Welcome to The Belgravia B&B!

 

Please stop in often to find out what is new at the Belgravia Bed & Breakfast, in downtown Truro, the Central Nova Scotia Area, and around the Province of Nova Scotia! Please click here to find out all about us or here to read guest comments and reviews.

Photo credit: Portraits by Johanna

When you finally get what you thought you wanted…

There was a time, as Mom to four, when all I wanted for Mother’s Day was to sleep in and spend the day in bed reading a book. This is the year my wish came true, but it’s because I had a gum graft on Friday, and am not allowed any excitement that may raise my blood pressure for five days. It also means breakfast-in-bed consisted of pudding and ice-cream.

Despite my restrictions, my family has done as much as they can to make me feel special and appreciated. I arrived home from spending five days in Toronto at the Enactus National Exposition, on Thursday at suppertime. (That will be a separate post.) Because I arrived before D’Arcy could get to Halifax from Pictou after school, Evan and Alex came to the airport to pick me up. I had offered to take them for something to eat, but D’Arcy texted me and told me to come right home and not to feed anyone.

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When I walked in the door, I could smell lobsters cooking, and discovered that he had planned a celebration of my successes in Toronto with my team, and also an early Mother’s Day meal since I wouldn’t be able to eat on Sunday. He had prepared lobsters, asparagus, green salad, cabbage rolls, and garlic bread, and had opened a bottle of wine.

We were chatting in the kitchen, telling stories and getting caught up, when Olivia brought Caroline, the guinea pig in.

I immediately knew something was wrong. Since I had held her the week before, she had lost about half her body weight and she wasn’t squeaking at me like she normally would. I told D’Arcy we needed to put supper on hold and call the vet. I won’t go into detail, but we took Caroline to an emergency appointment where she was diagnosed with an abscess. The vet dealt with it, gave her fluids, put her on antibiotics and sent us home with the equivalent of “boost” for rodents. The girls were relieved and took her home a couple hours later with a renewed sense of hope.

They were sent to bed and D’Arcy and I had a chance to dine together on our now-cold dinner. It was still delicious.

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In the morning, Caroline was still with us, but not perky. I held her while Olivia gave her the antibiotic and we tried to get her to take her supplement. Before they went to school, I advised them to tell her that they loved her – just in case. Within an hour, our sweet Caroline had stopped breathing, aged 3.5, knowing she was well-loved.

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I got cleaned up and went to my gum-graft. Yuck. (Honestly, the procedure itself wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated, but I was on some happy-drugs and was well frozen.) D’Arcy took me home after the procedure and sent me to bed. I got up only long enough to participate in the funeral where Caroline was peacefully buried under a tree in the yard by Olivia, with the rest of us supporting her and Neil Diamond playing on the ipad.

Saturday was a sleep/read/cuddle day while the family coped and conspired.

I was up before anyone else on Mother’s Day morning to take my pain meds and antibiotics. It wasn’t long before I started to receive visits with cards, poems, and paintings from everyone as they awoke. Despite feeling crappy, I feel truly loved and appreciated. I am amazed by the girls’ artwork, and will take some to my office at school. Sarah’s watercolour of Five Islands will be framed and put on display at home.

This Mother’s Day I have friends grieving the loss of their moms due to death or dementia, friends grieving the loss of their unborn babies, and I have been thinking of the new moms I met in Africa – especially the mom who lost her baby. Although I felt spoiled and did enjoy having the opportunity to read two novels this weekend,  I would rather have been well enough to have had quality time with my mom, D’Arcy’s mom, and my family.

“You breathe.
You feel.
You see
and hear
and smell
and taste
and think
and move
and laugh
and weep
and heal
and dance
and sing
and love.
Thank your mother.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich

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Thankful for my favourite moms.

 

An allergy update

Any of our friends and family, former guests, or followers of our blog know that our youngest daughter, Olivia, was diagnosed with multiple life-threatening food allergies when she was less than a year old. She carries two epi-pens with her at all times when she is not at home. At home, they hang on the back of my chair at the kitchen table. Throughout the past eight years, we are grateful that she has outgrown many of her allergens: dairy, cinnamon, avocado, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, grapes, kiwi, pineapple… too many to list. She’s knocked them off one-by-one.

About two years ago, we started challenging tree nuts, one-at-a-time. First almonds, then pistachios, pecans, walnuts, cashews, and finally Brazil nuts last April. She passed each of the tree nuts until Brazil nuts, which produced five hives. We were surprised by the result and determined that it was probably due to cross-contamination because the nuts we used had been in a package, processed in a plant with some of her other allergens.

The plan was to give it some time and try again. I was able to find Brazil nuts in the shell at Christmas and stuck them in the freezer until her appointment last week.

The good news is that she passed her Brazil nut challenge without any issues, so is now only allergic to peanuts, eggs, and soy.

She is happy because she has earned herself a new medic-alert bracelet with fewer words; it turns out she doesn’t care whether or not she ever gets to eat tree nuts or not – they aren’t her favourite!

While we were doing her challenge, we also re-tested her for her egg, soy, and peanut allergies, both by skin and blood. Our hope had been that her soy allergy tests higher than it really is due to cross-reactivity to peanut (both legumes) and that she might actually be able to tolerate it in a challenge. We were also hoping that she might be able to challenge baked egg. (Eggs in cookies, cakes, breads, etc. where the protein has been changed during the heating process.)

Based on her first skin-prick tests, soy did not develop a hive at all this time, and our hope was buoyed. They then did a second poke using actual soy milk (the first was done with the soy serum) which resulted in a huge hive.

On Friday, I received a call at school from Olivia’s allergist with the results of her blood work. It was not good news. Her numbers had all increased. Peanut and soy are now both >100 where they stop counting. (Soy had been 52 two years ago.) Egg, not as dramatically, went up as well. The chance of her passing a challenge is not worth putting her through the risk. It also means that her peanut, egg, and soy allergies are probably with her for life.

She won’t need to go back to the office (unless she has a reaction to something) for two years.

I have been reminding myself that although this news is disappointing, it is not life-changing. Although our hope for more improvements has been crushed, our lives are no different than they were when we woke up the morning of the tests. We know how and what to feed her to keep her safe and healthy. We haven’t added any new allergens. Her family, school, and friends are  conscientious and supportive while doing their best to keep her included and safe when food is involved. We all eat healthier as a result since most processed food contains soy. Although it takes more work and advanced planning, she is able to eat out at a number of restaurants (not all) and to travel.

We do know that we can never become complacent.

She will continue to ask, “is this safe for me?” before eating anything new. We will continue to read labels every time. We will continue to bring our own food for her when she goes other places. She will continue to wear her two epi-pens whenever she leaves the house.

We will continue to cater to her allergies and those of our guests.

We will continue to be a peanut-free property.

We will continue to advocate for her and teach her to advocate for herself.

She is worth it.

 

 

Home again, home again! (With some final thoughts)

This is the final post from my ten day trip in Tanzania. To read from beginning to end (rather than in reverse order), start at the post: My African Adventure and follow the “next post” links in the grey box on the bottom right hand side at the end of each entry.

The trip home was smooth and uneventful. We cleared immigration quickly in Dar – once we had the proper forms filled out, our fingerprints checked, and our photo taken again. We checked the departures and everything was running on time. We sat outside the gate for awhile, then decided to have one last Serengeti beer.  It was difficult to hear the announcements where we were sitting, so we went to check and discovered boarding had begun!

We got ourselves into our seats and prepared for take-off. As soon as the doors were closed, the flight crew went through the plane spraying insecticide so we had to close our eyes and cover our mouths. I did end up using my inhaler for tight breathing in the night, but it’s hard to say whether or not that was the reason.

Our flight left Dar es Salaam at 11:20 p.m. and I fell asleep almost immediately. I woke briefly when the flight attendants were delivering supper, but I chose not to have any (choice of vegetarian cannelloni or fried chicken – after midnight!). The flight to Zurich was 8h55m and I tried to sleep on it as much as possible, but woke a number of times. Jim had told me he’s not good at sleeping on airplanes, but I will beg to differ on that one.  I was in the window seat and the stars over Africa were AMAZING, as was sunrise over the Alps! We were woken an hour of so before landing for a breakfast of yogurt, orange juice, and a toasted croissant.

We had a three hour lay-over in Zurich which was again foggy. We spent our time talking about our situational analysis and curriculum, checking emails, and checking in on news. It was the middle-of-the-night at home, so I didn’t connect with my family, but Jim was able to touch base with Nadine.

Our next flight, from Zurich to Toronto was 9h15m in duration and I slept for the first few hours, then spent my time doing some work while Jim watched movies. We had vegetarian pasta for lunch that resembled earthworms, but was quite tasty. It was served with Harvard beets which I thought was an interesting pairing. The other choice was salmon. We landed in Toronto early and breezed through customs. Jim was randomly flagged for additional screening and chose the full body scan which is faster. I had figured that we would run into people we knew, returning from March Break, but that was not the case.

Despite the fact I’d had a cup of tea in Toronto airport during our layover, I managed to sleep most of the way from Toronto – Halifax. I could feel my excitement to be reunited with my family grow as we began our descent. Because we had already cleared customs in Toronto, it was just a matter of getting off the plane and walking down into the arms of my loved ones who were eagerly waiting. What an amazing feeling!

I was cognizant of the fact Evan & I were on the same continent (Europe) at the same time while I was waiting to board from Zurich to Toronto. It was disconcerting for me not to have heard from him while he was away. It felt strange to have our family separated on three different continents.

Oh, Tanzania… so many firsts for me! First time on the African continent, first time that far south of the Equator, first time in the Indian Ocean, first time seeing the Southern Hemisphere stars, first time being such a distinct visible minority.

I made a number of observations while there, most of which I shared with Jim. The fact we were friends (as opposed to solely boss/employee) before we left made having a number of discussions more comfortable; there were some conversations that with different people would have to be more guarded, but that wasn’t the case. I feel this trip will have made me a better Sociology faculty because I’ve put so much of what I teach into practice. We had a really interesting discussion on why it’s important to teach Sociology to business students and I believe that even more now. Also, the cross-cultural component that I teach in Communications class was prevalent in our everyday interactions. I was aware of what to choose to wear, how to respond to others, what to say – or not say – in different situations, and when to defer to Jim because Africa is a patriarchal society.

At the beginning of the trip, I had noticed that everyone spends all of their time outside. After a week in the heat, I understand why. We rarely experienced wind or rain, and anytime we were inside without air conditioning, the air was stale; it was so hot which made it difficult to breathe. There were a number of times when we were waiting for others that we (Jim especially) chose to wait outside.

For whatever reason, I didn’t expect to see as many people – male and female – wearing traditional dress, but that was the norm. I also was surprised that so many women – regardless of whether we were in rural or urban areas  – carried large amounts of goods, water, etc. on their heads. It made me wonder about their back health. Their posture is beautiful and their core-strength must be phenomenal. I was also struck by the number of times I saw men & women walking together, but it was always the woman who was carrying the goods, often with a baby strapped to her body.

I have never before been so aware of my privilege. 

Safety is not the priority in Tanzania that it is in Nova Scotia. Vehicles, pedestrians, workplace, etc. I saw busses, trucks, and vans overflowing with people. I saw people driving motorcycles with no helmets, riding sideways, holding babies, texting, and one with four children and an adult. (They call those “skewers”.) Some of the workplaces we visited, while promoting safety, lacked proper safety procedures.

As someone with naturally curly/frizzy hair, I understand why the African women either have closely cut hair, or intricate braids. My hair was unmanageable all week. (As you can tell by the photos!) #firstworldproblems

There are a number of ways of doing business that we take for granted, that haven’t happened in Tanzania yet. This presents many opportunities for the people of Tanzania, and for those who would be interested in going to Tanzania to help make change. Jim and I discussed the possibility of a number of different potential Enactus projects.

As much as there are a number of major differences in our cultures, so much is the same.

In the ten days we were in Tanzania (plus six flights), at no time did I see a crying, or mis-behaving child. Jim saw one while I was shopping, but said the child wasn’t local. I saw children attached to their mothers, playing with their fathers, under tables in stalls, and being passed from person to person. I saw young children navigating the busy highways wearing their school uniforms, and others begging on the streets. The children were so beautiful and captured my heart.

The African culture is one of joy and colour. 

Tanzanians beep their horns for many reasons and no reason. Many times, I think it was just for fun.

Seeing wild animals (baboons, giraffes, elephants, water buffalo, wildebeest, impalas, monkeys) on the side of the highway would never grow old.

When in Africa and you don’t know when you’ll find your next bathroom, the best thing to do is allow yourself to get slightly dehydrated. Otherwise, drink as much water as you can!

It is difficult to avoid getting a sunburn on your back when not travelling with your husband and children. There are some things – regardless of your friendship – that are inappropriate to ask your male boss to do for you.

I wish everyone would have the chance to experience an African Safari and see wild animals in their natural habitat during their lifetime.

My only disappointment is that I never did have the opportunity to try the traditional Tanzanian dish of Ugali – next time! I also didn’t end up eating any goat, or anything else unrecognizable to my western pallet. (Which I would have been willing to do.) It turned out that most days I was not hungry due to the heat, and probably ate about half as much as I normally would at home.

There are so many things I could list here that I thought about while there, but I haven’t yet processed it all. My heart goes out to the new moms I met in Mikumi – especially those who were willing to hand their babies over to a strange white foreign woman to hold so willingly. I have thought about the mom who lost her baby every single day. The experience of being in the hospital with the moms was a highlight, and the eye contact and connection I had with each of them despite the language barrier is burned into my heart and memory forever. 

I loved my job before, but my sense of engagement now is at an all-time high.

I thank my family from the bottom of my heart for allowing me the possibility to take part in this experience. I know it wasn’t easy for them to have me gone for so long, and to be so far away.  Hopefully we have all grown from this time of opportunity. Hopefully when I go back (oh, how I hope!) they will understand that I am trying to make a difference one step at a time, and that I will return to them safe and happier.

All good things must come to an end…

Because our flight out of Tanzania to home didn’t leave until the evening, we were able to put in most of the day ourselves. I was up early, and got my things relatively organized, then watched the sun come up over the Indian Ocean before meeting Jim for breakfast at 8am.

He had brought a jar of peanut butter along with him, so I had some of that on a piece of white bread with my breakfast – my last opportunity for peanut products before being reunited with Olivia in a few hours. We chatted over tea about what we wanted and needed to do. The news was on in the background, reporting of a plane crash in Russia which was sobering to listen to.

We had debated driving to a beach farther up the coast, but decided against it. Instead, we chose to work in the sun on the balcony all morning and get as much of our situation analysis completed as possible before heading home. Later, we would go to the beach across from the hotel, and do some shopping.

We worked all morning, until the laptop battery died. We had made arrangements with the hotel for a late check-out and were happy to have the space another few hours.

We went for a long walk on the beach – all the way to the end and back. The Indian Ocean is so incredibly warm – 29*C/84*F – I couldn’t believe it! There are people swimming and playing in it from sun up until sun down although you wouldn’t be able to call it refreshing! We saw a number of people in various attire at the beach; everything from bikinis to full niqabs. The one thing I was disappointed in was the amount of garbage we saw everywhere. We had to be careful we didn’t step on broken glass, bottles, wrappers, etc. There are many small entrepreneurs who have set up shop along the edge of the beach as well. We ran into a Tanzanian whom we had met on our first trip to the beach (he approached us to find out where we were from – obviously we were not local) and chatted with him again.  He had spent time in Portland, Oregon, and the west coast of the US. He was interested to know whether we had enjoyed our time in Tanzania and we assured him we had. The people here have been wonderful and friendly. At no time have I felt threatened. Mind you, we’ve been with Tanzanians most of the time, but even when we were walking and exploring on our own, or taking cabs, we felt safe.

After the beach, we took a bajajis (tuk-tuk) to a shopping area called the Slipway to get some souvenirs. I had warned Jim that I am not a shopper, and after seeing me in action, I think he believed me! Although I have no photos from my experience there, I will never forget it. I can only describe it as stalls about the size of a closet, one after another, filled with an assortment of items. As I’ve mentioned before, the temperature was 36*C with high humidity. I found the heat, the smells, the sights, the sounds, and the pressure to buy from each shopkeeper overwhelming. At a number of the shops, the storekeeper would follow me in and try to sell me anything – which I found claustrophobic – especially since I already felt like I was melting. I managed to find something for everyone in my family while Jim found a couple of things for Nadine, then we left.

We went back to the little cafe by our hotel that we had found on our first day in Dar for some supper, however I wasn’t hungry at all due to heat and nerves. We went back to the hotel to repack our suitcases and get ready for our flights, watching a celebration of some sort on the beach, and one final sunset.

Our driver arrived at the hotel slightly ahead of schedule and we headed to the airport, worried about traffic. Luckily, everything went smoothly and we were there before we knew it. (Thank goodness, because we were wearing long pants by this time!) We cleared security immediately and were ready to return to our families!

 

 

 

 

The final working day of our trip

Jim and I met for breakfast early on our last working day of our trip. Anna and the driver were scheduled to pick us up at 8am so that we would be able to fit in our interviews before Friday afternoon prayers began.
We were downstairs, ready and waiting for them when they arrived, slightly late due to a traffic jam. The traffic here in Dar is ridiculous! There are buses, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, taxis, bajajis (tuk-tuks), and pedestrians EVERYWHERE. At one point, we were stuck in traffic and I was watching pedestrians try to cross the road. It reminded me of the old video game, “Frogger” that my brother & I used to play on the Atari in the early 1980’s. It appeared to me that humans were taking their lives into their own hands each time they needed to cross the street. I was amazed that during our ten days, we did not see any accidents; certainly a number of close calls though. We saw vehicles driving on the sidewalk to get around traffic, creating their own lanes, driving on the inside to get around others… yikes! I was hyper-aware each time we were in a vehicle.
It took us over an hour in our non-air-conditioned car to reach our first destination, a company located near the port. It was the only time on the trip I’ve felt ill. I’m not sure if it was the heat, the motion, being tired, dehydration, or what, but I was sitting in the back seat willing myself not to throw up. Fortunately, it did pass by the time we got to our first place of business for the day. Unfortunately, after we were dropped off and sat in the  reception area for a few minutes waiting for the owner, we learned that something had come up that morning and he had had to go to a different area of Tanzania for the day. We had hoped he might have at least left us the answers to our questions that had been sent previously, but no luck. These things happen!
We got back into the vehicle and went to our next stop, KIOO Ltd, a glassworks company. We had a fascinating discussion with the managing director there. We were offered something to drink and initially refused, but then realized that proper etiquette would indicate we should accept, so we each asked for a cup of tea. It was delivered shortly afterwards full of cream and sugar and we finished it all while talking. It’s been interesting to us that the same themes of skilled workers, training, quality, cost of business, and education come up over and over at these different locations.
We reluctantly said good-bye, and then had a decision to make before our next appointment, scheduled for 1:30. What did we want to do? Anna suggested going to the shopping mall, to which we readily agreed, thinking it would be air conditioned and a good way to fill time. We ended up at NAUKMATT, a grocery store, and sat in their “cafe” area for a few hours, biding our time. It was fun to people watch, and we did buy a few things at the grocery store. I had told my cooking students I’d bring something back to them, but although we looked a few different places, I wasn’t able to find anything uniquely Tanzanian.
At 1:00, it was finally time to go to our last scheduled interview with TOL Gasses Ltd. When we were introduced and I handed him my business cared, he read it and exclaimed, “Nova Scotia!! That’s the island where all the Americans are going to move to get away from Donald Trump!” Jim & I couldn’t help but laugh! The new president in Tanzania has come up positively in most of our interviews and politics was a topic were were addressing in various forms all week. The discussions we had were thoughtful and informative, and we often found that the answers to some questions would get us chatting off-script. There are many progressive things going on in the business-world in Tanzania!
Anna and the driver took us back to our hotel at Oyster Bay where we put our feet up for a few minutes and revelled in our successes! We weren’t really sure what to expect when coming on this journey, and the knowledge and insight we’ve gained has surpassed our expectations!
We had said thank you do Dickson via telephone in the car and were on our own for the next 24 hours. We walked to the beach to get some late-afternoon sun, before coming back to the hotel and having a quick swim to cool down in the pool. We got cleaned up as a bit of a storm swept in quickly and made for a dramatic sunset. We went to the restaurant, SALT, attached to the hotel for dinner. It was wonderful. We each had mushroom risotto, I had a South African Shiraz with it, and Jim had a beer. He had vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert and I drank my wine.
We reflected on the productive week we’d had. Although we work together well at home, there was some fear on my part that it wouldn’t be the same while we were travelling, and that it would be awkward travelling with my boss – even though we are friends. I shouldn’t have worried. We’re both easy-going which makes for comfortable travelling companions. This was Jim’s fourth trip to Tanzania, and although it was my first, I have travelled to enough other locations in my life that culture shock was not an overwhelming issue, nor were the logistics of travelling. After the first time we crossed the street together in Mikumi (when he crossed and I didn’t) I learned to trust and follow him. The collaboration on the project has felt extraordinary as it all comes together and falls in to place.
After dinner, I sat on the balcony for a short time, chatting with home while watching the stars in the Southern Hemisphere. Jim had popped in long enough to pick up his laptop which had been charging and told me to get a good night’s sleep. Haha! I woke up on the chair of my balcony just before 1am, having fallen asleep watching the stars and the water – luckily, with no mosquito bites!
I crawled into my bed, exhausted, and ready for our final day in Africa.

Our travel day to Dar es Salaam

Thursday was scheduled as a travel day to Dar es Salaam and Anna was joining us. Jim & I met early for breakfast before paying our bills and checking out. I tried to find the sweet waitress we had had on the very first day (when she forgot about us). She had become very attentive during the course of our stay so I was hoping I could leave her a cash gratuity; I had no luck so that was disappointing.
We had a new car and driver from VETA. One of this things that has struck me during my time in Tanzania is the relaxed attitude toward safety. We left Morogoro at exactly 10am for a 193 km drive. Jim was in the front, while Anna & I and all of our luggage were in the back. I had no seat belt which felt awkward – and scary in a few situations! The drive took four-and-a-half hours to complete, with no stops. The road we travelled is a main road for transportation from the Port of Dar es Salaam to the interior, land-locked countries of Africa so there are all varieties of vehicles and pedestrians sharing what we would consider a secondary road.
There was so much to see during the drive as we left the Uluguru Mountains area, travelled through some government plantations, some farm land, and many villages. There are cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians everywhere – and even the odd herd of cattle who tried to head-butt the vehicle! You can see in the photo, the deep ruts in the roads made by so many heavy vehicles driving in the hot sun. I joked with Jim that a prerequisite to traveling to Africa in the future should be that you don’t suffer from motion sickness. Luckily I don’t, but can imagine many people would!
About an hour into our journey, the air conditioner broke down so we had to drive the rest of the way with the windows open in the 34*C heat and humidity. I am having trouble finding words to describe the sights, smells, sounds, and feelings I experienced during that drive. I tried to inconspicuously take some photos out my open window with my phone, so they’re not the best quality.
When we got closer to the city, Anna told me to roll my window up because people would come to our car windows and try to sell things while we were sitting in traffic. The worst was when the small children peered into the windows, rapping on the glass, looking for a handout. Jim sensed my dismay and from the front seat told me to look away.
We eventually made it back to the Oyster Bay Suites in Dar es Salaam, where this journey had started. I joked with Jim that I was ready to kiss the ground after that drive. Anna & the driver were staying at another hotel, so we said goodbye for the evening and made arrangements to meet for our interviews at 8am on Friday. We had three scheduled in Dar.
We went upstairs and got cleaned up, before trying to decide what to do. We were both recovering from the drive, so decided to take a walk over to the beach to check it out and I put my feet in the Indian Ocean for the first time. It was so warm (29*C); not at all refreshing… We had been warned of thieves at the beach, so I had left my phone, money, etc. in the room; Jim had the bare necessities with him.
From there, we stopped at a convenience store to see what they had to offer. We walked back to the area around our hotel and discovered a wonderful courtyard with deli, grocery, and ice cream shop. Everything was about to close for the evening, but we had a quick beer and while we were sipping it, another customer approached us to chat because she heard we were Canadian. We had an interesting conversation until we got kicked out (because they were closing, not because we were rowdy!). We got her information because she identified a number of things as a new business owner that are key in our curriculum.
We were both hungry because we hadn’t had anything substantial since breakfast, so took the recommendation of the concierge at our hotel and grabbed a cab to Shooters, a roof-top restaurant and wine bar for dinner. On the way, Jim had made a comment that the restaurant may be pricey since the employees at the hotel would consider us to be “rich”. I reminded him that, comparatively, we are!
Shooters turned out to be wonderful! There was a beautiful breeze, modern atmosphere, attentive service, delicious food, and happy, energetic vibe. It was a really nice evening. I was happy to be sitting outside where I could see the stars. No St.Patrick’s Day celebrations in Tanzania, but the chairs were green, and we had fun! (I also had wine for the first time since the awful red on the airplane!)
Again, we had an early night with three interviews scheduled for the following morning. With the six-hour time change (daylight-savings), it was easiest for each of us to connect with home before we went to bed. From what I can tell, although they miss me, I’m pretty sure my kids have had more fun on this March Break with Dad than they would have had with me at home!

Productive work in Morogoro

On Wednesday we got up and had breakfast at the restaurant. I have been sticking with tea and fruit mostly, with toast somedays, but Jim has a full breakfast each day. We don’t always know what time our next meal will be.
We walked to the campus after breakfast and searched out Anna, who was in the process of arranging a car for us to go to our interview. We were happy to have some time to spend with her because we had identified some gaps in the interviews we had already conducted, and had some questions about suggestions which had been sent to us before we made the trip. It was helpful to have the opportunity to brainstorm with her and learn in more detail what VETA is looking for. She was also able to provide us with a document that will help us with the formatting of our curriculum when we get to that stage when back at home.
We had only one scheduled interview on Wednesday, and that was with the business owner of Piras Grocery, the first “Supermarket” in Morogoro, although he was careful to clarify that he sees himself more as a convenience store. Because we were interviewing him at his store, we were mindful to defer when customers arrived, so we didn’t interrupt any sales. He was just as interested in us as we were with him as his two sons and brothers all live on the west coast of Canada. His brother is a successful entrepreneur in Edmonton and once he has provided for his sons’ education, he would like to join them someday.
It was interesting for us to get another different perspective to our questions. We’ve been delighted by the responses that we’ve been receiving!
After his interview was over, Anna took us back to the school where we toured the campus. It is beautiful and so well kept. Unfortunately, the students were out on their practical work opportunities, so we didn’t get to meet any students this time. Before we left, we delivered some bottles of Nova Scotian maple syrup to her, Dickson, and the principal to thank them for the time and effort they had put into our journey. We arranged to be picked up at 10am for our trip to Dar es Salaam on Thursday.
Back at the hotel, we chose to work around the pool. It is a beautiful setting – despite not having a way to cool off. We spent most of the afternoon working on the situational analysis we are writing and were very productive. We were happy to learn as we wrote, that based on the interviews we had done so far, not only were our initial assessments valid, but we were also able to identify gaps as well. As we worked, we noticed the hotel employees moving deck chairs around, setting up for what appeared was going to be a party.
We had supper at the pool, Indian food, although I can’t remember what they were called! It was a crepe or flatbread, that had been filled with spicy goodness (Jim had chicken and I had veggie) rolled like a donair or pita, and fried. SO delicious!! I wished we had discovered them earlier in the week. Our server was very attentive and when we signed our bills he explained that he did not receive his gratuity if it went on the bill, so we gave him cash and thanked him for letting us know. There were a number of people moving in to the pool area for what appeared to be a party, so we left.
It had been a busy few days, so we went back to our rooms early to get ourselves packed up and organized for the trip to Dar es Salaam in the morning. I would be sad to leave this setting. Each day I was amazed at the mystical beauty of the surrounding mountains.
  • The temperature each day was mid-30’s *C with high humidity. I’m wearing a sweater in these photos, not because I’m cold, but out of respect of the fact that 50% of the Tanzanian population is Muslim, and cover their shoulders and knees.
  • In a malaria area, we slept under mosquito nets each night at each of the three properties where we stayed.
  • It was important to drink a LOT of bottled water to remain hydrated. Otherwise, you would sweat it out quickly.
  • The wind came up this evening and I kept hearing a strange noise that sounded like sailboat sails flapping. When I went to investigate, I realized it was the sounds of the palm trees in the wind – definitely not a soft rustling noise like we are used to at home!