We recently had the good fortune of receiving a visit from our very good friend Joanna. She was able to spend three weeks with us here in Tanzania. After picking her up in Dar, we went to Paje Beach on Zanzibar for a few days in order to ease Joanna into Tanzania. We had a great time swimming and relaxing on the beach. I think Joanna enjoyed the time to decompress from travelling. We continued our journey by returning to Kibakwe for one week. I think this may have been Joanna’s favorite part of the trip. We had a blast just walking around the village, introducing Joanna to people, and hanging out with our friends at our house. She had some clothes made by Mama Cocu and we did a lot of cooking and baking. After that, we travelled up north to Arusha and Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Crater for a few days of safari. The parks were fantastic and we even saw a few black rhinos (through binoculars) at Ngorongoro. Despite Arusha being my least favorite city in Tanzania, we did manage to find some really nice people at the kanga (a traditional cloth imprinted with a design and a single idiom) shops near the bus stand and at Mt. Meru Masai Market. My best interactions with Tanzanians while travelling have been in marketplaces where they’re not expecting a white person to be able to speak Swahili. The average vendor at a Tanzanian marketplace welcomes the opportunity to talk about international politics with a foreigner in Swahili. When we were on safari, we spent one night at a tented lodge near Karatu and Lake Manyara. Absolutely beautiful. Views of Lake Manyara from a wooded hillside and great accommodations. On the way back, we stopped in Morogoro for a night to have dinner at Oasis and relax before going on to Dar. It was a very sad farewell saying goodbye to Joanna at the Dar airport that night, but knowing that we will see her again back in the US in the spring made it ok. We also received a visit from a Peace Corps Trainee who’s at the end of her training. Margaret Mary, who by the time I post this will be at her site, came to “shadow” with us for a week at our site. Shadow week is designed to help trainees get an idea of what to expect once they get to their sites and see what life as a volunteer is like. We asked to get only one trainee since we don’t have a lot of room at our house and, as one of our COSing friends put it, “That’s better because if there’s more than one they can gang up on you.” As it turned out, Margaret was the perfect guest. She was up for anything, always offered to help, brought gifts (though not necessary), and was just an absolute delight. Shadow week is usually pretty chill since it’s one of the only times during training that PCVs are able to be away from their homestay. Most PCVs understand this, so we try to let the trainees plan what to do during their shadow week. As I said before, Margaret was up for anything so we mainly hung out with our friends, walked around our village, cooked, baked, went to visit Ben for a day, and relaxed. All in all, I think it was a really good experience for all of us. I’m really glad we decided to do it. After shadow week was done, we went back to Dar with Margaret for site announcements and then on to Kilosa to help Peter with permaculture training. It was tough being away from our site for so long, but I think the trainees found it helpful to have us around after site announcements to address their questions and apprehensions.
Above are pictures from Joanna's visit to Zanzibar.
Below are pictures of Carla and I with Margaret Mary, our shadow, and at bottom is her at site announcements.