Tanzania 2018

June 2018: I wrote most of the below and forgot to publish it as anyone who has visited East Africa the network is a mercurial and not always reliable thing. So here you are…. a month later – the thoughts all still stand, my readers. I just didn’t officially state it live time. I know life isn’t a fairy tale, but it’s nice to be looking around the next bend at a happy what’s next – I don’t live to think of endings or ever after, life certainly isn’t so tidy, at least mine isn’t. It’s a happy right now for me. It’s a building of the house where there was once just me and is now an us. Here’s to us and all of you. It’s also pre-summer in the Berkshires, in Massachusetts where I live and the greener than green came with me back from Tanzania… I don’t mind it, I don’t mind it at all.

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April 2018: I have been in Tanzania during the dry season or just at the start of the short rains, never at the end of the rainy season when the land is so gloriously green everywhere – greener than the greenest green.

It’s also dangerous and muddy, with floods and broken roads but let’s set that aside for a moment and focus on the endless emerald fields and hillsides. I have to say I have learned to love this confusing country in all conditions.

This is my first time traveling free – not quite a local, a mzungu never is going to be that.  I have replaced the blur from a 4 x 4 vehicle window, a more than curated experience., with street food, Masai nightclubs, the Dar “lux” express bus (it’s not so lux but it’s also not so not lux – that’s a puzzle 12 hours on that bus will solve for you). I may have even drunk the water (ok, you all know, I did but I swear my gut appreciates it now).

When does the tourist become the traveler? When is it just visiting your guy where he lives and going to the village where he was born? Does it matter that the village where I was born was Chicago? I don’t know.  Somehow by accident of fate, my global citizenship has changed and I have to carve out a spot here as well as there – there will always be a bit different when I am here and it’s a weird and unsettling mix of complicated and simple.

When I get on my plane back to the USA this time, I am not just taking memories with me. I am leaving someone behind. What was once a one way, becomes a new life plan and roundtrips. My heart couldn’t be more full,

As my father told me long ago, shoot for the stars, just remember to find the potatoes on the ground too. So with stars in my eyes and potatoes in my pockets, let the next chapter begin.

2016: Tanzania

Still processing an amazing adventure. Came back to a country on fire. I will just leave you all with this snippet of a video of a Lutheran Choir practice in Karatu, Tanzania. A very special moment in the middle of my trip. Voices unite us all.

2016: Back to East Africa

“Africa has her mysteries and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them.”

Miriam Makeba (South African singer and civil rights activist)

Tomorrow it is – meanwhile, surrounded by piles of clothing, twists of plugs, missing adaptors, stray Euros, matchless socks, you’d hope that someday I get better at this part, the leaving.

Why do I go? Why must I go back? Zebras. No really, I travel because my mind gets too cluttered and being in new challenging places makes me a bit more honest with myself, helps me clear up the clutter in the face of the unknown. Who is the traveler in me that I meet on the road? She’s the best version of me now, I’d hope. The one who has an open mind, an open heart and let’s all she meets have a moment, even those on the hustle.  I am not as good at that at home. I judge, I grouse, I get bogged down, I am petty on my bad days. The mystery of the unknown, unplanned makes it all better somehow.

I’ll try to update from out there but out there has spotty wifi. Be well, ten readers, thanks for reading, following along.

2016: Back to East Africa

“Africa – You can see a sunset and believe you have witnessed the Hand of God. You watch the slope lope of a lioness and forget to breathe. You marvel at the tripod of a giraffe bent to water. In Africa, there are iridescent blues on the wings of birds that you do not see anywhere else in nature. In Africa, in the midday heart, you can see blisters in the atmosphere. When you are in Africa, you feel primordial, rocked in the cradle of the world.”

Jodi Picoult (American author)

 One week. This space was called lions and cows for a reason. I have seen so so many cows lately, it’s more than time for the lions. Africa. Not a place I will ever understand. I just want to go, to see and to be. 

2010: Tanzania

As I wait for next weekend, here’s why I could go again and again to East Africa. And again and again. And again.

2016: Back to East Africa

“When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.”
― Karen BlixenOut of Africa / Shadows on the Grass

Two week countdown begins….

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Bridges 2013: Old and New

On a lazy Sunday morning recently, I saw a story on Bartonsville, a small Vermont town that lost a covered bridge in Hurricane Irene a few summers ago . The locals refused to accept this loss and one very determined woman, as she watched the bridge wash out in the flood waters, made sure it was rebuilt.

Ever since, I have been thinking about bridges a lot – a lot, a lot – maybe too much – who knows why – hibernation has grown claustrophobic. Ice pellets are still falling from our skies. Just every so often,  a a blue skied day with a hint of spring in the air keeps me going a few more weeks. I love these hills of mine but I sure do start missing the leaves right about now and my mind looks for an escape, and if not in body, my mind sets off traveling over bridges, old and new.

And it spins on… burnt bridges, crossing bridges, all the bridges I have ever been on, wanted to see, will see someday – all of this shuffles through my mind like a deck of cards.

Burnt bridges always first. I have burnt my fair share of bridges but what if it isn’t a burnt bridge? What if the bridge was environmentally unsound and never should have been built? I know, that’s just annoying. Not a bridge that has burned – one that isn’t essential to be put back? I am talking about the non-essential temporary bridges? Shaky relationships, built on bad pilings. I know that’s a bit much but it helps me when I like this – I’d rather picture the bridge being carefully dismantled and the river/stream/ocean returning to its normal natural state than a blackened pile of embers? It seems kinder, healthier somehow.

Despite my proverbial bridge burning, my travels are littered with great bridge memories.

Watching for the Sagamore Bridge to Cape Cod, after hours of being squashed in the car with my family, a summer’s prize to be the one to shout “I see the bridge, I see the bridge” first.

Living in London (man, was a long time ago) and walking across Battersea Bridge on Bonfire night with a box of wine & a mind for mischief.

Crossing the most unsubstantial, shaky, bamboo bridge somewhere in the wilds of Thailand and having one of those moments when I wondered what the %$#* is in the river below me and wishing I passed on that last serving of mangoes and sticky rice, almost being knocked over by a thousand year old woman with three tons of things balanced on her tiny body.

Guarding my valuables on Charles Bridge, warned that I would be outsmarted by the wily pickpocketers of the fairytale city of Prague (my pocket and I made it, despite the hype)

Pausing on bridge in the Serengeti to watch what I thought would be a bunch of hippos but instead was one glorious bird for what seemed like a life time – the silence of Africa getting into my soul.

Driving over the newly unveiled Zakin Bridge in Boston on the way to a job and in the middle of a time in my life that was perhaps the making of me but for a while was the breaking of me.

The loved up and beautiful bridges of Paris for too many reasons to list because my love for Paris is at the center of my sentimental heart and where my traveling all started.

And rebuilding bridges…. back to our intrepid Vermonters.

Last weekend, I drove through my wintery hills to see an old friend that life’s silliness almost washed away from my life. The kind of friend you make when you are young and foolish, who many years later proves that time traveling is possible, who will make you remember the best and the worst of your life, and make you belly laugh and cry at the same time. Someone I missed terribly when our bridge was out – sometimes, rebuilding is the only way.

Maybe I love bridges because I am a bit like those Bartonsville folks. I washed that bridge out myself but damn if I didn’t spend the last few years wishing I could rebuild it and what I lucky woman I am that it could be. Bridges, so many bridges, to be burnt (maybe not too many more, I am not getting any younger), crossed, seen and rebuilt.