Before I forget, roughly two weeks ago, we were in Tanzania

More to come about the Hayduke preparations and the journey itself (which starts… oh in about 11 hours). But two weeks ago, Gabriel and I were on route home from three weeks traveling around Tanzania. (It’s been quite an amazing first month of sabbatical.)

We primarily went to Tanzania to see Sarah and get to know the place and community she’s called home the last six years. But since we were in country, why not take in some of the sights? So we did.

As I often find, I go into trips dreaming of mountains, landscapes, animals, wanting to understand the natural history of a place. And this aspect of travel and journey is always satisfying. What surprises me (every time) is that I find the interactions with the people I meet to make for the most powerful impressions. Our guides and climbing team for Kilimanjaro. Suave street artists selling paintings and carvings.  Sarah’s friends. Mounds of millet drying in fields next to houses in years long phases of completion. The glimpse into village life as we drove from JRO to Moshi and Musoma to Mwanza. These experiences of meeting people, deepening connections, and understanding are strong in mind. 

It’s more complex to find the the words to describe such significance to me. When someone asks, how was your trip and I only have 30 seconds to share a snippet about recent travels, I’m more apt to tell people that a highlight (and it is!) was watching wildebeest frolic along in fresh grasses renewed by the first rains of early migration on the Serengeti. Not explain that highlights of the trip were roadside meals of nyama choma and ugali, dinners shard with our guides. Or greeting Magasa as we left for our evening walk to set the sun, plumeria blossoms fragrant on the well-raked ground.

Hopefully the rich thoughts and memories made from time in Tanzania, will not become buried under the next layers of journey. I’ll try to keep them distilled even as we embark on our walk around southern Utah.

For now, a few pictures.

We were in Tanzania for about three weeks. Week one we spent climbing Kilimanjaro via the Northern Route with an amazing team from Bless Africa Tours. Danny, Lodrick and our crew are incredible people! We are so grateful to have met them! I hope we can share some of Washington’s mountains with Lodrick and Danny someday in the future. For now, may we trade hip hop songs, debate about lions and hyenas, and may Lodrick learn to yodel and may he always have cows around(I got to introduce him to one of my all time favorite songs!)

Week two was finishing the climb and reunion with Sarah. We kicked off time with Gabriel’s sister by shopping around Moshi (in awe of her fluent Swahili!). Then enjoyed a 4-day safari through Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and Serengeti National Park during which time we saw SO. MANY. AMAZING. ANIMALS. (My favorites were the banded mongoose and the honeybadger.)

Week three was time to savor life in Musoma on the southeast shore of Lake Victoria. We enjoyed life at Sarah’s house. Sitting on the porch looking at the lake, meeting her friends and her students (we even got to give them a presentation about Kilimanjaro and its life zones!), running errands in the village, trying many of Tanzania’s beers (Kilimanjaro is our preferred lager, Castle’s Milk Stout wins out overall), and watching sunsets over Lake Victoria. Per a Musoma local, it is Sarah’s job to set the sun.


Looking at a five story glacier off of Kilimanjaro’s south face. Lodrick and Danny timed our arrival to the summit ideally, we arrived just as the sun rose.


Team American Eagle and Timu Tanzanian Twiga enjoy a moment on Uhuru. Gabriel, Lodrick, Danny, Mukmuk, & Lindsay


Our awesome guides: Lodick and Danny above the clouds. These two have been best friends since grade school. It was a joy to get to know them and we so appreciated their sharing their beloved mountain with us.

The whole team

Our incredible climbing team. Thanks to our guides, cook, and eight porters we had a wonderful and very luxurious time getting to trek about Kilimanjaro. Backrow: Jackson (hidden by an arm-he kept our tent dry and put it in beautiful places out of the wind), Mbise, Mbonea, Gerald, Jumanne (aka J4 our waiter and my Swahili mwalimu), Gabriel (aka DJ Twiga), Joshua, and John (our awesome cook!!!). Front row: Amani, Lindsay (aka Marmot), Richard, Danny, and Lodrick.


Sarah and me – on safari! We thoroughly enjoyed the open roof of the Land Cruiser. We were standing up taking in the sights as long as it was open.


Gabriel, me, and Sarah – standing by the hippo pool in Ngorongoro Crater. Rasheed, our driver and guide, encouraged us to get much closer to the pool than we would have otherwise. The hippos could have charged out of the pool if they’d felt so inclined.


Elephants! We saw more than 121 in Tarangire NP alone. I learned that elephants are left tusked or right tusked. Often their dominant tusk is more worn down than their less dominant tusk. The woodlands of baobab, acacia, and sausage trees need to stay in my memory.


Punda milla!


Twiga! Tanzania’s national animal.


Little bee eater.


A napping leopard. It’s meal of gazelle was hanging on another limb of the acacia tree.


We watched “lion TV” for over an hour. A pride of at least 15 females and cubs. This cub particularly liked chewing on the branch above its head.




Sunset on the Serengeti.


Sunrise on the Serengeti.


Buffalo! We had some hang out and graze right outside our tent on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater. At one point, Gabriel wanted to get out of the tent, but dared not, because he could hear the buffalo eating outside our door.


Sunset watching at Speke Bay on Lake Victoria.


Koko the kitty. Koko was born on a bookshelf. She has been a book and shelf connoisseur ever since.


Sunset watching from the closest rock to Sarah’s house – a gorgeous collection of granite boulders.


Sunset watching from the fun scramble rock. This one warranted 1-2 third class moves and bellying under a tree. Well worth it!


Sarah and a chameleon friend we found while walking about town.


Sunset happy hour: Sarah, Mukmuk, and Gabriel enjoy some Tall Horse.


Francisca gave me a chapati lesson!


We had the pleasure of enjoying an afternoon visit with Sarah’s friend Pascaria and her daughter Martha.


In honor of Sarah having family visit, Pascaria gave us a duck! Magasa is holding the duck while Gabriel looks bemused.


Oscar the friendly guard dog at Sarah’s school poked his head out to say kwaheri (good bye) to us.


Enjoying dinner at Matvilla Beach on Lake Victoria.

Our time with Sarah getting to enjoy the rhythms of daily life, the happenings of her students (friendly watermelons and tortoise races) was deeply satisfying and relaxing. And as we were saying good byes to the kind and generous friends we just made, we found it hard to leave Musoma and Tanzania. We hope we return.

But for the time being, prepping for the Hayduke and our fluffy cat beckoned us to come home as planned.

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