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:

Commit of Fit: 6th Month

Half way point of my goal! Not much to report for the sixth month since most of it was spent getting my body prepared for Tanzania, being in Tanzania, and then trying to get it back working properly after Tanzania. African countries can do a number on your body if you are not careful.

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I look at my pictures from Tanzania (series starts 12th of June!) I look bloated. Why? Because fluids were trapped in my system at times after both long haul flights, and the food is on the carbohydrate side. I did loose weight in Tanzania, and it was only five pounds total. I was lucky not to get traveler’s sickness from the food, but there were times I petered on the edge of getting it. I did go on a hike in the middle of Africa up a rather steep hill to have a view of Mt Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro. With a two-mile up and back, the whole experience was worth the sticker bushes grabbing me and falling on my butt on the way down. The above picture was taken two weeks after Tanzania, and you can see the five-pound loss and not the five pounds of bloat as the bottom picture has.

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After coming home it was full swing into a second round of Whole30 for me, and getting back to being outdoors. The last two weeks of May had Seattle in summer time mode, and that was a great time getting up in the morning for a run. Along with my Whole30, I have been trying out some recipes I brought back from Tanzania. So far I have made a healthy version of Tanzanian stir fry and getting back into the swing of going to farmer’s markets for fresh produce.

Six more months to go in this goal!

 

 

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Commit To Fit: Month 5

This whole month of April was completely busy with studying for finals, getting ready for a trip to Tanzania, and keeping up on being committed to fit. The treadmill and I had a 30-45 minute a day every morning this whole month. Will see how it lasts after I get back from Tanzania.

Easter Dress

Easter was healthy (take that Peeps!) with minimal sweets. It seems there are five months out of the year where candy is used in celebration of the holidays. Interesting. Besides, I dislike Peeps so you will NEVER see those nasty marshmallow chicks in my cupboard EVER. But I had to have the Belgium waffles church was serving for Easter breakfast with all the Nutella and banana slices on top!

Meal prep has become more routine since I have a friend who taking the challenge of commit to fit. Now all I do is search Pinterest for recipes and try out all the concoctions hoping not to get bored in eating the same thing day in and day out for a week.

Depriving myself is not on the agenda and having a group lunch date with all the organic chemistry peeps (ha!) at Maggiano’s in Bellevue, eating Chicken Marsala was on the agenda. Well eating a ~1,200 calorie meal over two days would count on the agenda and I had to balance out my meals to compensate for this calorie heavy meal for the rest of the week. I regret nothing!

Photo of Maggiano's Little Italy - Bellevue, WA, United States. Chicken Masala :)
Chicken Marsala (pasta is served in another bowl)

You would think stressed from work and college would keep me skinny, but the opposite is true. When stressed it is like diving face first into a bowl of M&Ms for me. Chocolate is the go-to comfort food for me when I am stressed out. I am glad to say I did not dive into a bowl full of chocolate but decided to take the healthy route when it came to stress over finals. I found snacking on “apple nachos” and little bite sized Pro Bars to help with mindless eating while studying.

The month of April came pretty fast and ended fast. I could say I sailed through this month with a few healthy habits after being derailed for two months. I wonder what May (Month 6) has in store for my goal of committing to being fit by the end of the year? Stay tuned!