Location: Home, sweet home, Canada
Well, I made it through the long journey home and have experienced two of three Thanksgiving meals... am I ever thankful! :) At 6 am I was wide awake, but I guess that will come in handy when I start work again tomorrow.
Some final thoughts about my adventure....
Africa is a wonderful place (the parts I saw were). It didn't quite get into my heart the same way that Haiti did, but some of the people may have. The varied landscapes and people were beautiful and though it was a challenge to deal with an enormous lack of infrastructure, the local people handle it with calm strength and many strive to improve what they can. I tried to do the same.
It was awesome to be able to tag-along with Brenda and see the end-result of all the work of many people over the last couple of years. I was humbled by their great generosity and happy to play a small part in balancing the scales of wealth. We will never really know the impact and long-term effects of the huge amount of donations that were given, but the potential for hope is amazing. I was also left feeling like it will never be enough, but any travel to developing countries usually makes me feel that way and giving in to that feeling is pointless. We have to keep trying to share what we have.
Here are a few of the "bests" of my trip:
Best overall experience: seeing wild elephants, lions, giraffes, baboons and hippos etc. (especially the baby ones).
Best meal: a real salad on the last day ... that I didn't get food poisoning from. The roasted goat at Dr. Subi's deserves honourable mention.
Weirdest meal: spagetti bolognese with banana-slices, as garnish
Best feel-good moment: Winning over the shyness of a little boy sitting at the back of the bus with us and teaching him the basics of printing his name and the alphabet.
Weirdest thing I am thankful for about coming home: the stairs in my house to a second floor... and my bed and the toilet (with handy toilet paper).
Best souvenir: a meal thermos - like an airtight, insulated casserole dish to keep things hot for 4-6 hours. cool.
Best phrase in Swahili: "Lala salama" - "Sleep peacefully"
Most valuable lesson: don't bring white shirts to Africa, if you are travelling by bus and have no access to bleach.
There were many great experiences and other valuable lessons and I think I have a few good photos, out of the 1100 that I took. I will attempt to get them organized soon and will be happy to share just a few of them with you and hear about how the last four weeks have gone for you.
Location: Kigali, Rwanda
Wow... my last day... and there is enough time, electricity and a stable internet connection, fantastic!
I leave Kigali in about 11 hours and I am excited to be coming home, but I won't get back to Penticton until Sunday evening. I am spending about 24 hours in Vancouver with my brother to break up the long journey. I can't wait to see everybody!!
How to sum up the last week???
Well, going back to Kahama felt like a bit of a home-coming because Brenda, Rob, Glen and Twyla and a few of the locals now feel like family and things were familiar. On Saturday, we made arrangements for our trip back to Kigali and in the evening ended up in Kahama's best nightclub "Club Dimples" with Joseph (our usual waiter at the restaurant we often ate at) and Andrew and Attanas (a couple of Dr.s from the Hospital). It was pretty "upscale" for small-town Tanzania, and dancing was fun and they looked after us very well. Joseph made sure I got back to the rest-house safely and then made sure Brenda (who wanted to stay out later with the guys) did, too.
He was also ready to take me to his church the next morning, which was awesome. (AIC- African Inland Church) I knew most of the songs (not in Swahili, of course, but the tunes were the same), and Joseph asked me, "Are you AIC?" :) The awkward part was being dragged to the front and introduced to 300 people and not bringing enough money for an offering as well as the second-offering that was really public (we are talking role-call and announcing how much each person gave!) yikes - they were raising money for a new speaker.... personally, I thought the service was loud enough already. :) Joseph covered for me nicely, though.
In the afternoon, our team was invited to Dr. Subi's for lunch. It was a big feast, delicious and very welcoming. Then very early Monday morning we left. :( It was a bit sad, but Joseph came to the bus station to say "good-bye". That was cool. The new pavement on the highway was also wonderful.
After 9 hours (or so) we were met by Jean-Claude and Franklin and we got to stay at Franklin's for two nights. Great other than another round of bad gut trouble for both Brenda and I.
We met their neighbour a lady who is at least 105! A young soul, who danced a bit and loved seeing us and Franklin's kids. She told us about the old courtship/wedding rituals in Rwanda. Really cool.
Then I got to go to another genocide memorial site and a basket-waeaver's home. That night was Franklin's birthday. 13 of his friends and family were there including Brenda and I. More fun dancing and I was honored with a new Rwandan name.
Usually at a baby-naming ceremony friends and family suggest names and the parents think about it overnight and name the child the next day. Here, everyone wrote down a suggestion and Franklin translated their meanings for me. Wow.... they chose some beautiful names for me. They made me choose, but I couldn't pick only one... they let me have both of my top-2 choices... my new name is Keza-Mbabazi. :) Got a nice ring to it, eh? It means beautiful one, giving mercy. I like it a lot.
We went back to Kigali for the last two nights and tried to get my flight on the same day as Brenda's, but couldn't, so I am hanging out with Denise (Brenda's friend from previous trips) today. Yesterday we went to the memorial for the Belgian soldiers who were killed at the start of the genocide in 1994 and back to the cool markets. My bags are full again. There is not much else to do here, but I have a few more hours to go... I am looking forward to seeing everyone again soon. Hope you are all well.
Sorry I haven't been able to get up any photos, yet. Brenda has been able too, so you can check out her blog... I mean't to give you this link before, but better late than never. She has done a great job. http://www.planetranger.com/brendalowe/
bye for now.... kj
Location: Kahama, Tanzania
Alive and well after a wonderful whirlwind safari!! The books got to Moshi fine and I left on time from there for a 3-day race across the Serengeti. After a slow start, stopping at a few tourist traps, and overnighting a ways away from the Ngorongoro Crater and a foggy morning start the next day, when I thought I wasn't going to see a thing at all.... all of a sudden, just inside the gate.... an elephant!! He looked right at me and we had a moment. :)
Then Zebras! Baboons! Gazelles of all types! Lions! Cheetah! Cape Buffalos! Wildebeests! Warthogs! Hippos! and finally a rhino and baby (way in the distance) and then at last Giraffes!! It was amazing... if the place wasn't so big (19km across) I would have thought I was at a zoo. It was kind of surreal seeing things up close that I've only seen on TV... oh yeah, Ostriches! (they're huge!). It will be hard to top that day for the amount of pure wonder it provided.
The next days in the Serengeti were also great, but things were fewer and farther between... but we finished off the "Big 5" with a long (eventually successful) search for a leopard! whew.
The last day was an epic bus trek back to Kahama in the Land Cruiser at 6:30 am, saying good-bye to my guide and personal cook (having one of those was kind of cool, but kind of awkward). They put me on the normal bus to Mwansa, then I got on what I like to call the sardine-bus, because there were about 28 people in a minivan... one seat for me and my back pack...mmm. Then a bigger bus I will call the B.O. bus, thankfully a nice guy was my seat-mate and he let me have the window seat about half way.
shoot... internet time is running out quick. I will be off to Kigali on MOnday. Hopefully, I can update this again before long. We've had terrible luck with the electical grid here. I am writing this by generator.... got to go. oxox kj tummy troubles all gone :)
Location: Moshi, Tanzania
Weve had a few issues with power outages and internet problems in the last few days. But today, all is well
for now. Its a quieter day, before our big travel day to Moshi to deliver 31 boxes of books and school supplies to a school there. Should be fun, if the bus we are taking can hold all the books and doesnt break down, so we wont have to transfer them
big ifs here in Africa.  Always an adventure.
Well, the crate has been officially handed over to the Kahama District Council. They had a big ceremony yesterday. I got to be one of the official photographers, along with two people from the media. Brenda got to make a speech and she did great. There was entertainment in the form of drumming and traditional dancing/acrobatics/slapstick
quite good actually.
Weve also been able to visit and give gifts to the Faraja orphanage and deliver some of the totes that families in Canada made for their World Vision sponsor children here.
I have also been able to give one of my two cardiology presentations (Intro to ECGs) to the medical staff, at their clinical meeting. It went well, other than the fact that the kindly donated ECG machine from Canada was damaged on the way here and didnt work. But I was able to explain and to show them how to hook it up. They seemed interested. Hopefully, we can get them a functioning ECG machine soon.
I am excited about seeing more of the countryside and after we do our visiting there, I get to do a 3-day safari in the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park! I cant wait to see some wildlife. All I have seen so far are mosquitos, cats, and geckos
and maybe a few bigger bugs, some of whom I have squashed dead
. not too exciting.
I have now tried Ugali. Its a corn-flour based, thick paste of a porridge that you eat with sauces. As staples go, its pretty bland, but filling.
Two days later
Well the big travel day is behind us. We expected about a 10 hour ride to go 650 kms
. We were 7 hours wrong
. 17 hours on a bus with one 20 minute scheduled stop is too long!! Thank heavens for flat tires and running out of fuel. Too bad I developed a case of the trots during the last seven hours. Brenda made them stop for me once
yes, I was the weak Muzungu (white person) who cried uncle first, but I was turning green and biting my lip
and a few others were relieved that we stopped, too. Anyway, we made it. And today we drop the books from Holly Cross school in Penticton at St. Timothys school in Moshi. And I am feeling better. whew...
Hope you are all well.
Location: Kahama, Tanzania
Another hot, dusty day in Kahama. Having a good time. Yesterday, we worked like dogs, in the crate unloading, organizing and re-loading it. We had about 10 guys working with us, so all together it was about 60 hours of work done in the heat of the day. But it felt great and went smoothly. yay! So did the immigration stuff we had to deal with... just two more official guestbooks to sign and one more storeroom to unload.
Today, we met with Joseph, our waiter from the restaurant, and he helped us negotiate some bus tickets to Moshi and the local market.... mmm dried fish, live chickens and mystery candy that has seeds inside it. He also helped me to buy some kanga... the sarong type wraps they wear here. They have slogans or sayings written on them, but I wanted to know what mine said because some of them say stuff about your husband or children... Joseph helped to translate and I picked some nice ones that say "Love from the heart", Let us remember only the good" and "Thanks be to God". :) We made our own food for dinner tonight, fresh avocados, tomatoes, egg salad, fruit and two bags of instant noodle soup for four people. Not complaining, it was good.
Tomorrow, we will finish up with the crate and possibly have a handing-over ceremony, complete with media and photo-ops. My 15 minutes of fame are running out quickly! Oh well, it's Africa... guess my 15 minutes are about an hour and a half here. :)
Thanks for the messages! love you.
Chandra, I hope Kirk's leg is getting better and that you are feeling ok. Take care!! We are thinking of you, lots MJ!! Miss you.
Location: Kahama, Tanzania
Just a quick note to say Hi again. I had written something else since the last post, but the computer I was working on inexplicably shut itself down in the middle of what I was doing, and today is the first chance Ive had to get on again.
We have been in Tanzania for three days. We arrived over a very bumpy, dusty road that they call a highway here. It was the first time that Ive seen handprints on my facecloth after washing off my face. 
We have been welcomed by everyone and have met several VIPs in the last few days. This resulted in us being the guests of honour today on stage in front of thousands of people for the town's celebration of Tanzania's 50 years of Independence. It was so weird, I kept thinking I might be dreaming, but I wasnt. I guess Ive used up my 15 minutes of fame. It was a bit hard to sneak out after the third hour of speeches started, so that we could get started on the crate-work, but that is what we did.
Tomorrow will be a busy day unloading and organizing the huge crate in the hospital yard... if you are the praying type, please pray that it goes smoothly and that everything stays secure and organized.
Avocado juice is yummier than it sounds. 
Thanks for the messages, pictures are a bit tricky on here, \i will try at some point.\love kj
Location: Kigali, Rwanda
Hey, two posts in one day! :) I found the internet cafe.
Well, the orphanage was a bit of a bust because we arrived when they were all at school. I guess it's a good thing they get to go to school.
We did entertain a few kids from the community with our bubble wand and they entertained us with the alphabet song and their National Anthem. We got to go on bicycle taxis on dirt roads to get there. It was kind of fun trying to communicate in broken English, French and Swahili with the bicycle drivers. Mostly got as far as "my name is..." but still building bridges. :)
The next stop, was the GO Rwanda office, who The ONe person Project works with here. There were kids there too, more singing and dancing (including me) and gave some gifts (including Ironman finisher shirts from 2008. It was cute to see a baby just walking with a "finisher" shirt on.
We found a yummy indian place for dinner and met a friend there.
Tomorrow, the main genocide memorial in Kigali and back to the market! Baskets and bananas anyone?
Location: Kigali, Rwanda
Alive and well in Kigali!
Yes, we arrived as planned and have been having a great time with only minor delays.
I think we were traveling for about 33 hours and only Brenda's suitcase is still missing, Rob got his after 4 days.
Kigali is calmer and cleaner and more modern than I expected and so far I have met only friendly, helpful people.
We visited Brenda's friend Franklin about an hour to the south of Kigali on Sunday and met his family and friends. We visited the Nyamata Genocide memorial which was sad and made the awfulness of that time more real. About 10,000 Tutsis were killed in and around the church and they have piled their clothes on the pews and around the alter and lined up the skull and femurs on shelves inside crypts behind the church. Sometimes you can see by the damage to the skull, how the person died... bullet, machete or club... brutal.
Yesterday, we went to Muhanga to see where the last container of supplies went. We saw the donated hospital beds in their emergency ward and a new library at the Nurse/Midwifery School where Brenda recognized some of the 15,000 books that she had helped to pack up last year. They were so grateful and the librarian lady was so proud of how she had set the place up. It was cool. They said the donation came at "Just the right time." Last year, Rwanda changed their official language from French to English and they were wondering where they could get English textbooks to replace the French ones they had. Then the donation came and they had a new library!
We also saw some new babies and a premie in an incubator using the oxygen concentrator that was donated... :) Outside some school kids enjoyed the bubble wand Brenda brought and getting their pictures taken by me. "Let me see!" was the cry. It was fun.
We thought we had time to make it to a big local market before dark, so we hopped on the motorbike taxis and zoomed up on of the thousand hills hills. It was further than we realized and was dark when we left, but it was amazing and we are going to go back when it is light.
got to catch the bus now...
Today we get to go to an orphanage, should be lovely.
Hope you are well.
p.s. the plum juice here is delicious.
Location: Penticton, Canada
I'm all packed, just want to stuff a few more granola bars in somewhere.
When I weighed my bags on my dad's handy scale, they were both just under limit. Woo hoo. Now as long as they don't pop a zipper, all will be well.
Not sure how much internet access I will have in Rwanda and Tanzania, but I will try my best to keep you in the loop and post some photos. I am looking forward to reading your comments along the way, so keep 'em coming.
Loooong day tomorrow. Starting at 5am at the airport here with stops in Vancouver, Montreal, Brussels and finally 29 hours later, in Kigali. I'll let you know how it went.
Time for some sleep.