Thoughts from Audrey

Well, we’re home now and our traveling family has fractured not only through the neighbourhood, but even in our big home. The four of us were hardly 10 feet apart most of the last month, and I am so
grateful for that experience. I’ve learned and experienced so much. I’ve been thinking a lot about our visit to Tanzania the last coupleof days. One thing being is that I think I’m of African decent some life back. Have you seen how I pick weeds in the garden!?(I know, that’s a rare sighting). Straight legs and bent at the waist just like my dadas in Tanzania.
Secondly and more seriously, I am so grateful to have had such great teachers to travel with. Lockie was such a trooper. I never heard him complain once! And if a 10 year old can walk 5 hours mid day from village to village through the forest , dirt roads and 30+ C heat with about a half a litre of water, surely I can too! He was game for anything. Always thoughtful of everyone else including at our Kili hour where he was a gracious host, opening our beer on the door jam and serving up casava chips or peanuts. I heard Lockie say more than once ” Aww, that poor woman, hey mom?” or ” They have a really good house, hey mom?” as we walked away from a shamba with a tidy stick
and mud house with a metal corrugated roof and even a concrete floor! And of course, Stephanie, who taught me to tread lightly and be gracious! I’ll never forget the fear that overtook me when one of the orphans who we were visiting started to bring out bowls of their daily meal to share with us as a way of saying thank you. It was nothing I was familiar with eating and not very pretty…a banana and bean mixture made with water from goodness knows where. I just looked at Stephanie in a way that was saying “Quick! Do something! I can’t eat that @*#t !” Of course Stephanie managed to leave everyone smiling and shaking hands with her beautiful smile and her ” Thank you so much but
we don’t need anything. We are all just fine.” Then there was my typical muzungoo idea of “Hey, I should get a bunch of candy to give to all the kids at the schools and stuff!” Stephanie
just looked at me , held her lips firmly together , closed her eyes, and shook her head slowly . “Oh I guess that’s not a good idea, hey?” “No Audrey, I don’t think so” she said gently.

After experiencing a few days of eating the basic food which consisted of about 12 ingredients, I wondered why my experienced travel partner hadn’t brought a rucksack full of chocolate, granola bars, real coffee, spices,etc. Our instructions were” All of your personal belongings will have to fit in a carry-on bag because we’ll need all our checked baggage for donations”. What! Have you seen my closet!!! And I have size 10 feet! Being used to living with a foodie like Matthew, It got pretty tiring eating bland beans and rice and processed white bread with one ingredient being “bread improver”. But by the end, I realized the wisdom of my dada(sister). I was grateful that we could interact with all these people who had so little(some families literally not knowing where their meal would come from tomorrow, relying on donations from neighbours) and feel that we used our resources wisely and instead supported the local economy. Now don’t get me wrong! We did not go without! We did indulge with our evening at the Kilimanjaro Resort and our pizzas and Indian food any chance we went into the big town of Moshi. And oh how wonderful that cold beer tasted at 5pm on the porch! It made it that much more enjoyable! And I did manage to stimulate the economy. Those fabrics! Such beautiful patterns and colours.
And what about our Safari? sitting on the patio at the Tarangeri Lodge, where you could see for miles and miles, and witnessing a herd of giraffes(is it a herd??) drinking at the river and eventually moving on. It was like heaven on earth!

It was such a great experience for Claire too. We got along great and my little pampered princess made me proud. It brought a content smile on my face when she’d enthusiastically hop out of bed if
there was a boiled egg or porridge for breakfast. She suffered terribly from her allergies between the constant dust from the talc-like red clay roads and the corn husks being dried and processed
everywhere around us. Between her breathing and blowing her nose, it was like sleeping beside a bear and an elephant! After a couple of weeks, she seemed to adjust a bit and breath a little easier and complained very little. She met a some great young interns from Canada who were studying in various areas of community health. Roll models which gave her a much wider scope to consider when she heads back to university. She is also very enthusiastic about participating in the
volunteer program at the Amani street orphanage that we visited after she puts in a couple more years at school.

So thanks again Stephanie and Lockie, and thanks Chris, Sasha, and Eva for lending me the rest of your family for a month. It was a trip I will always remember and cherish! Asante Sana!

For a sampling of January 2011 pictures….

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