Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Tanzania August 2023

We want to thank everybody for the generous donations. These are some of the items we are taking with us to Tanzania:
  • 18 soccer balls 
  • 48-string back packs 
  • 38 backpacks 
  •  2 iPad minis 
  • 1 iPad Pro 
  • 1 MacBook 
  • 15 Pro 
  • 12 iPhones 
  • 14 pair of soccer shorts 
  •  100 soccer jerseys 
  • 20 pairs of gym pants 
  • 5 pairs of growing shoes 
  • 20 pairs of period pants (TMI) 
  • 36 solar lights School supplies 
  •  50 pairs of soccer cleats Soccer goalie gloves 
  • 30 pairs of running shoes 

All filling four suitcases totaling just under 280 pounds. 

All these items will be going to Nomad Trust. 

While it would be impossible to thank everybody who contributed to this project (many items were simply dropped on our porch and we have no idea where they came from), we would like to give a shout-out to the Council Rock United Soccer Association and their members. They consistently come through when we ask for donations.

For this trip, a big thank you goes to Piper & Heath Travel, who not only planned this trip for us. They also donated several items, including period pants. Me, not having daughters. Learning about why period pants are important in rural villages of Tanzania was an education in itself.
For all our trips, a Thank You to Christine Edmonds and A Love For Life for their generosity of always offering A Love for Life shirts for us to distribute. If you know someone who has been affected by Pancreatic cancer. A donation to A Love for Life is a great way to help find a cure.

We have a request: we are running low on the big suitcases people use to use for travel. We usually take four of these suitcases on each trip. These suitcases go one way only, never to return. Please check your attic, basement, or garage. If you have one or several of these suitcases and would love to send them on an international trip, let me know.

Our next trip will be to Panama in about six weeks. We will be visiting an indigenous school there.

As you read this, we are somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, heading to Tanzania, our first stop (not counting a layover in Qatar) on this three-country tour. When I went to Tanzania last, we climbed Kilimanjaro. This trip, we will be visiting the western edge of Tanzania and a family of Chimpanzees.

After Tanzania, we will be visiting Kenya and the Seychelles, bringing my total countries/territories visited to 83.

More to come once on the ground (after about 36 hours of travel).

We arrived in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania on Tuesday at 5:00 PM. That is 37 hours after we departed the United States.

Besides having to bribe Tanzania customs agents, to allow us to bring in all our donation items without paying a Value Added Tax (VAT). Things went as planned.

Sia was waiting for us outside the terminal. Sia is our bodyguard, I mean guide for the next few days. We had plenty of help getting our bags loaded into the van, more help than we could have possibly needed. I guess they heard Margarite tipped well. Once the van was loaded, we were off to the Arusha Coffee Lodge. This is where we will be staying for two nights.

First full day in Arusha. At breakfast, we met with Lucy from Nomad Trust. We learned a lot about Nomad Trust and its mission across Tanzania. We also dumped the four suitcases off on Lucy. These are the suitcases loaded with goodies that many of you donated.

 Lucy and her team will be distributing these items to small villages throughout Tanzania.

After breakfast, we visited the Plaster House. In a nutshell, the Plaster House cares for kids born with birth defects that can be repaired through surgery or therapy. For some of these kids, this may mean several surgeries and months of staying at the Plaster House.
We gave away several soccer balls. The smiles this simple jester brought to these kids' faces were precious. Then watching them play soccer, many of the kids needing to use their crutches for ball handling, was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Being a hospital, they requested we don't take pictures of the children. Normally, I would not comply, but I decided not to be my normal self today.
From the Plaster House, we got dropped off at Arusha City Center. We toured the markets and a bit of the town.
Our last stop of the day was Shanga. On our last visit to Tanzania, 10 years ago, we also visited Shanga. Shanga is a place that teaches and then employs disabled people to make crafts. All the products are made with Recycled or Sustainable materials.

We watched a couple of deaf ladies weaving fabric.
There was a blind man spinning yarn.
Several men and women were making bracelets and necklaces out of beads. And lastly, the glass blowing.
That is it for our first day in Tanzania. Tomorrow we are heading to Greystoke Mahale, which is on the westernmost border of Tanzania.

More on that to come… if we have internet? I almost forgot. The Coffee Lodge and our waiter Dennis, who is 82 years old, served us a fantastic dinner in the garden.
Today we head to Greystoke Mahale Camp which is on Lake Tanganyika. Lake Tanganyika is the largest lake in the world by volume and the second-deepest lake in the world. As I mentioned before, this is the western border of Tanzania. To the West is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the North is Burundi, and to the South is Zambia. Click here it will take you to a map of the area.
I have not been to those three countries. Though I did have a flight stopover in Zambia, stop-overs do not count.
How do you get from Arusha to Greystoke Mahale? First, a four-hour flight in a bush plane with multiple stops to pick up or drop off supplies, passengers or both.
After the flight across Tanzania, we boarded a wooden lake boat for a one-and-a-half-hour ride to the Lodge.
I tried to bribe the boat captain to take us to visit the three other countries, but he quickly denied my request. I guess I will save those countries for another trip.
There are six other guests at the Lodge. It was now 4:00 pm, clearly not the easiest place to get to, but so far, worth it. After a cocktail and briefing, we took the boat a mile offshore for a swim.
We asked why not swim off the beach. We got a one-word answer, "Crocodiles". That answer was good enough for us.
It is now seven, and we are heading to the bar for our briefing about tomorrow's activities.

We learned we will be going trekking for Chimpanzees.
We woke up at dawn, had breakfast, and departed for the trek.
Let me allow the pictures and a short video to tell the rest of today's Chimpanzees story. 
Chimpanzees of Greystoke Mahale.

Video - Chimpanzees of Greystoke Mahale.

Pop Quiz:

After viewing the Chimpanzee photos - How much DNA do Humans and Chimpanzees share? 
A. 0 - 50% 
B. 51 - 70% 
C. 71 - 90% 
D. 91 - 100%

Prizes will be distributed after everyone has had a chance to answer! After an exciting morning of trekking for Chimpanzees, we had lunch, rest, and High Tea in the lodge, before heading out for kayaking.
That is, it, our first day at Greystoke Mahale. I'm not sure when the next update will be out. Over the following days, we will be doing more Chimpanzee trekking. You know the saying, once you have seen one Chimpanzee, you have seen them all. Unless we get some crazy excitement. No updates until our next move. Please remember to take the Pop Quiz.

Today is Monday, August 28th. We will be departing Greystoke Mahale. Over the last two days, we had been trekking for Chimpanzees in the morning and swimming in the afternoon. We also took the boat up a river (with a paddle) for some birding.

We did have some excitement. One of the Chimpanzees tried to mate with a guest.

Video - Attack of The Killer Chimpanzee.

We departed Greystoke Mahale to visit a small village. This is one of the villages that Nomad Trust will be distributing some of the items we brought.

We had a unique incident, considering we were on a lake and not an open ocean. We were boarded by a group of pirates. This is not that uncommon on Lake Tanganyika. We learned that this situation is not unique at all.
The boat was not a pirate ship, but a fishing boat. The crew was checking to see if we had any water we could share. They hit the lottery with us. We shared our sodas and even a few beers. The crew was extremely grateful.

We arrived in the Village of Katumbi around 10:30 AM. We first visited the clinic. Today, they were giving the infants their initial vaccines.
After the clinic, we visited the local school - Katumbi School. They have 950 students, eight teachers, with eight classrooms. There are over 100 students per classroom.
This school will be getting some of the donations we brought to Tanzania.
The students sang and danced for us as a thank you.

Video - Katumbi School

After the school visit, we walked around the village and visited the market before taking off for our four-hour puddle jumper flight to Kilimanjaro.
Tomorrow, we head to Nairobi, Kenya, where one of our activities will be something no Tourist has ever done, at least no normal tourists.

All Pictures Below:

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