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Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Final Goodbye.

My friends…it has taken me ALL summer to post this, but I am home from my adventure in Alaska and have time to breathe. When I got home from Africa I hit the ground running. I had two weeks to unpack from Africa, and repack for Alaska (talk about extreme temperature and clothing change!) and visit all the friends and family I could before I was off for another 5 months of work in Alaska. But I am back now from that craziness and I am finally had the time to write and summarize how Africa really impacted and changed my life. 

When I first arrived, I didn’t think I was going to make it. Everything was different…and I mean everything.  But, I saw this as a challenge to get out of my comfort zone and experience something new. And experience new things I did! I experienced things anywhere from showering while on a train across Tanzania, to changing a screaming child’s diaper WHILE the other child is screaming from the bathroom to come wipe her bottom. (TMI I know….but I had to share the extremes with you!) These kinds of lessons brought me to be a better, patient, and grateful person.  I didn’t know really what to expect in moving to a Africa, I was just ready for it all. I am really glad that I came over with that attitude because when things happened or went wrong, or etc…I was like.. “Ok, this is how it is, go with the flow”. I think if I had come with any sort of expectation, I would have gone nuts!

Not only did living in a third world African country challenge me,  but living with a family and their kids was a lesson I was not ready for in the least. I have lived with parts of my family before, but never in this close proximity. I mean we ate, slept, and breathed together all day everyday, and on top of this, there were 2 small children under the age of 3, so you know it got cray cray at times! But it was not the living so close part that got me, but the learning who these people are that got me. I have never lived in the same town as my cousin, and the only place I really saw her was at family reunions…so needless to say we did not really know each other that well. As I lived in her home and helped with her kids, I really got to know her and come to love her in a way that I couldn’t have with out moving over there. I have looked up to Betsy since I was a little kid. She was always the cool, fun, fashionable cousin. I remember thinking, man if only I could be as pretty as Betsy, or as cool as Betsy etc etc…I wanted to BE her. So when I had the chance to live with her and spend some quality time with her and her husband and kids, I was ecstatic. I was so excited to be able to hang out with her! But the thing is, I didn’t really know her, and she didn’t really know me, so the adjustment period for us living took a little longer than expected. Betsy and I are very different people. We have very different personality’s as well as ways of thinking and communicating.  I figured this out as we lived together for 4 months, but boy once we found our groove and figured out how each other worked and thought, we became the best of friends.  I love Betsy dearly and getting to know her has been such a amazing thing. I truly believe we became more than just family, but we became good friends. I find myself wanting to call her and tell her things, or get advice, or say a inside joke to her that we had while I was in Africa, its like she became one of my best girls! We are so different in many ways, but I love that about our friendship. I still look up to her in the same way I did as a child, but I feel blessed that we had the opportunity to become more than just family, but friends.

I loved getting to know this precious little face. I spent a lot of quality time with Ellis and I am so thankful I did. We became just two peas in a pod. She has the most amazing personality and is sharp as a tack! It scares me how smart this child is! We bonded and we fought, laughed and played. It was so hard to say goodbye to that sweet little thing. I cried when she didn’t want me to leave! How could you not!?? 

And then there was Hank he has to be the most chill, easy and calm baby I have ever seen!! Im guessing his sister got all the energy in the family, but this kid was great! He will most likely not remember me, or my time there, but I will never forget. He is going to be such a heart breaker like his daddy. I cant wait to see what kind of amazing man he will turn out to be! If he is anything like his father, I know he will make it in the world and will go far! 

And I cant leave out Coach! He is the family dog..and the coolest dog I have ever seen. I just love that dog!! He was my buddy. He followed me around everywhere I went and would lick me like crazy! I think it was because he truly loved me, or it may have been the fact I dropped crumbs a lot and threw the ball with him. One will never know ;)

Right before I walked out the door for the last time...Tears soon followed.
When I had to say my final goodbye, I balled my eyes out when I left the house and then again sitting at the airport, and then again when I was flying away. I was so overwhelmed with what I had learned about myself, Betsy, kids, living in a third world country that I could not contain my emotions. I hardly ever cry when I leave places, but this was such a incredible time for me, that the water works would just not shut off. To this day I will still go back to that moment when I was taking off in the plane and I couldn’t stop crying…all the good, bad, ugly, fun, sad, memories were overflowing in my tears. This was the hardest place I have ever had to leave.  I still get teary eyed because of what a incredible experience it was for me.

I owe these amazing experiences to Betsy and Joe.  Thank yall for everything you did for me, and even for the things and lessons you had no idea you did and taught me. I learned so much from you two, and I will never ever forget my time with yall. Yall are an amazing couple whom I look up to.

Thanks for the memories.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Easter and Safari

HAPPY EASTER!! Well ok, its a few weeks late, but it still counts. My Aunt Sylvia and Uncle David came to Africa for a visit! It was so nice to spend some quality time with them J Its their daughter that I am living with so it was neat to for them to come over and spend Easter with their grand kids all the way in Africa. (Now if you are confused of this family situation, so was my 3 year old cousin…I am living with my moms, brothers daughter, who is my first cousin, her daughter is Ellis and is my second cousin which makes my Uncle David, Ellis granddaddy. Make since?? It’s ok if not.) ANYWAYS…we got spend Easter together! We went to church came home and had Easter lunch, and then had an Easter egg hunt. It was so much fun, Here are some pictures of the afternoon. 

Since our house keeper had 4 days off, we got put to work cleaning.

My last week in Africa I went on a Safari to Lake Manrya, the Serengeti, and the Ngorogoro Crater. It was WONDRFUL! It was just my Aunt and Uncle and myself who went on the Safari, we left the kids and parents at home for the week. It was probably for the best too because it would have been ruff for a 3 year old, shoot it was rough on a 25 year old!! It was a ton of driving, on horrible roads and a lot of sitting. It was quite enjoyable, but after about 3 day I was done with Africa and its roads J
The roads...with monkeys
My uncle and I on Safari!

The first place on our Safari was Lake Manyra. It is just this giant lake in the middle of Africa and all the animals stay there and never leave because they have a constant water source. We saw like a billion animals on the first day! It was a nice way to start out trip!

The thing to do when you go on a Safari in Africa is to stay in a tented camp. In my mind I was thinking Ok, tented camp…like what I slept in for Kilimanjaro, or what you would sleep in when you go camping right? Wrong. This is the “tented camp” we stayed at.  I could get used to this kind of camping.

The second day we drove about 6 hours to the Serengeti. Along the way to there we passed through the Ngorogoro Conservation Park. This is the where a lot of the Masai people live. They are the only people allowed to live in this area and still hunt in this area. They are a fascinating people and culture. They really don’t like you do take their picture, so this is one that I got as we drove by slowly J

we also passed lots of Giraffes. These were prob by far my favorite animal to see. They were so graceful and just amazing to look at! About 100 of my pictures from my safari are of giraffes…my bad.

Look at the horizon, there are 6 giraffes standing out there. Amazing.

These next few pictures are from the trip in to the Serengeti. It was just so vast and you could see for miles. These pictures do not even do it justice.

The Serengeti. 
While we were in the Serengeti we had the chance to see something that very few people get to see with their own eyes. If you have seen the Lion King, then you know what this is, but it was INCREDIBLE to see and hear right in front of me. It was the Wildebeest Migration. This only happens twice a year, and over 50,000 wildebeests migrate from Tanzania to Kenya. It is amazing.


The Serengeti, its what everyone thinks of when you think of a African safari, and I am here to tell you that it is exactly what you have dreamed of. It is incredible!! But I am also here to tell you that it is not the end all be all place to go for a safari. There is another place that I think it 10 times better than the Serengeti, but it is not as famous, it’s like Africa’s hidden gem. It is not really hidden, but people in America do not really hear about it as much, it is the Ngorogoro Crater. It is a volcano that collapsed on itself 100s of years ago and created this large crater. Since then animals have became inhabitants of this crater and they have never left. Granted, they can’t really leave because they can’t get out, but why would they want to, they have everything they need in this MASSIVE crater! The pictures of this thing do not do it justice. So, if you ever decided to go to Africa and do a safari, yes go to the Serengeti because it’s the Serengeti, but make sure you include the Ngorogoro Crater!

Looking down into the crater

Two female lions and one male lion chilling in the sun

these things are scary and ugly.

Those are Warthogs

A cheetah in the wild hunting! We didnt see it kill though :(

These my friends, are Rhinos. They are very rare to see!

Hippos! One of the most dangerous animals in the wild.

Over all the Safari was incredible. I am so glad that I did it. I could not leave Africa with out going on one! I would have to say that my African experience has been one of the most incredible things I have ever done. I still cant believe I have gotten to do some of the things that I have done. People tell me that they are jealous of my life, and my response to them is, I am jealous of my own life! I cant believe that I get to do this! I am very blessed. 

I only have a two more blogs left because I leaving Africa. It is a very bittersweet ending.

Until Then, Siku Njema.