Tanzania: Settling in

At 6:30 a.m., we awoke to the crowing of several roosters from the farm next door. Both Lauren and I managed to get a few solid hours of rest, but the time difference had us up bright and early...and neither of us were particularly interested in crawling back in bed when we saw the beautiful blue sky outside our window.

Our beautiful view of Mt. Kili

We showered and dressed, and went downstairs to have breakfast. We dined on fresh fruit salad, grainy granola and milk, hibiscus juice, coffee, and toast with a variety of tasty spreads like passion fruit and mango. We sat at a table on the patio, greeted by a crystal clear view of Mount Kilimanjaro. Lauren was in awe as I explained that most days it's consumed by clouds, but today we were lucky to have a spectacular snapshot of the peak.

After breakfast, we met Nicola--the general manager of More Than a Drop. She's a cheerful and exuberant Swiss woman who has lived all over the world. Her positive energy is contagious and you can see in all her interactions with the staff and students that she loves what she does. We sat and chatted with her for a long time...talking about Tanzania's shifting political climate, the ins-and-outs of running a non-profit organization, the joys of empowering women in Moshi, and the trials that come with living in a third-world country.

Soon we heard the tell-tale honk of the horn from the other side of the big white metal gate and one of the ladies came to tell us Rhiannon had arrived. We piled into her old Range Rover and set off into town.

More Than a Drop -- a vocational training centre for disadvantaged women that doubles as a bed & breakfast...and where we're staying for the first leg of the trip!

When we arrived at Give a Heart to Africa--the women's business school I volunteered at in 2015--my old friend Margaret was already outside waiting for us with Gabriel, the guard. She had changed her hair, but her big, beautiful smile was still the same. We hugged and laughed as a few other women came through the gate to greet us. I introduced Lauren to Sasi (the housekeeper), Tausi (a teacher and translator), and Zuwena (a teacher).

We also met Sarah, an 18-year-old American volunteer who had celebrated her birthday earlier that day--in Tanzania, your friends and family feed you cake and shower you with flour and water as a celebration. She had just showered off, but as a custom we fed her a slice of cake, as well. Rhiannon says she has never seen a volunteer eat so much cake before...she was a very good sport about the whole thing! We also met John, an older British volunteer teacher who was now on his seventh visit to Tanzania. He would be heading back to England in early December, just a few days prior to the women's graduation.

My dear friend and cook for Give a Heart to Africa, Margaret

I showed Lauren around the school--in the tiny classrooms where I had first taught, the washing station where ____ cleans the linens, the common area where the staff hangs out, and we peaked through the window into my old room. It was very nostalgic...not much had changed.

One of the student's daughters playing with Rhiannon's dog, Moush

Then, Rhiannon, Lauren, and I piled into the car again and headed to source out some lunch. We ended up at a little cafe just outside of the central town. We pulled through the gates to see a wide-open plot of grass and a few shaded sitting areas. We grabbed a table and ordered some iced hibiscus tea and a few sandwiches. It was lovely finally sitting with Rhiannon to catch up on all the details of the school, the students, and the businesses that had grown over the last several years. Rhiannon would be leaving Moshi at the end of December--time for a change in scenery.

Iced hibiscus tea at a local cafe

After we stopped in town to pick up a temporary phone, and a few snacks to keep in the hotel room, both Lauren and I were hit head-on with the realities of traveling across the world...we were exhausted. Rhiannon dropped up back at More Than a Drop and we both decided to take a much needed nap.

Neither of us particularly wanted to get out of bed, but we knew we had to force ourselves to reset our internal clocks. We showered and put on dresses...and quietly plodded down the stairs to the patio dining area.

I ordered mushrooms sautéed in white wine sauce with rice and a side of spicy cauliflower. Lauren ordered a sweet potato soup with lemon grass. And we both had an organic salad of avocados, beets, cucumber, and carrots, much of which was picked fresh from the lush vegetable garden beside the school. The food was delicious and beautifully presented! We are both blown away by the careful attention to detail and love put into each and every bit of these accommodations.

A delicious organic mixed salad with beets, avocados, carrots, and cucumber...picked from a garden only a few feet away!

Once we finished our meal, we headed back upstairs...Lauren ready for bed, and I was wired. But thankfully, at 1:00 a.m., I was finally able to fall asleep.

We're learning that this trip is about patience. Patience with the unpredictable wireless internet connections, patience with the speed at which the locals live, patience with driving and getting around...but, mostly, patience with ourselves. Lauren and I have had many talks reflecting on our lives, both of us at very different stages in our journey, but both with so many similarities in our upbringing, love relationships, and passion for learning. We both also very independent and ambitious, which means that when we want something...we go get it! Now, we are forced to slow ourselves down...look around...reflect on where we are. I think we are both learning that sometimes accepting our current conditions and loving each moment for what it can offer is as rewarding as hard-fought accomplishments.

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