Day 7 and 8

Well, our trip is drawing to a close. We left Tanzania (mainland) yesterday (Saturday) after a long drive from the Ngorongoro Crater back to Arusha to catch a flight to Zanzibar. We had to say goodbye (hopefully just see-you-later) to our wonderful driver, Alex.  When we arrived in Zanzibar,  we were taken on a walking tour of historic Stonetown. This was a primary site of the slave trade up though 1873.  We visited the Anglican church that was built upon the site of the original slave market.  In front of the altar of the church a marble circle has been placed, representing the location of the Jojoba tree that was used as the whipping post during slave auctions. There is red and grey marble around it to represent the blood of slaves that was spilled on the ground around the whipping post.  This was a very somber and eye-opening visit. 
 

We arrived at our beachfront hotel later last evening and had a late supper before crashing into bed. 
 

Today, Sunday,  is our last full day in Tanzania. We got to spend the day relaxing--walking the beach, wading in the Indian Ocean,  swimming, or just sitting and reading. It has been a lovely week, and this was the cherry on top. Fully relaxed and recharged, we are mostly ready for the long travel back home--Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam to Addis Ababa to Washington DC  (via Dublin) to Seattle.

Day 5 and 6

Thursday: we went on a morning game drive right after breakfast.  We went a different route through the park and saw many of the same animals as yesterday. The excitement came about midway through the morning when we came across 3 elephants very close to the road. Blocking it, in fact.   We found ourselves up close and personal with these elephants--male, female, and a baby/youth. They walked around the truck several times, often coming so close that we could have touched them (but obviously we did not do so).  We had to wait 20 minutes (maybe more) until we were able to drive past them safely. Even afrer passing them they followed us for a while. We think the female felt safe around our car, as the male was not taking no for an answer from her and was being very persistent.  The rest of the day wasn't quite as eventful, relatively speaking! 

Friday: We left Tarangire and headed to the Ngorongoro Crater today for day 3 of safari. We left Tarangire relatively early, and were met with a group of elephants on the drive to the main gate.  A few hours later we checked in to the Ngorongoro Crater and began our game drive. Flamingos and hippos and a lot of lions were different than previous drives. It was a wonderful day.  After the long and dusty day we made it to our lodge for the night.  Fancy rooms,  overlooking the Crater.  We had acrobatics entertainment before supper, and yet another delicious meal with too much food. Tomorrow we fly to Zanzibar.

Day 4

Wednesday: 

We left Arusha this morning and headed out for our second phase of the trip. We got to the Tarangire National Park around 10 AM and, after registering, we went out for our first game drive. It was amazing!  We are in a Land Rover with removable panels so we can stand and look through the roof--it's a much better vantage point than through the car window. 

We were blessed to see herds of zebra and wildebeests, elephants bathing in a pool, and warthogs. All that on the way to get to the Tarangire Safari Lodge,  where we checked in, found our tent cabins, had a lovely lunch, and rested forest of the afternoon. 

Partway through the afternoon we met with Eunice Simonson,  who, with her late husband, founded many of the programs we had visited in Arusha. 

We went for our second game drive late in the afternoon and were blessed with seeing more of everything we saw this morning, plus baboons, giraffes, hundreds of birds, a lioness, and a cheetah! 

We ended the day visiting in the lodge after supper, and then we're escorted back to our tents where we remained all night. Animals wander into the camp, as there are no fences around the camp, so we were required to stay inside all evening. 

Day 3

Tuesday in Arusha: final full day in Arusha.

We started the day by visiting the Arusha Lutheran Medical Center--the largest and most fully-equipped hospital in the area.  We had the opportunity to meet with their head surgeon, and we were given a tour of the impressive facilities. We also met with Dr. Marc Jacobson, the head of the hospital,  originally from Minnesota. He's been managing the hospital for over 30 years. When we met him, we were able to deliver some monetary donations from the church, intended for the hospital, the nursing school, and Plaster House.

From the hospital we made our way to the ALMC School of Nursing and visited with the principal and able couple teachers and students there. They are working towards training young men and women to be nurses in order to help fill a nursing shortage in the country.

After we visited them for a short time, we went to Plaster House.  This is a rehabilitation facility for children who have had surgery or procedures in order to be treated for such things as burns and scar tissue, cleft lip and palate, and club foot. They work with the ALMC to treat the children, and the kids stay at the facility while they recover. This was a fascinating place to visit, and the kids were amazing. It was very heartwarming and heartwrenching at the same time.

Then back to the Girls School for lunch and to pick up Naomi, Mike 's sponsored student. We got the opportunity to have a Boma visit--a visit to her home and with her family (and friends and neighbors, it turns out). Absolutely amazing and overwhelming experience.

The whole day was amazing and overwhelming. Tomorrow we pack up for safari!

Day 2

Monday in Arusha: we visited the school supply store and purchased the composition books and the chalk for the Girls School as well as the primary school we visited today. These supplies were purchased with funds from the HSLC social justice committee. (Asante sang!)

We visited a primary school in Munduli, and were welcomed warmly by the staff and students. Susan and Marilyn were in heaven helping the little kids, from kindergarten through the equivalent of 5th/6th grade. All of us got a tour of the facilities and visited with the teachers and students. They had all the students assemble so that Mike could greet them, and the kids sang a welcome song for us, too.

We got to visit a workshop where many disabled people were employed to weave, make glass beads from recycled glass, make jewelry, sew various things, and other crafts. Fascinating tour!

We spent time at a fabric/cloth shop as well as a craft market (we got to practice our negotiation skills...). A little intimidating, but most of us were able to get some good deals. Marilyn and Karen were thrilled to get some African patterned fabric.

Lovely day!

Day 1

Hi!

Our first full non-travel day in Tanzania was spent at the MaaSAE Girls Lutheran Secondary School in Munduli. We met with the headmaster before heading to the church service. When we got to the church service, we were very warmly greeted by all--students and teachers. They start their service by singing as a call to worship; we recognized the first song as What a Friend We Have in Jesus,  but sung in Swahili!  The entire service,  with a few exceptions,  was done on Swahili,  but we could still easily tell when they were saying the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. 
 

Pastor Mary-Alyce and Mike both were asked to speak,  and they passed along greetings from the church and from OBA.  During the service,  Mike,  Karen,  and Marilyn each got to sit with their sponsor student.  Pr Mary-Alyce and Susan meet their girl after the service. 
 

From the service,  after meeting and taking with several students,  we were invited to tea with the headmaster and the pastor and his wife, and had a lovely visit with them.  We also got the chance to pass along the donated items (chaucibles, stoles, and chalices for the pastor; laptops, iPods, and school supplies for the headmaster). All were accepted with heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for everyone's generosity. 
 

We were then treated to a tour of the schoolgrounds and buildings; several girls (sponsored students and their friends) were amazing tour guides for us. We saw their library, some of the classrooms,  the school kitchen,  and their basketball and net ball courts/fields. 
 

We will be back at the school on Tuesday and will get a chance to visit with some of the teachers.  Tomorrow (Monday ) we get to visit the primary school, too.