It took months (six months to be exact) to get ready for this one week adventure all the way across the world. In those months I  read about the area in which I was to visit, gather all the supplies needed for this adventure, and visit the doctor to make sure I don’t come home with any nasty disease. After all, this is Africa, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity few people get to go.

The adventure started when I received my daily wake-up call from Maddie who no matter what major event is about to happen, still wants to be fed on her schedule. I did not need to board a plane until the evening (flight left at 10:15 pm PST) and so I went about my Sunday as usual. With suitcase in hand, and a uneventful ride to the airport, I started my adventure.

But things were not going to be uneventful for long……

Seattle Washington to Washington DC:
I feel TSA hates me at SEA-TAC. No other airport TSA has ever made me feel horrible as the TSA agents at SEA-TAC. Seriously they hate me. One minute everything is going just great and next I’m having a full body pat down all over my cell phone! Thank goodness the guy (yes it was a male who did this pat down!!!) decided not to explore certain places I should not mention. After finding nothing I was let go to board my flight.

But it still gets better! Getting told by United Airline’s gatekeeper “I’m in timeout” because there was a backup on boarding the flight. After awhile it got old when he went further in saying “don’t mess with me.” He was joking I hope because of a 10:15 pm PST. I really had not brain complicity to comprehend if he was. I joke about it, but in a way, it bothered me for some odd reason. I may have something to do with a certain incident involving a passenger being kicked off a flight three weeks prior.

To make matters even worst, economy class is horrible with all of us in our group crammed like sardines in the back to plane near the toilets. The turbulence was horrible for a red-eye flight, jolting out anyone from a little nap. At one point I did become sick enough to not know if it was low blood sugar, low blood pressure, or the stifling heat from all the bodies crammed in a metal tube. After eating a whole Pro Meal Bar and drinking some water I began to feel a little better and no longer felt like I was going to faint. I will not be flying United red-eye anytime soon after this experience. No one on the plane got any sleep except the guy in the same row as me by the window who snored all the way from Seattle to Virginia. He must have been a frequent flier to have that talent.

When we all arrived in Virginia (Washington Dulles International Airport) no one got any sleep, all of us were at Starbucks like  real true Seattle-lite and hoping the next flight would produce some sleep on the way to Ethiopia. The layover was five hours long of staring out the terminal windows at a beautiful sunny day in Virginia (and warm too) with flatness for miles.  Trying not to be perplexed by the souvenirs being sold with the word “Washingtonian” which is weird since this is what people in Washington State are called, and hoping we all can have some sleep before touching down in Ethiopia.

Washington DC to Ethiopia:
Thirteen hours of flying across the world at this point and you wonder how is this possible to be going forward instead of going backward? The flight was uneventful (unlike the red-eye) and I slept through most of the thirteen hours to combat the jet lag enough to function for the next few traveling hours to Tanzania. On the plane’s flight progress screen, the flight took us over Spain, Portugal, Egypt, part of Morocco, and Sudan. All those countries below ready to be explored in the near future. On the flight, I was in a row with a woman who was traveling back home to Ethiopia from the states, and she informed me it was winter time in Ethiopia. No snow on the ground except in the higher peaks (the plane flew over some white peaks) and it looked mostly arid desert. Snow is unheard of in these parts of Africa. The airport Addis Ababa is at the foot of Mount Entoto and near the city of Addis Ababa. The airport is an open, sparse hub for Ethiopian Airlines and got really humid waiting for the next flight to Tanzania.  It was here I first encountered a semi-squat toilet and learned toilet paper is not flush-able but instead has to be put into a little trash bin by the toilet after use.

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A glance at Addis Ababa Ethiopia from an airport window
After waiting four hours for our group’s flight to Tanzania in the airport terminal, we boarded the flight, and I can say I have stepped on Ethiopian soil while walking across the tarmac to the waiting plane. I was very much glad to have a whole row to myself which meant I could look out the window when the plane arrived in Tanzania.

Ethiopia to Tanzania:

Plane on the tarmac
The flight was interesting because it was four hours and they fed us all lunch. Surprise!  Once the plane touched down at Kilimanjaro International Airport, it was one of those scenes out of the Ladies Detective Series where there is a huge commercial plane next to a small town airport in the middle of nowhere Africa. As soon as I stepped off the plane the humid heat hit you full on. And being at the end point of travel all my traveling companions agreed we stunk of body odor and need to shower so bad! Getting a travel visitor visa took a while to complete especially in the humid heat with no cool air to relieve. Most of us girls had rosy red cheeks from heat by the time we all reached to window to hand over our passport, visa application, and our $100 USD (must be a  $100 bill, not five $20 bills, or pay in Euros or higher weighted currency, and not Tanzanian shillings)  to the immigration officer. Then after approval, get the real visa stamped into the passport at the visa verification line before picking up our luggage. It’s a process, a long one when there is a huge plane full of people, and I think next time I will apply for the visa prior to leaving the US. After all of us successfully got through visa line, we all boarded a bus to head to our hotel in Arusha.

Green Mountain Hotel, Arusha Tanzania:
Our drive to Arusha from the airport took little over an hour passing what is considered in America as slums where garbage dump is next to a muddy river bank, people rummaging around in it, dogs roaming around, people walking along the road carrying large bundles of stuff home, fields of maize or corn, and crazy driving like never seen in the USA. This is what would be called poverty with muddy dirt roads leading off the paved roads into muddy red dirt roads with shacks crammed together. It is very different from what you see in the Americas.

Our group checked into a small hotel in the middle a busy neighborhood outside Arusha proper. Green Mountain Hotel is where we all staying for five of the nights we were in Tanzania (other was a Lutheran hotel). Once checked in I crashed for three hours before dinner from all the jet-lag. Which did not help later when it was time to actually go to bed. Dinner was a gathering of all of us eating family style, and meeting four new members of our team. After dinner it was off to figure out how to use the shower and then crash again for bed.

Green Mountain Hotel from the road.
More Information:
Flights: United Airlines (Seattle to Washington DC) & Ethiopian Airlines (Washington DC to Tanzania)
Hotel: Green Mountain Hotel

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Packing For Tanzania

*First off I want to state there is NO part of this post that is affiliated with any specific brand, product, or company. I talk a lot about brands in this post, but I am purely sharing my opinion about fantastic products that I used on the trip.*

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What do you pack for a short mission trip to Tanzania? Well, it is similar to packing for an African safari, but without the luxury (I was not going to be hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro while there, so if you are looking for a list of things for that I would recommend this list instead).

Clothing:

  • 4 pairs of khaki pants
  • 1 skirt
  • 5 shirts
  • 1 light wind- breaker jacket
  • 1 fleece shirt
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 4 sports bras
  • 1 regular bra
  • 1 bathing suit (Tankini)
  • Hiking shoes
  • Flip flips
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Clothing Items


Toiletries:

Technology:

Accessories:

 

Why Tanzania?

The question most asked when I tell people Tanzania is where Northwest University is being called to serve in community development. The thing is most have heard of this country from stories of daring climbers who summit Mt. Kilimanjaro and the old world charm of going on a safari and Disney’s Lion King to name of few. But beyond these thrill adventures is a world very few even touch. The porter who lugged your suitcase to your room, the tour guide driving the vehicle on safari, go home to a very different world beyond the luxury we as travelers enjoy. After all, this is Africa, and even in East Africa, there is still poverty starring the traveler straight in the eye.

Beyond the wall of a luxury resort is a reality seen by few who look closely. Even though Tanzania is relatively a safe country, there is still citizens who live below the poverty level of a $1 a day, and unrest still in present in some parts of the country. You can say it all stems from unrest, wars, colonial period (German and British) and refugees coming from other African countries. All are true, and all are a part of the fabric of what makes the Tanzanian people such a vibrant group of people.

This vibrant group of people is the reason why I went to Tanzania. A once in a lifetime opportunity to see the world from a different perspective, and to find what I have been told is Ubantu, “the belief we are defined by our compassion and kindness towards others.” Something I found to be the heart and soul of the people of Tanzania and Africa.

In the following posts is a recount of my journey in the heart of Tanzania, and the ubantu of Africa.

African Proverb:

Art and Cheese-A Sunday In Seattle


To get me in an art museum is to bribe me. Really bribe me. So when it came to a Facebook event posting about a free three days at the Seattle Art Museum, I believed it was a bribe enough. This past Sunday I went on one of the free days with my Mom to see what the whole collection is about. While there I got to see the newest exhibit to got on displace Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series. Overall it was fascinating to see a series of paintings dispiriting the great migration of African-Americans moving from the South to the North and West parts of the country. Worth a look.


While touring the museum I realized I am not much of a fan for contemporary art. Some of those things look like a kindergartener painted them. The mouse versus man was interesting, but a bunch wooden stick wrapped in barbwire is something I just don’t get. The room full of china had a few pieces I am familiar with or seen in some of the great houses in England. A lot of art comes from old masters of European paintings. One such paintings are the Greek Orthodox Christian painting depicting Christ’s birth and crucifixion, along with statues of saints (some I have never heard about) on display.


After seeing all of Seattle Art Museum, we headed to Pikes Place Market for some lunch and to walk through the stalls. The weather as always was cloudy with a some sprinkles. We both decided to try out Beecher’s Mac n Cheese for the first time. An 8oz is the smallest they have, and boy is the mac n cheese very rich (yes it is not Whole30 compliant but it is worth the cheat!). There is reason this is world-famous, the cheese is real wholesome cheese.

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Beecher’s Mac n Cheese

After a filling lunch of mac n cheese, we both had to walk some of it off by ambling along in the Pike Market Stalls checking out all the flowers, produce, and even the fish stalls (no fish throwing at all). There was even tulips at one flower stall, and dried flowers for sale as well. Since the rain was holding off, we decided to go visit the park down the road to have a glimpse of Elliot Bay and the Seattle Wheel before the Viaduct come down for good.

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Seattle Wheel and Seattle Aquarium

 

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Where The Sky Is Blue – Southern Oregon: Part 2

and the vacation continued…..

Day 3

The day started with smoky conditions from the Trail-Cleveland Ridge wildfire burning nearby. The smell of faint burning timber could be smelled throughout the day. The fire was burning in remote public timber and privet timber land up along the west fork of Trail Creek road. Fortunately no homes were destroyed in the surrounding area, and the whole community is grateful for it. It did make for some smoky conditions throughout the day, but not enough to hamper being outside.

barely see the mountain
Image result for cleveland fire oregon
Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

After a small culinary trip in Medford Oregon on day two, we decided to continue on our culinary adventure by picking some apples early in the morning for the local food bank who desperately needed some for apple sauce and healthy lunches for kids going back to school. A total of 20lbs of apples were donated along with plastic bags (Ashland has a plastic bag ban) to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank.

mmm…apples

After unloading our apples, we all headed for the Ashland Weekday Farmer’s Market for fresh produce. There was endless stands of fresh produces, fruits, baked goods, and dairy products to sample. Reasonable prices compare to some farmer’s markets I have been to, and all farms local to the area. All four of us hauled home peaches (49ers and Princess), more cheese curds, flowers, and fresh baked rustic bread for later.

Once filled on lunch, us girls went into Ashland to do some shopping. Our favorite store in Ashland is Paddington Station on main street. Here you can find anything fun, cute, chic, and unique. The best part is of this store now is it has two other stores on the same street each with different things. In the store Made in Oregon I bought a shirt to display my “Oregon state of mind”while walking down the street in Washington. Let’s see how funny this will get once I start wearing the tee. In Paddington Jewelry Box there was all these cute 50s dresses I would see myself wear, but I could not justify the purchase of one.

I did find myself in a local shoe store with this cat….

One friendly kitty I met

He just climbed into my lap while I was waiting for Mom as she tried on some shoes. This ginger boy is the same breed as Maddie-a Maine Coon. He was such a happy camper on my lap!

Day 4

Since Dad and I could not go fishing as planned because of all the wildfires burning around the area, and not wanting to be caught in remote place during a wildfire, we all decided to play it safe and go to Lithia Park. This park is vast, and has lots of nature trails to explore. Both of us made it all the way to the reservoir and back before noon. Along the way there were sightings of city deer (aka: Bambi Monster), wild turkeys, and ducks hanging out in the ponds.

Bridge across Lithia Spring

For lunch Caldera Brewery and Restaurant was calling my name. I loves this brewery, and every time I am down here I stop by for a craft brew. Everything on the menu and tap is a great choice, you cannot go wrong. I ordered the Tap House Burger with Lemon Caesar Salad and an Ashland Amber beer. OMG!! Best burger in a long time! Better than In-N-Out Burger! As for the Ashland Amber is one of my favorites by this brewery. Caldera is one of the few breweries I favor in Oregon. I seem to prefer the Oregon brews over Washington ones. I think it has to do with the flavor of the hops.

Later that night I found myself sitting out on the back porch listening to crickets chirping in the background under starry night sky. I have been missing this slice of heaven for quite some time, and some how wish I could take it with me when I go back to Seattle.

Day 5

On our last day we all headed up to Valley View Orchards to pick peaches. Driving up the country roads towards the orchard brought back memories of running through fields full of cows. Once we had our picking buckets, we split into two groups and started filling our buckets. After 30 minutes of picking we had 44lbs (20lbs of each) of two types of peaches (Elberta and Sweet Sue). Now what in the world am I going to do with 44lbs of peaches? Haul them back to Washington to make peach jam, diced peaches freeze for homemade yogurt cups, fruit cups and whatever I need peaches for. Truth is I only hauled ~20lbs.

10 + 10 = 20lbs of Peaches

Later in the evening we attended a play put on by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The play in question was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and boy was it a long play! Three hours long of old Victorian era speak, and about 80% in I started to want it to end soon. Just seemed towards the end to drag on just as the book did, but overall the play was great. The way it was staged was interesting with the narrators on the stage like old Victorian carolers as part of the scene and made it easier to follow what was happening on stage.

Great Expectations
(C) Oregon Shakespeare Festival

More Info:
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Valley View Orchards

Caldera Brewery
Paddington Station
Lithia Park

….blue forever.- MØ