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

 

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.*

img_1789

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
img_1798
Clothing Items


Toiletries:

Technology:

Accessories:

 

Where The Sky Is Blue -Southern Oregon: Part 1

After a jam-packed summer this year, I wanted to end the summer with a trip down to Southern Oregon. On the last week of August I head down with family to have one last vacation before college started up again, and a much needed break after working hard all summer. On a Saturday morning I headed straight down I-5 towards the California-Oregon border and didn’t look back at the heat wave coming towards Seattle.

{On the trip down to Rogue Valley Oregon I went from 90°F (~70% humidity) sweating buckets in Seattle to stepping into an oven of 104°F of dry heat within eight hours. And this heat lasted all week with upper 90s and lower 100°! If the people of Seattle thought they were dying, I was shriveling up every-time I walked out the door from the moisture being sucked out of every pour on my body!}

Day 1

Since the weather called for 101°F sunny day, I headed out as early as possible to beat the heat. First stop was to the Eagle Point National Cemetery to visit both my Grandad and Grandpa who are buried there. While there I was treated to beautiful bells playing out the hour over the cemetery. In the last two years since I have been here, the place has been filling up quite fast.

On my way to Trail, I stopped by where the old Butte Creek Mill was in Eagle Point. Last Christmas the mill burned down in early hours of Christmas morning, and now all that remains of this historical landmark is a burned out shell of a historical structure. The signs say the mill will be rebuilt again, but who knows when this will happen. Sad for this small town since this was their only tourist attraction and no more pancake mix.

After a quick stop at the Mill, I headed up to Trail to the old pioneer cemetery with the family where my grandma and a few of my family are buried. The “town” is really a ghost town with a post office (strange!) outside of Shady Cove. The cemetery is down a dirt road up in the pine brush. Dad wanted to leave an old fishing pole at my grandma’s grave site since she loved fishing. As we were all leaving, I noticed how very dry it was up in these parts. Seemed there was so much dry kindling to start a fire. Well this happened a day later when a wildfire broke out in the remote part of the forest around Trail and Shady Cove. I was glad we all did this adventure before, or we would not be able to later.

Day 2

The morning was spent picking blackberries up on the irrigation ditch. Blackberries are one of those crops that is never easy to pick! I think at one point I ended up in the irrigation ditch just trying to get to the really good branches of berries. After two hours of picking, and having scratches all over myself, I decide to call it a day to have lunch.

In-N-Out Burger…..does it need anymore explanation? Apparently it does. I didn’t have to go all the way to California to have an In-N-Out burger because there is one in Medford Oregon and I was stoked to finally try it after hearing how wonderful the burgers are. So I tried it out, and was……a complete disappointed. Yep you read that correctly. The burger (regular hamburger) was good just like Dick’s in Seattle, but the fries were stale, under cooked, too starchy, and wimpy as heck. Mc. Donald’s has better fries than In-N-Out fries we had. I just hope this was just a one off, because if not, the fries are not worth it.

When in the area I always want to stop at the Harry and David Country store to stock up on all the yummy goodies. In the past I have taken the tour around the facility that makes all the mail order stuff you see in their catalog. A major must have is Moose Munch in any form. Another favorite is the BBQ sauce, the truffles in many flavors, pears from the orchard, and just about anything chocolate.

Just down the street is the Rogue Creamery where the famous Caveman Blue and Echo Mountain Blue cheese is made. When it is cheese making day you can watch how they make their cheese through a viewing window in the store. The one cheese I was not particularly fond of was the Lavender cheese (LaDiDa Lavender). I just cannot wrap my brain around the flavor in anything dairy, especially in ice cream. My favorite cheese by them is the Mt. Mazama Cheddar, and it is one of the best cheddar I have eaten. I did pick up some cheese curds while there along with a homemade grilled cheese sandwich that is very much like the ones at Beecher’s in Seattle.

What is great with cheese? Chocolate! Just a few feet from Rogue Creamery is the  Lillie Bell Farms Chocolates. Here I found chocolate covered fortune cookies and those fancy chocolate covered roasted almonds. Bought one of each for those moments when….aw heck I had them before I left Oregon. I could not save them for a rainy day…OH WELL.

After a culinary tour, we all headed back to Ashland to sit in the backyard and digest all this yummy-ness. Later in the evening I “waddled” back up the hill to the irrigation ditch to pick more blackberries.

Part 2 ( Day 3-5) in the next few days!

More Info:
Rogue CreameryLillie Bell Farms Chocolates
Harry and David Country Store
Butte Creek Mill (*NOTE: Does not sell product at this time)
Shady Cove & Trail

Where the sky is…..

Life At Lightning Speed, Year In Review

Life is changing at lightning speed. One minute I am in the waiting room waiting for what is next in life. Then boom like a flash, my life picked up speed like a rock rolling down a hill. The title of the blog post does reflect just this very thing.

I made a goal list I wanted to accomplish by the end of the year. I never make New Years Resolutions and never will. Out of theses goals, I wanted to continue on the path to healing and getting my life back on track again. In the first six months of the year, three of those goals had been met and done before I knew.

1. Paying off my car and owning it. It may not be something to say is an accomplishment, but when it comes down to finances, it makes sense. No one want to be strapped paying for a car too long. It took me only a two years and a half to pay it off, but still it is an accomplishment to me not to have something likes this eating away at your budget every month. The real accomplishment is being able to pay for the whole thing from the start to finish without any help from my parents.

week 9_edited-1

2. I turned the temp job I had a Dendreon into a perminate position within five months after the new year. I have been always wanting to work for this company ever since I graduated from college three years ago. I still cannot believe how lucky I was to have a recruiter contact me about a position needing to be filled and then a year later now working as an employee. Even with the struggles of making it through the lay offs this past November, I’m still blessed with staying in the same position.

3. Out on my own again. A month later after getting a job, I moved into my very first apartment by myself. This has been one learning experience after another. I am proud to say I have survived and am prospering on my own. Money has been tight, and at times I do go over to my parent’s house to have dinner with them. Living on my own without a roommate has been a learning experience in its self. I have all the responsibility of keeping up with everything and not relying on another to have their act together.

4. Getting out and meet new people. Some may find this a bit weird, but as an only child and an introvert, this is quite an accomplishment. In the past year I have met a lot of new people I never thought I would ever meet. I have done so through church activities, going to a friend’s wedding, and meeting new people through work functions.

IMG_0548

5. Travel around or go on an adventure. This year I took my first real grown up vacation. I spent two weeks in Hawaii on the Windward side of Oahu. I learned a great deal about myself and figured out just what I had been missing from my life. The adventure part finally started to come out of me again. I know this is just the beginning of a life time of adventures in far ways places.

6. Start dating again. It hasn’t been easy. I was on Match.com for a while before I had to give up on it. I found that I am either too picky when it comes to guys, or I only attract men who are 40+ who should know better. I just found that I could not stomach anymore weird crazy guys and rejection from the decent guys. Towards the end of the year after one month on How About We, I met a guy who I started to date. As like most things in my life, I will see where this will go, and what (good) surprises are in store for me along the way. IMG_0071[1]

7. Started up photography. I have found a new hobby in photography. I have been doing the 52 weeks challenge with a group called My 4 Hens Photography 52 Weeks of Themes. I call it more of a challenge because this group has challenged me to grow as an amateur photographer.

8. Said goodbye to my Grandpa a WWII and Korea veteran. He died a year and three months from the day my Grandma died. A lot of memories of my childhood came flooding back. Now he is safe in the hand of the Lord.

_DSC0352_edited-1

9. Hosted Thanksgiving for the first time! The feast went off with success! I kept it simple, and that is the trick to it all.

10. Finally let go of the past I had been keeping tight. I let go of two guys who even long gone now, still were hanging around in my head where they should have not been for so long. I finally found how strong I have become as a person, and have learned a great deal about myself along the way. I did have some heartbreak by one guy, another who broke my heart who still wants to hurt me through his selfish ways. Let go is what I did this year. Let go of my baggage I no longer need or want in my life.

So as 2014 is starting I have more goals I want to accomplish this next year..

1. Eat more healthy and exercise more often

2. Train for a 5k run

3. Love, Happiness, and Passion!

4. Grow in my photography, friendships, faith, love, and career.

5. Another adventure or travel plans

6. Try new and exciting things

7. Continue to be financially stable

8. Enjoy life and all it has to offer.

Happy New Year everyone! May it being you everything you love!

Oahu’s Windward Coast Vacation Days 12-15 (Last Days)

Day 12: Zip lining & Beach

Zipping through the palm tree tops! Three rides 1,200 ft! At first when I saw how far off the ground I was going to be, I started freaking out. I’m not afraid of heights, but it looked to be very scary. Now that I tried it, I will be doing it again. The morning started off with a down pour for five minutes, then cleared up long enough to take three rides down. The first two rides were with Mom , and then the last one was just me by myself. Once I got through the first one, I was fine to take the last two rides down. It was very short ride, and so I recommend getting at least more than one ride to really experience the zip line. I now can add this to my life experience list and hope to try out the one near home called Wild Life Trex near Seattle. The rest of the day was spent at the beach again just relaxing.

Day 13: Marine Base Crazy & Last minute stuff

Another relaxing day getting last-minute stuff done before we leave for home. Took on last trip to the Marine base to do some last-minute shopping at the Exchange. When I stepped outside the store I saw a new sign that appeared in front of the doors. Apparently the new base commander is trying to keep the unmentionable people from “polluting” the base and disrespecting the military environment. So just imagine the pictures you see on People of Wal-Mart website and you have a good picture of what was posted on this sign. These were the things that are not allowed to be worn when on base. I really could see why the commander is doing this and why he doesn’t like half-naked people walking around base when not in uniform. The whole time I was on base (even Bellows had a dress code in their commons areas) I never say anyone out of uniform looking like a bum.  I just go some Hawaiian theme stuff to take back to Seattle at the Exchange.

Relaxed on base for a bit and started to see Man of Wars washed up on the beach. Remembering there was a full moon when we got to Hawaii and five days later the jelly fishes started to appear, every time we walked the beach we had to make sure to watch where we stepped or else get stung by the blue tentacles. Later that evening we all went out with my cousin one last time to a small local pizza place in Kilua.  The place was busy with locals stopping in to grab a slice of pizza or a whole pizza for dinner. The pizzas are huge at Bob’s Pizzeria, and so a whole pizza can easy be shared with five people. I had two big slices which amounted to four small slices.

Now here is a funny story in a way to share….When we went to drop off my cousin at the Marine base, we did not go through the main gate as we have in the past, but he back gate where the housing is. A huge mistake because when we pulled up and my cousin showed his ID, the guard at the gate wanted everyone’s ID. Apparently there is a huge crack down at night due to a Marine sneaking a prostitute on base a few weeks back and getting caught. Also the guard in a moment of putting his boot in his mouth made it almost clear that he thought Nana, Mom and I were prostitutes! Nana and Mom felt offended, but for me I just though “oh thanks for letting me know I look like one.” As I was stating in above paragraph, the commander of the base is really on a crack down. We did drop my cousin off at his barrack without anymore trouble from the Marine Security Force.

Day 14: Sea Turtles

Our last full day in Hawaii. We did some last-minute shopping again and packed up our bags for our afternoon flight back to Seattle. Walked the beach one last time (ok a few times). While on one of our walks we saw a group of sea turtles swimming along the beach. A half a mile down there is a little cove where the waves are strong and the turtles get stuck in. All three turtles tried their hardest to swim back out to sea, but kept getting swept back into the rocks. At one point one came very close to some kids in the water and freaked them out along with the poor turtle. I believe the three turtles did get out when the waves calmed down a bit.

While packing for the trip home, I realized I had bought a lot of Hawaiian food. Hmm…I think I will need it when friends come over for tea and a Hawaiian short bread macadamia nut cookies.

Day 15: Going Home

Going to the airport was crazy stressful adventure. Why? Because 1) my suitcase all of sudden put on weight, 2) security check point was a mad house and I thought for sure I was going to throw my shoe at TSA (Sea-Tac has it down to a science), 3) USDA inspection line was crazy! Poor Nana had to be patted down because she set off the metal detector and her sleep machine had residue of liquid in it. Really just wanted to get on the plane and get to Seattle without anymore stuff happening. The flight was six hours as usual. The only crazy part was landing in Seattle after a huge windstorm came through. Overall, the six-hour flight went off without much stuff happening. When I left Seattle for Hawaii the temperature was 70 degrees F, when I came back it was 50 degrees F and a storm blowing through. Just shows how much the weather changes within two weeks of being gone. I still look at my phone’s weather app for Bellows to see what the weather is at the moment. I miss the warmth, but Seattle did have a wonderful summer with all the sunny hot weather we had. I can’t complain.

I really enjoyed my two-week adventure on Oahu Hawaii. I will of course return to the islands again in the near future. I think the next island to visit is Kauai or Big Island. I am glad I had the chance to see my cousin while he is stationed at K-Bay, and hope he has a great time while there.  I loved not having to do all the touristy things this time. I really got to see the island from a different perspective. I know now all the main freeways, and know which major highways lead to where. Great to stay somewhere other than Waikiki for a change. I really got to see the beauty of the island without the sky scrapers in the way. I still would love to hike up Diamond Head since I did not get the chance this time. I guess I will be making a return visit again.

Mahalo for reading about my adventure in Hawaii! Hope you enjoy Hawaii really soon.

IMG_0384