Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tanzania, Part 1

Ernest Hemingway said, “There is no such thing as a bad morning in Africa.”  He nailed it!  This is our first time to East Africa, and it’s been one of our most unique travel experiences, so far.   And that’s probably why you haven’t heard from us since we left 11 days ago, except for a couple of small Facebook posts.  Also, connectivity and bandwidth (both electronically and mentally) and full schedules haven’t helped, but that’s a good thing.    

We’re in a fun group of 11, all but Kathy and I and one other are Willamette alumni.  After a 26- hour journey and a few hours of sleep we went to the run-down town of  Mto wa Mbu, which means mosquito town.  It lived up to its name at night.  We stayed in the Jambo Safari Lodge, definitely a one-star place,  with a kitchen, dining area, a few duplex bungalows,  some tent sites, and very friendly staff.

The Red Sweater Project
We volunteered at the Mungere School for the Red Sweater Project, in the heart of Masai country.  This was quite an impressive school, started by Ashley Holmer, a Willamette Alum and the second most impressive woman I have ever met.  A few miles from town over dusty paths by tuk tuks(3-wheeled scooter cabs), the Mungere high school is a bright light in Tanzanian secondary education.  More about that in future posts, but please check out this link.

Working side-by-side with students, we planted over 600 acacia trees in the rock-hard soil, moved tons of rock, and hiked 6 miles round trip  to a jungle waterfall with some of the best students.  We also visited two of the students’ homes and a Masai village.  Getting to know the students and getting insights about Tanzania from Ashley may very well be the highlight of our trip.  We would have loved to bring a few of those kids, ages 12-18, home with us! 

Tangerine and Serengeti National Parks, and the Ngorongoro Conservation areas.
After five days in Mosquito Town, we started a five-day safari, staying one night in a luxurious safari lodge,, two wonderful nights in a tent camp in the middle of the Serengeti, and two nights at a very nice coffee plantation.

I’ll have more photos posted in a link later when I have more time and lots of bandwidth.  Meanwhile, here are just a few.  The animals were magnificent, the vistas expansive, the roads bone jarring and rough.  Serengeti must be several times the size of Yellowstone.  Today we descended 2,000 feet into the Ngoru Ngoru Crater, 12 miles across and got to witness the majesty and drama of the animal kingdom.

The group tour ends tomorrow, but Kathy and I are taking a small plane to Ruhah National Park in south central Tanzania.  (It would have been a brutal two-day drive to get there.).  More later in Part 2.  Technical difficulties limit my ability to post photos on this blog in this low-bandwidth environment, but if you want to see some photos now, please send me a Facebook friend request.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Off to Tanzania!

All under 30 lbs per person,
only one checked bag
We don't always agree on our individual travel bucket lists.  But if one of us is really passionate about a destination, the other accommodates and was glad we did it.  This time it's Africa--Tanzania in particular--something on my list for over 47 years. 

Africa is HUGE. It is bigger than the United States, China, India, Japan, and much of Europe combined!  Tanzania alone is twice the size of California.

Lots of big countries could fit into Africa

We're going to Tanzania as part of a Willamette University trip for the Red Sweater Project for a five-day service project at its Mungere school  in the heart of some Maasai villages near Arusha.  We're not exactly sure what we'll be doing, but we have our work gloves and school supplies packed.

Afterwards, our group of 11 will go on a seven-day photo safari to the Serengeti and the Onondagan Crater, teeming with wildlife.

The high school in Mungere
Tanzania and our two areas of exploration
When that tour ends, Kathy and I board a bush plane and head to south-central Tanzania for a five-day walking safari in the Ruaha National Park, staying in two tent camps.  (Hopefully, we can walk faster than the lions!).

Our B&B over New Years in Bend

At the Salem TEDx Conference
It's been a beautiful snowless winter in the Willamette Valley, filled with many meals with friends, symphony and choral concerts, walks, a snowboarding trip on New Years Day, and a pre-Christmas trip to the coast.  We're looking forward to getting into some tropical heat and humidity, even if it involves taking malaria pills, and missing out on some fun things going on in Salem during February.  We don't know when we'll have wifi or how good it will be, but if we have the time and a good signal, we'll send an update with much more interesting photos.
Sign at the Women's March

One of many amazing pieces at the Wyeth exhibit
at the Portland Art Museum

Portland from the Eastbank Esplanade

A foggy January morning view from our deck