June At a Glance

As we established in May, we thought it would be nice, for you and for us, to write a blog to reflect on each month we’ve been here.  Another month has flown by and it’s time we look back on the events of June.  Overall, June has been a busy month!  We’ve settled into life in Ushirika, made a lot of progress on the Poultry Project, and visited some local siteshere in Rungwe District.

We had practically mastered the daily grind in May and we’ve now settled into a routine here at home in Ushirika.  We seem to have come to a truce with the majority of the bugs in our house.  We see some every now and then but overall they steer clear of us and our killer flip flops.  We have regular spots for everything we need in town – from our banana ladies, to Baraka our egg guy, to our favourite rice and beans place.  We have become very widely known in town as well.  We even have ‘regulars’ that chase us down to give us high fives and ensure they’ve said hello or goodnight to us daily.  It’s nice to have familiar places and familiar faces and as Kellie said one day “it’s like the whole town is our Cheers”.  Even though we’ve established our favourite food spots, we’ve also taken to cooking a lot for ourselves at home.  It takes a lot of time and preparation but in the end it’s turned out to be a nice relaxing activity and gives us a break from rice and beans!  With our stellar navigation skills in the market and our regular produce stands, we’ve managed to whip up some delicious dishes and make modifications to dishes from home so that we can enjoy them here.  Breakfast has featured omelets, scrambled egg “burritos”, pancakes, and yummy fruit salads.  For dinner, we’ve managed pasta sauce with “mushrooms” (definitely NOT mushrooms – they are labelled as “tasty soya pieces” and are similar to meat-alternative products in Canada), and two versions of stir-fry vegetables.  We’re planning a stew and soup coming up and have a market day planned today in Tukuyu – the market is bigger and has more variety and we’ve really enjoyed exploring it when we stop in the city for internet.

The Tanzania Poultry Project has made incredible progress throughout the month of June.  It has really taken off!  The beginning of the month, we began our initial meetings with the farmers in both Ilima and Lubanda villages.  It was very nice to get the opportunity to visit all of their chicken coops and talk to them about their chickens.  It was eye-opening for us to be able to hear firsthand some of the successes of the project to date as well as the areas of struggle for some of the farmers currently.  We were optimistic that the issues raised by the farmers were something we could tackle over our time here and we were excited to really get to work on the project!  After visiting all the farmers, we set out to design a training program to touch on the biggest challenges faced.  We settled on five main areas of focus which would be offered to the farmers as in-classroom teaching sessions.  The five focus areas included: advantages of keeping local chickens, complete nutrition, vaccinations and common diseases, coop building and chicken care, and the importance of record keeping.   The farmers seem very engaged and enthusiastic about the material and we are so happy that they are interested in what we’re teaching.  It is not mandatory for anyone to attend but session after session everyone continues to show up!  We are both thrilled 🙂  Each session has also raised questions and discussions and we’ve been able to provide information that was previously not known. Each session also features a Unit Test which helps us assess if we’ve been effective in our teaching and to help determine the areas that need more focus.  With only a few tests done currently, the averages are high and we are excited our training program is making a difference!  In addition to the in-classroom sessions, we planned two hands-on lab sessions in nutrition and coop building that would allow the farmers to touch, feel, and see some of the things we talked about in the classroom.  We have yet to tackle the coop building lab (it’s coming up next week) but the nutrition lab was a huge success.  The farmers were so excited to be able to learn about complete, balanced nutrition and take a sample home with them!  At the end of the all the training sessions, we will bring both villages together to see the best coops in each village and to share knowledge, ideas, and experiences with one another.  We’re very much looking forward to it!

Working alongside Gaga, the village extension officer for Ilima and Lubanda, during the Poultry Project has also given us the opportunity to see some interesting cases through his extension work (the equivalent of veterinary field calls in Canada).  We have gone to several farms to visit cows, goats, and pigs to treat them and give preventative medicine.  It is a very unique experience for us because many of the diseases here are not seen in Canada!  We’ve had the chance to do some hands-on work and have learnt a lot about how certain diseases can be treated in the field here in Africa.  One of the very cool things we’ve gotten to do, as we briefly mentioned in our previous blog, is perform post-mortems on chickens in the field.  It’s great hands-on experience being able to diagnose the illness that lead to the chickens death, it contributes to the knowledge and training for the Poultry Project, and it gives us the opportunity to learn field techniques that can be applied in a very rural setting.  We are used to learning in pristine environments with sterile stainless steel tables and sharp new scalpel blades but it’s a whole different learning experience using a banana leaf as a table and pair of school scissors!  It has been an amazing experience to be able to experience another world of veterinary medicine.

When we’re not hard at work, we spend a lot of time with friends and exploring the Rungwe district.  We’ve had the pleasure of joining several friends (Gaga, Jeffrey, and Henry) at their homes for dinner.  We enjoyed roasted bananas and grilled pork, spaghetti, and a plantain and vegetable stew.  It is great to be able to get a taste of what people eat in their everyday Tanzanian life.  It’s also nice to be able to join their families for a meal – it makes us feel more at home!  Jeffrey, a teacher at Ilima Secondary School, also invited us to a family wedding so we were able to experience some unique Tanzanian culture.  We had a great time and may even adopt some of the customs for our own celebrations.  We have also been able to do a few trips in the area to explore the natural beauty more closely.  We spent a Sunday afternoon biking to Kaporogwe Falls and enjoyed lunch behind the waterfall.  It was a great bike ride and despite the rough roads and difficult trip home uphill, we had a wonderful time!  Last weekend, we were able to celebrate Kellie’s birthday with a weekend getaway to Lwifwa village where the beautiful Lake Masoko sits.  We camped beside the lake overnight and enjoyed a home-cooked meal from the local villagers.  We were welcomed openly to join in the funeral celebrations of the chief of Mambwe village and got to watch a traditional drum dance called kitulu.  We hiked in the mountains and did a six hour round trip to the bubbling hot springs.  The views were amazing and it was great to be in the fresh air and sun!

June has been a great month for us in Tanzania.  We’ve settled into our life in Ushirika, made a ton of progress on the Poultry Project (we are so excited about how it’s going), learned a lot about rural African veterinary medicine on our adventures with Gaga, and seen some amazing local sites.  At the half-way point through our travels here, we are excited for the upcoming weeks and the adventures to come!  We hope you are too…

Adventures and Answers

We are sure everyone is excited to find out the answer to our challenge from our last blog “Who Wants to Be a Veterinarian”.  However, instead of providing the answer, we thought it would be more fun for you to search for the answer like we searched for Kaporogwe Falls on Sunday.  Throughout the story of our Sunday adventure are bolded, underlinedletters that spell the disease the chickens were sick and died from.  We hope you enjoy this adventure (and reading about ours) as much as we enjoyed it!

We heard a rumour that there was a waterfall, Kaporogwe Falls, you can walk behind somewhere at the end of the road we live on.  Our friend Jeffery, the teacher at Ilima Secondary School we’ve mentioned before, provided us a hand-drawn map of the directions and helped to arrange bicycles for us to rent.  We picked up the bikes on Saturday evening and made sure they were fit to go (e.g. working brakes, tires full of air, etc).  We had completed steps 1 and 2 – map and bikes

On Sunday morning, we started our day with a delicious breakfast!  We decided to make a breakfast that reminded us of home – pancakes – and attempted it on our charcoal stove.  After a few trial and error pancakes, we perfected our technique and enjoyed delicious pancakes topped in pineapple liquor sautéed bananas with tea and coffee.  Step 3 complete – breakfast done.  With our bellies full, we set off on our bike ride to find Kaporogwe Falls!  Jeffery warned us that it would be 15km to the Falls and we’d likely have a harder time on the way back.  (Looking back, we realize he was absolutely right – we didn’t peddle at all on the way there and it kicked our butts on route back!) Along the way, we enjoyed the scenery of the ride – fields of tea, banana trees, and epic mountain views.  The small villages we biked through were beautiful and serene – they were a far cry from the road and cars and the busyness of larger cities!  You also wouldn’t believe how many children came rushing to the road side to wave.  It was incredibly cute.  Passerbys also got very excited when we greeted them in Swahili and Nyakyasa (the local tribal language).  We were joined by a village boy who self-appointed himself as our guide.  If we fell behind, he waited.  If we somehow got ahead, he’d point the way.  He never said a word to us but he was a great help.  He even carried our bikes over a river while balancing on a log bridge!  Before we knew it, we had accomplished step 4 – we were at Kaporogwe Falls!  The view was amazing; it looked like a scene from The Land Before Time or Lion King.  We took lots of pictures and enjoyed our lunch behind the waterfall.  With our bellies full again, we decided to head back home.

Only one more step to go in our adventure: step 5 – getting home.  It would prove to be the most difficult of all!  Jeffery had warned us it would be difficult and he was right.  It was exhausting!  We spent more time walking beside our bikes than peddling on them.  Most of the trek home was uphill and we were tired and hot when we finally arrived.Despite the hard work getting back, we had a great time exploring our neighbourhood.  Definitely a fun day!

Who Wants to be a Veterinarian?

Although we’d prefer to only have healthy chickens here in Tanzania, we went out to see two sick chickens with Gaga at two farms – one in Lubanda village and the other in our hometown of Ushirika.  Both farms raise chickens very differently but had the same disease in their chickens.  We thought we’d issue a challenge to everyone to see how good your veterinary deduction skills are!

Farm 1: Lubanda

–          Free range/scavenging chickens that come inside the home at night.

–          Vaccinated for Newcastle disease, supplementation with water and corn.

–          10 chickens in total – all mixed together.

–          One dead chicken (died that morning).

–          One sick chicken – with diarrhea and coughing.

Farm 2: Ushirika

–          Intensive system (the only one we’ve seen in Tanzania to date) – hanging feed and water dispensers, nest boxes, electricity in the coop, and perches.

–          Vaccinated for Newcastle disease and Fowl Pox, routinely dewormed with Piperazine every 3 months, supplementation with water and commercial layers mash.

–          259 chickens in total – all layers, housed by production stage (with separate housing for chicks with hens), sick chickens isolated from others.

–          Two sick chickens – one recovering, other very ill.

–          Very ill chicken – with shrunken pale combs and wattles, hunched posture, swollen eyes that were shut, ruffled feathers, and white pasty diarrhea.  The chicken was hock sitting and not moving and we saw lice on its neck.

We performed post-mortems on both chickens and know definitively what disease they have.  Can you tell?

Unexpectations

We’ve officially passed the month mark – it has been 31 days since we boarded our plane in Toronto to set off for Tanzania!  Since arrival, we’re had some great experiences, met some great people, and enhanced the Tanzanian Poultry Project a great deal.

 

A taste of what we’ve experienced so far

Food and Drink

Since we attempted our first cooking session, we’ve had the pleasure of being taught how to improve our African cooking skills.  Our good friend, Gaga, was nice enough to invite us into his home for an unexpected day-long marathon of cooking lessons with him and his sister, Stella.  The day started cruising through the market to get all of our ingredients.  First up on the menu: our breakfast staple, mandazi (donuts).  We were taught how to make the dough, knead and roll it out, cut it, and fry it to perfection.  The process is similar to making donuts back in Canada, but the addition of cardamom adds a new flare to our mandazi!  Second on the list was fresh juice!  Gaga really enjoys making juice for us and previously made us the most delicious avocado juice.  This time, he whipped up a tropical fruit juice made of pineapple, passion fruits, and bananas.  Alongside our juice, our third cooking lesson was kitimoto (pork).  Gaga showed us how to prepare kitimoto in a tasty tomato and green pepper sauce.  We then sat down together to enjoy our feast – the hard work (and 5 hours of cooking) paid off!

 

Weather

As we experimented with cooking for the first time last week, we enjoyed the hot sun and attempted to get tans (despite only a corner of our courtyard getting sun, we were pretty successful).  The rest of the week has been very cold.  We’ve been wrapped up in sweaters most of the time and Kellie has busted out her wool socks every day!  This is not what we expected African weather to be like…

 

Daily Life

After spending the week hard at work, we took yesterday (Saturday) off.  We planned a trip to a nearby beach but unfortunately our plans fell through when our friend’s car unexpectedly broke down.  We spent the day relaxing and enjoying the sun anyways though!  Since we’ve spent all our daylight hours working on the project this week, it was nice to spend a full day outside.

 

People

At the beginning of the week, we had an unexpected guest come to our house to check in on us.  It was Jeffery, a teacher at Ilima Secondary School, wanting to know if we were safe and well.  He graciously invited us to dinner at his home and we joined him, his wife, his mother, and his 3 children the next day.   We enjoyed a delicious meal together.  Jeffery even went out of his way to ensure our favourite beers were present (and cold!).  After dinner, he invited us to join the family the next night at a wedding ceremony.  We obviously had to accept the invitation – when else were we going to go to a Tanzanian wedding?  The ceremony was very nice but not what we had expected.  Compared to a wedding in Canada there were some similarities but definitely some differences too.  For example, there was a cake cutting ceremony (similar to Canada) but the sharing of the cake between members of the bridal party and the family of the groom played a very important role.  It was an interesting twist on what we’re used to back home.  Despite not understanding anything said during the ceremony, we were able to participate and have a great time!

 

Project

A lot of new things have happened with the project since our last update!  We spent all of last week meeting with teacher and student farmers in Ilima and Lubanda.  We didn’t expect it but some of the houses were far apart and on mountain sides so we definitely got our exercise!  It was great to see everyone’s coop and talk to them about their chickens.  After meeting with all the farmers, we took the information we gathered and sat down with Gaga to discuss our next steps.  We were all on the same page about what would be most useful and we excitedly planned our training sessions for the villages.  This week, we have been busy writing out the training materials and planning our lessons. Our sessions will touch on: the advantages of keeping local chickens, coop building, preferential care for chicks and hens, complete nutrition, disease and parasite control, vaccination, selection and breeding, proper record-keeping, and marketing of chickens and eggs.  After they are translated into Swahili, we’ll be teaching both villages with Gaga’s help – we can’t wait!

 

Transportation

We made a friend in Ushirika’s centre named Godlove.  He is a motorcycle driver who is very keen on improving his English and teaching us Swahili.  He has offered to drive us to various local landmarks to see what the Southern Highlands of Tanzania has to offer.  Since we are often looking amongst the motorcycles of the town to say hello to him, we’ve begun to notice a lot of unexpected items on the backs of motorcycles.  We thought we’d share our list with you.

Crazy Things We’ve Seen on the Back of Motorcycles in Tanzania:

  1. Too many people.
  2. A pig strapped to a board.
  3. A pile of no less than 20 large, plastic buckets stacked on their side.
  4. A loveseat.
  5. Chickens (both in cages and free).
  6. A 9 foot long metal door (we’re not even exaggerating)
  7. A bedframe – complete with head and foot boards.

 

Swahili word of the day

We’ve learned that Swahili is incredibly literal.  When saying goodbye to someone, we frequently say “Tutaonana” (“See You”) as we depart.  Often people will ask you to specify when they will see you.  For example: “See You Later” is “Tutaonana Baadaye” and “See You Tomorrow” is “Tutaonana Kesho”.  Since everyone always asks, we just started to say whatever we could remember at the time.  It turns out, people get really worried when you say you’ll see them later and you don’t actually show up later.  We’ve had many people track us down to find out if we’re ok and to determine where we were.  Who knew?  That was unexpected!

The Spice of Life – With Jodi and Kellie

Today (Sunday, June 9th) we made our first attempt at cooking, the Tanzanian way. In our opinion, we were quite successful; whipping up both a delicious pilau (spiced, fried rice) and a tasty vegetable stir fry. We even had enough charcoal left at the end to boil some water for tea!

While cooking we decided to issue a challenge to all of you at home. If you’re up for the challenge of cooking like we have to, here’s how to do it!

  1. Buy your standards: garlic, onions and ginger.
  2. Purchase two types of vegetables, probably carrots and peppers, because that’s all that is available at the market.
  3. Cut everything using a large chef’s knife (there are no pairing knives here) in the palm of your hand (there are no cutting boards either). Even the garlic… No cheating!
  4. Using one burner, on medium-high heat ONLY, cook your rice, and all your stir-fry vegetables. Don’t forget to check your charcoal level halfway through to make sure you have enough!
  5. Add the minimal spices you can find, mainly salt and “Pilau Masala Seasoning”, which consists of cloves, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon and cardamom.

Enjoy your meal! It only took you 2 hours to make it.

May at a Glance

We thought it would be nice, for you and for us, to write a blog to reflect on each month we’ve been here.  Looking back at a glance at May, we’ve had a lot of firsts, met with many different people, and visited a ton of places across Tanzania.  It’s been a great experience so far, as we hope you’ve gathered from our previous blogs, and it’s nice to be able to stop and reflect on where we’ve been and what we’ve done and exactly how it’s played into the progress of the project and into our lives here.

Settling into our Tanzanian lifestyle has been a definitely been a transition but we’re slowly figuring out how to combine our work life, our daily chores, and the limited daylight we have.  We’ve managed to navigate the markets, negotiate prices, master how to hand-wash our laundry, travel on buses, and speak basic Swahili.  Although our unwelcome house-guests (massive cockroaches and giant spiders) came as a surprise, we’ve managed to eliminate most of them and have developed plans of attack in case of their return.  We continue to develop our skills every day and we’re certain that eventually rural Tanzanian life will be a breeze!

Many of the meetings we had during our stay in Dar es Salaam and Morogoro got us involved with some of the universities and organizations working on interesting projects that address similar goals and objectives as the Tanzanian Poultry Project, directly and indirectly.  The conversations we had about One Health issues in Tanzanian gave us a really good perspective on how to tackle some of the concerns with our Tanzanian Poultry Project and how to approach working with the farmers to make the project a success.  Some of the connections we made also allowed us to work together on formulating a concept note proposal to the IDRC for future funding.  The ideas and potential direction that came out of that concept note may open new doors for the project and land us working on implementing the first stages of the project in August before we depart.  It’s a very exciting opportunity and we’re eager to expand the project and take it to new levels in Tanzania!

Travelling from Dar es Salaam through all the major cities to reach our home in Ushirika has also given us the opportunity to experience the beauty of Tanzania.  The landscape provides epic, picturesque scenery at every turn and the wildlife we met on our journey through Mikumi National Park will definitely be a lasting memory for us.  However, the greatest beauty of Tanzania has been its people.  The kindness, generosity, and appreciation from everyone we’ve met has been absolutely overwhelming.  The excitement of the children at Ilima Primary School as they sang and clapped when they saw us, the generosity of the school teachers and teacher farmers who provided us food at our meetings, and the warm and welcoming nature of everyone we’ve met has made the transition much easier on both of us.  We’re so thankful that our first month here has been filled with such positive experiences!

We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about our adventures thus far as much as we’ve enjoyed living them.  It’s great to be able to share our experiences with everyone and give all of you an idea about what it’s like to be here in Tanzania working on the Poultry Project.  If there is anything you want to know, please leave us a comment so we can give you the inside scoop – we would love to share even more with you!

Ushirika, Tanzania – A Place Where Small Victories Can Seem Huge

We are now settling into our home in Ushirika – we’ve transitioned out of the move-around hotel lifestyle and into our permanent African residence.  It’s been an adjustment but we’re managing well and getting the hang of life here.  This weekend, after unpacking and doing some organizing, we explored our new town (which takes about 5 minutes to walk through) – we found a few places to eat, made some new friends, and discovered what the Sunday market has to offer.  The highlight of the entire weekend, was finding peanut butter (siagi ya karanga) in the market; what would merely be a small victory, if even that, by Canadian standards.  However, after visiting more shops than we can count and having numerous shop-keepers and vendors look at us like we had six heads, we finally stumbled upon a vendor with 1000g of the liquid gold!  Let the delicious peanuty-celebrations begin 🙂

A First for Everything

This week has been a week of firsts – starting with our first attempt at laundry.  We never realized how much we love washing machines until we had to hand-wash 2 weeks of dirty laundry in a sink in the hotel courtyard.  I can’t imagine being a Tanzanian house keeper, washing every hotel guests’ towels, sheets, and pillowcases all by hand!  It took us 2.5 hours to figure our stuff out…and that was strictly to the rinse cycle!  At least we had the African sun on our side – drying on the line didn’t take very long at all and we were able to get our clothes back in luggage in no time.  Of course, without the spare 2.5 hours, the hotel staff will wash your laundry for you for only 4,000tsh – right Adam?

 

A taste of what we’ve experienced so far

Food and Drink

We’ve left the world of delicious, variety cuisine for the more standard fare of rural Africa – rice or ugali (an African hard porridge), beans, bananas, and meat (“nyama” which literally translates to meat).  Breakfast always consists of tea and most often a doughnut (mandazi)…usually there are also eggs, which despite neither of us caring for normally, we’ve now warmed to (obviously only covered in chili sauce!)  While in Uyole, we managed to find a café in town (New Bex Café) that has delicious baked goods and a delightful Kenyan server who speaks English and is looking to visit Canada someday.  He was nice enough to translate the menu for us and we’ve been back daily since – the samosas and pilau (fried, spiced rice) are amazing!

Weather

We’re getting to spend more time outside and it’s been nice but cooler than we anticipated.  The sun is hot (we’re attempting to get a tan) and there is always a cool breeze; after sunset or in the shade, you often need a sweater.

Daily Life

Prior to Chicken Camp, we got a day off to explore Mbeya and experience Tanzanian life as it will be for us moving forward.  Adam left us and for the first time we were solo in the big city.  We did some shopping for supplies (even managed to negotiate prices in broken Swahili…and win!) and found a second-hand clothing store where we made a friend (Godfrey) and bought a whopping 6,000tsh worth of clothes (conversion: $3.80).  We got to sit on a patio for a pop and journal writing and spoil ourselves with a delicious Indian meal at Mbeya Hotel.

People

We’ve made some friends at the Usililo Lodge where we’re staying all week – likely because we’re long-term guests and they are getting used to seeing us.  No one speaks English but with time we seem to be able to communicate despite that.  One staff member in particular has been nominated our favourite – she is super bubbly and incredibly quirky!

Project

Wednesday started our three days of “Chicken camp” at Uyole Agricultural College. The campus is located about 4km from the hotel we are staying at, so each morning, and afternoon, we are getting our exercise as we hike to and from school. This walk takes us by a local primary school, where the students are always excited to see us and practice their English. This morning (Friday) the whole school practically followed us down the road after yelling their “Good Morning! How are you?” greetings – we took the opportunity to snap a photo because it’s not everyday that something like that happens!

Chicken camp has been a beneficial learning experience for us.  The way chickens are raised here is very different from Canada and nothing like what we learn in school!  In fact, we have been asked several times how many chickens the average Canadian household has because each household here averages about 10 birds.  It’s funny trying to explain that no one really keeps chickens like they do and we have massive buildings full of thousands of chickens that supply enough for everyone.  Some of the topics we learned about include: nutrition, housing, vaccinations, diseases, and optimal management practices for rural small-holder farmers.  There are a lot of areas we think we can be helpful and after next week’s visits to Ilima and Lubanda, to meet the farmers and see their chickens, we’ll know better exactly how we can make a difference!

Transportation

We took our first cab and first city bus in Mbeya!  The cab was standard and despite other meetings being on ‘Tanzanian time’, the cab pulled into the hotel driveway 10 minutes early!  The bus, on the other hand, was quite the experience.  First of all, the buses are actually cargo vans with approximately 12 spots for passenger seating.  You wait for the bus to be full (often with much more than 12 people) until you’re able to leave for your destination. We decided to catch it in the busiest bus depot in town (we stress BUSIEST) where all the buses gather and their ‘bus marketers’ yell their destination to the crowd gathering in the market, which is always associated with the bus stands.  Each ‘bus marketer’ also grabs you to direct you into their bus – right one or not!  We just kept saying “Uyole” and looking at the front of the buses, where the destination is stated, and we made it safely onto one.  We even made friends with our ‘bus marketer’ – he spoke to us in Swahili and we nodded politely and spoke back in English.  Neither of us knew what the other was saying…but we bonded.

Swahili word of the day

We’ve become “expert” negotiators in the market so we’d thought we’d share our money knowledge with all of you.  Here’s how to count to ten:

One – Moja

Two – Mbili

Three – Tatu

Four – Nne

Five – Tano

Six – Sita

Seven – Saba

Eight – Nane

Nine – Tisa

Ten – Kumi

Combining those with hundred (mia) and thousand (elfu), you’re able to negotiate prices with street vendors.  For example: we bought a lunchbox, knife, and 2 spoons in the market today and he was asking elfumbili for the lunch box, elfumbili for the knife, and miamoja for each spoon.  We negotiated him down to elfutatumiatano for everything! (maybe not a great deal…but we thought so at least).  Once you get over 10,000tsh (conversion: $6.60), we have no idea what we’re doing…but then again, not much goes over 10,000tsh in the street market.

Visitors Welcome

We’ve left the life of hotel hopping for a more settled existence in Ushirika.  We moved in today (Saturday) and we thought it would be important to post directions to our house in case anyone had the desire to visit us in remote Tanzania 😛

Directions:

  1. Fly into Dar es Salaam.
  2. Drive on the main road towards Morogoro.
  3. Keep left at the fork in Chalinze.
  4. Continue on the main road.
  5. Keep left at the fork in Mbeya.
  6. Continue on the main road.
  7. Turn right at the pile of bananas in Ushirika (you think you don’t know what we mean…but you will)
  8. Stop driving when you reach the church – we are the house on the left.

A warning for visitors that we learned today when we moved in: spiders and cockroaches are much larger than ever experienced in North America – no matter where you’ve travelled; it’s got nothing on African varieties.  Our room was riddled when we arrived and although ‘clean’ now of the bugs (thank goodness for Kellie – she definitely came to the rescue) we cannot make any promises that your stay will be at all giant-spider or huge-cockroach free!

Emotionally Overwhelming!

If you told either of us that we’d be so overcome by emotion within the first week of our trip, we would have been skeptical.  If you told us it would happen twice, we would have outright laughed at you.  Well…we’re not laughing now!

 

Emotionally overwhelming story #1:

On route to Iringa, we drove through Mikumi National Park. As the highway runs right through the park , we saw baboons (nyani) hanging out on the side of the highway before we even reached the main gates. It was unreal! Once we arrived, we hired a guide, Tomas, to take us through the park’s sights. Even with the knowledge that we were likely to run into African wildlife, it hadn’t really sunk in for us that it was a reality – we were in Africa and we WERE going to see the animals we’d only seen in zoos before. Sure enough, less than five minutes in, giraffes and elephants were in the distance! During our drive through the park, we were able to see giraffes (twiga), elephants (tembo), water buffalo (nyati), warthogs (pumba), impala (swalapala), antelope (palahala), zebras (pundamilia), wildebeests (nyumbu), hippos (kiboko), and three female lionesses (simba) snoozing in the sun! The day was so inspiring that we’re planning another safari (which really means journey) at the end of our trip.

 

Emotionally overwhelming story #2:

Today, we visited both primary schools in the villages where we will be working, Lubanda and Ilima. The relationship with Lubanda primary school is relatively new and it was nice to visit with them and get an idea of how we’ll be able to help during our stay here. Ilima primary school, on the other hand, has been involved in the project for many years. We were very excited to find out how we could help and to see the impact that the past support has made on the student’s education. Dr. Roger Thomson, one of the heads of the Tanzanian Poultry Project, has been tremendously involved with the school and it was rumoured they built a school house in his name! We parked the car and walked through the village, meeting with old friends that recalled the visit last year. As we travelled down the hill, lined by banana and cocoa trees, we saw a few children scurry quickly ahead of us. As the trees finally parted and we could see the school in the distance, the children began to clap and sing and run towards us. As we neared the school, we became surrounded by the mass of children and completely swallowed by their song. They had written a welcome song for us and sung along loudly and full of energy! Imagine 200 students cheering simply because of your arrival! It was truly moving (and incredibly emotionally overwhelming).