No Worries…Tanzania-style

By Stacy Thompson

“Hakuna Mata…what a wonderful phrase…Hakuna Mata…ain’t no passing phase…”

Believe it or not, this was a phrase I heard many times during my trip to Tanzania and Kilimanjaro – very well-used, and very appropriate for a people who live life with “No Worries” – the beauty of the people, landscape and animals in the wild is reason enough not to worry, but to simply enjoy!

If you haven’t read my last post, take the time to go back  to it (https://everywomanblog.com/category/stacy-thompson/) and realize why the excursion the week after my big climb up Kilimanjaro was well-deserved – what better way to celebrate such a milestone than to soak in Tanzanian wildlife and all the best the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater has to offer!

Prior to our arrival we were warned that although we would see a multitude of wildlife, we may or may not see some particularly shy creatures, such as leopards – and so, as our first stop in the safari jeep brought us to the following, we were more than excited about the days ahead…

Pic 1

Yep, I’m a leopard in a tree – maybe a little like a magic-eye-picture, but squint and you’ll see me.

A brief glimpse at a leopard in a tree was quickly followed by nearly an hour of watching a young lion cub trying to venture up a tree – poor thing couldn’t decide whether to move up or down from the pride below, but was cute nonetheless…

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Heck yeah, I’m finally in this tree…looking down on you but not really sure I want to go higher

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OK, so I really don’t want to go higher…how do I get lower???

Soon after we would be treated to herds of zebras, a muddy lone (and very pregnant) hyena, curious wildebeests and a yawning hippo…

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Yeah I’m a horse with stripes…pretty cool, ain’t I?!?

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I’m looking at you with my best Whoopi Goldberg voice

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We’re so ugly, we’re cute

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OMG, I need a nap

As our safari continued on, the view got more amazing — little did I know that giraffes could be so graceful or impalas so serene – but both were a treat to view in their natural habitat…

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Please don’t ask me if I play basketball…

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…and yes, I DO eat this thorny mess you call the Acacia tree

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I like big horns and I cannot lie…

But the beauty and grace were no match for the King of the Jungle – without a doubt, the mighty lions, sleeping or not, were the most regal of creatures…

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Just hear me roar…or just watch me sit here…either way, I’m bad, and I know it

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I’ll just doze while you bask in my majesty…

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A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

Meanwhile, the cheetas, the fastest creature on earth, also proved to be utterly captivating…

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Which of those Jeeps should we attack?? Probably none of them, as all they have is granola bars and oolang tea

 

 

Our next venture into Ngorogoro Crater brought us to the Hippo pond – fun fact:  did you know that the hippo spends 90% of its day in water (which is why a group of hippos are called a “pod” – much like whales) but is considered the most aggressive animal in the wild – who knew?? But not surprising considering the jaws on those beasts!!

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I bless the rains down in Africa…gonna take some time to do the things we never had…

After the Serengeti, we headed on to Ngorogoro crater which also brought us within very close contact to the water buffalo (no, I did not pull a Crocodile Dundee and attempt to put the massive animal in a slumber), more gorgeous zebra and a family of warthog (OK, you can go ahead and sing “when I was a young warthog…”)

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ohm…ohm…I don’t even care that there is a bird on my head…ohm…ohm…

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I am so much cooler than a regular horse…yep, I am

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Pumba…”I get downhearted…every time I….

After so many animals, amazing vistas, the highlight of the day was coming across a rather large family of rather large elephants…and one really cute baby elephant (who could have taken flight with those ears, but thankfully, only crossed in front of our Jeep to enter a new area to graze) – awesome, gentle, plodding creatures were a sight to behold…

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You’ve seen me in a zoo, but watching me cross about 15 feet in front of you is like 1,000,000 times cooler, isn’t it?!?!?

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I don’t need a feather…I’m capable of ANYTHING!!

And then we finished the safari week touring Manyara Lake – managed to see more elephant and our fair share of baboons – maybe only a face a mother could love, but the mothers and babies were the cutest of all!!

So this adventure after our ultimate adventure did not disappoint – as an animal lover, I could not get enough of these amazing creatures interacting in their own habitat – I could have spent five weeks instead of five days and would never have been bored – No Worries…What a Wonderful Day!!!

 

Well Done…

By Stacy Thompson

I apologize profusely to the administrators of this blog for my late submission, but those that read my last post will understand…a few days ago I realized a dream and made it to the Rooftop of Africa – and I will forever be changed for the better because of it.

After an exploratory day in Moshi, followed by a tour of a coffee and tea plantation, our group was hesitantly getting to know one another while already beginning the process of mentally preparing ourselves for the challenge ahead…which wasn’t too far from our minds or our sight (the view from our lodge made the challenge inescapable…)

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The following day we took to the trail and began the greatest adventure with three days of hiking, covering nearly six thousand feet and thirteen miles among a background that transitioned from bamboo rainforest to moorland.  An acclimatization hike to Zebra Rock took us from Horombo Hut and 12,340 feet to over 14, 000 feet and a taste of the heights we would soon soar to…

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Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards – Kierkegaard

Our hike continued forward and onward to Kibo Hut – 15, 520 feet – and a ride through “the Saddle” a wide, flat plateau with our destination peaks looming ahead and a light meal awaiting us in the final hours before the final ascent.  Our pace deliberately slow, we could see up ahead the challenge of the mountain ahead while our minds repeated the Swahili phrase “Pole, Pole” (“Slowly, Slowly”) to ensure we met our goal.

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We dined on soup and some bread around 5 pm before retiring (all 12 of us men and women together in the ultimate bonding experience!) to a room of bunkbeds and our sleeping bags to catch a few hours of rest – knowing that we were to be awakened at 11:00 pm to start the arduous climb.  Yes, we were told that the purpose of the late-night start was to reach our goal at daybreak, but in truth the journey through the scree slope is best taken without seeing the angle of the climb (pretty much straight up!) and the distance to be traveled (over 3,000 feet) – exhaustion and freezing temperatures tell the body to sleep, but the overwhelming drive to reach the top combined with the constant vigilance of the Tanzanian guides keep one foot in front of the other until the most glorious sight of an African sunrise is seen on the horizon – as said sun begins to rise, our goal becomes a reality; as the scree ends and the boulders are overcome, Gilman’s Point is reached…

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In the end it’s not the years in your life that count.  It’s the life in your years. –Abraham Lincoln

So Gilman’s Point (18,652 feet) is a legitimate summit, as is Stella’s Point (18,885 feet), however, just a few short feet (OK, about 500 feet, and with severely decreased oxygen levels) away is Uhuru Peak – the real, true Rooftop of Africa and the ultimate goal – I’m not going to lie, the last hour wasn’t easy, but was made infinitely better by the glacier view.  Looking out over the clouds is surreal and being surrounded by volcanic cones nearly overwhelming, but the focus to attain our goal remained (despite the oxygen-deprivation, sleep-deprivation and overall exhaustion!!).  After over eight hours of hiking, straight up, in mostly dark, we reached the highest peak…

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Yes, that’s me, celebrating the only way I know how – by displaying the garnet & black!!

 

Life is either a daring adventure…or nothing at all – Helen Keller

So six years ago my mother decided (after getting her Medicare card in the mail) that life was too short to just sit back and make a bucket list – it was time each and every day to live that bucket list.  So she climbed a mountain, with no experience, with no expectations, but simply because she needed to try and do it.  After she climbed Kilimanjaro, I admit that although I was unbelievably impressed, I didn’t really understand what drove her to do it.  Later that year I joined her in climbing a mountain (Machu Picchu)…and have done so every year since then.  Climbing the physical mountain is an accomplishment and our ultimate goal, but overcoming the physical challenge is so much more than that – even though I love our trips together and the days we spend on the trail, I enjoy even more the hours spent in the stairwells and trails (modest inclines that they may be) preparing for each trip.  The challenge my mother undertook to conquer the World’s Highest Free Standing Mountain was not just a jump-start to a bucket list, but a new progression of a mother/daughter bond that will only continue to grow in the years to come.

Well Done…

As I was descending and had reached the forest once again, I passed a Tanzanian guide with two very well-groomed (recently showered) hikers – as he passed, we greeted each other with the traditional Swahili “Jambo” (hello) – he then asked “So you climbed the mountain?” to which I replied “Yes, yes I did.”  He then asked “did you make it to the top?” and I replied “yes, yes I did” – there was a pause, and I heard him quietly say “Well done” – those two words filled me with so much pride and a sense of accomplishment I will never forget.  Well done – yes, yes indeed.

Help Feed the World with Feed Bags

By: Staci Rutherford

When I’m not researching the latest “it” bags, trends and designers, I enjoy finding handbags that are designed for a good cause.  I discovered FEED Projects a few years ago, and constantly feature new FEED bags on my blog.  Today, I want to introduce you to FEED, because these meaningful products have a tremendous impact on different parts of the world.

FEED Projects’ mission is to create good products that help FEED the world.  The merchandise mix includes eco-friendly FEED bags, t-shirts, and other accessories, with a set donation factored into the cost of each item.  FEED believes that everyone has the right to basic human necessities, such as healthy and nutritious food.  Every product has a stenciled number that signifies the actual impact of your purchase.  Here are a few of my favorite bags available at feedprojects.com.

FEED 5

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Back

The FEED 5 Africa Bag was designed in honor of FEED’s 5th anniversary.  It is handmade by artisans in Kenya.  The outside of the bag is made from burlap material, along with the “FEED the Children of the World” logo from the first-ever FEED bag, the FEED 1 Bag.  The bag is lined with traditional African kitenge fabric.  Each FEED 5 Africa bag provides 5 children with micro-nutrient powder for 1 year through the FEED Foundation’s Nutrients Fund.

FEED USA

The FEED USA Bag includes a $5 donation to the FEED Foundation’s FEED USA program to improve school food and nutrition education in America through DonorsChoose.org.  After purchasing your FEED USA Bag, use the 8-digit code provided on the hang tag and visit the FEED USA platform to choose the initiative you want to fund.  The bucket shape bag is made of 100% organic cotton.

FEED LOVE

Front

Back

The FEED LOVE Bag was designed in partnership with (RED).  The purchase of the (FEED) RED LOVE 30 Bag will provide approximately 30 days of ARV treatment through the Global Fund and 30 nutritious school meals through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), thus providing one month of life-saving assistance.  Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment not only helps people live with HIV/AIDS, but also helps prevent the transmission of the disease from moms to their babies (RED)-supported Global Fund grants deliver this treatment to some of the countries hit hardest by the disease.  The (FEED) RED LOVE bag is made of natural burlap with signature PRODUCT (RED) logo, faux suede bottom and large back pocket.

FEED HAITI

In January 2010, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti.  The FEED Haiti bag was created to help raise funds to maintain local school feeding operations during that critical time. Today, FEED continues to support Haiti’s school feeding operations as the country slowly rebuilds and faces challenges in nutrition, health, and education.  Each FEED Haiti Bag will provide 50 meals through the UN World Food Programme (WFP).  The tote is made of 100% organic cotton and uses the red and blue Haitian national colors.

As you can see, FEED bags are making a difference in helping feed the world.  The next time you are looking for a gift for a loved one, consider showing your support in the fight against hunger, and invest in a FEED bag.