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.

IMG_1818[1]
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

img_2129

 

Christmas Lights, Sweaters & Snow

Even on a wet cold night, Christmas lights are still as pretty as in snow. On the first night the Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Garden d’ Lights, the family and I piled into the car and drove to see this neat, but best kept secret light display. It is a little more compact than the ones you see at the two zoos in the area, but it is worth a visit if you like to see a garden all dressed up in lights. I wish the Lake Washington Arboretum would do something like this with their grounds in the Japanese Garden. Favorite displays were the fish tank (picture below) in a display window and the veggie garden with a rabbit (see below).

img_15031
Garden aquarium
img_14761
Herring in the garden
img_14941
Peter Rabbit stealing carrots in the garden
img_14991
Butterfly visiting the garden

Every so many years Seattle will get snow fall ( 2-5 years). Usually it is around Thanksgiving week, but this year it decided to fall during December and a week before college finals. I will admit, I cannot drive well in snow, and the reason is hills. I did make it to class the morning after it snowed, and it was an adventure in itself to get out of the driveway to a plowed road. Once on campus after a two hour delay, the snow was a site to see with snow hanging on the trees.

Northwest University Chapel with snow

Christmas sweaters seem to be in abundance these past few years. Last year around Christmas I purchased my first “ugly” sweater (really it is cute sweater) from Fred Meyers for a party. This year the church decided to have a Christmas sweater contest one Sunday to see who had the ugliest, cutest, and fun sweater. I did not win, but that does not mean my cute cat in a stocking sweater is not worth showing off. The other young ladies at church had similar “cute” sweaters on. I believe the ugly sweater is starting to become a “cute ugly” sweater the more I start to see them around.

IMG_0092
The sweater of ugliness!
Sweater Selfie with the gang.

Decorating the church this year for Christmas was in part a little sad since Nana could not stay long after Thanksgiving this year. This year’s theme was Home For Christmas, and it did not disappoint either. Christmas time is the only time of year the church looks fancy. I will say there was a whole lot of red and green colors this year compare to other years before. There is for the first time in a long time, outdoor Christmas display and lights.I guess if you want to see the whole thing you will have to make a trip to Shoreline Community Church in Shoreline to see it.

Decorating the church for Christmas

Of course this year Christmas lands on a Sunday, so this means there will be service on Christmas morning! Can’t wait to see what is going to happen!

Here is to wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year!

Days of March

March didn’t disappoint us in coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb. Beginning of March started with a huge windstorm across Seattle area knocking out power for most part of a day and well into the night. Luck I know some people with a generator-my parents- and was able to have all the creature comforts without having to shiver in a cold apartment.

Near Lake Tapps
How I feel after daylight savings!

Having the power out on the Sunday of daylights savings didn’t help either since majority of the week following was spend chugging down cups of coffee just to wake myself up to do anything, including training for my half marathon. So I felt like this tree most of the week.

This year for celebrating St. Paddy’s day I decided corn beef and cabbage was not going to be on the menu. Instead I made Irish Chicken with Cabbage and Potatoes with fresh baked Red Lobster Cheese Rolls (buy the mix a Fred Meyer or Target).

FullSizeRender

This dish turned out to be better then expected and was not heavy of the stomach as corn beef feels after eating. The bacon really brought out the flavor in the cabbage, and left over chicken was used for other meal throughout the rest of the week. I put this recipe down as a keeper for future dinner parties.

Northwest University Choralons rocked the church house on Psalms Sunday. I have seen them many of times in chapel at Northwest U before, but nothing like them performing at the church you attend. I was so happy for some of my church family to experience these talented awesome group of students.

Easter a time for new growth and potential started off with Good Friday service. I was amazed at how short this year the service was. I guess with a huge track and field meet just down the road would be the reason why so few of us attended. Nothing less it turned out very well.

Easter day shenanigans started with my church Easter Outfit. I decided to go tropical with a dress I had bought when I was last in Hawaii. Even with the rain pouring down I still wore wedged sandals with them. I had a lot of compliments in church, and I believe this dress will be making an appearance this summer.

Easter service was all about rocking the house because He has risen! Every year since becoming apart of this church Easter service has become better and better. This year the beginning of the sermon had us in the dark as Pastor Stone talked about what it was like to be in the dark days after Jesus was crucified. Then Pastor Stone moved into how with Jesus we are no longer dead in the grave, and we have a passport into heaven through him.

I am currently nursing a food hangover right now. It all started with Easter breakfast of hot cross buns, eggs and bacon.

Then Easter dinner of classic rack of lamb with roasted squash, cheddar biscuits, and various cooked veggies.

After all this food eating, settled into watching Grandchester and When Calls The Heart for the rest of the evening eating Easter candy.

Here to all a Happy Easter and a new beginning with spring!

 

 

 

 

Unexpected Door Opens

I have stared too long at a door to my future that was not supposed to open anytime soon for the past five months. While looking hard at the door closed in front of me, I saw out of corner of my eye another door opening slowly to reveal a place I never expected would happen to me again. For the past five years I wanted to be accepted to the University of Washington to complete my bachelors in biology, and every time I applied for admissions I was rejected at total of six times. I gave up on the dream of one day finishing my bachelors degree until I received an acceptance letter from Northwest University. After enduring six months of interviews going nowhere, and not being taken seriously  because I had an Associate degree, I decided why not apply to a different college and see where it would take me. Surprise! An unexpected door opened. Within two weeks I was scrambling to get ready for the first day of classes and new student orientation. The whole acceptance took me by surprise in a very good way!

To those who have never heard of this small Christian university in Kirkland Washington, it is a college where there are small classes, and lots of friendly people who want to see you succeed in the classroom as well as the field of choice you have embarked on. Northwest has an excellent Biology program that is small enough for the professors to know each student by name and this is the main reason I choose to accept admissions here. Also I will be applying to their summer research program in the biology department for helping with oncogenic viruses which create cancer tumors when they infect cells. With my background in cancer research I am hoping to learn something completely new in cancer research.

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

A new journey has begun for this eagle (schools mascot), and in three years I will be back to being a research associate in the Seattle biotech industry. The possibilities that await me are endless. Cheers to a new adventure and realizing a dream come true is just beginning.