Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ireland movie

Tanzania Safari

Yesterday we started on our 6 day safari. We stared with  the first National park for the day. When we entered the park we immediately saw a herd of zebra and a couple of wildabeast! We were pretty excited! 

The park has a curvy dirt road that meanders through the lush savanna. It reminds me a little of western Alberta's foothills. The trees are smaller then in Canada other than the baobab trees. They are thick trunked massive trees. Baobab means upside down tree. 

The next animals we saw were Impala and warthogs and a herd of giraffes. I was waiting to see a giraffe, so that was very special. Next as we drove through the scrub bush we came upon a big heard of elephants. There were male, female and many babies. They were eating the lush rainy season grass. 

Just as we thought we had seen so much, our guide heard on the land rovers radio, that a lion had been spotted. So we took off in that direction in hopes of getting a glimps of the lion. We were so lucky, we drove up and a female lion was sunning herself on a termite hill. As we watched, she decided she had had enough of us watching and got up, stretched herself and went into the tall grass. I was amazed that as soon as she immersed herself in the grass, she almost disappeared. We were very patient and were rewarded with another look at her when she crossed the dirt path. 

It was a long but very impressive day. We started out it 7am and are now, 12 hours later at Twiga campground relaxing while our dinner is being made. This  morning we left again at 7am for another full day game safari. 
We were rewarded with so many animals to see. We even saw 4 more lions and some hippos! 
We have lucked out with intermittent Internet, so we are trying to send a few great pictures. 

Safari in Tanzania

There are about 600 safari companies in Arusha, Tanzania. Some of those companies have 400 land cruisers. That's a lot of companies to choose from and a lot of tourists going out every year. We had a hard time choosing which company to pick. We knew it would have to be a budget trip because there is no way we could fit anything but budget into our life. Thankfully we met a family from Altona that just went last summer and they shared the company they used and since they travel in a similar way that we do (cheaply), we thought we'd give this company a try. We had a great experience also. The trip was a budget camping safari. Which means that they take you out into the national parks with a guide and a cook, tents and supplies. You basically do the same tour and go to the same places that the fancy shmancy tour companies offer, but instead of staying in lodges or hard walled tents, you sleep in tents and have sleeping bags and sometimes cold showers and eat with plastic cups and plates instead of wine glasses and China. No problem for us, we are pros at budgeted really, it was fine. It was more than fine, it was great. Many of the people paying 4x more than us, ate at the same picnic areas that we did. I did glacĂ© at their bottle of white wine on the last night with longing for a second, but I got over it and drank my warm water and laughed together with Dean, Colton and Miranda about the rain that we had the night before that drowned out the sounds of the hyenas in the campground. 

It is absolutely worth it. It was really a dream come true to go out to see African wildlife. I loved every moment! Here are some of the pictures of our last 3 days.
Our cook Yusa somehow made these remarkable meals for us every day. This campground was rustic. It had running water (not drinking water though) and no electricity. But he poked up a storm and even made a homemade birthday cake for me on my birthday! 
Shish k bobs one night

Happy birthday to me! 
Spaghetti and meat sauce, salad, fresh fruit and birthday cake! Yum! 

Shish k bobs, potatoes, quiche, avacado and cucumber salad

Most mornings we were awake at 5:30 and either at breakfast by 6 or on the road at 6. Sometimes when we got the chance to have a little nap in between, we took it! 

But most of the time we were looking out the window ready to spot a new type of animal

Miranda is keeping a journal of all the things we are seeing

We are having so much fun

Packing up the landrover to go to the next campsite 

This is the rustic campsite we stayed at 2 nights. It rained both nights.

Just the seringetti and a tent 

6 day Safari in Tanzania. Day 1-3

We just finished our 6 day safari. It was a crazy week. We were picked up on the first day by our safari guide Jolis and our cook Yusa. We had our own land rover which we pack a few changes of clothing into and everything we figured we'd need for 6 days tenting. We couldn't take much as we also needed all the tenting equipment and food along to. 

We drove for about 4 hours to our first stop Tarangire national park. We spent the day in the protected park in search of the large herds of elephants and Africa's Baobab trees. It didn't take long till we spotted our first herd of elephants. There were babies and many adults elephants. Watching a herd of elephants does not get old.

We also loved seeing all the rest of the animals. 

Our driver was amazing, he took care of everything we needed the whole 6 days helped spot the wildlife in between. 
That evening, we headed back to the campsite where we would spend the next 2 nights. The Twiga campsite had hot water and electricity. Little did we know that we would not have that luxury in the following days. 

Packing up the jeep

The next day we started at 6:30 am with a hot breakfast cooked by Yusa. He made amazing meals with very little supplies. We ate crepes, toast, eggs, sausage, fruit, tea and coffee most mornings. 
We ate very well.

The second day we left for Manyara national park. This park is know for its tree climbing lions. We were so excited to see the first lion. It was really far off in the trees and we zoomed in our cameras and thought that this might be the only lion we might see all week. Little did we know, but we ended up seeing 50 lions in 6 days! 

I was really looking forward to seeing giraffes. We saw so many! It was amazing! 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Who we are

I am lying across 3 seats on an empty plane. I'm traveling from Ireland to Tanzania via Ethiopia. Yes, Tanzania! It feels surreal. I can't believe we are doing this yet again. But it feels normal too. I feel like we are in our family zone. We are best when we are in this place. We take care of each other. We all have our jobs.

When we are in this travel mode, we all know our place, we can see what the other needs and skillfully try to help. 
It's not something that is planned. But in order to be happy together, it is what naturally happens. If someone is having a hard time, someone else in our group steps up to help the other out. Whether it's emotional or physical, one of us is there to pull the other up by the boot straps. It needs to happen to stay healthy while on long term travel. I see it happen, but I don't say a thing, it might wreck it. 

As I am lying here trying to rest on this overnight flight. I was finding myself breathing in and saying "thank you God! " over and over again. I have so much to be thankful for. My cup is overflowing. Tears come. How can I, a small town girl from Altona, be on a trip around the world with my husband and teenage kids.  I have an awesome, amazing, terrific husband and equally unbelievably awesome kids. All I can say is thank you God.
This is truly a gift and I do not for one minute not appreciate one minute of it. 

This is what living a dream feels like to me. The type of dream that as you live it, tears flow and the only words that come to mind is Thank you God! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Wild Atlantic way, Ireland

Today we went on another afternoon drive from Westport along the coast on a highway called The Wild Atlantic coast road. It was finally sunny when we woke up! We saw some mountain tops covered in snow that we hadn't seen yet because of the clouds and rain. It looked like we were in a new town. 
This drive was a little different than the drive the last 2 days. This drive took us around mountains and along the coast. There were sheep on the road as we drove and some places where the grass grew up along the centre of the road. It was a little less curvy and the stone walls were fewer. 

                                 We stopped a checked out a castle.

We drove along another road call the upper sky road. It was even narrower and much less traffic. 
It gave us great views of the fiord. 

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

We decided that we needed to go for a drive and check out the famous cliffs of Moher. The drive there was crazy! Narrow winding roads with stone walls built right up next to the road. There was maybe 1 foot from the edge of the road to the wall. I was riding in the passenger seat. So the stone wall was whizzing past me about 2 feet away, I mostly leaned  in towards the centre of the car for the 6 hour drive. Dean did a really good job of not killing us. I did a really good job of giving little gasps and squeeks as needed to make sure Dean knew I was scared :)

We occasionally stopped to take in the amazing views. 

When we arrived at the cliffs, there was a big sign saying the cliffs were closed due to dangerous winds. Well this girl did not drive 3 hours with a death grip and not get to see those cliffs. So we parked in the almost empty lot and climbed the hill to get this most amazing view. It is spectacular. Very worth the drive. But was it windy! Wow! Honestly enough to blow you over!

It was actually a little scary. But we were not really in any danger as the wind was blowing inland. But at times it was really hard to walk. 

It was also wet. It rained all day. We had a small window when we arrived at the cliffs where the rain let up a bit. But the mist off the ocean was like rain. It was about +6. 

Westport, Ireland

We arrived in Dublin, Ireland after a long day and night traveling. I always feel a little off when we travel for such a long time. Spending a night on a plane is not easy. Miranda did not sleep a wink, Colton thinks he got a couple of hours, Dean finally feel asleep after he lay down on the floor between the seats. The stewardesses kept taking second looks at him as they passed by. But surprisingly they never made him get up. 

So we finally landed, feeling tired, but excited to be in Ireland. It was raining (of course), and cool +6 and a bit windy. But we are here! We grabbed our backpacks and headed to the car rental place. I booked a car using our air miles to save some money (we are on a major budget of $130/day). Our credit card also covered the insurance! Yay! 

Thankfully, we also rented a gps. At first we thought we'd save the $ and go by map. SO THANKFUL we did! The roads are not like in Canada. We would have never made it to the freeway if we hadn't had the gps. Worth every Euro.

The roads are narrow. They basically fit two cars passing. There is no shoulder. You either have a stone wall right beside the road, or a small ditch or cliff. It felt a bit like we were on a roller coaster ride most of the day. 

We arrived in Westport in the afternoon. We stopped at a cafe and had a bit of lunch. Everything feels a bit off when you miss a nights sleep. But we pushed through. We gave our friend Tara a call to let her know we had arrived. We met Tara 3 years ago Couchsurfing in New Zealand. When she heard we were coming to Ireland, she invited us to stay with her and her family for a few days. She also had dinner waiting for us when we arrived. Her brother, sister and dad also came for dinner. It was a fun night! 

Tara's daughter gave us her room to sleep in. Colton and Miranda got the office. We all slept like a rock that night. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Pre travel stress

This has been a hard last few weeks. I've had a persistent stomach ache for about 2 1/2 weeks now. Dean and I have both been sleeping horribly. I feel like my brain is mush. I don't ever remember it being this stressful preparing for a trip. Today someone asked me how I was doing and I started crying. 

We are so very fortunate to be surrounded by people who love us and care about how we are coping. I talked about how our life has looked the last few weeks. I ended up feeling like a bit of the load was lifted. 

Planning for a trip this long and complicated is tough. Doing it while still continuing working, trying to get our taxes prepared early and trying to remember every little thing that needs to be done now and pre done for the next 4 months feels crazy. But when I have person after person that assures me that they are not only praying for us, but are willing to do things for us while we are gone is mind blowing. 
There are so many people that will be here at home, taking care of our beloved cat, watering our plants, taking care of our house, our apartment, our business, and even planting the garden in May. We feel so blessed. 

I know that I will feel better once we are sitting on the plane. The bags are packed. The food from the fridge is eaten. We are in the home stretch. 2 more sleeps. But right now I'm a bit sad. 

I will miss my people. The hugs I get regularly from people I know love me. The phone calls and texts I get throughout the day from my people. I will miss that in the next 4 months. But this is what we signed up for when we chose to explore and travel. But I will miss my people. My friends, my parents, my clients. They/you are such a very important part of my life.