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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Sing Me A Song Of A Lass That Is Gone….

…..say could that lass be I? Merry of soul she sailed on a day, over the sea to Skye. Billow and breeze, islands and seas, mountains of rain and sun. All that was good, all that was fair, all that was me is gone.

~Robert Louis Stevenson‘s poem Sing Me a Song of a Lad That Is Gone. Modified Version From Outlander’s Theme song.

You may have noticed this is the opening theme song to the wildly popular Outlander Series by Dannia Gabaldon. It is true that I am a huge fan of the book series and the Starz TV series, and I believe the love story between the two main characters is better than the love story told by Fifty Shades of Gray. But this not a post about me being a huge fan of Outlander, more of a post about why this song is stuck in my head for the past twelve months. Am I the lass in this song? I could be.

 Being Walked Away From…..

I’m so sick of that same love old love, that sh*t it tears me up, I’m so sick of the same old love, my body had enough, that same old love. Feels like I’ve blown apart, I’m so sick of the same old love the kind that breaks your heart. That same old love. -Selena Gomez Same Old Love.

 It seems like ages ago when I last saw or talked to him. I believe it was never meant to be, and other priorities took the place of him after he walked out of my life forever. I had other plans with my life, and things I needed to accomplished for me without him being around to hinder the progress. Yet him being selfish was truly the best thing for me in the end. Looking back I realized I was not really putting myself first enough times in the relationship and he never full there for me. He was just passing through my life, and never really meant to stay long. Another lesson on the path to finding the person I meant to be with. Making the choice to not be friends after the breakup is and always be the best decision I have made after the breakup. I wanted to move on without him hanging in the background. As I said in a post, I wish him the best of luck in his life and that he find happiness along the way.

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 Finished A 5k Run…..

The best feeling as if you are invincible and breaking all the limitations you put on yourself come right off after crossing the finish line. Seeing the numbers of how well I did for a beginner still amazes  me. I did that? WOW! After this, there was no stopping me from enjoying running and participate in fun runs and other races throughout the year. Running has tough me a whole lot about myself and how to deal with life’s disappointments. I am thankful for a friend in telling me of this fun run. Made all the difference in healing. I am hoping to run my first half marathon soon. Will have to see!

Must Be Something In The Water….

In front of family, friends and a whole congregation, I gave my life to Jesus. After three years attending church I decided to be baptized and I thank a dear friend of mine who helped me see I was ready to do this. I will not lie it did change parts of my life for the better and paved the way for a very wonderful thing to happen later on in the year (scroll down to see what it was). A new life has begun.

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 Beautiful Smile Is Born Again…..

I have had braces in the past, and over the years my teeth have decided to move on their own accord. Now as I write this my pearly whites are now straight! Adult braces are not nearly as bad as I thought they would be. I believe it is starting to become more common for adults to have braces, and having them on even gives you better confidence then when a teenager. Not to mention the fact that I had to go through countless job interviews smiling with them. Thank goodness for advancement in braces since I had them as a teenager. Instead of two years of metal in my mouth, I had them for only eight months! Time to flash those beautiful teeth!

 Accomplished Whole30 and Began Paleo….

I think I fell off the wagon two times before the third time stuck with me (you can thank having braces for getting me to finish!). Just getting a hold of the book It Starts With Food from the local library and The Whole30 Cook Book spelled out more about how to be successful then just reading pins off of Pinterest. Just seeing other people’s results was just amazing to drop all that bloating weight on Instagram. In the end I managed to stay on the diet for thirty days on the diet and lost a lot of health problems I had after completing the program. Was not easy to do, but I am glad I stuck through with it for as long as I did.

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 One Career Door Closed, Another Will Open…..

You cannot make lemonade with rotten lemons. They are rotten for a reason!

There are times where you can no longer ride the roller coaster any longer. At the beginning of this year that was as true as ever. For the past three and half years I had been riding the ups and downs at a company that was struggling. One day it sold to another larger company that did not care about the people nor the product and so I had to do what was best for me. Walking into a job every day and not knowing what will become of you is the most stressful situation you could possibly be in. In the end I was laid off and in itself was a blessing for being let go, I was moving on was for the best. As heart breaking to leave people who became like family to you for three and half years, and knowing the team built through those times will never be the same. I will never forget what each and everyone taught me while working with them.

  Went Back To Finish My Bachelors Degree….

If you had asked where I would have been twelve months ago I would never had said I went back to school. After being laid off from Dendreon and going through a string of interviews that were going nowhere fast, I decide on a whim to apply to Northwest University’s biology program. To the surprise of me I was accepted to the University two weeks before classes began. In this a new journey began, and a new beginning was starting to take shape. I’m still amazed at what has transpired over four months studying, and learning what it means to realize a long-lost dream was about to be accomplished. Three years are going to go by fast, and judging by how fast time flew when at Dendreon, it means this too will past quick. Maybe this time I will continue to reach higher in my career with the completion of my dream.

Sophmore At Northwest University Fall 2015
Sophomore At Northwest University Fall 2015

Life takes us to unexpected places we never thought we would go. Plans we thought we had go to the wayside, while other plans are made. Dreams happen, old goals are reignited and most of all, things we thought would last forever or awhile come to an end. In one year everything in life changes and you are never the same again.

The more I reflect on what has all transpired over the last twelve months, there has been a lot of changes and a lot of new beginnings happening all at once. I never thought I would be where I am today as I am right now.  “For every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end” The Closure. I guess that is what being in your twenties is all about and learning to be the lass that is gone. Gone to become something more then she has ever been before, and new adventures to go on.