Posts tagged Africa


Mar 16, 2011
@ 6:19 pm
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5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

All aboard!  This ferry is headed to Zanzibar so as soon as these peeps get their buns on board we’re off. 

I have heard nothing but great things about Zanzibar so I cannot wait to get there and see for myself. In addition to taking in the spectacular scenery, relaxing on the beach, and mingling with the local people I am counting the minutes until I get to luxuriate on a proper bed! That’s right folks, we’ll be staying in a hotel for the next 4 days in Zanzibar and I’m so excited I can barely stand it.

Our ride to Zanzibar definitely started off on the right note when we learned that Janet got us hooked up with an upgrade to the 1st class section of the ferry, which means air conditioning, baby! Oh yeah, bring it on. I cannot even begin to describe the elation that spread through the group upon the delivery of this truly wonderful news. We were all at our breaking points after the epic journey from Malawi so we were more than ready for some creature comforts and a lil’ luxury. Janet, you are the bomb!

Our first stop in Zanzibar was beautiful and historic Stone Town.

Stone Town, Zanzibar

We immediately headed for our hotel to drop our bags and sloth on our beds until our little hearts were content. After some mega relaxation in the room, Line and I ventured into the town to do a little sight seeing, shopping and of course eating! We met up with our crew at Africa House, which has the most fantastic balcony overlooking the sea, just in time for sunset.

sunset, Zanzibar

sunset, Zanzibar

After enjoying a few frosty beverages and taking in yet another spectacular sunset we headed over to the night market to chow down on some delicious food!

The next morning we were up bright and early to head to Nungwi, which is undeniably one of the most spectacular beaches I have ever visited both for it’s stunning scenery as well as it’s intensely rich culture. I really cannot stop gushing about this place, but before you get to see it for yourselves, we must first visit a spice plantation. I’ve been on a handful of spice tours in my year + on the road, but this is the first tour where we were given grass accessories,

a serenade from the top of a palm tree,

as well as samples of all the tasty fruit. I’m not going to lie, the mango I had here was the best mango I have ever eaten and because I was so enthusiastic about this mango I even got seconds. That’s right, peeps, a little enthusiasm goes a long way. OK, I admit that I don’t really do little in the enthusiasm about food department, but I think we can all agree that gratitude is a good thing.

Here are some pics from the tour. Does anyone know what this is?

If you said ginger you are correct. And can anyone tell me one of the things ginger is known to enhance?

It’s something that will put a smile on your face.

For those of you with your mind in the gutter, congratulations, you nailed it. According to our guide, ginger is known to enhance “horizontal refreshment” so remember next time you are making dinner for your special someone, add some ginger. You’re welcome.

After the spice tour we powered on to the beach. Not far now…

When we arrived we learned there was some kind of a mess up with our rooms, but the error was in our favor and we ended up in these gorgeous rooms overlooking the sea complete with a balcony and air conditioning. I know I don’t have to tell you, but I will, I was in complete and utter ecstasy.

Amaan Bungalows, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Amaan Bungalows, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Quite a step up from tents, huh? Enough talking, let’s bask in the breath taking beauty of this place.

Amaan Bungalows, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

coconuts for sale on the beach, Zanzibar

After doing the happy dance to my favorite booty rap jams,

I busted over to the restaurant

for some lunch and in the process, made a new friend.

With my full belly I headed back to my balcony to drool on myself and take in some more of the gorgeous scenery.

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Don’t you love it?! Literally, everywhere I looked something beautiful or interesting was happening, especially in or on the sea.

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

These women looked so majestic as they dragged the fishing nets through the water.

majestic women, Nungwi, Zanzibar

women, Nungwi, Zanzibar

I just loved seeing the Maasai warriors walk along the beach.

Masaai walking on the beach, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Masaai, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Ebony and Ivory, Nungwi, Zanzibar

a walk on the beach, children, Nungwi

Amaan Bungalows, Nungwi, Zanzibar,

women, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Before I knew it the sun was already setting.

sunset, Nungwi, Zanzibar

sunset, Nungwi, Zanzibar

sunset, Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar at night

What a spectacular day! I can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow.  Good night, Birgit.

Day 2 in Paradise:

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Nungwi, Zanzibar

Fisherman, Nungwi, Zanzibar

sea scenes, Nungwi, Zanzibar

After swimming, lounging and eating I decided to take a walk along the beach and visit some of the Maasai shops along the way. I’m so glad I did too because I met so many wonderfully kind people.

Allow me to introduce you to my first new friend, Barak.

Masaai Warrior, Nungwi, Zanzibar

When he found out I was from the United States he actually let out a scream, enthusiastically clapping his hands and doing the happy dance while telling me that, like our President, his name was Barak (spelled differently) and he loved the US and Barack Obama! Not only did he name his shop after the President

but he also wore an American flag necklace that he made himself along with a Barack Obama yes we can keychain around his neck!

Masaai jewelry, Barack Obama, Nungwi, Zanzibar

It was without a doubt one of my favorite I’m proud to be an American moments I’ve had on this trip. Barak and I chatted it up for a while and even exchanged email addresses.

Believing that personal touches matter and miracles can happen, I forwarded Barak’s email address and pictures to a friend of mine who is no stranger to the White House on the off chance that these pics and the story of one of the President’s most ardent supporters from across the globe might make its way to the right people and somehow Barack might receive a reply from the White House thanking him for his support. It certainly cannot hurt to try, right?  Fingers crossed, friends.

Here is another friend I made who went by the name of Luca Air Conditioned Shop. He was hysterical and so proud of his clearly air conditioned shop.

Masaai Warrior, Nungwi, Zanzibar

I could have continued yapping with these guys until nightfall, but I had to say my goodbyes so I could jump in the shower and make it on time for the beach wedding we were throwing for 2 of our fellow travelers who had recently gotten engaged.

Of course the bride cannot see her groom until she’s walking down the beach so the girls and boys separated to get ourselves into a celebratory mood. 

You remember Line, my skydiving buddy!

These are my German buddies.  The lady to my left is Caroline AKA my secret pal who hooked me up with awesome jewelry for the holidays. 

And here’s our chief, chief, chief…Janet!  Yay Janet!!! 

We even had a mother of the bride,

music,

and a priest?

The vows were exchanged just in time for sunset. These photos are courtesy of Gan.

Woo Hoo!!!

Yay for the happy couple and hooray for another spectacular sunset. I really just can’t get enough of these.

sunset, Nungwi, Zanzibar

sunset, Nungwi, Zanzibar

After the wedding we headed further down the beach for a BBQ (insert the jingle, I want my baby back, baby back, baby back ribs…barbeque sauce) and who should go walking by, but my friend, Wendy, who I met on my Egypt and Jordan trip. No way!!!

I knew Wendy was living in Zanzibar, but she was in Stone Town so my hope was to catch up with her tomorrow when we returned to Stone Town. As luck would have it, Wendy was up north with her friends and just happened to be walking along the beach where we were having dinner. What a small world!! I love it. We screamed our faces off for a few minutes, hugged incessantly, and then gained our composure briefly enough to catch up on the past few months before hugging and screaming some more. How wonderful!

As if I wasn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy after running into a friend, I took it up a notch with this adorable puppy.

Of course we all had to take turns holding the puppy and then it was time for a little bit of this

and a whole lot of dancing. My night got even better when Luca Air Conditioned shop showed up.  You know we busted some serious moves on the dance floor. What a fun New Year’s Eve Eve.

The next morning we headed back down to Stone Town for some more sight seeing and chillaxing before our New Year’s celebration.

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Jaws Corner, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Jaws Corner, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar, Jaws Corner

Anglican Christ Church Cathedral, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Can anyone tell me which famous and larger than life singer was from Stone Town?  Here’s a little clue for you. 

If you said Freddie Mercury, you are correct and should raise your arms in triumph while singing We Are the Champions.

There is also a bar named after him where Line, Birgit and I enjoyed some lunch before continuing our sight seeing extravaganza.

Stone Town is a wonderful place, but it has a history that makes one shudder.

It is estimated that slaves were sold in Zanzibar between 1830-1873. How horrifying to think that this was ever considered an option or even remotely acceptable in any way, shape or form.

slavery, Zanzibar

slavery, Stone Town, Zanzibar

slavery, Stone Town, Zanzibar

slavery, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Many of the homes near the slave market had holding cells in the basement. Hideous!

former holding cell for slaves, Stone Town, Zanzibar

Today, Stone Town is beautiful with narrow alleys, interesting architecture, colorful markets, and warm and friendly people.

Fish market, Stone Town, Zanzibar

woman shopping, fish market, Stone Town, Zanzibar

fish market, Stone Town, Zanzibar

local market, Stone Town, Zanzibar

I’ve never seen this many dried octopuses or octopode in one place.  Yes, I had to look up the plural of octopus.  There seems to be quite a bit of rage surrounding the incorrect use of octopi so if you’ve been throwing that word around cut it out because it apparently drives people nuts. 

 dried octopus

How about a closer look at these octopode. 

Did you know that an octopus is the most intelligent invertebrate?  Here’s a story that supports that fun fact.  My brother, Rob, did an internship in Bermuda and one of his many duties involved studying the octopus’ ability to solve puzzles.  Rob’s octopus was a bit crotchety in her old age, and to the extent possible for an octopus, conveyed with every fiber of her being her extreme distaste for these stupid and humiliating puzzles.  She would confine herself to the corner of her container refusing to even consider such a demeaning endeavor and then out of boredom or pity for my poor brother would nonchalantly make her way towards the puzzle and solve it in about 2 seconds flat. 

In addition to being a bit cranky, she was also notoriously cunning, making several attempts to secure her freedom.  Armed with this knowledge, Rob dutifully ensured that the lid was affixed securely each night, but apparently we humans are no match for a determined, angry, and crafty octopus.  Rob arrived at work one morning and discovered that his octopus had escaped.  They searched the grounds extensively, but never found a body.  There was a drain that led to sea not far from her enclosure so the assumed outcome is that the octopus is now enjoying her freedom back in the sea. Crazy, huh?  Who knew octopuses were so smart?  I guess we do now. 

Where were we?  Oh yes, Stone Town. 

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Stone Town, Zanzibar

It’s an easy place to be and time just seems to disappear. Before I knew it, the sun was beginning to set

and the countdown to 2011 was underway. We had a delicious dinner complete with fire dancers and snake charmers, but what made my night even better was another unexpected reunion with a friend.

Yep, it’s Amar! Woo Hoo! I knew Amar and I were going to be in Tanzania at the same time, but we had already done the math and realized that we’d miss each other in Zanzibar by one day so you can imagine my surprise when I heard someone call my name and turned around and saw Amar standing there. Wow! Of all the bars in Zanzibar we just happened to be at the same one. As it turns out Amar’s tour leader got the group to agree to a punishing day of travel so that they could celebrate the new year in Zanzibar instead of Dar es Salaam. Obviously the group was fully supportive of an extra day in Zanzibar, especially NYE. Two unexpected reunions in two days….what a small, small world. I love it!

Amar and I spent the next few hours catching up on our African adventures and rang in the new year with a toast on the beach. Goodbye 2010 and thank you for a truly unforgettable year. I am filled with an overwhelming gratitude for the many gifts I have received during this wonderful, eye opening, and awe inspiring journey. While I’ve still got a long way to go, I can tell that some healing has taken place because I can actually refer to myself as someone who feels grateful, lucky, and appreciative again. After my mom’s passing I had a very difficult time with these words because I definitely didn’t feel any of those things and while I obviously don’t feel any of them with respect to losing my mother, I can see the rays of sunshine again and truly believe that the future is going to be a bright one.

A huge thank you to my friends and family who have stayed in touch and been my champions along the way. My world is a better place because of you and I wish you all health, happiness, inspiration, and love in the new year.

Here’s to you!

Next stop is the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater so get fired up for some serious wildlife action, friends!

Big 5 or bust!!!


Mar 9, 2011
@ 5:02 pm
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In the Warm Heart of Africa for the Holidays

Hello and greetings from Malawi! I hope you are ready for stunningly gorgeous scenery, festive holiday celebrations, and lots of laughter and good cheer because that is the focus of this blog entry.

Malawi is known as the warm heart of Africa and this is immediately apparent, as everyone we passed on the street was wearing a huge smile, especially the children. In fact, the children wouldn’t just smile, they would race to the edge of their property and wave their little hands as quickly as possible to make sure they were seen. Some of the smaller children would actually stand in a split stance and lean forward to stabilize themselves for the ferocious waving session, which frequently involved both hands above the head. At times, it almost felt like a wave-off to see who could wave the fastest and most enthusiastically: us or them. It is without a doubt one of my favorite memories of Africa and something that will always bring a smile to my face.

In addition to the warm and friendly people, Malawi also has spectacular natural scenery. Take a look for yourselves. Here are some pics taken from the truck on our way to Lake Malawi.

Malawi countryside

Malawi countryside

Malawi countryside

Malawi countryside

Malawi countryside

This is our truck, Denver.

Overlanding in Africa

Denver may look nice and cosmetically it was nicer than Pumba, but it was configured differently and definitely not as spacious or comfortable. As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, this leg of the trip consisted of many long days and by long I mean several 10, 12 and 14 hour days back to back. With all this time in the truck one has ample time to dissect the layout and conjure brilliant ideas for the perfect truck.

Thankfully Janet is an incredibly upbeat, glass half full kind of person and did her very best to keep the energy in the truck positive. Each morning, to get us started on the right track, Janet would read us an inspiring and motivating thought of the day. She also made sure the truck was decorated with helpful language tidbits and fun facts about the countries we’d be visiting.

Since we’d be celebrating the holidays and the New Year together she also made the extra effort to pimp out our truck with holiday cheer.

One of the ways we’d pass the time was to engage in trivia with one side of the truck versus the other. I am pleased to say that I wowed the truck by knowing who wrote the Star Spangled Banner. Yeah puppies, whose a patriot?

We would also sing to pass the time. Janet taught us a Zulu Warrior song, which was so much fun and became lodged in my head for the rest of my time in Africa. I’ll go ahead and give you the lyrics, spelling the words like I’m Hooked on Phonics, ok. I realize you may not have the beat, but I will be happy to perform this little ditty for you, upon request.

The entire bus, I mean truck, starts singing this together

I zeek a zoomba zoomba zoomba

I zeek a zoomba zoomba zay

I zeek a zoomba zoomba zoomba

I zeek a zoomba zoomba zay

Hold ‘em down you Zulu warrior

Hold ‘em down you Zulu chief, chief, chief, chief

Once we got to chief, one half of the truck would go back to the beginning of the song while the other half chanted chief over and over again until the other side completed the lyrics and got to chief. We’d switch back and forth until this got old, but you’d be surprised how many times we went around before losing our steam. With 10 hours or more to kill we might as well sing our little hearts out.

Our first stop in Lake Malawi, the Lake of Stars, was Kande Beach and we arrived just as the sun was setting.

Kande Beach, Lake Malawi

While strolling along the beach, I was quickly befriended by the super outgoing and laid back Good Lucky and Yoda. Everyone there comes up with some kind of fun and playful name like Donald Duck or Pepperoni Pizza and Good Lucky and Yoda were going to be my buddies for the next few days in Kande Beach. After chatting it up for a while they decided that the perfect nickname for me was Chimwemwe, which means joy. I like it! I’ve had plenty of nicknames in my time, but I think this is one of my favorites.

I met up with Good Lucky and Yoda the next morning and we took a tour through their lovely village. Our village tour guide was all smiles and decked out for the holidays.

This woman was busy preparing the cassava for their evening meal.

scaredy cat

As I mentioned before, the children in Malawi melt your heart they are so adorable and sweet.

insanely adorable child, Malawi

Each of us was holding one or more children’s hands as we walked through the village and I am pleased to share that there was no begging for money, food, or pens. In my travels I have visited many small villages and it’s extremely rare to find a village that is devoid of begging. How refreshing!

mommy's little helper, Malawi

I know it may seem like this kid probably didn’t want his picture taken given the expression he’s giving me, but he actually asked me to take his photo. Haha! Gotta love it.

Grrr

This is the little boy who accompanied me throughout the village. He was absolutely precious and such a gentle lil‘ guy. When the adults would go into a part of the village where the kids weren’t allowed, he would patiently wait outside for me and then greet me at the door with a huge smile and an outstretched hand. It was so sweet!

One thing that we all noticed as we walked through the village and spoke with the residents was how many of them were raised by their grandparents, including my buddy, Good Lucky. We’ve all heard how the AIDS epidemic is a huge problem in Africa, but I can honestly say that I was caught off guard when I read some literature supplied at the Tanzania border that claimed that of the global AIDS epidemic, 67% of it is in sub-Saharan Africa! Wow, 67%! In walking through this village though it definitely seemed accurate. It’s heartbreaking, but also encouraging to see the public awareness campaigns underway on billboards in the big cities, on the backs of tuk tuks, and in the curriculum taught to children.

Here’s the school in the village. Even though it was a holiday and the kids weren’t in school, they still accompanied us to the school and performed an impromptu song and dance for us. They were so enthusiastic to have visitors and could have gone on for hours.

As I mentioned before, there are many orphans in this village and limited resources. While the need is obviously great, the tone of the teacher was nurturing and kind as he explained to us the way Malawi’s school system worked, the curriculum, and the ages and number of students enrolled. There was never a hard push for donations. He simply directed us to the blackboard where contact information for the school was located and thanked us for visiting his school.

As many of you know, my mom was a teacher and had a way of making education and learning fun. She read books to us when we were little and instilled in each of us a love for reading that continues to this day. Every summer we participated in the reading program at our library and I have fond memories of the balancing act required to get our huge stack of books from the library to the car and from the car to the house. As you can imagine, with 30+ years of teaching under her belt, mom amassed quite a collection of children’s books and resources over the years. With the help of several of her teaching colleagues and friends we were able to get many of her resources into the hands of educators in her community who could put them to immediate use, but we held on to a stockpile of children’s books with the goal of donating them to an organization(s) that served underprivileged children. Of course I’ll need to discuss this with my brothers, but I’d love to send at least some of those books to these children in this village that captured my heart this holiday season.

The more I’ve traveled the more I realize just how privileged I was to have had access to such high caliber education my whole life. It is truly a gift and something that my mom gave to hundreds of children and something my brothers and I would like to continue in her honor. I have more to share about this subject, but we’ll get to that in later posts.

After visiting the school, we headed on to the hospital, the maternity ward specifically, to see some of the new moms and babies. The conditions here were definitely not the greatest and the new mom we met didn’t look that well. I’m no doctor, but if I had to guess I’d say the insane heat and humidity was likely a factor. As for donations, they were in desperate need to mosquito nets so if any of you have access to them or would like to help I’d recommend contacting the school to get more information.

After our fabulous day in the village we headed back to the campsite to relax and gear up for our drum party on the beach. Prior to heading to the beach, we sat around the campsite and took in an impromptu jam session by Janet, a gifted drummer, some guy from South Africa who was staying at the campsite and great on guitar, and Rami and Line who sang beautifully together. Of course we all joined in the singing by the end so our spirits were high as we headed off to the beach.  I wish I had pictures to share with you, but I was too busy busting a move to the sound of the drums. Jerry, you would be proud! We had ourselves a full throttle dance party, my friends, and it was awesome! Of course we also busted into a little I zeek a zoomba action, demanding that everyone in attendance chant the chief line over and over again. They had no idea what we were singing, but in the spirit of the holidays, they went with it until we had our fill. It was such a blast!

The next morning it was time to say goodbye to Good Lucky, Yoda, and our other friends from Kande Beach. Our next stop was Chitimba on the other side of Lake Malawi. Bye Good Lucky and Yoda! You guys are the best and I wish you health and happiness in the new year.

The campsite at Chitimba was killer.

In honor of the holidays Birgit and I even gave our tent a little flair.

The scenery here was breathtaking and the perfect place to celebrate the holidays. Check it out.

Chitimba, Lake Malawi

Chitimba, Lake Malawi

Chitimba, Lake Malawi

Janet and the kitchen team worked tirelessly to make us the most spectacular Christmas Eve dinner ever! (Several of the pics in this post are courtesy of Gan, our resident photographer and fellow traveler, who documented everything on the trip. Great candid shots, Gan, and thanks for sharing.)

Notice the festive holiday head gear.

Janet pulled out all the stops for Christmas Eve dinner. Not only did we eat at a proper table, but this table was decorated with a tablecloth, candles, crackers, and fancy holiday napkins.

Before eating we went around the table and told everyone what we were thankful for and then did a group toast for the holidays. From the scrumptious food to the exceptional company, everything about this meal was spectacular. Janet, thank you so much for making us feel like a family and for ensuring that this was one of the most memorable Christmas Eves of all time.

After gorging ourselves on a delicious meal, complete with a crumble for dessert

and cleaning up the dishes,

we sat around and enjoyed some wine and conversation before the torrential downpour started. This was the hardest it had rained since I had been in Africa, but I made it safely to my tent. With my full belly and the soothing sound of rain hitting the tent I was asleep in minutes and awoke the next morning, Christmas Day, feeling totally refreshed.

The next morning we had a “lunchy brunchy” thing around 11 AM so we could sleep in, lounge at the beach, chat with our families, and ease into Christmas Day. Like the night before, Janet hooked it up big time with the meal.

That’s right, people, a proper braai (remember to roll the r, please). Janet is from South Africa so you know she rocked it!

We also had mango and banana pancakes, hard boiled eggs, nuts, and chocolate. Oh yeah, bring it on, baby!

I realize I mentioned the kitchen crew and cleaning crew, but without much explanation beyond that so how about we clear that up?  This was a participatory camping trip so each day we would rotate chores to ensure that everyone had his/her fair share of the duties. Inside the truck was a schedule so we not only knew what we were supposed to be doing, but who was supposed to be helping us to reduce the likelihood of slackers!

Now that we’ve got that straight how about we move on to the gift exchange? Yippee, Yeehaw, Woo Hoo!

We decided to go the secret pal route with some people leaving clues in the truck in the days leading up to the holidays. I got a candy bar from my secret pal that had a German clue so I knew it had to be one of my 3 German colleagues, but since I already knew who Birgit’s secret pal was, it was down to 2. Hmm, I wonder who it could be?

Dani was in charge of giving out the gifts and did a great job.

Ross was my secret pal and he got hooked up with (drum roll please) the Saturator water gun!!!  I didn’t want to risk Ross shooting his eye out or shooting the eyes out of any of our fellow travelers so no official Red Ryder carbine-action two-hundred-shot range model air rifle for him.  Sorry, Ross, but your eyes are just too fra-gee-lay to risk it.    

If you didn’t get that old school movie reference, I highly recommend you check out The Christams Story ASAP.  It’s a classic! 

Next it was my turn. My secret pal even gave me a card. Fancy!!!

Caroline was my secret pal and she hooked it up big time with a bracelet (same one I saw her buy that I was admiring and wondering if I should purchase) and an elephant necklace. How did she know that I’m a bit obsessed with elephants? Thanks, Caroline! I love my gifts…you know sister loves jewelry!!!

Here’s Karis, our driver. Someone looks happy!

After the gift exchange I made my way to the shops directly outside the camp.

The guys here were awesome and thrilled to shoot the breeze. Here are some of my buddies who I hung out with on Christmas Day.

Later that afternoon, which was morning in the US, I connected with my brother, Drew. I was so thrilled to catch up and hear his voice. We hadn’t spoken since I arrived in Africa so we had a ton to discuss. While we were Skyping this owl, one of 2 that resides there, was checking me out from across the room, and by checking me out I mean staring at me with unblinking eyes for about 5 minutes.

Owls have massive eyes so a stare down from an owl is something you notice. I swear if this owl had hands it would have done that move where you make the #2 with your fingers and point them at your eyes and then the eyes of the person you are stalking. I was staring back it this owl with some interest and a little bit of trepidation if I am to be perfectly honest, when out of the blue it flew towards me and jumped up onto my leg to get an even closer look. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit wigged out at this point, but did my best to keep my cool. I kept checking out its massive claws, which were kind of digging into the flesh on my leg, but then I’d move my gaze back up to its face where it was waiting to lock eye contact with me. Um, owl, you are freaking me out. Eventually the owl lost interest and me and flew to the other side of the room, but would continue to lock eye contact with me from time to time during the conversation just to let me know that he was still there. Ok, Creep Master, Flowers in the Attic, Children of the Corn Psycho, I see you. Please stop staring at me.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to connect with any other members of my family, but we were headed to Zanzibar for the new year so I knew I’d have reliable Internet there and another shot to connect with them. I yapped Drew’s ear off for over an hour and he gave me updates on the other members of the family so I felt the love.

The next morning we were up at the crack to get on the road since we had a border crossing and a ton of kilometers to cover. 

Here are some sights along the way.

Malawi market

fish for sale, Malawi

We are now in Tanzania.  Jambo! 

banana market, Tanzania

Bananas for Sale - Tanzania

After several hours of driving we stopped for lunch. Here’s a peek of our supplies.

Before touching anything though we must wash our hands. Hygiene first!

Within minutes of setting up the chairs and pulling out the tables to start lunch preparation we were surrounded by tons of smiling faces.

young girl, Malawi

Like the children we met in the village, these kids were adorable, squealing with joy when we’d take their pictures and then show them the images. Man, digital cameras are the best for instant gratification. I wish I had a Polaroid though because it would be even better to actually give the children the photos.

After cleaning up and having one final bathroom break in the bush we were back on the road. I’m proud to say that there was no littering on this trip. We were a bunch of tree huggers here…

so after we did our business, we’d deposit the trash in this handy little receptacle at the back of the bus.

pee rags

OK, time to get back on the truck.

Tanzania countryside

On the road again…I’m so sick of being on the freaking road again. Remember that shot of us leaving Lake Malawi where we were all relaxed and serene? Fast forward to now, which has us road weary from a 12 hour driving day, followed by a 14 hour driving day, a border crossing, and a rainy night in a tent.

Yeah, it’s not pretty, folks. This was without a doubt the most punishing and brutal stretch of the entire trip. From time to time someone would declare just how “over it” he or she was, but for the most part silence, knowing eye contact, exasperated facial expressions, and forceful exhales reigned supreme. It was hideous, folks, but at long last we finally reached Dar es Salaam. Like most big cities, the traffic in Dar es Salaam is, well…take a look for yourselves.

Despite the traffic, there was a lot of interesting activity happening on the streets so we were thoroughly entertained.

Dar Es Salaam market, Tanzania

street scene, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

foot fetish, Dar Es Salaam

we all scream for ice-cream, Dar Es Salaam

I wear my sunglasses...Dar Es Salaam

Before reaching our camp we had one last hurdle to overcome and that was getting our truck across the water on a ferry.

You saw the traffic so you can imagine how long it took to get on this ferry, but Karis pulled some serious moves, which enraged practically every car on the road. This rock star move was critical, as it shaved some time off what was going on our 15thhour in the truck. Whatever it take, Karis. Make it happen, my friend. Get us off this freaking truck!!!

At long last we reached our camp. Not too shabby, not too shabby at all.

beach, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

beach, Dar Es Salaam

If you like exotic, then you are going to lose your mind over the next post, my friends. Can you say Zanzibar? Oh yeah, it‘s time to get fired up for white, sandy beaches, turquoise water, fishing boats, Maasai warriors strolling along the beach, and spectacular sunsets. I am giddy just thinking about it. I promise I’ll update soon. Zanzibar is without a doubt one of the most spectacular places I have visited in all of my travels so I cannot wait to share it with you.

See you soon and thanks for reading. I appreciate all your emails to let me know you are still reading and enjoying the ride. Your emails always bring a smile to my face so keep ‘em coming. Talk soon!