Asau and Juma in their fab pj’s!


11/19 Beach Day

After a great breakfast we headed to the beach.

Check this photo out - this is what it looked like and this is where we spent the day. There was no one else anywhere!

We did grab snorkle gear and walk down to the beach to check out this ship wreck that was out by an old coral reef. We put on the flippers and started to snorkle out and all of the sudden I looked back at the shore and realized that if anything happened - there was no one there - not one person! So I decided that we shouldn't go over my head. Boring - I know but I felt really uncomfortable. We did see some fish and some sea urchins.
We also went on a walk - they have this nature trail that winds through around and ends up by the lagoon. While in there we saw a monkey -


11/18 - Ras Kutani - south of Dar es Salaam

We got up early - finished packing, made a couple pb & j sandwiches and then went over to the office to wait for the driver. I was really hoping it was going to be Machek again, because I knew he knew how to find us!

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. We ended up joining the others for breakfast, our last one. The kids were all hanging out waiting to say goodbye to us too. Josephat, Vicent and Mole were really sweet - following Jack around.

Finally, sometime after 8 the jeep finally came and it was Machek, but this time he was the co-pilot. We said all our goodbye's - so sad. But I knew that I was returning. This was not a place that I could only see/experience once in my life. I think Jack felt the same way.

Hugs, waves, kisses, thank you's and we were off.....Kwa heri!

We arrived an hour and half later at the Manyara airstrip which was at the top of the Rift. It was a dirt airstrip that took off over Manyara - the park and the lake. Just beautiful. We had a little time to spare so we went over to a fancy lodge (one of the Serena lodges) and just checked it out. It was so nice! Beautiful views, a never ending pool, little walkways and huts. Even a couple conference rooms. Certainly a window into how the other side saw Tanzania. Wow - how different!

Back to the airstrip - watched a little TV. They had a TV in the waiting lounge and there was the equivalent of MTV playing. I took a video clip because I thought it was so great!

Our plane landed, the pilot jumped off - checked his hand written passenger list - saw us on the list and on we got. They put our suitcases in the nose of the plane. The plane was tiny - tiny seats, with no neck rests. Picture the back seat of an old 1970's style station wagon - but only for 2 people on one side of the aisle and for one passenger on the other side of the isle.

First stop: Arusha. "The Geneva of Tanzania" as the airport says on it's welcome sign. We had to actually go into a waiting room for about 30 minutes before boarding again. I think it was the same plane, same pilot - but who knew? there were so many planes on the runway, it was impossible to tell. We just crossed our fingers that our bags were on our plane.

The views from the air were all amazing! I took a lot of photos, but they just don't capture the true essence. It was beautiful.

The one thing we didn't see - that I wish had - was Mount Kilimanjaro. I guess that means we will have to come back again.

Second stop: Zanzibar. What a beautiful island - the ocean is so welcoming and warm looking - white sand beaches. Made me think we should have stayed there for a couple nights. But from the looks of it from the air - it really looked like a place that you would have to spend at least a week to thoroughly enjoy and explore.

Again - off the plane, into the waiting room for about 30 minutes and then back out to board again. Same plane, same pilot.

Oh - and none of these planes have toilets.

Finally - we landed in Dar. It's a huge city with about 3.5 million people. Wow! That's have the size of Swizterland all in one city. All went well - our bags made it and someone was there from Leopard Tours to pick us up and drive us to Ras Kutani.

Through the city we went, winding our way through the streets, past some really nice looking government buildings and then to the ferry docks. Somehow the driver managed to get us on the ferry that was right there...loading!

On we went. It was a drive on - drive off ferry. Just imagine about 15 cars and, I kid you not, over 800 walk-ons. The ferry was packed!

I started to feel a little uncomfortable. How many times have you read in the paper or seen on TV - A ferry in the 3rd world sinks and all the passengers drowned. OMG - this could be us! The ride was just 7 minutes - but it felt much longer than that.

I was so glad to get off on the other side.

We then continued on for another couple hours. Again, into the middle of nowhere. The driver (I can't remember his name) turned left onto an unmarked road with no signs anywhere. Winding around, up and over, the ocean came into view - just beautiful. And there we were!

All the walkways betwwen the huts were sand. I almost died when I saw our place. I think the picture will say it all. (I'll upload that later). We walked around and checked out the beach - it was just amazing!! I can't wait to hang out on the beach and read and relax!


11/17 Last Day

Monday, November 17

I can't believe it - our last day! The days and weeks have just flown by and both of us could stay for longer. But alas, our family and duties (school & work) are at home waiting for us!

A group of doctors/nurses/volunteers (12) arrived yesterday to do Medical evaluations for all the children at Gyetegi as well as another primary school nearby. They are here through the Mary Tidlund Foundation. Having so many more people here has changed the dynamics a little - more people for meals & new house mates.

In the morning, I let Jack have the preschoolers while I finished up with the letter writing for Anna's class. Simon, Evalina and Swedi hadn't finished their letters so we went into Tarangire to write. They are such little perfectionists! Writing in their best handwriting as well making great drawings. I can't wait to hand out these letters back at home. I'm hoping that some of these children will continue writing back and forth with their penpals.

I then spent the afternoon playing with the preschoolers & finishing up my very small to do list. I can't even begin to express the simplicity of life here. My to do list at home is a neverending list - a book. This was my to do list here:

  • write comments in the English & Computer Class folder
  • pack
  • sort through clothes & meds that we are leaving behind
  • take photos of everything!
  • finish buying/paying for Mama Upendo's goodies
  • return bottles to the Duka in Campi Nairobi
  • catch up on blog and post!

Notice that there is no shopping, cooking, laundry, folding etc etc. I have been in heaven for the last 3 weeks here!

Jack spent the afternoon up at the school helping with the kids going through their medical evaluations (keeping them in line, moving, holding their hands etc). I think he found it very interesting. I wanted to go too - but I thought this was his thing, without his mother!

When I walked to get the kindergarten kids at 3:30 - the one thing Edina kept saying was that all those people at the school 'scared her'. Of course I tried to tell her that they were people just like me, that they cared about her and that they wanted to make sure she was healthy from the inside of her body too. I'm not sure that I convinced her.

While we were walking back a class (Doctor etc) were coming in a lines, 4 wide, down the path to the rec hall for gym with Mike. I took a video clip - they were singing...... just amazing!

I also had our exit interview with Sara. Basically to settle up with internet fees and tips as well as to chat about how our stay had been here. Of course, I thought it was amazing so didn't really have any negative feedback. It's so well organized here! Everything is so well thought out and thought through.

Early to bed as we are getting picked up at 7 am tomorrow.

11/16 Scavenger Hunt & Birthdays

Sunday, November 16

Up early - big day today. Andrew and Ellie are leaving, we are doing a scavenger hunt with all the kids, a group of 12 doctors, nurses and volunteers are arriving for 2 weeks and it was the day to celebrate November birthdays!

We said good bye to Andrew and Ellie sometime after breakfast. They were heading to Arusha to spend the day before they fly out later tonight to go back to the States. Molly, Carolyn and I wrapped all the birthday presents. Saidi got some pretty nice stuff including a Timex watch and a slinky. We all thought that was pretty ironic because we had just discussed at dinner last night that a slinky wouldnít be the same here because they are no stairs here. The only stairs are those 6 or so steps leading into the library/preschool and those are most likely too wide. No one here has seen a full staircase, or so we think.

Molly then helped me make a quick crossword puzzle (times 5) for the Scavenger Hunt which started at 11:00. We divided them all into 5 teams with team leaders (Benja, Lucy, Riziki, Doctor and Abdul), handed them the instructions and off they ran. They had an hour and a half to collect all the items. One of them was to get Jackís signature and clever Jack went and hid on the top of the water tower so it took them all a bit to even find him first!

It was a great success - they all had a great timeÖ.at least until the points were tallied. It was then that the poor sports in the group stuck out like sore thumbs. Sore losers are universal! Two teams tied with 68 out of a possible 70 points. And luckily Carolyn had some smarties and little chocolates to give them as a prize.

After lunch and nap time Jack got a good game of hide and seek going again while a day visitor took polaroids of all the kids. They were each to get one photo - but instead it turned out to be quite difficult as they all wanted more than one and were back in line as soon as their image came through on their photo.

As we are coming to the end of our stay, Jack and I went around and took photos of everything we wanted to show everyone at home. All the houses, the garden, the incinerator etc. I also made sure to get photos of all the Mamaís that I got to know - in particular Mama Gracie, Mama Upendo and Mama Renea. They were all so cute when they saw their faces on my camera. Giggles galore!

At 4:00 we celebrated birthdays. We brought over the birthday cakes that Elias and Seba made to Tarangire There were cakes to all the houses - all made from scratch. In Tarangire we were celebrating JoJoís and Musaís birthdays. They were so cute. They all sang HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU and then a fast clucking in the mouth sound. Musa was even more wide eyed than usual. Presents were opened and cake was had by all.

As it was a chapatti night, Mama Gracie was busy rolling. She had me roll out a couple and made sure that Jack documented it on film! Mama Gracie also wanted to make sure that she and I had a photo together - wait until you see that one. The bottom line is that in all the photos all their faces, their skin is just so beautifulÖand mine looks so white and old and wrinkly!

The new group all arrived - 12 in total - so we are quite a crew for meals. Half are eating here in the Volunteer House (Lengai) and the other half down at Indiaís. They are doing health screenings for Gyetigi and another school around here Gyetigi alone has about 400 kids. Look forward to hearing how their first days goes on Monday night at dinner.

11/15 Saturday

Saturday, November 15

Had a good night sleep and enjoyed breakfast for 2. All the other volunteers were still down in Karatu. I spent the morning catching up on blog entries, wrote a couple postcards and made a final to do list of all the things that I want to make sure that I do before we leave on Tuesday morning.

Jack usually spends the mornings after breakfast doing his homework. Heís been spending about 3 hours a day doing homework not including reading - he is so disciplined!!! Certainly not a trait from me.

After lunch I worked on the Birthday posters for Musa, Habiba, Masala, JoJo, Mama Upendo, Saidi and the dogs, Winchester and Kira. As I like to doodle I thoroughly enjoyed this!

Jack had a great game of hide and go seek going which was better than playing soccer in the heat. I usually end up in the preschool room drawing with the kids. They usually want me to draw things for them. I keep telling them that they have to learn to draw themselves - that they need practice. As it turns out Saidi is a great artist. He went to get a soccer book that was filled with drawings of how to play and he drew them free hand. Amazing!

Cocktails down at India's with everyone to celebrate the months of work that Andrew and Ellie here. Sitting on Indiaís veranda is just beautiful. We enjoyed snacks and popcorn while watching a storm roll in with lots of lightening. The party was cut short as we all wanted to get back to Lengai before the rain came.

And did it rain!

11/15 We have Funzas!


On Saturday morning Jack asked me to look at his left pinky toe. It looked like a planterís wart so I told him not to worry about it and we'd deal with it when we got home.

Not an hour had passed when a group of boys wanted me to go on a walk with them. As I was putting on my socks I saw something that almost looked like a blister on my second toe. I grabbed my nail clippers and started ëclippingí. I clipped and clipped until there was a perfect round hole at the top of my toe. I saved what I clipped and ask the boys to take a look.

"You have a funza that has many babies!".

Ahhhhh I had a funza.

And that meant that Jack did too. So when we were both back from our walks (he took a different group of kids) we went to Sara and Peter who were able to successfully get his out.

Bottom line: they sound a lot worse than they are and the visual I had in my head before I got one was also much worse than the real thing.

These funzaís had managed to get through out socks and our sneakers!