Wednesday, September 29, 2010


It's kwaheri time - time to say good by. Yesterday I went out to a little town to visit an orphanage which in this case was a small home with 5 beautiful children - two twins - one HIV positive whose mama died of AIDS at age 26. We painted and we all had a grand time.

Our lodging here for the past 3 days has been tough - electricity and water come and go. Last night Nick went to shower before checking the water, so I here a shout - Mary, Mary, where's the water. In a minute the helper brings a bucket of water. 'Here Nick, I say, is your water!" and this morning I went to rinse my face - still no water, so I got my bottle of water and washed up - no problem - "Hacuna Matata!"

Now I will go to pick up Mary Ann, come back here, spend the day the off to the airport and then HOME! I love you all and hope to see you soon. Thanks for traveling with us.



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

West Kilimanjaro and WEECE

Hi Everyone,
This is Mary Ann, checking in from Moshi, where I am staying at Bristol Cottages for three nights on my own while visiting WEECE and catching up with Mama Mrema and the projects they are pursuing. We all arrived here yesterday from our weekend at Kambi ya Tembo lodge and nature conservancy in the West Kilimanjaro region. We stayed there in tents -- rather luxurious, actually, with chairs on our "patio" looking toward Mount Kilimanjaro. Saturday, the first day we arrived, we and some other guests were invited to the nearby Maasai village, where they were holding a celebration of the fact that several young men (15-16 years of age) had been circumcised that day. A lot of dancing and singing going on, and a very friendly Maasai guide, Lucas, explained everything to us and encouraged us to take pictures. The homes whose young son had been circumcised that day were marked with a small tree coming out of the roof -- I got to go into one of the homes and was told the son was lying just over here, but to tell you the truth I couldn't see a thing except a tiny little window through which came a sliver of light. It was our first experience this trip in a Maasai village where people were so welcoming to mazungi -- white people -- and it was nice.
Not a lot of big game in the nature conservancy -- it is just being established, and the giraffes, zebras and elephants that we saw were skiterish -- but we got our bones rearranged on the bumpiest, dustiest roads of the trip so far, and the hospitality and food were fantastic. Sunday we did an early game drive - 6 am - and returned around 11 for brunch, and then we just relaxed at home base for the rest of the day. Monday we said kwaheri and came to Moshi, had lunch and then Mary and Nick took off with Muba, our driver, to Arusha, to stay with our friends Donna and Nas (assuming their electricity and water has been turned on -- when we come in on Friday from Tanzania, we were put up in the Arusha Hotel because it had been off for three days) while I met Mama Mrema and spent the afternoon at WEECE meeting the students of the vocational program she's started there -- these are her "children," 14-23-year olds who couldn't afford secondary school and to whom she and the staff are teaching sewing, computer skills, English, mathematics, geography and what we would call home ec -- cooking, baking and the like. Mama came to my hotel to join me for a loooooong dinner, and just as she was saying goodnight and getting into the cab to go to her home, poof! the electricity went out. So I was escorted to my room by candlelight and went to bed.
Today, Mama came here with a driver and Dr. Goodlove Kessy, a GP from the local hospital which was started by the father of Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea) who came along for the day to see everything and be my translator. Nice man. We went to the very rural village of Nganjoni, where we visited an irrigation project funded by Pangea, a small philanthropic group in Seattle. They have engineered a way to divert water from a river coming down the mountain and have built a cement channel of about 500 meters, from which local families take water to irrigate the crops that Pangea money supported education so they could learn how to do. That's a terrible sentence, but it's been a long day. It was very impressive, as were the gardens the people have wrestled from the brush under banana trees and in open fields -- I saw tomatoes, beans, peppers, onions and cucumbers being grown. This feeds the families and gives them something to take to market and sell. onions can be grown every three months, so it is very helpful to the people. They hope to make the channel 6000 metres long, if they get the money. We visited the primary school as well -- 12 classrooms of seven grades -- and sat and talked with the teachers there for a while. Then we went to meet the members of the VICOBA -- the village cooperative bank. That was a trip and a half. The women (and the chairman of the village, one of several men members) greeted us, served us lunch, and then opened the bank to receive funds from the women who are contributing and paying back loans. The bank is a metal box with three padlocks -- each held in the hands of a different woman between meetings. Everything is totally transparent -- the money is brought, held up and announced and recorded by two different people. I was very impressed. Well, if Mina is reading this, she will appreciate that I probably duplicated her record; we left the hotel at 9:30 this morning, arrived back here at 4:30 and I did not go the bathroom once during the day -- nor was I offered the opportunity, I must say. We were so tired driving back to town that dear Dr. Kessy fell asleep and laid his head on my shoulder, and I felt very privileged to support him for the ride.
Now I have washed off layers and layers of dirt from my feet (I can attest to the strength of my good Mephisto sandals, now on their second African trip) and written this, so I will settle down for a glass of wine and some relaxation and then dinner by myself or with one of the other lovely people staying here. I had breakfast this morning with an engineering professor from Toronto who is here consulting with vocational colleges, and that was fascinating. Tomorrow we go to a Maasai village and talk about how to support the projects further.
Life is good, and I am well. Love to everyone, Mary Ann


Hi Friends,

We near our journey's end and Mary Ann and I separated yesterday - well not in the sense of divorce! She is visiting the women's projects in Moshe and I am here in Arusha visiting schools and see in the projects I have been connected and staying with our friends - Donna, Nas and little Rami - age 4 years. HE speaks fluent English and Swahili. He sparkles and shines.

Today I drove for two hours into a village called Ilkurot - which means dusty land. Wind sweps the dust all about into your eyes, ears and nose and any other orifice it can find. My driver and I visited the school, largely supported by Maasai Wanderings. Classrooms are open windowed rooms with ceilings in disrepair. desks are simply. benches with 4 students to a bench and, I kid you not about 180 students in a classroom because of lack of space and teachers - often a teacher goes from room to room while one group does a written assignment and the students behave! The teacher's salary is 4 hundred dollars a month. An irony about all of this is that the country of Tanzania is building more schools without enough teachers to staff them. Can you imagine a classroom of 5 -10 year olds of 150 children with one teacher and a helper. I had a good conversation with the preschool teacher and she loves what she does! That's nice.

And out side of Donna's house my brother sits and somehow chats with the guys coming and going from Safaris as a Singer sewing machine whirs behind while a beautiful man with one leg makes nets for babies. This is a different life and I am touched by the human kindness of it all.

Tomorrow I will visit an orphanage and paint with the children. I Hope to catch you all tomorrow. And If Mary Ann does not find a computer, I send love for her too.

Dada Mary and Mary Ann

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ngalawa Beach Village

Whew! Day before yesterday we took a small plane from Arusha out to the coast and across a bit of the Indian Ocean to the island of Zanzibar. There we were met by a guide and walked through Stone Town, the oldest part of Zanzibar town. It is like the old movies, Nick says -- "Come wiz me to the Cazbah!" A warrent of streets going this way and that, with women in the long robes (90% of the people here are Muslim) and veils. And of course, we had to find our way to the best coffee house in town - the Zanzibar Coffee House, where we had cappucinos made by the champion barista of Africa, or so we were told. Then a turn through the market (fish crawling with flies, and a large octopus lying on the floor in the midst of everyone; newly plucked fresh chickens lying in the sunshine) Then on to Ngalawa Beach Village, where we are hosted by an Indian man and a Canadian wife. After days of breathing, eating and being coated in dust, it is absolutely Eden to be here with fresh breezes, great showers and truly five star gourmet meals. Joanne is a chef and has trained her Indian and African chefs marvelously, Each day they plan the day's menus together, and they are extraordinary. We are on a beach where the nearby natives live on fishing. Each morning we get to watch the boats go out at sunrise -- dawls, we think they're called, with one small sail and mainly dugouts. Sometimes we see the women walk into the bay to collect seaweed, which they bring into the village and dry on ropes and then sell for food. Meanwhile, we are here, resting by the pool, having great massages by Neema (our second, Nick's first today) and planning for the rest of our stay. Mary and Mary Ann have learned to play bao, the African game of moving stones or seeds from cup to cup trying to take each other's away. We have enjoyed the other guests's stories too. Two women from Vancouver BC are here resting from their climb with seven others to the top of Kilimanjaro. The group raised $150,000 to support Altzeimers (sp?) research -- one of our new friend's mothers died of it two years ago. We've also learned a lot of Zanzibar history from conversations with Sadru, our host, who, while Indian, was born here 62 years ago. He left with his family when the revolution overtook Zanzibar with he was a teen ager -- the revolution was the black people turning to Communism and taking over from the British, and he would say that Zanzibar has been much the worse for that. Nonetheless, some six years ago, he wanted to return and he has helped two different resorts get back on their feet before building this small Eden with his wife Joanne. If you'd like to have a look at this beautiful spot, visit

Nick says to tell Nicolle he likes the porches in Tanzania better than his one at home. They are great places to sit, although yesterday Mary and Mary Ann took to a couple of chairs under a tree where we could catch the sea breeze and read our books

Monday, September 20, 2010


Hi Everyone from Arusha. We ended our safari travels yesterday, and what a safari it was! We spent our last day in the Ngorongoro Crater looking for a black rhino, which we think was the ONLY big animal that we never saw. Highlights of the day were bird watching all the way down into the crater (called a caldera for those of you who are perfectionists) and then following lions and finally getting the MGM yawning lion photo andwatching the ostrich mating dance and culmination. Quite a sight! Yesterday we left Nick at the Tloma Lodge -- great oasis, with lovely gardens and a coffee plantation on the grounds -- and went off for a walk about in thecountry with an Iraqi tribe member, Paoulo. He walked us through part of his village, so we saw brick making, cooking, clothes washing, and into the agricultural lands -- beautiful red earth countryside -- and gave us fresh green peas right off the vine to eat. It being Sunday and hebeing a Pentacostal, we were in for a treat: church service. Singing, dancing, praying, a lesson on spacing children because if you have too many one right after the other how can you get them all to church. A little child walked up to us, turned her back to Mary and pushed herself tobe picked up, so Mary held her for most of the time. The singing voices were fabulous -- beautiful harmony and a lot of swaying to and fro, drums. And then, we were called to the front and introduced for the second time by Paulo, who explained we were from the country of Baba Obama (they clapped) and that we had left Mary's brother back at the lodge to rest because he was tired. Then they asked us to kneel and the very tall pastor in white suit laid his hands on both our heads and he prayed and shouted and everyone else prayed and shouted while he pushed so hard on our heads we thought we might fall over. The one part we understood was that he shouted to the devil to leave us at once. It was really something. After about an hour and a half we whispered to Paulo that Mary's brother would be worrying about us -- we had said we'd be back to get him about 12:30 when we left with David, our guide. So Paulo explained we needed to leave, and we then went back to his house where his wife, Paulina and children served us chai tea and beans and rice and entertained us with a tribal song and another Cristian song while Paulo played on a gourd violin he'd made and the son played drum. It was 2:00 when we got back to Nick (Nickie as everyone fondly calls him now). African time. . . . We ended the day with a quick visit to one of the Maasai villages and saw the school and the kitchen that Mary has helped build.
Today Donna picked us up at 10:00 and took us to her house where we met Abidi, a 26 year old African artist who taught us the process of painting in the TingaTinga style. It was really fun. We sat outside and painted and visited with Abidi all day. Five hours later we've each finished a TingaTinga piece of "art," Mary Ann making a giraffe and Mary a zebra. We're back at our lodge and our stilted bungalow to take a breather and get ready tofly out to Zanzibar tomorrow morning. At one point toward the end of the safari, we felt a little like we were on the Batan march -- so much to see, and at such a pace. But all is well and we shall relax and swim and maybe even write something in our journals in the next three days! Love to everyone, Mary and Mary Ann

Friday, September 17, 2010

Finally, a computer!

Hi Everyone.
We're sitting on top of the Ngorongora Crater, which is really a caldera, having had a bowl of soup because we are still rocking and rolling from four days in the safari car. We spent two nights in Arusha in stilted bungalows, catching our breaths from the trip (30 hours between beds, we figure)and connecting with Donna and her family. Then, with Donna's parents from Australia, we went out on safari with the most fabulous guide/driver, David, whom we fondly call Sir David. Two nights in Tangarie National Park, where we dined in an outdoor open tent with zebra wandering past and had a marvelous walk out to Lake Manayara, where flocks of flamingos stood with a ton of other water birds as the sun set made the lake just shimmer. Birdie, we are getting lots of bird ID's -- I think 80 species so far and still counting. Next we drove into the Serengetti and up to the north to a tented "luxury" camp owned by Donna's company, Maasai Wanderings. Imagine 13 lions visiting the camp between the time we arrived after a long game drive yesterday and dinner! We can testify to the fact that female lions roar, and loudly. Last night Mary woke to the return of at least some of the lions while MA rolled over and mumbled, "That's what we have guards for." Highlights of this part of the trip were the wildebeest migration -- we drove through flocks of hundreds and watched maybe a thousand getting ready to cross a river, hoping to see the actual crossing. We had seen a crossing of maybe fifty earlier -- they walk into the water and then just plunge with great leaps and start swimming. At the river we probably saw 15-20 hippos -- yawning with their babies in the sun, and the biggest crockadile we ever hope to see. The wild life is fantastic, and David is a great spotter. We've seen several prides of lions, including one eating a fresh kill this morning -- this about 15 feet away from where David moved the safari car. Grandpa Nick said to tell the children we saw lions eating breakfast. He also said, Nicolle, that he's having the time of his life and he's only sorry now that at the Sopa Ngorongora Lodge he's in the greatest room he's ever had and he's alone. We told him he could have brought Mercy along, from the last camp, who fell in love with him. She was the manager of the camp and took especially great care of him, walking him back to his tent after dinners and bringing him warm water whenever he wanted to shave or wash up. We're really grateful tonight to be in a rather luxury place after four nights of camping in the wild. Today we saw our very first chetah -- the shy little animal we'd never seen before. Mary rented a huge lens from Maasai Wanderings, and I think we'll be processing gorgeous photos for the rest of our days. Mary Ann's been documenting the trip on our new little Sony Camcorder and "composing" a piece to accompany it while riding across the Serenget, which means "everlasting plains" in Kiswahili. Operative words for these days are "pole, pole, omnashida and hacuna matata" which basically mean "take your time go slowly, no problem" in Kiswahili. Love to everyone, M and MA

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Oh My The TIme Has Come!

Oh yes, two more days and off we go to Africa! Brother Nick arrives and thursday and on Friday we fly up, up and away. We are packing furiously and asking each other - "Shall I take this?"

Thanks for joining us on this trip,

Mary and Mary Ann

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Planning Our Trip

Dear Friends,

We are getting so excited and at the same time challenged. "What can I fit in my suitcase that is light and won't get the animals excited?" we ask ourselves.

Please follow us on our journey to Tanzania - Serengeti, the Ngoragora Crater, Zanzibar, the Maasai Village and last but not least WEECE, the Majengo Clinic and the Esahalie preschool to reconnect with our volunteer work of We 5 years ago.

We leave on September 10th and will return on October 1st. Thanks for traveling along with us. We'll post as and when we can as we go along.

Mary and Mary Ann