July - August....The first 5 weeks of this term.

 At the Maasai beauty salon!
Since this term started every week has brought new visitors, many wonderful experiences, new friendships and many challenges.

* SEGA ran an IT/Mathematics seminar for SEGA/surrounding schools... x5 pm sessions.

Thanks heaps Geoff and Rachel for sharing your extensive knowledge and IT skills. We really appreciated your professionalism. 
Karibu tena...SEGA needs you!

* Introduced Peer support weekly teaching sessions. 
* Consecutive visits from Nurturing Minds Board members and their families and friends over a period of about 4 weeks. This was during their Summer break.
* Hosted many of my own friends during this time as well. Many of them had their holidays later than SEGA and are still on holidays. 
* Mentoring and guiding Kennedy Wilson, my predecessor in teaching Form 1 English. Such a young, enthusiastic and receptive young Tz man who is still waiting on his graduation results.
* Engaged  in our first Community Outreach activity. The Form 1 girls devoted almost a whole Saturday to visiting and sharing with their sisters and brothers in our nearby Orphanage. Two of our students live there so the experience was very powerful and rewarding. The beginning of many more to come.
* Salome got married and was absent for 1 week
* Polly was away in Ruaha NP then returned to rush a very sick John straight to Dar IST.......then eventually to Johannesburg hospital...and they are still there. She has been communicating long distance for many weeks so I have taken on a lot more than usual!
* Meshack (Physics/Maths) resigned and we are trying to find a replacement. Not yet successful and he leaves next week (2/9)! The Form 2 girls are worried as their National exams are not far away!
* Form 2 Field trip overnight to Tanga...I found myself back up north after having just visited there some weeks previously!
* Form 1 Field day trip to Dar. Early start and late finish....not good timing for me but a FRANTASTIC day. The girls loved both Field trips and have wonderful memories...and so do I!
* Video skyped my Mum on her 80th birthday and my Non Formal girls sang Happy Birthday and taught her some Kiswahili!! " Ninakupenda Mama temu." .....talked to Gemma, Evie, Laura for her birthday, video skyped Camilla with the Form 2 girls and there was tears all around when everyone saw each other again..... IT is frantastic when it works!!

These are just the main things but as usual, everyday brings it own delights or challenges....I never really know what's going to happen but that certainly makes for an interesting day!! The girls are just like sponges and everyday they make me happy in so many ways!

This week is the first time in 5 weeks that I have had an empty house..... I love a bustling house but now I need time out to regenerate before the next visitors next week.  I am going to Mpwapwa this coming weekend for our VSO Regional Volunteers meeting. They are always good fun socially and for networking. 

I will add many pictures in the next few blogs to share these wonderful weeks but at the moment it's.....Yes, you guessed it....hamna umeme tena.... and Kelly's battery is about to die! I have so much to show and tell!
Josephine and I in the Amboni Caves neat Tanga.
In the museum with some of the very excited Form 1 girls.
Yes it's me!!
Kwa heri until next time.

Peponi to Pangani then to Zanzibar by dhow.

Having left Peponi Beach at 6am we arrived at Pangani to be greeted by a calm ocean. We were happy! We had decided to make our way to Zanzibar by dhow. Fortunately we shared with two others whom we had met at the resort. Originally we had wanted to cross to Pemba then make our way down to the main island of Zanzibar, Unguja however, time wasn't on our side, so we found ourselves in this dhow which was powered by a small motor....Definitely an experience I will always remember.

Our two anxious travellers had dosed themselves with sea sickness meds to prevent the nausea but unfortunately it eventually made them very sleepy. Phyl and I happily took on the ocean which became quite lumpy the further we travelled.
The day broke with a magnificent sunrise....AWESOME!
Me in my element....absolutely loving the whole experience....lumps and all!!!
We were half way between the mainland and Zanzibar with only water on view as far as the eye could see!!

A lucky catch on the line the boys had trailed behind us!

 ....and so the dhow journey ended as we neared Nungwi...which we had been led to believe was going to be Kendwa. Hamna shida...We caught a taxi the few kms south and settled into the very comfortable Kendwa Rocks resort.
 We spent two whole days lazing right here...relax, read, swim, eat, drink, repeat!

Another perfect sunset and a perfect finish to my holidays!
Thanks Phyl and all my friends for sharing and making it so special.
(PS...on my return trip to Dar all the other passengers were terribly seasick...I was just okay and arrived after dark in Dar a bit seedy. The taxi dropped me at Hanna's, my hair still full of salt from my earlier swim, only to be thrown a dress to wear and pushed into a taxi to join the others at a fellow VSO's wedding!!!
I did really try to say "NO"!! ...but....we had heaps of fun!!)

2 - 6 July Marangu, Tanga, Peponi Beach Resort.

We kicked up our heels on Friday night with TFFT team  at the Soccer club/Coffee plantation. In a spacious, secluded and very decadent setting we shared birthday drinks and food to celebrate both Adam and Uswegi's birthdays. Before we left Arusha we spent time catching up with VSO Arusha vols (Health) Barbara and Peter, and unexpectedly, Anthea and her friend Paul,who were returning from Serengeti. Having farewelled Anthea in Zanzibar before I went to Same, I didn't think I would see her again but, luck was in, and we shared a fun afternoon  with everyone together!
Early Sunday we set off to Marangu past Moshi. 
We had no real concept or understanding of where we actually were as we hadn't done our homework properly. Instead I had only received directions from Suzanna and John telling us how to get to them. On the dala dala we were told that Marangu is only 6 kms from the gate. In our ignorance, we asked "Which gate?" mmmmmmm....Silly wazungu! The gate at the start of the Marangu route to climb Kilimanjaro!!! It is rare for Kili to unveil her mountain as the clouds shroud her the majority of the time. This day was not different and, as we hadn't really orientated ourselves, we weren't aware that the climb we were on was actually the base of Kili!!! Once we had been enlightened....we became acutely aware of its beauty and imposing aura! It just took us time to slow down and really smell the roses!! We were so excited by the time we arrived at the Marangu Hotel where we shared a pleasant Sunday afternoon with two dear VSO friends. 
John & Suzanna Egan. Irish VSO vols Marangu (Education) enjoying a pleasant Sunday afternoon at the base of Kilimanjaro.

 Sundowners on the balcony watching the eagle fly in to feed her babies.

 ....and yet another feast....Thanks Suzanna and John for your wonderful hospitality. Instead of staying only one night....next time I will stay and explore your beautiful part of Tz.
 We caught the bus to Tanga, a 5 hour journey. Walked the town, made our way down to the beach, but returned to our humble little guest house, Ocean Breeze, as it was the only place we could find open to get a feed and a drink! Breakfast nest morning was across the road at the local market. We enjoyed freshly cooked chapati, egg and hot sweet chai before enduring the rugged trip down towards Pangani where we had booked two nights at Peponi Beach Resort.  a near perfect setting to chill, read, walk the pristine beach, relax, watch the daily routine of the locals and recharge our batteries!!

28-30 June. The journey from Same to Arusha. Our Maasai experience.

Mama John's family and her neighbors who came to meet us
Mama Kuku was one of our sawadi/gifts from Mama John. She tried to escape several times...imagine me running down the road trying to retrieve her and deal with burly men fixing the car and all the traffic....!!! However we grew to really like her and she kindly laid us a parting gift of a fresh brown egg as we handed her over to Susan's needy friends in Usa River near Arusha. Hopefully she will lay many eggs for them too...and not become their Sunday lunch!
When we were trying hared to get Susan on a bus from Same to Morogoro, I tried to lock the car and broke the key in the door!! We had an eventful day..... this was only one of the many challenges we encountered!
We finally found a mechanic who fashioned a key from a lump of steel he found in his tool box. Using his basic tools and nearly 2 hours later, he created a key which actually started the car but...wouldn't lock the doors. so I had to drive the car all the way to Arusha instead of staying in Moshi as we had originally planned. Meanwhile Susan's helpful man couldn't get her on a bus so she ended up coming to Arusha with us. In Moshi my door flew wide open.... I was so lucky that one of the 100's of cars usually rushing past chose that moment not to be near me! 
......I also learned that the electricity had been off for nearly a week at  my home in Moro!!! AGAIN my freezer was combusting!! Polly to the rescue as her house-girl, Loveness was getting married and Polly wanted to share the 25 people staying in her house for the weekend!!! (With umeme back on, my house filled with Loveness' family for the weekend .....and the fridge was back on!.... )
Finally in Arusha we met John who had a spare key; bought Susan's ticket to Dodoma ...leaving at 4.30am the next day; settled ourselves into nice little guest house; then found a bar to enjoy a well earned sundowner of a nice red wine, much needed food and laughed the night away as we recounted all the funny little things that had happened to us that day!
Next day we caught a taxi to Melissa's house where Bebe Ester, North and Melissa (TFFT) were excitedly waiting for us! It was great to see them all again.We made a quick visit to The Foundation For Tomorrow's office, met the whole team, and had Adam organise us an overnight visit to his Maasai  friends'  boma/village the following day. Before the day ended, Phyl and I had shopped happily at the Maasai market and relaxed over lunch with Melissa in the tranquil gardens of The Blue Heron restaurant. We were very happy to find a really nice red wine and pizza just like the ones I love so much at Lunicos back home in Trinity Beach!!
Our Maasai experience.
We left Arusha very excited and not really knowing what our experience was going to bring! We had been given permission to witness the sacred ceremony which celebrates the Circumcision ritual held only every 4 years! Last time Wazungus had asked permission they were refused. Knowing this we felt very privileged as the day unfolded and we were almost ignored. We were so grateful not to be treated as tourists and consequently, to witness this ceremony in its rawness and natural setting. The four,16 year old boys had been circumcised early that morning and were not allowed to (and most likely didn't feel like wanting to...)
join the huge gathering of the Maasai people from the local bomas until the following day. We were very lucky to be allowed to meet and speak with the boys in their boma, very late that day.

Two cows and three goats had been slaughtered for the celebration. The usual diet of the Maasai people consists of milk and cows' blood. It is carefully drained from the neck of the cows and apparently doesn't affect the animal. Their cows are sacred and are an indication of the wealth of the Boma.

When one is slaughtered, every part of the cow is used, with designated parts used during specific times of the celebrations. When we arrived we spent time around the cooking of the nyama/meat.I the picture above, a small section of the breast of the cow is displayed and is carried by the head male during one of the ritual dances.
 Loshiro, our guide is slicing some nyama for me to eat....they were so anxious to eat the meat that it was still quite raw!! "Oh well....when with the Maasai....do what the Maasai do!"
 Preparation took a lot of time and energy. The men painted their symbols and the women preened themselves in all their jewelery. The more important you are the more adorned you were expected to be (and could probably afford to be!!)
 The little children flew around everywhere trying to take everything in. These little ones are unadorned as it is their first ceremony. They were intrigued with Phyl and I and it took most of them a long time to actually be brave enough to come near us but.....when they overcame their fear.....we had a challenging time keeping them away!
 One fun activity had the women trying to steal the stick of meat from the men. It was stuck in the ground between the two groups waiting about 50 metres apart from each other. They gradually moved closer until one of the quick brave women dashed and stole! There was whooping, laughter, chasing, laughter, incessant chatter and bantering!!! Dust rose and settled as the numbers swelled and more and more beautifully adorned women arrived and joined in.
The Maasai women move their upper bodies and roll their shoulders rhythmically in their dances which causes their neck adornments to wave in time with their gentle movements. It is mesmerising, beautiful and very typical.

 Phyl being incognito....we really were able to watch and not feel like we were intruding or that they were putting on a show for us. This was what made it so fascinating and enjoyable.
Phyl and I surrounded by Loshiro, who is a member of this boma and works for Bariki, Adam's friend, and his mates.

 The traditional Maasai jump is seen in this picture. These two men had been jumping VERY high continuously for a long time....my legs were hurting in sympathy!  It was incredible how long they could sustain this. During this celebration, the young women were dancing to the men....it seemed like a selection ritual where the men would respond if they were interested and liked who he saw! Interesting! The younger girls sang and looked on in awe of their older sisters.

 The elders waiting for the cows and goats to be herded into the central chorale of the Boma. The animals are housed in here at night to ensure they are safe and not eaten by hungry predators. the village is built around the chorale. Most of the dancing rituals during the day had taken place within this central chorale. hanging on the thorny fence is the plant used to make their pombe/alcohol which was consumed freely by the elders throughout the ceremony. Alcohol had been brought in for the celebration but the few men who were obviously affected by their consumption were watched carefully by their peers and gently removed from any potentially embarrassing situations.
 The women were in charge of herding the animals. The more important you are the greater responsibility you had. Here you see the beautiful women in the refinery, amongst the dust, dirt and bustle of herding. Not something you would see back home!!

 As the day moved into night and the celebrations came to an end, we were treated to a spectacular sunset. The visitors slowly melted into the night as they returned to their own cattle and bomas. However, just like any celebration I've been to, the stayers, stayed on and partied all night. They jumped and sang their way into the wee hours of the next morning. Phyl and I had been treated to mazewa joto chai/warm milk tea and wali & nyama/rice and meat for Chukula za jioni/dinner before we stood in almost total darkness and admired the star filled sky and our beloved Southern Cross twinkling above us. We crawled into our tent, wrapped ourselves in our Maasai shukas/blankets and drifted into a fitful sleep...our ears filled with the comforting chanting of these unique people as they continued to peacefully celebrate.
The families of the young boys, having offered the beast for slaughter, were busily preparing the skins of the animals to be tanned and used as bedding. all pieces were stretched and allowed to dry. It reminded of my childhood days at home on the farm when we would tan the sheep and rabbit skins. It is a long process but so rewarding!

 Enjoying the local pombe....the morning after!!
 They had really warmed to us by the following morning and we had many people wanting to greet us and of course....have their pictures take with us

And so the day continued as usual. The cows were taken out by the young boys and walked slowly10-15 kms to get to the nearest watering hole. They are shepherded and graze on whatever little vegetation they can find to be returned again on sunset and herded into the chorale for the night.
Returning to Arusha, we detoured to visit Loshiro's sister and the Boma in which she lives. The husband has 3 wives. Two wives have 7 children each and Loshiro's sister has 4. She is sitting with one of her children and another woman's child. We gave them the fruit we had and they devoured it quickly. Children came from everywhere...hesitant because we were there, but hungry and eager to eat! The dust, flies, lethargy and poverty were overwhelming.
We returned to Arusha, and headed for the comfort of The Blue Heron to reflect and try and absorb all we had experienced over another glass of that really nice red wine and, of course, we had to do pizza again!!!