To the ends of the earth…and back!

And the tan is back!

After a day and a half of plane travel to Dar es Salaam, the final leg of my journey to Karatu was to be completed on road. Unlike my two visits last year, during which I traveled by road from Nairobi to Arusha, the journey from Dar to Karatu is less dusty and less off-road. : D

From Dar es Salaam, I traveled via the Dar Express, a greyhound-sized bus that completes the arduous journey to Karatu in about 12-13 hours, beginning at 6am. Good morning sunshine! Since I’ve taken the bus before I was at ease making the journey alone–that, and I remembered where the toilets were located at the pit-stop!  There are two things that make this journey so long: 1. The few pit-stops with toilets discourage one from drinking any liquids and 2. the big stop in Arusha where one waits anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour for new passengers to replace those who have disembarked. Clearly the former provides more of a challenge for my delicate self.

The Arusha bus stop is a colorful place, filled with big buses like the Dar Express, as well as mini-vans, sedans, hand-carts and lots of people. Last year I was definitely intimidated each time I came to the Arusha bus stop because within seconds of pulling in, there was a barrage of taxi drivers and people trying to sell me newspapers, drinks or food.  The same scene normally awaits me upon returning to Karatu, though on a much smaller scale. *An exciting addition to Karatu is a formal bus station. Rather than trying to disembark amidst many people and the aforementioned carts/items and NOT fall into the concrete holes, the station provides for a more orderly arrival.

As the bus was en route to Karatu, it seemed little of the scenery had changed since my last visit. The rolling hills and flat plains greeted me with a warm, “karibu” (welcome) as I saw the familiar scene of young Maasai boys herding animals with just a small stick. The sun was setting, casting shadows behind the trees and shrubs as I watched women walking back from fetching water, each with a giant bucket atop her head. Additionally, there seemed to be walking trees before I took a better look at the sight off in the distance: three young girls with huge branches/sticks tied to their heads, continuing on their journey home. The land seems very dry, as it was last July and September when I was here last, and the pockets of water, I don’t dare call them ponds for that they are not, have low water levels. Upon seeing the water, I immediately thought of charity: water, and it’s amazing work.

charity: water was started about four years ago by a man named Scott Harrison and I was fortunate to hear Scott’s story during his visit to my church in NYC the night before my departure. (Trinity Grace Churc) The organization provides clean drinking water to people in developing nations and to date, has helped more than 1 million people.

I cannot forget the expanse of land that hosts a Maasai man along with his 20+ wives. I’ve been told he has nearly 100 children! I don’t doubt it for the huts are so numerous I cannot even count them. What made the journey complete though, was seeing giraffes pick leaves from trees less than 100 get from the bus!

As I exited the bus, within seconds, I could feel the red dusty dirt of Karatu between my toes and upon my legs. I unpacked my bags last night, the ones I brought with me, as well as those I left here last time .. Home, sweet home!

A  volunteer family through Journeys of Solutions is here this week as well, so I’ll be meeting with them tomorrow (wednesday) to introduce them to our work here in Karatu. Likewise, I’ll be heading to Tumaini tomorrow to meet with the school founder, Bayo.

more updates and photos of the children will follow later this week…

Thanks for your continued support!

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