December 20, 2014 to January 12, 2015 / Dar es Salaam - Iringa - Ruaha - Zanzibar
Sorry for the radio silence. It's been a few weeks since time, laptop and WIFI have converged long enough for me to write a blog post. And even now with a relatively stable internet connection, I"m not sure how long I have before it cuts out, so you'd better read quickly....
Habari za safari? / How is the trip?
Since you last left your intrepid travellers....we've:
- bussed 10 hours up to a town in South-Central Tanzania called Iringa to visit our friends, Rama and Baraka for Christmas and to enjoy the cool, evening air at 1,600 m above sea level. I used to visit Iringa every 4-6 weeks for work, and it was nice to see it again;
- visited with mutual friends, Ralph & Louise, Hugo and Hanna who had come down from Geneva, Switzerland for the holidays too;
- forayed on a 2-day safari with the aforementioned gang at Ruaha National Park, about 2 hours north of Iringa (see the boxes to the right for a selection of pictures from Ruaha);
- celebrated Christmas with Swiss chocolate, German stolen bread, English and Canadian First Nations carols, South African wine and Tanzanian scorpion -- 15 cm long! -- who crawled out from under our bed to say "Merry Christmas";
- bussed back to Dar es Salaam for an encore performance of the very same Tanzanian melodramas and music videos that we saw on the way down to Iringa;
- sailed away on a ferry to Zanzibar to tour around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stonetown and to chill out for a few days on the South-East beach with the Canadian delegation to Switzerland;
- splashed with a flash of dolphins off the south coast of the Unguja Island;
- ferried our way back to Dar es Salaam to start volunteering with our former employer, World Renew.
Currently we're holed up in a hotel just north of Dar as I prepare to facilitate a Strategic Planning session for World Renew's Tanzanian program this week. (This hotel is much nicer than the usual "warm and dry with WIFI" hovels where we usually crash; there's even a pool for the kids and an AC unit to blow off the rainy season's heat and humidity. But other than that, this is a somewhat-generic-might-as-well-be-anywhere-kind-of-place with interminable jangle-twang of Mexican-Cowboy Movie Muzak echoing through its empty hallways. I'm often feel like Clint Eastwood walking into a ghost town anticipating a gunfight....).
Habari za safari kubwa? / How is the big trip?
As the pictures attest, we're really fortunate to be seeing and doing some really cool things. But in between the photo ops there are also more "normal" days that can sometimes feel a bit long. Without having our own place or the set routines of school and work, or if we end up in lonely hotels with gunslinger music serenading the hallway tumbleweeds, we sometimes have a lot of unstructured time on our hands, and its usually then when the homesickness hits.
On the other hand, it would be exhausting to be on the move all the time, especially in a cross-cultural context where finding gas, food and lodging takes much longer than you'd expect. So we can't always be in the busy tourist mode. The trick is finding the balance and making the most of each place we visit.
At any rate, we're looking forward to the week ahead to talk shop with colleagues and to enjoy a few more swims in the Indian Ocean before we head north to Mwanza, Tanzania's second biggest city, to do some more volunteer work.