Tuesday, December 27, 2011



Merry Christmas everyone!! The holidays are certainly not the easiest
part of our time here so far, but we’ve been enjoying ourselves.
Though when I think of my traditions at home- snow, cookies, packed
houses, Christmas trees- everything is pale in comparison, Christmas
here has been very special in a very different way. We have been very
blessed with a visitor, Ashley’s sister Chelsea, who has spoiled us
with many treats, traditions and reminders of home that have been good
medicine for the homesickness. We picked up Chelsea at the airport in
Dar es Salaam just as we were finishing up our month of traveling. The
trip was full of adventures and what better way to spending our
teaching break than experiencing new parts of the country and culture?
Here are a few of the highlights:

Sleeping in a thatched hut on the beach in Bagamoyo
Eating some great Indian food at a rooftop restaurant in Moshi
Swimming in the Indian Ocean at sunset next just feet away from the
Dhows in Bagamoyo
Making it to Irente viewpoint after an 8 hour hike in Lushoto,
Usambara Mountains
Trekking through the Magamba rainforest in Lushoto, Usamabara Mountains
Hanging out in coffee shops in Moshi, one of Tanzania’s main
coffee-growing regions
Eating Chipate, Avacado and bananas right next to a waterfall in
Soni village after the long walk from Lushoto
Playing cribbage on our balcony during a lightning storm in Moshi
Sharing a cold (!) iced tea across at Posta bus stop and people
watching in Dar es Salaam
Waking up to cleared clouds and a view of the snows of Kilimanjaro
from our room in Moshi
Making a day of getting lost in the narrow streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar
Feasting on seafood and Zanzibari pizza at the night market in
Forodhani Gardens, Zanzibar
Waking up everyday at 5:30 to the call to prayer from the Mosque
near our hostel in Lushoto
Watching locals harvest seaweed at low tide in Jambiani, Zanzibar
Reuniting in Malindi, Kenya with five Johnnie/BVC friends and one
new friend from Germany
Making and sharing an early Christmas dinner together in Malindi

This all might sound very glamorous and exotic but I assure you, most
of the time it was not. For every high point there was a low. It’s
also sweating constantly-even in your sleep, stolen shoes, bad hotels,
broken showers, disgustingly dirty clothes, lots of bug bites, getting
caught in some devastating floods in Dar and over 70 hours spent on
hot, dusty busses. Overall, travelling in Africa has been unlike
anything I’ve ever done. Amazing, but definitely not for the faint of

Needless to say, arriving back in Chipole with Chelsea was the best
Christmas present either Ashley or I could have ever received. It
feels more like home than ever and what an important feeling that is
this time of year. The sisters put on a play of bible stories on
Christmas Eve before mass and it was especially fun to see the ones we
know best put costumes on over their habits and get into character.
They even brought live bunnies into the church to make a more
life-like Garden of Eden. On Christmas morning, after Mass and
breakfast, the whole community gathered in the hallway to sing and
wish us and the other volunteers a Happy Christmas. The rest of the
morning Ash, Chels and I spent recreating a more familiar Christmas.
We opened letters and gifts Chels had brought from home, drank hot
chocolate, watched Christmas movies and ate candy until we were sick,
all in our room that we decked out in paper snowflakes and a paper
Christmas tree. My very favorite part of the day, though, was the
afternoon we spent at the orphanage. A man came from the village and
played guitar, the kids played drums and we all just danced. More than
a few of them fell asleep on the floor or in our arms, exhausted from
the dancing and excitement. It reminded me of my cousins at home, or
when I was little myself and would just crash at the end of the day.
Incredibly different lives, but in some ways, not so different.

Remember that song from White Christmas, “Count your Blessings”? Mine
feel endless this year. When I got to talk to my family at home- so
incredibly blessed. For Ash and Chels- blessed. For the Christmas we
had in Kenya and our friends there -blessed. For our family of
volunteers here-blessed.  For returning home safely from our
travels-blessed. And of course, for the community that I love that has
welcomed us back- I am so blessed.

1 comment:

  1. I love your posts Maggie. Keep them coming. Most of us will never get closer to some of the experiences you are having than through your words