I actually remember about a year and a half ago while sitting at the neighborhood park watching the kids play, our friend Tom mentioned to me that his wife Daris was applying to be a Fulbright Scholar
to teach in Tanzania and if she got it they would be moving to Africa for the next year. I remember thinking right then (knowing how awesome Daris is that she would get the grant) that while I was not bold and brave enough to pick up and move my family to Africa perhaps this would be a unique opportunity to visit and be able to get some cultural experiences that wouldnt normally be available with a standard tourist visit.
A few months later the Hale family was off to Makumira University
in Arusha Tanzania. Following along with their adventures in the Whaleherdienda Chronicle
I was more convinced that I wanted to visit. It is important to me to expose my children to the world and it's cultures, differences, and beauty. We couldn't really fit all we wanted to do during school breaks so decided to wait until summer to go. We wanted to go and visit the Hale's so we could learn about all that they were doing there and learn about the Tanzanian students and people and hear all the great stories. As it turned out we decided to time our visit to be able to attend the semester end concert for the music students at the university, what a bonus!
Planning a trip to Tanzania, we decided you can't go halfway around the world and not head out to visit all the incredible beauty that exists in this comparatively untamed part of the world. Mike's brother has a good friend who lives in Tanzania and runs a Safari company there. We found out that Ngomi just lived about an hour away from Arusha in the town of Moshi. We booked two weeks of traveling with his company, Makasa
Tanzanian Safaris. We scheduled visits to a Maasai tribe village, Oldupai Gorge, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Zanzibar, as well as a day to spend with Ngomi in Moshi. We booked plane tickets, got required immunizations and medications, applied for tourist visas, shopped for comfy safari clothes, and upgraded camera equipment in preparation.
After anticipating the trip for months, finally the day came. The entire trip was just perfect and unbelievable. Every single day I learned something, did something, saw something, or met someone I had never before. Even the parts we were kind of dreading (for example 30 hours of travel there and back) went fine. The kids never complained about any of the long, often loud and rough travels between destinations and adapted easily to the varying levels of accommodations throughout the trip. I am going to try and capture some of the magic of the trip in my journal to have as a memento for myself and my family and to tell the story to others. It may take a while as I am still unpacking, time shifting, sorting though thousands of photos, and getting back into work and life here.