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Nicole Lucier's Journal from Tanzania

Well, here I go...this is a long way from Liverpool, Nova Scotia, where life began, and from Kelowna, British Columbia, where I now live life to the fullest. Here is where you can read about my journey in Tanzania and I welcome your comments along the way. Stay in touch and I will respond. Thinking of you all with a full heart.

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Location: Home, Canada

Hello from Kelowna! I am back at home already. Who would have thought that time could go so quickly! Thought I would wrap up this site with one final journal entry and a few more pictures (I have almost 1000 so I'll try and narrow it down! For those of you lucky enough to see me some time this year, I will try and bore you with a full showing of all 1000!). This experience...well, what can I say! I experienced every emotion, going there and coming home! At first, I just couldn't get the hang of it with all of the disorganization, lack of support, disrespect, etc. And then one day, it all changed. As a group (of some of the most amazing people I've ever met), we managed to rise above it all and carry out what we went there to do, help people. In the end, we made some significant changes in some of the lives we were lucky enough to touch. I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish! I was very sad to leave, I cried most of the way home, as I usually do when I've visited a place that I fall in love with. A part of my heart will always be in Tanzania.

The next steps:
First of all, I am trying to get rid of jet lag and to wrap my head around where I live. It's truly a culture shock to be back in the Western world.

Second, I am looking into setting up a charitable organization so that I can continue to support the Wisdom Education Centre Bahari Beach and Mama Rosie. Please let me know by email ( if you are interested in hearing more about this and I will keep you posted.

Third, I can't thank you enough for your financial and spiritual support. I almost let you down by giving up on Tanzania and coming home, when I thought I couldn't stay. I stuck it out a few more days and then I was able to see that I could help, and in a significant way. This trip would not have been a success without you. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my journey. With over a thousand hits, I can see that you wanted to share my experience. I am glad for that. If any of you are considering volunteering in this way, don't ever heistate to contact me for some more insights...of course, there are alot of details that I had to omit due to time and internet constraints...there is always more to the story. I would encourage you to make it happen if this is something that you are interested will be time and money well spent.

Hoping to hear from you all now that I'm back, either by phone or email. Thank you again for all you've done to support me. I love you all dearly and you are truly special to me. With warm wishes and thanks, Nicole

Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Location: Arusha, Tanzania

Mambo! Wow, wow, wow...that's pretty much all I can say! Just got back to Arusha from our safari! It was an AMAZING 4 days and 3 nights. We started at the N'gorongoro Crater and we were blown away, not just by the crater itself but by the number of different animals we saw! Here's a bit of a list (and I'm in a hurry so don't pay attention to my spelling!!!!!):\
Baboons, Zebras, Black face vervet monkeys, 2 black rhinos of twenty-two total in the crater (in different places), 3 cheetas (of nine total in the crater), elephants (distant), pink flamingos (in the millions!), jackels, hyenas, buffalo, wildabeasts, Thomson gazelles, hartebeasts, hippos, grand gazelles, lions - 2 full grown males were on either side of our land cruser so Berta and I could just stick our hands outside of the windows and shoot pics...we also could have reached down and touched them, but we didn't of course! nine in total including males, females and 2 cubs - this was a major highlight of the day! - warthogs and that's all I can think of for day one, in about 4 hours we saw all of this. So, you can imagine how excited and overwhelmed we were! It still doesn't seem real! The next day we went to Serengetti National Park and saw many giraffes on the way. As soon as we got through the gates of this park, we were able to experience the migration of the wildabeasts...this means that they form a line and stampede in whatever direction the leader feels they should go. In our case, this took place directly across the road in front of our car and I have no idea how many exactly there were but there must have been well into the hundreds. It was such an amazing sight to witness so closely. I have shots of them jumping a little gully as soon as they crossed the road. Spectacular pictures! From there we went further into the park where we saw impalas, topi (like hartebeasts a bit), more baboons, elephants at a distance, more zebras and Thompson gazelles, ostrich. Just another amazing day! The following day was a whole day on the Serengetti and we first went to the hippo pond where we had a much better viewing than at the crater. They were quite active and playing around a bit. Saw some of them open their mouths and those big teeth were very easy to spot. Saw a croc in the pond as well. After that we had a terrific experience where we crossed an elephant herd. Some of them were only about 30 meters from our vehicle so we got a really good look at the herd. After we started down the road, the came across a lone male elephant (our guide said he was 35 years old and 6 tons!!!). He continued down the road toward our vehicle, only choosing to take the grass when he was about 6 feet from us. He passed by and stayed EXTREMELY CLOSE to our truck. He stopped as he reached the end and just stood looking at us. He was chewing on a stick at the same time. For a few seconds, he seemed a bit agitated and we had to be very quiet so he wouldn't charge us. In the end, he just walked away. It was UNBELIEVEABLE!!!!!!! We saw about 3 more herd of elephant that day. We had very close encounters with giraffes as well. Saw many more of the same animals I've already mentioned. Today was our last safari day and we were in search of a leopard, the only animal that we didn't get to see. We never did come across one, but alot of our favorites were standing/sleeping right in the road today so we got to revisit some of these animals up close and personal. It was just awesome!!!! On the way back to Arusha, just on the rim of the Crater, we stopped for a visit in a Maasai village. It was really cool...the men and women came out and sang to us to welcome us and then we got to go inside where the women did a ceremony to welcome Berta and I. They put some of their beaded necklaces and earrings on us and made us dance with them. Cool! We got to tour one of their homes and saw where they teach nursery school. It was really neat. So, here we are back in Arusha. Tomorrow I will fly back to Dar to catch my flight home on Friday (I overnight in London). Berta will be heading north to Kenya so we will have our farewell tomorrow. Very sad. But that's tomorrow! Tonight we are hooking up with some of the other volunteers who just finished a safari as well. We will have dinner and a few kilis and share safari stories. So, the next time most of you hear from me will be once I'm back in Kelowna. Thanks again for tuning in and make sure you tell others to read this entry...I've had 967 hits so far and I would like to see it at 1000 when I get home!!!! Talk to you soon and nekapenda everyone (love to you all)! N.

Saturday, 13 May 2006

Location: Impala Hotel, Arusha, Tanzania

Mambo from Arusha! Started our safari trip today and had an awesome day. We arrived from Dar yesterday at about 5pm, after a very long bus ride...boarded the bus at 6am but at least it was a luxury bus (relatively speaking) so at least it was comfortable. One of our fellow volunteers who is working in Moshi jumped on when we went thru there and spent the night with us in Arusha. Today we went to the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro for a cultural tour with a chagga (local tribe) guide. We started out by visiting a traditional chagga home, made of grasses, leaves and mud. The cows, sheep and goats live in the house with the grandparents and grandchildren. There is a fire pit, two beds (singles) where the grandmotoher sleeps with the grandkids and the grandfather sleeps next to the small, short front door. He is specifically located there to stop anyone from entering the house and stealing the livestock during the night. There is also a second floor for storing fire wood and banana beer. Yes, they make beer out of bananas and also banana wine. (Unfortunately, we didn't get to taste any of this.) Once the kids are 14 years old, they move to another house, for sleeping only. We were able to take lots of pictures of the house and the kids and family. It was quite something to see. We then saw a local waterfall, cave (used when the chaggas were at war with the masaai 200 years ago), a blacksmith shop where they make spears now sold to the masaai, and a market. It was a really nice day. Unfortunately, Kili was surrounded by clouds but we at least got to enter the gate and saw the path where the climbers leave from (one path...there are 5 routes to the summit). We are staying at a really nice hotel, the Impala Hotel with all the luxuries of the Western world. Tonight we had dinner at a new restaurant and it was weird because most of the other guests were Mzungus (foreigners/Westerners). We just aren't use to seeing that many Westerners in one spot! The food was great and there was even some entertainment. Tomorrow we head off to the N'gorongoro Crater and I can't wait!!!! We should see lots of (every) animals there. I'm very excited!!!!!!!

My last few days in Dar were busy and sad. It was really hard to say goodbye to Mama Rosie, the kids, Bahari Beach Resort, Mr. Mohamed and the other volunteers! We are hoping to hook up with some of them on our journey but only time will tell if all works out for that. Roberta and I both cried practically all the way from Bahari to the bus station. As hard as it was, I am anxious to come home. This safari will be a great way to end an amazing trip, but I know that I don't want to live here forever (especially since Brian isn't here!!!!).

I will try and write again soon along the safari trip. I'm sure there will be lots to tell as there was today. Hope you are all well. N.

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Location: Mbezi Internet Cafe, Tanzania

Mambo...this could be my final entry, at least from Dar es Salaam. I am at an internet cafe. Had school this morning and it was great but it was raining so no playground today. Yesterday we had to cancel school because we couldn't get any transportation for the children. The dalla dalla (bus) drivers are trying to charge us double what we paid last week, since they found out that Mzungu's (Westerners) are paying the bill. Luckily, some of the staff at Bahari Resort have been helping out and we hopefully have a reliable driver now, at least for the short term. Mr. Mohamed is looking into buying a dalla dalla for us since he doesn't have to pay tax. We will see later today what the prices are like. Went to see the carpenter today who is making the 20 tables and benches that I've ordered for the school. The tables are completed and just need a final sanding and varnishing. The benches are underway and all should be delivered on Saturday...unfortunately, I leave on Friday! At least Shirley, the other teacher, will be around to see everything through. I've also ordered some book shelves to be built for the school. Mama Rosie really needs a place to keep her supplies and books so this way she will have them. Stopped at the wood market to pick up a few trinkets as well. And we bought our bus tickets to Arusha. We leave at 6am on Friday and it's an 8 hour trip. I'm sure we will sleep most of the way, since we are having a huge going away party on Thursday night. There are 7 of us leaving between Friday and Sunday. It's going to be a lonely place around here. I have really enjoyed my time and I will never be able to totally relate my entire experience here. It will be with a heavy heart that I leave Mama Rosie and the kids. They bring me joy every day. I have also made some really great friends here and I will miss them also. On the other hand, I can't wait to get home and pick up where Brian and I left off. It will be great to finally get settled in Kelowna. Well my friends, thank you for your support before and during my time in Tanzania. Your support and contributions have been so wonderful and I assure you that you have helped in a HUGE WAY! Looking forward to seeing/talking to you all when I get home on May 20th. If I can, I will write from Arusha but no guarantees! Thanks again and all my love to you all.

Monday, 08 May 2006

Location: Movenpick, Tanzania the Movenpick today. Just in town to do some errands. Time is running out quickly here and we are still trying to line up all of the ducks so that Mama Rosie's can continue to carry on properly. Still have a few bucks to spend, if I can get it all out of the bank. The kids are still loving it and having a great time. They all call me "Teacha Neecole" and are so cute that I would love to bring some of them home with me. Spoke to the carpenter this week and he is trying to have the tables and benches finished before I leave on Friday. I guess he's been working day and night to get them completed. It will be amazing to see them all and also it's amazing that something is completed in such a timely fashion, considering we are in Africa and they definitely work at a different pace here. Lots of logistical issues with the Baal Foundation now and we are trying to work those out as well before we go on Friday. Trying to make sure the other volunteers are well-looked after. No wonder everyone calls me Mom around here! Trying to take care of everyone. Just a short note to say hi and I will try and write again soon. Best,

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Recent Messages

From Karen
Hi there 'Teecha Neecole' !
Miss you lots. Kept up with most of your journal entries. I firmly believe you are making a hell of a difference, especially in the lives of a certain group of 35 students.
All is well on the ridge, everyone says Hi.
Call fron Kelowna when you catch your breath.
Response: Hey Girl! Love to all on the ridge! It's been a cool trip...will never have enough time to tell all of the stories...unless you can stay up until 5/6am!!! Hugs and kisses all around! oxoxoxoxox
Hi Nikki-I hope you get this havent been able to write as I have been in hospital and missed your journal for a few days. It all sounds wonderful have a great safari and a safe trip home I am sure Brian will be anxious. Love jackie and carlton
Response: Hope you are well...and that it was nothing serious. Everything is going well so far...animals tomorrow...can't wait! Love to you two! N.
From Andrea
Hi Nic,
Every time I read your entries I tear up it's all very touching and you are making such an difference their, I am so proud to call you my sister, keep up all the amazing work and can't wait to hear from you in a email and so eager to see you in September! Love You! AndreaXO
Response: Thanks for the note and love you too. Two days to go and then I'm off on safari. Looking forward to coming home and to seeing you in a few months!
From Melonie
Hey Nic,
It's your spa buddy and the girl who knows how to get your girls looking their best!!! (wink, wink!) Sounds like you're having a great time. Just the sort of thing I'd enjoy so we'll have to talk when you get back. Take care and be safe!
Response: Hey Mel! Nice to hear from you. Not long now...hear there's a stagette for Erica soon so I will need the details when I get home. Would love to catch you up on this experience, any time! Best!
From Douglas

I hadn't logged into your journal for a few days and I was glad to read that all is going well. Your experiences sound amazing and I am certain they will continue to grow more wonderful. From the sounds of it, your photographic journal will be extensive and you may want to do an evening of viewing. I have the LCD projector and screen should you need. Wishing you all the best, Doug, Sandra and Rachel
Response: Hi Douglas! Nice to hear from you. Would love to do an evening viewing some night...let's discuss when I get back. Love to the family (and the CIBC family as well!).
From Kim & Kris
Hi Nik,
Enjoying your journal. Sorry I didn't write sooner. Sounds like you are having an awesome time. You are making a difference in the children's lives (as well as others). You truely are a special person. Brave as well as courageous :) Keep up the excellent work. Look forward to reading more and seeing your pictures.
Luv Kim
Response: Thanks for the note and kind's funny, I've been talking about you two the last few days. One of our volunteers has family in Holland and we've been comparing stories. Looking forward to having you and Kris visit when I come home. Love you guys! Nik
From Briana
Hi Nicole!

I have been reading your journal on a regular basis and enjoying hearing your adventures!

Sounds like all is going well for you - what an experience of a lifetime!

Isn't it the most amazing feeling when the kids respond to your teaching and you know you're making a difference? I imagine it's 10x the feeling over there!

We talked about you in our class the other day while doing 'E' for 'elephant'! Can't wait to see pics of everything!

Take care!
Response: Oh, I have so much to tell you as we are setting up a new school for Mama Rosie...can't wait to show you all of the pictures. Thanks for keeping up to date!
From Niam and Georgia
We are thinking about you and we miss you. We looked at your pictures and can't wait to see all of them. We love you.
Response: Hi my Sweeties! Hope everything is going well for you and that you are taking good care of your Mommy! I will be going on safari on May 13th so I will take lots of pictures of the animals then and can show them to you when I come home...I'll send you a CD. Love you both heaps and heaps!!!oxoxox Auntie Nikki
From Karen & Klaus
Hi Nicole, loving your journey, can't wait to see pictures and hear your adventures first hand. You have so much to offer these children and receive so much back. Glad you are feeling better and enjoy the rest of your trip. Take care

Klaus and Karen
Response: Thanks very much! It is quite the adventure, and I'm sure that by the time I'm ready to go home, I'll just be full into the swing of things here. In any event, I plan on continuing to support Mama Rosie and helping her keep her school going. Best, Nicole
From Mel & Lynn
Hey Nicole - your journal continues to be enjoyable and enlightening.

Glad to hear the digs are looking up.

Can't recall how long till you return ..?

Best from Mel, Lynn & Caitlin
Response: Thanks for the note. Coming home on May 20th, Saturday night, around 4pm...not that I know the exact details!!! Hope to see you soon after that! Nicole
From Leo&Marilyn
New-G Just wanted you to know we are still with you on this adventure.I'm sorry you aren't feeling up to par these days,Drink lots of fluids.Has anyone told you Sharon Stone was in Tanzania a couple of months ago doing a fund raiser for the women?Take Care,Love Ya, US.
Response: but Shaggy was here our first night in town, doing a big concert. Too weird. Oh, and I saw a guy in Dar our second day here wearing a "Halifax" tall ships t-shirt! I wanted to get his picture but didn't get the chance. It was too funny! Take care, NewG
From jackie and carlton
Hi Niki- wow quite the experience wqe think youre very brave I talked to your Mum last night and I know how happy she is that you have a nicer place to stay. We think of you every day love jackie and carlton xox
Response: Thanks! Yes, I know Mom is alot happier now. We've talked a few times and she just called me again last night. It's always nice to hear their voices. Take care. N
From Mom & Dad
Per your instructions we went to Uncle Bills where we read you journal. Enjoyed it very much and we're very happy you are in your own room with your own bath and air conditioning. Your the MOTHER?? Talk to you soon Love Mom and Dad.
Response: Yes, I'm Mama! There are only two volunteers older than me and the others are 25 or less. So, age dictates, I guess. Initally I was hanging around with Charlie, 18 and Roberta, 20 and it is physically possible that I could be their mom, so...Glad you are checking in. Thanks for the phone calls too! Love you! oxox
From Mark
Hey Nicole, hope all is well with you. I posted a note to you earlier but for some reason I don't think you got it. Your trip certainly sounds like an adventure. Can't wait to hear it all first hand when you get back. All is well here. The weather is getting pretty nice now. We're into spring. I 've been out on the bike a few times but not with Brian as of yet. I'm sure we'll hook up in the next few days though. Take care and I'll send you another note soon.

Response: Hi Mark! Yes, I got your previous note. Just some internet problems that may have been the problem. Hope all is well! N.
From Andrea and Randy
Hello My Friend, it is great to read all of your adventures in Africa. I cannot wait to see pics and hear it first hand. Travel safe. Sounds like you are doing much better then when I saw you at the airport on your way out of Canada
Response: Hi! Nice to hear from you! Everything is going well now that I'm in a new own room, air conditioning and running water! So very nice. Only 4 weeks left. Planning a safari the last week. Thanks for the note and keep them coming! Love ya, N.
From Alison
Hi Nicole,
I only just found your email indicating where I should have been going before now to see your regular updates! Now that I've found your journal, I can't stop reading!!

Sounds like you are on an adventure of a lifetime. I hope it's all you wanted it to be.

Take care of that 'bug' and drink lots of fluids. (I've always found that if I was at all dehydrated, I would get homesick!)

Looking forward to seeing your photos when you return.

Take good care of yourself.
Response: Thanks...starting to feel better now that I've dug into my antibiotics! Thanks for the note!
From April & James
Hi Nik - Sounds like you are having an amazing adventure - the kids are so lucky to have great volunteers like you! Your making us soo proud everytime we read about your days. James says HI Auntie Micole!! Sending our love from N.S. Take care and know your in our thoughts.
Love April & James.
Response: Hey...thanks! Great to hear from you always. Feel free to send a detailed email, as I'm curious about your days. Love ya both.
From Heather
I feel you pain sister! I know that feeling all too well.
Hopefully it will pass soon. As yogi Jeff would say "show yourself compassion". SO, take it easy.
As for the goat... have you tried it yet? I've had great goat and some very baa'aa'a'ad goat. Hopefully you'll get a good one.

Take Care!

P.S. Yes to Sonoma!
Response: Hey...can't wait to go to Sonoma with you. Spoke to Roberta about it yesterday and she knows of a few classes where the profs will be interested. Should be fun. Hope NY went well!
From Janice
hi! I'll be in Kelowna sometime in the summer, so definitely want to see your pics then! Baby could arrive anytime after May 19 so I am staying close to Van! Only 4 days for safari? 2 weeks wasn't long enough for us! Make sure to try to get to Ngorogoro Crater - it is spectacular! Hope you're feeling better..
Response: Hey: It's about the time...have to spend most of it teaching! And then I have to get home to 5 days will have to do. Am going to crater for sure, base of Kili and Serengetti, with Roy Safaris. Can't wait. Try and let me know if Baby comes early! N.
From Heather
Sounds like quite the adventure! Glad you survived the ferry return.
Spring has finally sprung here in the OK.
H and I are off to NY for a screening of IA a reminder of our life in the big apple.
We're trying to keep Brian company. Just phoned him and he is on a bike ride.
Keep the dispatches coming - they're great.
Response: Good luck in the Big Apple! By the way, Roberta is in the liberal arts program at Sonoma State and I told her about IA and she would like a copy to show at school, so when I come home, we should send her one. You may be going to Sonoma State (and I volunteer to be your personal assistant on that trip!!!). Just trying to do my part!
From Dave in New West
Hi Nik!
Your journal is amazing to read. Sounds like you're doing a great job with the kids.
Take care!
Response: Thanks Dave! Nice to hear from you. Hope the spring weather is good.
From Janice
Jambo! What an adventure! I read your entries every day and wish I were there tooso glad things seem to be working out well, and I know you are making a difference! Can't wait to see your Zanzibar pics - we wanted to get there, but ran out of time..sounds like we will have to go back. When do you come home?
Response: Si jambo! Will try and post some Zanzibar pics since Roberta is able to download hers. I come back on May long weekend, Saturday, May 20th! Are you coming to Kelowna?
From Kerry aka Beverley A
Aloha Nicole...Happy Easter!
Howard and I are just back from the Odyssey on retreat in Hawaii and I could hardly wait to catch up on your travels. Thanks for your daily diligence on the journalling...helps to hear of the day-t-day stuff. I can hardly imagine but it "feels" hot! Must seem like a dream by times. Pics will be great to see. You are in our hearts and on our minds and in our prayers. Love You...K

Response: Thanks for the note! Hawaii sounds like paradise! Thought you'd enjoy knowing that the name of Mama Rosie's school, where I teach is actually called "Wisdom School". Interesting, eh! Love to you and Howard!
From Andy


Response: Hey Stranger! Have been wondering about you! Send me an email and tell me what's new with you. Best! And say hi to Rhea and Bjorn for me!
From Jeff (aka Brian's si
Hi Nikki
Glad to hear things are going well there. Take care.
Response: Thanks Jeff, Brian's sister's husband!