Monday, August 20, 2012

Day Three in Lengasti

Why start with day three? Because the first days were spend where there is no civilization; no electricity, no running water, only rice and beans and baked bananas, houses made of sticks and cow dung. Hey, good news we were invited into one of these huts. It's a great place to visit especially in a museum but it's tough to think that a family lives there every day year round and no vacation to "get away from it all."

At 6:00am the first morning the cows and goats paraded by our bedroom with the ringing bells on their neck and their braying to complain about the early morning start. Breakfast was Maasai very thin pancakes, boiled eggs and strong, very strong black coffee. That was about 8:30am so there was time for a walk, bird watching and lots of sitting around and visiting with other guests. Then there more waiting as our local contacts meet to discuss the issues facing the village, which right now are plenty, but that's another story for another time.

Last year there villagers hanging out around the compound almost all the time but this year there almost no one. That's are part of the "other story." Five of the other guests at Gladness' Hotel were from Denmark, a part of a support process from that country. Three others were from Corvallis, a doctor, a nurse and wannabe. And finally there were two local (Tanzanian) doctors who are just finishing up their education. They were the ones who conducted the clinic.

Bird watching is a blast because like Linda our bird authority says, every bird you see is a new one.

Kathy took one of the soccer balls out among the children and after they freely kicked it around awhile, she divided them into teams with a couple sticks for goal posts. After watching for a while we were impressed by the skills and the ability to not fight or argue. It's not the first time they saw a soccer ball but to have new one was very exciting.

Remember how hot the dark continent is reported to be, and we believe it. It's cool enough that the locals wear jackets and even we put on long-sleeved shirts. The skies are overcast and we even had rain most of last night. There were sun breaks today and hints what we might see some of Kilimanjaro, but no we only saw some lower slopes.

Now we're back in Arusha sitting at a hotel to get WiFi and trying to catch our breath after the first whirlwind days. Knowing about this place we should be more consistent with our emails and blogging.

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Weather here and there

"Africa! Africa? Boy, it's going to be hot there," is a rather natural response when someone hears that we're traveling to Tanzania. It is true that we will be within five degrees of the equator, on the south side, meaning that it's literally winter there equivalent to our late February. However, we are at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro and the forecast is for highs of 80, 80, 80 and 80 for the next week instead of 102 for today in Portland, 100 tomorrow and then dropping to 80, 80, and 80 in about four days.

Sunrise is monotonously predictable in this area, as are sunsets: 6:00AM and 6:00PM year round. The shock goes both ways for those coming from Tanzania to a part of the world where the sunrises and sunsets vary up to 10:00PM and 4:00AM; and for those coming from areas where the day's lengths vary along with sunrises and sunsets to a place where there is no noticeable variation.

For those of you who wish to continue to feel connected, as you watch the sun shine down on you at 8:00 in the morning, know that we are probably taking picture of the same sun at sunset of the same day.

We are hours from heading to the airport to escape this heat. Drink lots of water and stay in the shade.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I spoke with Bob Pearson, a member of the board of (the former) Common Table and have send you and he an email to start the discussion around a speaker for the retreat.  His phone number is 541-408-1380.

Why Africa?

It's not about location, Africa or any other place; it's about doing something. So if it's not the location, then why any place?

There's not simple or single answer but I suspect watching a huge bull elephant lumber along amid zebras and wildebeests as a leopard watches quietly from a distance or walking the path where Mao TseTung farmed as a kid may have something to do with it. Someday it may be the dirt path where Jesus walked and talked. Or it may be that after building playground equipment, teaching English or computer or basic hygiene the hugs from the children are worth more than anything in the world. Or maybe somewhere in our impressionistic years it was slipped into our being that helping others is the reason we were born and we should strive for that goal. Or maybe somewhere in our being there's a loose cog.

Or maybe it's a combination of things including stories like the one of Rachel Beckwith which aired on NBC Rock Center August 14. Rachel learned that there were children in Africa who didn't have clean water so for her 9th birthday she asked that instead of presents and a party, she wants to help get clean water to African children. Two weeks later she was killed in an accident but her wish has generated nearly $1.3 million water which has allowed the digging of more than a thousand wells with clean water. Maybe some little thing that I don't know will grow may balloon into something huge, or maybe it will affect only one child for a short time, but without doing something nothing will ever happen.

It's not about location, it's about people and our hearts are softest when it comes to children. In a couple days we will be among those children with medicine and hope. For us, that enough "Why."

How to Visit Another Culture

The question is not related to planes versus buses or cars. It's more about the theme of the visit: to see the scenery,taste the food, experience the differences, talk to the people, live among and work with the people, or add to the collectibles back home.

I have chose this as the theme of my picture taking and video production for this upcoming trip. We'll see what develops!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Headed back

It's been over a year since we first and last were in Tanzania. Tanzania was not chosen as the country for our first African visit but Tanzania was the product of a connection with Dr Lace of Salem. This second trip is to restate that we did not forget those we met during that first trip south of the equator. This trip will repeat some of the same locations, some of the same people and some of the same activities and tasks. It will also offer some new experiences such as conducting clinics in the village Lengasti, traveling to Dar Es Salaam to work in the orphanage there and extending some of the touring of wildlife.

The five of us are packed or will be by tomorrow afternoon with our individual personal carry-ons and seven bags with supplies for the village and several agencies working with orphans and vulnerable children in Arusha and Dar Es Salaam. The immunizations are complete, the tickets and papers are in order and everyone is very energized. Persons who traveled with last year's team have delivered greetings and gifts for one-year old friends from that past trip. Others have delivered items to be taken to family back in Africa.

We can project what we will be doing and forecast our days, but that would be folly as every day brings an expected treat or variation. The trip is unique to us even as a second time and may be unique to some of you. We invite you to join us on this blog as we find opportunities to write and to connection to the modern Internet. Thanks for joining us.