Sharing Tanzania with My Mom

My mom flew into Dar es Salaam, Tanzania at the beginning of June. I was still recovering from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and my legs were even more swollen than hers from my 10 hour bus ride to meet her than from her 24 hrs of flying! Poor legs. We were both good to go the next day though and had an enjoyable time checking out the fabric market there, the national museum and hanging out with another brother from Sacramento.

Market area in Dar es Salaam

Some cool graffiti.

Mom walking around Dar.

We took a ferry ride to Zanzibar and enjoyed walking around the maze of streets in Stone Town and the beautiful ocean and sunset.

Baby chicks being transported from Dar to Zanzibar on the ferry.

Our room in Zanzibar for when it got too hot outside.

Beautiful Zanzibar door.

Love the sunsets in Zanzibar.

Then we were off to my home the UAACC. Had an hour drive from the airport to the center and my mom was already being amazed by the beautiful scenery. She was also lucky enough to have Mount Kilimanjaro visible through the clouds upon our arrival.  She also got her first exposure to the traditional lifestyles mixed with new technology. I think a Maasai man herding cattle while talking on his cell phone shocked her the most.

Mt. Kilimanjaro

We flew in on June 5th, my birthday. Had a nice time getting settled introducing my mom to all of my family there. Then they through a very nice birthday celebration for me with cake and dancing with the watoto! I was even surprised to have my travel buddy still around to celebrate with us. Great birthday to be surrounded my so many loving people.

Dancing with my UAACC family on my birthday.

The following day we relaxed at the center and just got settled in. Then on Thursday we went into my Intermediate English class. My mom had fun teaching them Spanish and Russian. She must have forgot it was English class J. They really enjoyed though and some had pretty good accents. We also had fun teaching the hokey pokey. They were totally down to do it. So much less inhibited than American high school and college students. In the afternoon my mom enjoyed doing yoga with the students. For the evening we went out to Via Via, one of my favorite clubs in Arusha. I got dressed up in my favorite Maasai attire and we joined up with some of the other volunteers and teachers for a great night. Danced until 1 or 2 am, saw a Capoeira dance group and just had fun!

In Intermediate English Class.

Mom at the center. Enjoying the wall art.

Trying to teach Pete alternating nostril breathing.

Mom playing with the watoto.

At Via Via.

On Friday we enjoyed a day in Arusha. Ate at my favorite samosa and smoothie place and went to my favorite Maasai stores. Ended up with a bunch of cloth, Maasai blankets, jewelry and of course gifts.

We hung out at the center until Sunday when we left for our grand safari to Lake Manyara, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. We had the pleasure of traveling with two of my friends who work at the UAACC, Emanuel and Joe. They had fun teasing mom when she was scared about animals attacking us J. We had a great safari. Camped in the Serengeti. Saw the Big 5: buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and rhino. Also saw thousands of zebras and wildebeests. And hippos, giraffes, lots of cool birds and hundreds of baboons! Coolest parts for me were being 6 feet from 4 lions and at another point seeing a female lion take down a wildebeest.

Twigas! (Giraffes)

Male elephant. You can see why elephants (not lions) are called the kings of the jungle.

So many baboons!

Me and Mom at Lake Manyara.

Our first leopard siting on our first day in the Serengeti.


This lion just took down a wildebeest and is pausing as it drags the body to a safe place before it starts hunting again.


Only 6 feet from these lions with the window half down! (Mom did not like.)

My mom ended her trip with a nice going away party from the center before we headed back to Dar for her to catch her flight home. It was so good to see my mom after being away for 4 ½ months. So cool to get to share the UAACC with her and all the friends I made there. It was my last time at the center for this trip too. Hard to say bye but it’s really more like I’ll see you again asap. I’m praying that I can get funding to return to Tanzania next summer to conduct research. I am still enjoying eastern Africa though. Right now I am exploring Lusaka, Zambia and loving it. Tomorrow I head off to see Victoria Falls! I will update you on that soon. Peace and Love!


Whirlwind East African Travels

Sorry for the delay in posting. I have been traveling around East Africa for the past 3 weeks non-stop.

First stop was in Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania. Here I got to see the parliament building (but couldn’t take any pictures due to security restrictions). Dodoma was a very nice, small, walkable town. I met up with another California in Dodoma who had just finished a semester at the University of Dar Es Salaam.

From Dodoma we traveled to Kondoa, Tanzania. It is a VERY small town but has amazing rock paintings from 10,000 years ago. I still haven’t been able to fully comprehend that I saw and was at a ritual site of our ancestors.

Hiking up to the rock caves. Too heavy for the car so we are walking in front of it 🙂

Beautiful view from the rock caves.

One of the rock paintings.

Another rock painting.

Next we headed north to Mwanza, Tanzania to see Lake Victoria. They call Mwanza “Rock City” and it is a well deserved name. It was a very beautiful city overlooking the water and with lots of rocks. However, we quickly found out that Mwanza is also a city of hustlers. Everywhere we went people were trying to rip us off. Not like most places in Tanzania where the people are very friendly and helpful.

After Mwanza we made out first international jump into Uganda to visit its capital, Kampala. Enjoyed walking around the city, seeing the University of Kampala, the National History Museum and their Parliament building. Had my first experience on a boda boda (motorcycle), sitting sideways because I was in a skirt. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.From Kampala we traveled to Entebbe so we could fly to Nairobi. This allowed us to spend another evening on the banks of Lake Victoria.

Overlooking Lake Victoria

Beautiful sunset in Entebbe

In Nairobi we went to Jomo Kenyatta University and met my travel partner’s Swahili professor from Berkeley who is teaching a short course at the university. Very cool to meet him out her and have him explain some of the differences in Kenyan and Tanzanian Swahili.

View from our hotel in Nairobi

At the National Museum. Gourds from all over Kenya.

Elephant skull on display at the museum.

Snake park in Nairobi.

We left Nairobi early on Friday the 25th so that we could make it back to the UAACC for the African Liberation Day Celebration they had prepared. The students, Mama C and various artists from Arusha and Nairobi performed poetry, music and dance. There was even a fashion show.

Mama C speaking to the crowd and performing on the obokano about spreading peace and love.

Agape, one of the children at the center, who is an up and coming obokano star.

The next day we headed to Moshi to prepare for our climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro. We did a 5 day climb and reached the summit early on the 4th day. The climb was beautiful! On the first day we walked through a rainforest, second day moorland, third day alpine desert and finally the ice cap at the top on the fourth day. One of my favorite parts of the climb was walking in and with the clouds and then being above the clouds. I could look down and see windows in the clouds only to see another layer of clouds. It was a very spiritual experience. The climb was physically very challenging. I am just now recovering from the strain of the climb a week later!

Day 1 hiking, one crew member was with us carrying a large backpack and a bag on his head the whole way.

View while hiking on Day 2

Day 2, with the clouds

Horombo Huts

Zebra Rock on Day 3

Day 3, first clear view of the ice cap.

Day 4 Sunset on the summit

Day 4, view from the crater rim

My highest point (altitude sickness kept me from making it to Uhuru)

Day 5 getting sung to by the crew before we descended

Day 5, in the rainforest almost to the park gates

Now my mom is here in Tanzania and we are having a great time traveling together. I will update you on our travels soon.