Tanzanian Adventures: On The Streets of Arusha W/ Convoy of Hope

James Baldwin----speaking truth.:

My first morning in Tanzania started with waking up to a dog fight outside the window at five in the morning. I would soon find out this would a common morning occurrence for the duration of my stay. The morning started off with me looking out the window at the street and seeing   people walking along the street on their morning routine. School children in their uniforms walking to school, adults on their way to work, and stores opening up for the daily business giving this traveler a glimpse into the daily life of Arusha.

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View from the hotel room window (Old Moshi Rd)

This pink building hides the reality of poverty intermingling near fancy hotels in this part of town. A reminder of why I am here with Northwest University and meeting with Convoy of Hope on the same day. Breakfast was at the hotel’s restaurant which consists of fried potatoes, African rice dish, Kenya sausages, pancakes, East African donuts (nothing like the ones with all the sugar on top), and coffee. After finishing, I grabbed a 1.5L bottle water and headed to the conference room to meet the team from Convoy of Hope.

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The team having breakfast (I’m the purple one) (Credit: Ingrid Navvaro)

The day’s agenda was to hit the ground running with Convoy of Hope and start working with them on some of their projects they are doing in the local communities around the area.

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Headquarters of Convoy of Hope Tanzania. (Credit: Natalie Douglass)

The main focus for Convoy of Hope in Tanzania is sustainability for communities around the area. The work done by this team was mostly done in agricultural/ small garden training, women’s empowerment, child feeding programs for nutrition, clean water, and crises relief. I did not realize how small the organization Convoy of Hope is compared to other humanitarian organizations like Samaritan’s Purse. Convoy of Hope concentrate its focus on a few areas and this makes them effective in their work. Even without medical component to their work, I can see great things they do for the health of those in the Arusha area and all of Africa. We all asked questions to get a better idea of the problems faced in the work being done, and learning what would be an effective way of asking questions to help better understand the needs of the community to better help them with issues being faced. After two hours of discussion we were all invited to have some tea (a custom holdover from the colonial days when British colony). The tea is nothing like any I have ever tasted before! Masala tea is a new type of tea to me, and it packs a powerful punch to without the caffeine! It has a spicy ginger taste that hits the back of the throat from the cardamom and cinnamon mixed with the black tea leaves. I ended up finding some at a local supermarket to take back with me.

We all mingled around the demonstration gardens looking at all the cool ways of using planters to grow crops in. Found a banana tree with bananas growing on it, and meeting some of the women who are a part of the women’s empowerment program in a gathering.

 

 

Lunch was at a local restaurant off the main road called Mile Stone Club. The restaurant is one of few places we are able to eat at without getting sick and the manager is good friends with Convoy of Hope. The atmosphere was open to the elements, with a thatch roof overhead, and an interesting playlist of music ( on this day it was Celine Dion’s greatest hits playing). Here I tried Tanzania’s national dish Ugali which is a cornmeal porridge served with grilled meat which was whole chicken (biriyani and mchicha) for me. Others had the beef, fish, beans as the main dish with their ugali. The fish one even had eyes still in the socket and a few daring people actually ate them whole which made for a disgusting sight to witness! BBQ goat was passed down the table for all of us to try. The BBQ goat had a cross between the taste of lamb and the texture of steak when you eat it. The goat tasted better than I expected, and I am surely going to try it again in the future. Pork is not seen much around Arusha, and the local butcher at any of the markets did not have pork product for sale. I wonder why? Is it an unclean animal in Tanzanian culture? Since water has been from the bottle source, I decided to try a new drink, Stoney’s. Stoney’s is a ginger beer drink produced by Coke Cola and is non-alcoholic. The ginger-ness is much more powerful than the ginger beers we have in the Seattle area. Sadly the drink is not sold in the US market.

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biriyani with mchicha  and ugali

After lunch, we all were split into groups to interact with the locals at the marketplace in Mianzini area of Arusha. The first encounter was a woman who just started her little shop in the middle of her neighborhood to sell staples of food items and necessities. She was very happy about how Convoy of Hope helped her start her shop and now she can afford to send her children to school by the income she generates through this little shop. I bought from her some chocolate cookies she had, and I pray her store will prosper into a sustainable business. The second encounter was a woman who has a shop along the main streets of the area who sold a variety of items. Her hard work, dedication to raising her son, never-ending faith in God’s provision, and hoping one day send her son to college is an inspiration for all of us to strive to better ourselves through hard work. At one point there was a fight in the street where a young man on his motorbike had a bloody face and other men were trying to force him off his bike. We did not stick around to know what happened, but there was a drunk man who did follow our group yelling at us in Swahili. Crazy moment!

 

 

As I walked through the streets of Mainzini it became apparent how different poverty looks from the pictures seen. Instead of shakes stacked on top of each other, the houses are spread out with small plots of land with crops growing. People are generally happy and kind to each other as they go about their daily business. The house might be made of whatever materials could be found, and the heat sources are wood gathered along the roads. Small shops everywhere sell everything possible, and someone always willing to help you find something. Chickens, cows, donkeys, goats and children run all over the place and everything needed to live is within walking distance of the front door. All mixed with pure determination, something most Americans do not see. All the people we visited did not want a free handout, and they are very thankful for the support they received from Convoy of Hope in helping the get out of poverty.

After a stop at the hotel for a quick refresh, we all headed downtown Arusha to eat street food. We all ate BBQ chicken, Nan bread and some beef kabob on a street corner in the middle of a bustling evening in the city. The chicken was not as spicy as I thought it would be, and the Nan bread was soo good! I have not had any Nan bread as good in my life! Sitting in the evening light in good conversation with the sound of Muslim call to prayer echoing through the streets. Something is not heard in the US very often and it has an eerie sound to it. Street dogs begging close by for scraps of food, and having rocks thrown at them to keep them away. Eating street food in Africa without getting sick was a relief. It seemed normal sitting in the street lights in the middle of Arusha and having a sense of magic in the air that only happens once in a lifetime.

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Previous Post: Beginning of An Adventure
Next Post: Love From The Maasai Children & Feeding Program

More Information:
Convoy of Hope
Milestone Club Arusha
Khan’s BBQ Arusha
National Dish of Tanzania-ugali

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Commit To Fit: 2nd Month

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Boom! And just like that, I complete my second Whole30!

I have completed one round of Whole30 (2015) before with success and learned a whole lot about some of the things I cannot put into my body. Along with figuring out what I cannot tolerate in the food department, I also learned to have a better relationship with food this time around. Food freedom is a real thing, and with it come better understanding how food can negatively and positively affect your overall health. No matter what USA News & World Report says on their Best Diet Rankings, Whole30 is not a diet or unhealthy because there are many other things it does for people who have nothing to do with weight loss.
With that said, I have found to gain so much more than losing the weight, and able to stick with my commit to fit plan with ease.

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While on the Whole30, I started a strength training program to help keep my muscle while losing weight. I know this will be a slow process, and at times the soreness keeps me motivated to keep lifting. As for running, the cold snap that lasts two weeks here in Pacific Northwest made it nearly impossible to run outside in some locations. My running had to be on the dreaded treadmill. Why so dreaded? I get bored when I am on one.Maybe February will be a better month to run outdoors.

Results:

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Not much change from last month in the above pictures and you can almost say it looks the same. While on the Whole30 I noticed nonscale victories over the loss of weight. The most pronounced victory is getting restful sleep every night. I wake up rested now, and have cut down on the amount of caffeine needed to wake me up in the morning. Mostly I have noticed I am not as sluggish anymore in the afternoon and I don’t have a craving for salty things either. I still, however, have my sweet tooth still intact. That will probably never change no matter how many Whole30s I do.

How it went down?
At some point, the Darth Sugar (Sugar Dragon) decided to rear his ugly head a couple of times when I least expected it during week one.I really wanted to plant my pretty face into a bag of Oreo’s and snort them. Thank goodness sliced banana with shaved coconut on top will cure my raving Darth Sugar from light saber in the head. I had moments when I wanted to inhale a bag or Juanita’s Chilipeno chips and Cadbury Chocolate Fingers. But I didn’t! So proud!
The sluggishness started out at the beginning of week two, but by the end, the whole being tired started to turn to more energy throughout the day. Craving sweets are still there, but eating a whole bag of chips didn’t seem all great either. Finding out I am waking up from a dead sleep at three am in the morning has been tough because last time I was getting great sleep! The third week I go sick and wanting to eat garlic bread while drink copious amounts of bone broth to get over this nasty cold. I really wanted to go off Whole30 just to get over this quicker, but I stayed the course. By the end of the fourth week, I decided to extend the thirty days into another thirty days to kick those bad food habits still affecting me.

Meals that rocked this month:
Crispy Spicy Turkey w/ Lemon Herb (Whole30 Cookbook pg 135)
Braised Beef Short Ribs w/ Mushroom Sauce (Whole30 Cookbook pg 38)
Beef & Sweet Potato Chili (Whole30 Cookbook pg 33)
Asian Sesame Chicken Salad & Shredded Sprout Slaw (Whole30 Cookbook pg 116, 235)
Grilled Pork Chop w/ veggies (Whole30 Cookbook pg 94)
Mexican Twice Baked Potatoes (Whole30 Cookbook pg)

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Mexican twice baked potatoes
Weight Lost: 2lbs
How Much More To Go: 25lbs
Diet: Whole30
Running: 20 miles
Strength Training:  30 minutes 2x a week

Commit To Fit: 1st Month

First Whole30 (2015):
When your human goes on Whole30, cat perspective Part 1
When your human goes on Whole30, cats perspective Part 2
First Whole30 Completed

 

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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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Whole30 Cookbook Tour @ Third Place Books-Seattle

Back when the Whole30 Cookbook and Guide To Food Freedom came out in 2015, I so badly wanted to attend the book signing when Dallas and Melissa Hartwig came to Seattle. Unfortunately I missed it. Fast forward to 2017 and I finally made it to Whole30 Cookbook book tour to meet Melissa Hartwig and have her sign both of my books!

As always the weather in Seattle was a complete tropical down pour. During Melissa’s talk the microphone kept cutting out and it really had to do with the rain. She made it a funny joke when ever it happened. She talked about her inspiration for the cookbook (all the Whole30 peeps), and took questions from the audience about the Whole30.

During the signing, I found myself towards the back of the line and had plenty of time to check out some of the books they had on the self. At one point I did come across the book called How To Smoke Pot Properly by David Bienenstockly.  I’m not making it up people! It exists. I had a chuckle out of it. When it was time for me to meet her, I became introverted all of a sudden. She had to ask me questions! Call it star struck! Overall I think I did fine because after being in that very long line I was needing to eat. She asked me if I was doing the Whole30 and how it was going. All question I could answer without having to think too much.

I am glad Melissa Hartwig came back to Seattle again and it was close to home. I wished the weather was better, but that is Seattle for you. I AM WHOLE 30!

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.

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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