Final thoughts from Arusha

One week after arriving home, I’ve finally posted my blogs and had some time to reflect on my experience, developing some random final thoughts that didn’t fit in to other posts:

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The BEST welcome home from some special students!

I recognize how fortunate I am to work for an organization that values international partnerships and travel. I am hyper-aware of how fortunate I am to have been offered the opportunity to travel to Tanzania to work twice in one calendar year. It was amazing for me to take some of what Jim & I learned in March and incorporate it into the classroom in November.

I am also so grateful to my faculty team, my support team, my principal, and my Academic Chair, Jim, for supporting me and the students while I was away during classes. As a result of everyone else pitching in on my behalf, my students did not miss any class time while I was gone. I am grateful to my students for recognizing and embracing the opportunity I had, and being patient and encouraging while I was away. (I brought them treats, but they don’t know that yet…)

My experience each time was totally different, but I loved both. I was prepared for the culture-shock this time, and the juxtaposition of traditional and modern ways of life; wealth and poverty; the differences in climate. When I was in Tanzania in March, the average temperature 35*C and this time our average temperature was 25*C which was much more comfortable. The humidity was so much lower as well, so I didn’t have the “African Hair” issues I had last time.

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Look! No hands!

I am still in awe of the core strength African women have. Carrying 40kg of bananas on your head with no hands while waking up a 70* hill? No problem! And we complain our backs hurt after we sleep funny on our soft mattresses? #firstworldproblems

The freedom the kids in Tanzania have boggles my mind. I was reluctant to let my kids drive their bikes on the street when they were six, let alone be responsible for livestock along a busy highway.

Traveling with female colleagues who are the same age as you are is different than traveling with your male boss – even if you are friends. I would never admit to having more fun this time, but I did definitely have later nights and met far more people! To be fair, at different times on both trips I laughed until my cheeks and belly hurt.

The Supermoon took place one of the first nights we were there. We tried to get a(n unsuccessful) photo which necessitated the creation of the term #womenover40shouldnttakeselfies 

Oh, the laughter!

Tradition and ritual remain strong in Tanzania. At the school, when one of the females I had met before entered the room, I stood up to greet her, and she looked at me and said, “In Tanzania, I must greet the men first” then greeted all the men in the room before coming to give me a warm hug and kisses.

The students were amazing. The work ethic was refreshing to watch. We ran our course from 1pm-6pm so the students could work in the morning before coming to class. Most were women who would have had to go home after class and cook supper and do all the traditional housework in addition to the homework we gave them.  When we ran over time on the first day (by 30 minutes) not one student moved a muscle to leave before we were finished! At home our experience is usually that the students are packed up ten minutes before class is over.

You can’t count on not being bitten by mosquitoes. I have now spent a total of 16 days in Tanzania and until my very last night, had never even seen a mosquito, let alone been bitten. (I even fell asleep on my balcony while watching the stars in March!) On my final night, I got eaten alive. Just finished my last malaria pill yesterday; but before I left, Aturebecca told me I was more likely to contract typhoid from brushing my teeth with the tap water. (I had my typhoid shot too!)

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So itchy! Time for pants…

Because the weather was cooler, I ate more this time. (I found at 35*C I lost my appetite.) The juices were always freshly squeezed and tasted so amazing! Watermelon with passion fruit and avocado, real orange juice, watermelon, watermelon and mango… I tried some new foods: fried tilapia (LOVE), ugali (LOVE), goat (LOVE).  Being away from Olivia, I ate peanuts almost every day. I gained three pounds (was surprised it was that little, but the food was all FRESH and REAL).

Arusha is a tourist town and other than our first weekend in the cultural village and on safari, and driving back-and-forth to the college, we didn’t leave the “compound” of the hotel much. This visit felt far less “African” and that we could have been at a hotel anywhere in the world. In March, I felt that I got to see more evidence of the “real” Tanzania as we went into businesses and experienced entrepreneurship.

I am a sucker when it comes to the marketplace. I am not a barterer and feel as a “rich” North American any money I can inject into the economy is money well spent.

I texted home on days with reliable wi-fi, but didn’t video until the end when I was on my way home. This made it easier for my kids to have me away.

What are the chances of inviting a random stranger to sit at your table with you at the airport in Ethiopia and then discover they are from Nova Scotia? We have so many small world stories from the B&B, but this was one of my favourites! I also learned that when you have a 16 hour flight, just settle in and make the most of it!

We created a partnership for my Enactus NSCC Pictou team, so I look forward to returning with students in May 2018. Details to follow…

THANK YOU to D’Arcy, Evan, Alex, Sarah & Olivia; my parents; Jim, Dave, Rosemary, Debbie, Goldie, Bert, Deanna and Nicole; Amy, Kellie, and Katie; Lori; Martha & the kids teachers; my Enactus team; my students; and everyone else who made this experience possible for me. I will continue to share my experiences and help others learn through my experiences.

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Safari in the Ngorongoro Crater

(Photo heavy post ahead – you can click on individual photos to see them full-sized):

I slept in until 7:30 am today, one week since I arrived home from Tanzania. Travelling from here to there, I found the adjustment to the seven hour time-change easy to navigate, but coming back, not so much. Most nights since I’ve been home, I can barely stay awake after supper, but am wide-awake by 4am. I finally hit a wall yesterday and had an afternoon nap where I fell into a deep sleep for two hours. When, at 8:30 pm, Olivia asked me if I would go cuddle with her, I readily agreed and slept until this morning. I finally feel human again and hope that my body is back on the right time.

Two weeks ago today, on Sunday, November 13, Amy and I were up before 6am to watch the sun rise from our balconies. We had already made the decision that we wouldn’t bother to shower, as we knew we would be getting dusty and dirty during the day. We had breakfast at our table from the night before of fruit, yogurt, and “kahawa” before meeting “Edwin” in the lobby at 6:30 to set out for the day on our safari.

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It was 8*C when we set out, so we were wearing sweaters. As we left the lodge, we saw our first animal, a kitten. “Edwin” was quick to tell us that it was a wild cat, not a domestic cat. img_3914We had to travel the 600m down into the crater which took some time, passing by the Maasai villages, which I am fascinated by. The Maasai tribe is semi-nomadic and reside in Tanzania and Kenya, co-existing with the animals who roam in the area.  They build large pens of thorny sticks to protect their animals during the night, and the animals graze under the watch of young shepherds during the day. (Young, as in 5-12 years old.)

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During our morning in Ngorongoro, we saw a number of different species of animals and birds, including (but not limited to): baboons, water buck, bush buck, buffalo, elephant, warthogs, Thomas gazelle, hyena, jackal, ostrich, wildebeest, vulture, zebra, Grant gazelle, gray headed kingfisher, hippo, Lion (15!), rhino, flamingo, black-headed heron, crowned crane, quarry bastard, eland, hart beast, and black-footed monkey. Although we did not spot any leopards, there are some in Ngorongoro. There are not any giraffes as they are not able to get down into the crater.

We were so close to some of the animals, it made me nervous. I am going to group the photos by animal, as we saw them throughout the day. The safari in Ngorongoro was so different than our safari in Mikumi in March, but equally amazing in a different way. It is the end of the dry season, so there isn’t a lot of water, and most of the areas are yellow/brown rather than green. There were also different animals in Ngorongoro than there were in Mikumi.

Gazelles, hyenas, warthogs, and a jackal:

Birds:

Wildebeest & buffalo:

Hippos:

We only saw one elephant when we were down in the crater, but we saw four in total while in Ngorngoro:

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Seeing this happy male elephant on his way to the watering hole next to the safari vehicles gives a sense of perspective as to just how HUGE he was! He passed directly in front of us. Amazing to watch!!

Zebras:

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My favourite photo of the zebras on their way to the watering hole. So beautiful to watch.

Baboons and monkeys:

Rhino in the distance (they are notoriously shy); we saw four:

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The rhinos are the two spots on the hill in the middle of the zebras

Ostrich:

Lions:

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I have a hard time picking my favourite lion photo – we saw 15 of them in three prides, and one female by herself. Watching this male and his female partner(s) was amazing!

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This guy was shopping for tomorrow’s dinner

About halfway through our safari, “Edwin” turned around to us and said, “My name is Emmanuel; Edwin is in the office.” Amy & I were mortified, but dissolved in to giggles. We had spent 48 hours with him, calling him “Edwin” NUMEROUS times before he finally corrected us. How embarrassing!

We climbed out of the crater early afternoon and stopped along the way to eat our packed lunch that the lodge had provided for us. It included roasted chicken on the bone, a cucumber sandwich, chips, apple, banana, muffin, juice, chocolate bar, crackers, and water; we each had bought a beer from the cafe and Emmanuel had a tea. We ate at a Maasi gift shop where we did most of our souvenir shopping. Amy & I are compatible shoppers and had each other’s backs when the clerks were pressuring us!

We stopped in a village called “Mosquito Creek” on our way back to Arusha so that Amy could buy some red bananas for Dennis, the server at our hotel the first night. My window was open and the vendors along the road started throwing necklaces in the windows of the vehicle for us to buy. We tried to tell them we didn’t have any money, but between us, we ended up buying 11 beaded necklaces (I might have bought 10/11!) We laughed and laughed as we drove away and my “shopping habits” became a joke for the rest of the week.

At the hotel, we said a fond “thank you” and farewell to Emmanuel from “Classic Tours” for putting up with us for two days. He was so patient and accommodating to us!

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At the end of our two day adventure with Edwin/Emmanuel. We will recommend him highly on Trip Advisor!

We weren’t sure when Kellie, from NSCC International, was arriving, so we made the decision to go to our rooms, have much needed showers, and meet for dinner. As we walked to our rooms, we ran into Kellie who had arrived a short time earlier. We dropped our bags, didn’t shower, and met her on the patio for a beer. As we were chatting, Willy and Sam joined us to talk about the week ahead at the college. I have never felt so grimy and smelly in my life, but they were also very accommodating.

We made arrangements to meet in the morning at the college for planning and we all called it an early night to prepare.

As a comparison, click on this sentence to link to the post of the safari Jim, Saronga, and I took in Mikumi National Park in March of this year.

Tengeru Cultural Village

Our first full day in Tanzania began early in the morning. We were picked up by “Edwin”, a driver from Classic Tours at 9 a.m. to go to Tengaru Cultural Village. We had breakfast of fruit and coffee at the hotel and checked our luggage, taking only one bag because we were returning to Arusha the following night.

It was not a long drive to Tengeru. located just 13km from Arusha, on the slopes of Mount Meru which at 4566m is Tanzania’s second highest peak,behind Mount Kilimanjaro.

When we arrived, we met with Mama Gladness, and her guides, Elisante, Hilary, and Stephen.We sat outside in the courtyard to learn her story through the help of our guide who was translating. Her story was fascinating and I took eight notebook pages of notes.

I won’t tell her whole story, because I encourage you to go and hear it for yourself.  She reminded me so much of Otillia Chareka, D’Arcy’s mentor/advisor from Zimbabwe when he was writing his Masters Thesis at St. FX. Mama Gladness started as a teacher, and wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives.

She chose to empower women, despite being worried in the beginning about the “talking and gossiping” that happens when a group of women work together. She began a farming cooperative with 12 women to start with and some women rose to the opportunity they had been given while others did not.

Known as the “Iron Lady” in her area, she is creating and expanding community projects, despite the fact she does not like politics. She is empowering and encouraging her community through agriculture and environmental sustainability. Everything they use at the village is environmentally sustainable. In the photos below, Elisante teaches us about how they use cows to produce methane gas which is used for cooking and electricity in the village.

She has helped provide 150 trees for 11 secondary schools. Each student has a tree (mango, lychee, banana, avocado) to look after and there is a competition to see who can grow the best trees. Any seeds from the trees must be replanted at the schools, or in the student’s home community. She has also had a well dug which will eventually provide clean water to the whole community.

Her cultural village is one of 51 cultural tourism programs, and there are additional programs being developed. However, any additional offerings must include new product to differentiate themselves from the others. The common thread is that coffee (a main crop in Tanzania) must be included in the offering.

There are over 129 tribes in Tanzania, each with its own traditions and dialect, however, they are all bonded by the Swahili language and live peacefully together.

We toured the village with Elisante and Hilary after we finished speaking with Mama Gladness. They showed us the banana groves and the coffee plants, explaining the process of producing coffee. It was fascinating.

When we returned from our walk, we husked, roasted, ground, and boiled coffee together before eating lunch together. We learned that the Swahili word for “coffee” is “kahawa” and the word “coffee” means “slap”. Always ask for kahawa! We also learned the phrase for “cheers” is “kwa maisha marif”. As we prepared the coffee for brewing, one of the employees from the village came out to join Elisante as they sang a traditional working song and ground the coffee. It was beautiful!

 

For lunch, we all sat together at the table for a meal of chipati, rice & veggies, beef stew, lentils, plantains, spinach, green beans, tomato & avocado salad, curried chicken, with bananas, watermelon, and fresh lychees picked from the tree just for us. We had freshly squeezed  watermelon, avocado, and passion fruit juice to accompany our meal – along with our kahawa.

We signed the guest book and kept talking until Edwin told us we really must leave as we had a long drive to get to the Nogorogoro Crater where we were booked to stay for the evening. Mama Gladness asked me if I was “just a baby” because I reminded her of a tribe that never looks their age. She was good for my ego. With lots of hugs and “asante sanas” (thank yous), we left for our next adventure.

For more information on this fascinating experience, please visit their website: Tengeru’s Cultural Tourism Programme

 

 

 

This is only the beginning…

On our final day with our participants, Kellie, Amy & I met at the pool at 10am to do some work sending emails while drinking more cappuccino. I had woken early to the sound of sweeping, roosters, and laughing children. It was wonderful! (The primary school is directly outside my hotel room door.) The experience in Arusha is very different than the experience I had in Mikumi and Morogoro in March. img_8129

We got cleaned up and ready to be picked up by Amiri to go to the college at noon. There, we were invited for a traditional east African lunch featuring two kinds of salad, spicy rice with beef & potato, spinach, tilapia fish stew, and ugali which is a maize-based (corn) dish. It has the taste of cream-of-wheat, but it thick enough to hold its shape. It is meant to be pulled apart and dipped in the sauces of the stew. People either seem to love it or not. I love cream of wheat, so I enjoyed it. We were told that the rice dish is one that is also traditionally eaten using your fingers. I’ll admit I ate mine with a fork and knife – I don’t even eat pizza with my fingers at home.img_4129

Willy started the class off with their evaluations while the rest of our team finished eating. On the first day of class while establishing their class norms, they had agreed that anyone who was late would have to pay a fine of TSH 1000, so we were conscious to always begin on time.

We spent the first hour with the learners continuing to work on their business plans. We were amazed at the work they had put in to their plans in the evening! We had in-depth discussions with different groups who had a good command of English. We especially were fascinated by the projects which included exporting live rabbits to the Philippines, a tilapia fish farm, a millwright business, a t-shirt silkscreening business, and the plan to develop a hotel vocational training school! There were also horticulture, event planning, bakery and chicken farming business plans.

During our consultations ahead of the course, Amy & I had told our team that we were not comfortable handling the finance section of the course, as financing in Canada and Tanzania are done via different procedures. Sam, Willy, Aturebecca, and Marynurce had arranged for two guest speakers. One from a bank, and another who leases equipment. What amazing value-added it was for our learners! They listened so intently and asked many questions.

It was fascinating to me to listen to each speaker through the help of Willy, who was translating for me. The bank has a micro-finance program for up to TSH 5,000,000 or about $3,000 Canadian dollars. He told them that the bank in the past would only lend to the rich, but that they now recognize that if they lend to the poor, most will take the money and invest wisely to rise above their circumstances. They also have a “Queen’s Account” for women because they recognize men keep their money in their wallets, but women will spend it to provide for their children and households.

The equipment lender leases equipment with a 10% downpayment, with the rest being repaid over a maximum of 36 months. However, brand new businesses must pay 30% down. If the equipment needed is not available in Tanzania, they will order it from other countries and follow-up to make sure it is working. To qualify for this program, a business must be located within three hours of travelling from the EFTA office, and repayment begins after 61 days.

After the speakers, some of the learners presented their business plans to the group before we had speeches and distributed certificates. Sam had asked me to present the certificates (which also meant reading their names). I wasn’t sure I would be able to, but they assured me it was okay, and when we finished, they told me I need to move to Tanzania since my Swahili is so good! teehee.

We went outside to take a group photo, and a number of the students asked me to have a photo taken with them. One participant, Caroline, had given me a bracelet earlier in the afternoon because I am “always so happy and friendly”. I will treasure it!

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We had tea of peanuts and chicken with the participants before they were bussed home. They had said in their speeches that the program had exceeded their expectations, and they just wished it had been longer. They suggested meeting up to four times a year for additional support. As a result, Kellie will be creating a Facebook networking page for instructors and participants of all of our ISTEP programs when she gets home. We have made a commitment to communicate and support our partners in the future, so we know this is only the beginning.

We tidied up the room and presented gifts to one another. I had brought along some entrepreneurship textbooks for their library, and Kellie had a number of gifts for the staff we were working with. Amy had brought many supplies like post-it notes and sharpies which the participants loved and took home. Amy, Kellie, and I each received beautiful 100% cotton, made-in-Tanzania Kikoys (shawls).fullsizeoutput_99d3

We moved outside around the pool for cocktails (beer) and nyoma choma (BBQ). The traditional meal was amazing. We were treated to barbequed beef, chicken, sausage, and goat with fried bananas, potatoes, vegetable salad, fruit salad, and piri-piri sauce. It was SO good and all the meat was so tender. The goat reminded both Amy & me of lamb. It was interesting that when we mentioned that we learned that the thought of eating lamb in their culture is similar to the thought of eating goat in our’s.

We talked around the table until about 8pm when we left to go back to the hotel. It was so fun to talk and learn about one another and our culture. I told them of our “Happy New Day” tradition, learned from Tanzanian guests this summer, and they confirmed it is really a tradition here. Sam is graduating with his MBA this weekend, so it was the last time we would see him this visit. We promised to stay in touch and keep sharing resources via our Google Drive.

When we arrived at the hotel at 8:30 p.m., we were told we had a visitor who had been waiting a long time for us. It was a delivery person from the Tengaru Cultural Village who had arrived at the hotel at 1:30 p.m. with eight bags of coffee for us. We had no idea he was coming or we would have made arrangements! We felt terrible so paid him and gave him a healthy tip for waiting so long.

As we went through the lobby, the staff tried to usher us out on the deck, but we told them we were going inside first and would be back. We had some wine left over in Kellie’s room which we knew we needed to finish before leaving. Her housekeeper had noticed the bottle and had brought a wine glass and beautiful flower arrangement. Amy & I had noticed “our table” was set with a candle, and wine bucket with two wine glasses. We briefly mentioned that perhaps they had set it up for us, but moved on when we realized there were only two glasses. img_4131

We finished the bottle of wine in Kellie’s room then at Amy’s insistence decided to go outside to enjoy our final night in the fresh air. We were intending to sit around the pool and decided to stop at the bar to order some beer. It turned out the table HAD been set for us, but the candle had been blown out. The wine was REALLY cold from sitting in the ice bucket for so long…

We sat outside until the wee hours of the morning, talking and laughing. We face-timed Jim, thinking he might be at the Enactus Pub, but he was working in his office. We had a great chat. We also laughed uproariously while we went outside to try a selfie in front of the Centre of Africa monument. We had tried to take a selfie earlier in the week with the Supermoon, and created the hashtag #womenover40shouldnottakeselfies.

Eventually, we decided it was time to go to bed and get organized to leave the following day. When in my room, I was able to connect with D’Arcy, Olivia, and Evan. Alex was at Claire’s and Sarah was at Nutcracker rehearsal. It felt good to talk to them and because I was on my way home, Olivia wasn’t too traumatized by speaking with me on video rather than text.

The week flew by so quickly and I’m sure we learned as much as the participants did. I will incorporate some of the things I learned in to my classes when I have returned to Pictou Campus. (“Pasha” energizers and more…) I can’t wait to bring some of my Enactus students here next year to share my love of this country and culture.

This particular project continues until 2018 and my Enactus group will be a separate project. This is only the beginning and I can’t wait to see the empowerment and learning our partnerships will bring in the future!

 

 

Business plan writing in Arusha

On Wednesday, our second day with students, Kellie left us early for the day to go visit two of the cultural villages. Because class wasn’t beginning until 1 p.m., we were able to sleep in a little bit, and then Amy & I went outside to work around the pool with our cappuccinos. While we were working our friend, Dennis, from the first evening, came and found us. He told us that he had tried to contact us on Monday to go spice shopping, but wasn’t able to get through. We explained that we had spent most of the day at the college, and so we probably wouldn’t have been able to go to the market at the right time anyway. He was disappointed that we weren’t staying longer because he would have liked to have taken us to his home at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. img_4142

Amy ran up to her room to grab the red bananas she had purchased in Mosquito Creek for him. (The bananas which caused me to purchase all the necklaces!) She presented them to him and he proudly accepted. One of the bananas was a “double banana” in a peel which made him announce to us that Amy had “blessed him with twins”.

We were picked up by Amiri at noon and taken to the campus for lunch before we began teaching. Lunch consisted of rice, potatoes, a beef stew, a cabbage dish, chapati, and fried tilapia. We also had fresh watermelon juice, and watermelon and fruitcake for dessert.

Class went well and everyone returned for the second day! We went over their homework from the day before, and they spent the first hour completing a score sheet to determine which of their three ideas from the first day they would spend their time writing a business plan for. Ideas ranged from farming to opening a vocational college. It was amazing!

After they had settled on an idea, we used the Business Model Canvas by Strategyzer to help them develop their idea. It was fun to see them working with the post-it notes and embrace the idea. After they finished the canvas, we had tea of chicken on-the-bone and peanuts. We gave them a business plan template which they took home for homework. Marynurce had gotten up at 4am to translate it from English to Swahili for those who weren’t comfortable working in English.

When the day ended, the participants thanked us warmly, and one woman said, “nekupenda” to me, which means “I love you”. I was touched to know that we were able to develop a bond in such a short time.

We had a short de-brief at the end of the session before driving back to the hotel with Amiri, Marynurce, and Willy. When we arrived, Kellie had just gotten back herself, and was waiting for us at “our table” with a Kilimanjaro. We ordered dinner from the menu and I had my favourite spicy chicken wrap. Because we were all exhausted from our late night and full day, we were responsible and went to bed at a decent time

Videos from our safari in the Ngorogoro Crater

I will do a separate post on our safari adventure in the Ngorogoro Crater which we experienced on Sunday, November 13, but wanted to do a separate post with some of the iPhone footage we took while there. All of the animals were specular, but I especially enjoy the videos of the lions (that roar vibrated in our chests), the zebras, and the ostriches. They were so close to us we could have touched them! Animals are amazing and I hope you enjoy!

Beautiful zebras on their way to the watering hole; they are one of my favourite animals to watch.

A magnificent, happy bull elephant makes his way to the watering hole. We watched him come down from the mountains and he crossed right in front of our vehicle.

A male and two female lions. We were watching them sleep when one female approached the male and this amazing roar happened. The shunned female sauntered away and laid down by herself while the male marked his territory by peeing on the second female who barely lifted her head through all the commotion. Amazing!

Many hippos in the hippo pool. What appear as rocks are this dangerous animal. Hippos are the second largest killer of women in Africa. Mosquitos are the first. Women are responsible to gather water in the early morning hours and are often attacked by these ferocious beasts.

 

Olivia wanted an ostrich. I couldn’t believe how many we saw in the Ngorogoro Crater! This one was close enough to touch, and I was nervous it might try to peck us through the window!

 

The LONG Journey Home

After a VERY late night of FaceTiming with D’Arcy, Olivia, and Evan at 7pm their time/2am my time (there may have been some drinks and celebrations after we finished our working on Thursday night…) we were up to meet for breakfast at 8:30 before Stan, Willy, Aturebecca, and Marynurce joined us for cappuccinos and a debrief of the workshop. We had positive feedback from the students, with most stating that the course had exceeded their expectations. The main negative comment was that the course was not long enough and the participants would have liked to have had five days together.

The amount of work we had gotten out of the participants was remarkable. They were all dedicated and determined to write a usable business plan. We had the suggestion to create a network beween the participants in the Veta projects and the participants from the NSCC projects, including facilitators, supporters, and students. Kellie and I were both able to talk to the team about future Enactus projects in Tanzania, the first one which we’re planning to implement in May 2018.

Amy & I excused ourselves at 10:00 to finish packing-up, since check-out was at 10:30. We moved our bags in to Kellie’s room, then went to the pool to chat with Aturebecca and Marynurce while Kellie, Stan, and Willy finished their meetings. At 11am, we all met up to say goodbye and take some group photos, and give many hugs.

We were being picked up to go to the airport by Amiri at 1pm, so we decided to sit by the pool and finish the last few beer we had bought on one of our first days which was still sitting in our fridge. We didn’t have an opener, so our new friend who works at the pool and in the fitness centre opened them for us using a beer can. We continued to tell stories, laugh, and reflect on the week.

When Amiri arrived, he took us to the bank so we could get out a few extra Tanzanian shillings and then we said goodbye to Kellie and went to the Maasi Market to see if we could find some authentic spices for Amy.

The Maasi Market is similar to the Slipway where Jim took me to shop in Dar es Saalam. It’s a series of shops, each the size of a closet, filled from top-to-bottom with knick-knacks. It’s hot and smelly, and you mostly find the same items in every shop. The shopkeepers are pushy and invade your personal space. They invite you in “free to look” and push their items on you. One shopkeeper said to us, “Just buy small thing; TSH 1000 (about 60 cents) will buy my lunch” Amiri obviously had a connection with one of the shopkeepers, whom he introduced us to and asked him to take him to take us around. He made a beeline to his own shop where I was able to find the African Nativity set I had missed out on purchasing at the Slipway when I was here in March. After we had made the purchase at his shop, he left us on our own to navigate the rest of the shops.

 

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With a shopkeeper at the Maasi Market

Amy found a canvas and some small gifts to take home, but unfortunately no spices. Luckily for me, Amy was as uncomfortable in that environment as I was and was happy to leave without going through the whole market. Next time we come to Tanzania, we’ll make sure we get to Zanzibar and take the spice tour there.

We did ask Amiri to take us back to the hotel for a short time so that we could use the washroom before driving 1.5 hours to the airport. The drive was beautiful and we were amazed at how much of the construction had been completed since we’d driven the same road just one week before. One bridge we had passed over had been torn down during the week. We passed Tengaru, and the banana and coffee plantations we had seen the week before.

We got pulled over at a random traffic stop (our second of the trip) but this time Amiri had to pull over to the side of the road and he & the traffic officer got into some heated words; it was obvious that Amiri was upset. Although (because) tourism is one of the most important industries in Tanzania, there is much documentation required to transport guests in the country. Although his paperwork to drive non-natives around was in order, there was definitely something going on! He was professional with us when he got back into the vehicle, but we could tell he was shaken.

As we continued to the airport, we had our eyes peeled to see Mt. Kilimanjaro, as it has been hiding behind the clouds all week. We were able to see the base of it, and Amiri gave us hope that we might see the peak from the airplane.

At Kilimanjaro airport and said a fond “until we meet again” to Amiri/”Dismas”, who was wonderful and pleasant to us all week. We tipped him and then went inside to get checked in and get our boarding passes. We had to put our bags through security just to enter the airport and the guard was laughing when he looked an my bag and could clearly see the bottles of beer I was bringing home as gifts, despite being all wrapped up in my clothing.

At the counter, Amy sailed right though and got her boarding passes for all three of our flights. Mine, however, were a problem, and they were unable to check me in. The supervisor took my passport and told us to sit down and fill in some paperwork while we waited. At one point, nine different people were trying to solve the problem and were all talking in Swahili and avoiding eye-contact. WE were relieved that we had arrived at the airport with ample time. Eventually, they were able to print my tickets to get me as far as Toronto, so they took my bag (which was exactly at the weight limit because of the beer; I had to carry the 5kg of coffee in my carryon) and we headed through immigration.

After immigration, we went to a cafe for one last Safari beer, and Amy did some shopping in the airport. Our timing was perfect; while she was shopping, a guest service agent came over to me and said we should clear through security for boarding in ten minutes.

Security was easy, although Amy had to give up the bottle of water she had just purchased. We changed into our travel clothes in the bathroom and after sending a few quick messages home to say we were on our way, walked out on the tarmac to board the plane to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

On this flight, we were on a Dreamliner, which was comfortable. The flight was only 2.5 hours in duration, and so we decided to try to stay awake and sleep on our longer flight. I spent my time looking out the window, and writing some blogs on “Word” before I forget the details. One of the highlights of this flight was seeing the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro when we flew above the clouds. We were fed supper on the plane, and Amy had ravioli while I had chicken, rice & vegetables because the airline had run out of ravioli with Amy. We commented on how cool it was that we got to watch the sun rise over Africa as we arrived, and the sun set over Africa as we departed.

In Addis Ababa, we entered into the opposite side of the airport this time, so we were able to access services such as food and shopping. We got a table at a cafe and ordered some wine. By this time, we were getting “beered-out”. Shortly after we got our wine, we noticed two men looking for a table. We offered them to join us if they wanted, and they accepted. We started to chat with them and discovered that they were Canadian peacekeepers, returning home from a six-month deployment in South Sudan. The best part? One Danny lived in Edmonton, but the other Danny lives in Lawrencetown, Halifax County, Nova Scotia!

What are the chances of inviting random strangers to join your table 7000km away in Ethiopia, and discover they live just over an hour away from you?!

We had a good chat with them, and took turns going to the washroom while the other person stayed with the luggage. The ladies washroom was an interesting experience as it was located right next to the prayer room. I think when I went, a flight had recently arrived, and so while there was no wait for the toilet, I had a long wait to get to the sink to wash my hands. The women were preparing for prayer, washing their feet, hands, arms, and faces in preparation. I have incorporated an Islam 101 session into my class curriculum in the past, so I was comfortable waiting and watching the beautiful process. (Thank you, Deanna!) Cross-cultural competencies make travelling so much easier and enjoyable.

We went through security again, then had our papers checked before boarding our 16 hour flight from Ethiopia to Toronto. During that flight, I ate, watched multiple movies, and tried to sleep. We were not on the Dreamliner for this flight, and it was somewhat less comfortable. We were fed supper shortly after takeoff. Ethiopian Airlines appears to have a standard rotation of food. I had the ravioli for my first meal. Around 3am, we were served a breakfast type meal which was an eggy-bread type dish, with potatoes and sausage. Later, we were served either a chicken or beef sandwich which Amy & I both missed because we were dozing. Around 6am, I was served beef stew with mashed potatoes and vegetables. Interesting offering at that time of the day, regardless of what time-zone we were in.

The flight was smooth and we landed in Dublin for an hour mid-way to refuel, staying on the plane with electronic devices turned off.

We landed in Toronto and cleared customs without a hitch. We had the perfect amount of layover time. Amy’s seat mate on the flight from Addis Ababa was an older lady, traveling by herself to Montreal, who was slow and didn’t seem to understand much English. Amy took her bag for her, and got her into a wheelchair, pushing her towards immigration until an airline employee took over. Once we had cleared customs and got our bags, we had to find a ticket counter to get my boarding pass to Halifax printed. We had just enough time to purchase some water for the flights and send a few texts home before our final flight was called for boarding. We both made comments on how swollen our legs and feet were. I had received numerous mosquito bites on my calves and ankles during our final evening in Arusha and during the long flight, they had all swelled up and become angry; my shoes were leaving lines in my feet.

The flight from Toronto to Halifax was smooth and easy and passed very quickly. I watched the movie “Absolutely Fabulous” which I didn’t love. I think my taste in movies has changed over the years.

D’Arcy & Olivia were at the airport to greet me because the boys are curling in Summerside this weekend and Sarah was at Nutcracker rehearsal. It felt so good to see them and get hugs. Our luggage arrived, and before we knew it, I had to say goodbye to Amy as we drove off in separate directions after our epic adventure. It was bittersweet.

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Our welcoming committee was very cute! We don’t look tired at all…

Sarah was waiting at home with my parents when we finally pulled into the driveway, 32 hours after my journey home began. (And 38 hours since my day had started!) I did a little bit of unpacking and D’Arcy started the laundry while I gave a few little gifts to the girls; however, the rest will wait until the boys get home.

There had been talk of driving to Summerside to watch the boys curl, but I just wasn’t up for more travel. Although the girls were disappointed, D’Arcy helped me make the decision to take a nap while he took the girls to the Santa Claus Parade in the cold, pouring rain. I did nap, and while they were gone also had a shower. It felt so good to wash off all that travel! When they got back from the parade, they changed into dry clothes and we went to the new Boston Pizza in Truro for a quick bite to eat.

At home, D’Arcy lit a fire and I did my best to stay awake. I was trying to show the girls some of my safari photos, but kept falling asleep with the computer on my lap. By 9 p.m. D’Arcy put me to bed. Olivia had come to cuddle with me and obviously fell asleep because I found him sleeping in her bed when I woke this morning at 5 a.m. (noon by my body’s clock).

I’m hoping that today is a stay-at-home day, getting the rest of my blogs up now that I have fast enough internet to upload photos. D’Arcy also has already set up two of our Christmas trees in the B&B side of the house, so I’m hoping the girls will help me decorate those. I also have some schoolwork to do to get ready for the week. I can’t believe the end of the semester is less than four weeks away! Time to regroup!