A Travellerspoint blog

Running: to reboot the mind.

Finding that place.

sunny 20 °C

EDIT: it's since been raining and I am not sure a run is in my near future. . . . this makes me feel anxious and restless. I hope to seek refuge on the soccer fields.

My head is literally exploding with things to write about so let me try to hone in on what it is I want to get across.

I just went for a run, my third one since being here – which is seemingly crazy considering I’ve been here for one month and I’m used to running at least once a week so certainly my head has been super maxed out, what with not having my usual mental defragmentation series that the run so graciously provides. I digress, the run today was amazing and much more meditative, awe inspiring, and connective, and for that, I am deeply grateful.

I came to realize I had been so incredibly focused on what wasn’t – i.e., that I didn’t have the ocean to run by, the mountains, that I didn’t have the even, solid, and predictable running terrain I’m so used to, that I didn’t have the silence and solitude of the west that comes ironically from people being quiet, disconnected, and in their own heads thus generally ignoring others as they pass (not actually a great thing when you think about it but makes for a quiet run)…. In addition, I had no idea of a clear running route, and I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to find my way home – everything was so new. I do this a lot though, jump the gun so to speak, – forget that it takes time to adjust to a new place, and that you can’t instantly be in the “groove” of things. It’s been a good reminder that life happens, slowly, or quickly, it just does, and we adapt and quite simply, we need to be okay in letting that take whatever time it needs to, to not force or rush anything. “Let go and let be”…isn’t that a saying or proverb?

Some backstory, arguably unnecessary but here we go.

The first run I did was with Jon, who was the previous finance volunteer (unfortunately he’s gone now that I arrived). Jon took me on a great route that included many mambo’s, habari’s and polinis, spoken from the neighbours, as well as kids running alongside, with so much laughter and sounds of joy escaping their mouths. A difficult run given that my body was still adjusting to the new climate, altitude, and general atmosphere, but was glad to get moving again. The run ended through a series of maize fields though, so I was certain I would not be able to retrace the steps on my own and hesitated for quite a while until I ventured out for round two.

The second run I did was a Saturday, late morning, around 11am. It had rained quite a lot the night before so it was muddy and slippery, but I really needed to just get out! So, in addition to the added challenges as noted above, I also had to also ensure I was not slipping and falling on the muddy roads which proved to be an interesting challenge. But one that, in the end, I managed– aka I didn’t fall, so that’s a bonus (I almost did…. but I caught myself in the knick of time).

So after those two runs I was feeling rather discouraged, and inside, somewhat frantic, feeling a bit like “how the crush am I going to be able to live here a year if I can’t RUN!”… and I don’t just mean run, I mean…. run like I need - which is, a run with which my surroundings provide me with the ability to tune out so that I can tune in….to my brain and let the thoughts flow and process, while I undergo a reboot.

I felt a little helpless and overwhelmed at the thought of not being able to get that for a year, but a piece of me remained confident that I’d find a way to make it work. And find a way I did…or rather, it found me. And thank goodness it did.

It’s funny, or fantastic, how the universe works. Yesterday in the office/library I stumbled upon these cards that, on one side say “Treasures from Tikashi”, and on the other side, there are these amazing words of wisdom. I have no idea where they came from (assuming a previous volunteer), or what Tikashi means (I have yet to look it up) but the quotes were exactly what I needed.

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Picking cards at random, they were all resonating very deeply with me, and in looking back, they were exactly what I needed to find, and ingest into my psyche- to remember what is truly going on here, with me, and in general.

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I was trying so hard to figure out what the meaning of this whole trip was, why I was here, trying to have all these revelations….the card entitled “Clarity” helped to remind me that I can just be in the flow, that, indeed, “allowing creates flow” – beautiful!

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I was also judging my experiences based on past experiences and on expectations, both consciously and not, so reading the one about allowing new situations to be as they are was incredibly helpful.

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“Co-operation” – with myself, of course, and synchronistically enough I had been thinking about co-operative models and wondering how that might work here. For example, where we have many people who own cattle and produce milk, but operate in their own silos, …what that might look like to get a farmers’ cooperative going.

And living in the now, of course a very appropriate one, always but hard to actually put into practice.

Now I’m not sure if it was the endorphins of the run, or the reading of those cards (I think it was a bit of both) but as I approached Kesho Leo (where the mamas and kids stay, and where the school is), I felt a strong inclination to stop and turn around – honestly have no idea why, but wow am I glad I did.

Before me, lay Mt. Meru in all her glory (I will give her a gender, seems more connecting). Beautifully crisp and clear, a mammoth of a mountain, and my heart was filled with so much love. I thought – here I had been focusing on wanting - wanting the oceans, the mountains, the pavement, the smells, the moment when the ocean air turns to forest air, indicating I was close to my “stopping to reflect” point -the runs I got to experience back home, feeling lonely without them. And yet, here I was, in a majestic place, surrounded by so much beauty - this was here, all along, right in front of me and I failed to notice it because I was so fixated on what was not, versus what was. All I had to do was turn around and be present to the moment. Easier said than done, of course. We get so caught up in our heads –or at least I do.

The moment you stop focusing on what isn’t,
and turn around to see,
literally,
what is

I wish I had my camera there to capture that moment, but then likely I would have been preoccupied with getting the “best” shot and not been present to the moment, so, I’ll have to use my words.

To my left , kushoto, was Mt. Meru, around me, out a ways, were a few local homes made of cement, complete with lines of clothes, drying in the faint breeze, to my right, kuliwa, was a field of flowers, reds, pinks, purples, whites, all bled together to create a beautiful mosaic, swaying to the movements of nature. There were fields of Maize as well and in the distance I could hear music; behind me, Kesho Leo. I could also hear what I assumed to be conversation in the distance but to me it was just noise because my Swahili is not yet at the place where the sounds become words which converge into meaning. I took a seat on a slightly grassy patch amongst the dirt and merely observed this perfect moment I was so fortunate to be present to. The moment where I felt like I was settling in, meaning was re-emerging, and where I was in utter harmony with the natural world. I was flooded with gratitude, and as I looked up to embrace the feeling, there I saw, our beautiful moon, Mwezi.

“This is my spot” I thought. This is the spot I will come to, mid-run, especially when I’m feeling maxed out and need to just chill and be one with nature. This is IT. I’m so glad I found it. Thank-you to whatever it was that propelled me to stop and turn around, and not just keep running.
It’s funny, isn’t it – how such majestic beauty can be literally right behind you, and you can miss it if you fail to stop, turn around, and absorb your surroundings. And, it’s not like I have not seen Mt. Meru looking beautiful before, I have many photos of her… but not whilst running and not mid-run, and not in that moment that I witnessed – away from the pointed fingers, “Mzungu” screams - away from all of that mental distraction.

But back to my looking up at the moon because something else came over me as I did so. I thought about how I am seeing the moon now, based on where I am situated on our planet earth, and my family and friends back home in Canada (specifically I was thinking Vancouver or Calgary) would not yet see the moon but in due time, when night fell upon them, they would. But, it would not be the exact same moon I’m looking at now, it will be whatever the moon is like when they see it. Which sounds pretty standard, but really when you think about it, it’s pretty mind boggling.

So, despite feeling like I’m living in the future over here, we’re all just living, simultaneously. Every moment, we are living together. One side of the world to the other, it’s all happening now, not 10 hours before or after.

Time leads us to believe that if it’s, say, 6pm in Arusha on Thursday April 10th, that Vancouver has not yet had its 6pm Thursday session, and thus not lived that moment yet. But in reality, my 6pm will not be the same 6pm for Vancouver, it can’t be. Days do not replicate, life just is. While Vancouver, too, will get its 6pm Thursday, it will be a new moment and not a repeat of my 6pm moment - seemingly the same, but entirely different. And so it hit me, harder than ever, how much time really is a human construct; a very helpful one at that, but a construct none the less. That all we have is the moment, each and every moment. This moment right now for me is the same moment right now for someone in Vancouver.

Even as I type this it sounds trivial. I’m trying to recount the clarity that I had inside me whilst sitting there in that field but I can’t quite bring it all back. For a brief moment it all made sense, time, space, being, life, existence – it made perfect sense ….but perhaps I’ve now got back to the technologies…the clock…and the clarity has somewhat dispersed itself.

While it seems like I’m living in the future, or ahead, it’s all still the same moment, and therefore emphasizing that time is indeed a human construct and that all there is this moment, and now this one. While the day versus night gives the illusion that it’s a different moment, the fact that I can get on the internet and talk to someone who is experiencing day, while I experience night, at the same moment, proves time is not real. What is real is the present moment. And, it is all happening, simultaneously. LIFE.

Posted by Jocelynn.R 03:18 Archived in Tanzania Tagged time planet running universe connection construct Comments (0)

Getting settled and making sense of things

day to day, micro revelations, and the like.

semi-overcast 20 °C

I just want to give the preamble that my words will absolutely not do any of this true experience justice, but so it is….

It’s Sunday evening now (actually I'm posting this on what is now almost a week later, but it was originally written on said Sunday evening - the 16th of March), the sun is on its way to setting and I’m hanging out in my room. Just did a sweep, as I’ve been trekking in a lot of dirt from the rains we’ve been having….it cakes on your shoes like nothing else, but sawa sawa, hamna shida.

Today, after having, what has become my usual *instant* coffee and peanut butter on bread with banana, while Nudge, the cute little kitten on site, joined me on my lap, we headed into town for a few errands and a bit of a tour. One of the “to-do”s was buy myself some rain boots, in preparation for the muddy washed-out roads the rain shall soon bring. Little did I know, we’d buy them right from the seat of our truck. T’was quite the event, and I was glad to have Lucie there to speak Swahili for us, as mine is still entirely too basic to engage in such an energetic transaction.

Driving into town yesterday was a good introduction to the rains I should expect. It was coming down quite hard, and I could not get over how much water was gushing down on the sides of the streets!! I thought for sure by the time it was time to come back home, the road would be washed away. But, luckily, it stopped raining, there was still a road, and I got home. Perhaps it was a bit dramatic of me to think such things but it was literally two heavily flowing rivers on each side of the road, about half a meter wide…something else. Made me think about how having rain water capture and multiple water diversions set-up to allow for flow back into the pastures/crop land would be ideal – thus to provide clean drinking water to families, prevent road erosion, to irrigate crops and provide water for farm animals etc. As I type this the winds are picking up outside, and it feels like rain is a comin. It’s quite nice to listen to at night though….people pay for such simulated sounds on cd, but here…I get it fresh from the jungle of Tanzania.

Yesterday was a great day in Arusha town and I was able to catch up with my friend whom I met last time I was here. I’m used to pulling off to the side to let cars, dala dalas, piki piki (motorcycle), pass and all these things that are on the roads while I walk, so I was headed to meet a friend at a local restaurant, about 1.5km from where I am staying, and a car pulls up and I move over to the side to let the car pass, it slows down more, and, to my surprise, it’s my friend! The day felt very dream-like - super surreal. If I really think about it, that I’m here, back in Tanzania,…that in and of itself is still quite surreal…I mean when I really think about it! So we went into town, I got a sim card, we then went to a beautiful spot that overlooked Arusha town from pretty high up, and I got some great photos. It has a sign out front that says bank, but it seemed like an office building I guess, and you go to the top and there’s a sky bar sort of thing…quite nice.

We then visited his sister, Mama Kt, and her two kids in her shop where Mama was dolling out a masala mixture of delicious smelling spices into little baggies, that they were then sealing, and preparing to sell at the market. There were many others present too, extended family, and other workers. What a nice bunch of people. We were fed delicious Indian food (his sister married an Indian man so the cultures have converged) but it was mostly me who ate it since it was too spicy for my friend. I was so happy to be present to such wonderful people. So nice, warm, and welcoming, so much community spirit and heart all in one place…Mama Kt let me know I was welcome back whenever, and that we could hang out some time again soon.

We then went to go find some other food for my friend, and then did a few errands and we met up with some of his friends back at the sky bar again. There was some soccer on TV too which is always enjoyable - wish that happened more in Canada ;). Later on in the evening, we also went back to the old area where my friend used to live, and met up with his friend/roommate, who I had met briefly when I was here before. Such a nice guy. All in all it was a great day/night and I felt more like I was getting to do the local thing, forgetting I was a foreigner, which was great.

There are many things I love here, but one is how there are so many little shops and gathering spaces in and amongst the neighbourhoods…this of course increases the community vibe tremendously. If someone’s house has a tiny shop window adjoined to it, and chairs out front, and people from the community come by, grab a beer, sit and chat, you drastically increase neighbours knowing neighbours, just by virtue of it being there…no forced gatherings, it’s all natural. I would LOVE for this to exist in Canada…so I best work on that once I get back…for now I suppose the liquor laws would have no such thing (we'll ease into it with tea and coffee to start), but man is it nice to have that set-up. I couldn’t get over that. I made sure I basked fully in the awesome.

Our last stop of the night was dinner at a local restaurant that my friend use to go to a lot when he lived in this area we were at. It was super tasty, ugali, meat, and a cooked banana. We were then going to meet up with some of the other volunteers as they were going out but by 11pm, after I had eaten I was tooooo tired! It must be the jet lag/time-change thing because usually I’m up pretty late, but here…I mean right now it’s 6:20 pm and I could totally go to sleep! And, I’m up quite early and I don’t feel that same sense of groggy-I-don’t-want-to-wake-up-I-will-push-snooze-multiple-times feeling. …which is nice because I actually like waking up early, I feel refreshed and enjoy waking up with nature…so asante sana Tanzania for bringing this about in me.

I speculate that it’s due to being energetically connected to my home country people… though, perhaps that’s not as accurate now since no-one is sleeping atm…but I guess it makes sense since it’s 8:30 am in Vancouver and I’m feeling that groggy feeling I just described feeling in the AM…. Interesting. I do find it hard to sleep when I know those I love are up and living life, and I do think that has some sort of energetic implication.
I digress. Man there is so much I’d love to write about in detail to try to paint a perfect picture but alas, I would be here for days and days, and writing a massive novel. I will have to leave it at that.

Actually…a bit more!

I should have written sooner – famous words of someone who is travelling and wanting to write about it… but yes, I do wish because I’ve already desensitized myself so much to my surroundings so it’s hard to recall all my emotions upon arriving. But I suppose reading my fb status helps jog my memory a bit. Boy that first day of being here, it was GREAT, and I kept having to remind myself that I was finally coming back, that this was it, that I had waited for this moment for so long and I was so excited…that I wasn’t dreaming, that this was REAL.

And, it was amazing, up until I was driving to the place I was going to be staying at…passing the people, their homes, the completely different surroundings, the hustle and the bustle in the streets, the mud, the dirt, the kids, the chaos, the complete and utter sensory overload.

Despite having been here before I was completely culture shocked anew. So, when I arrived on site, I was so incredibly tired, I got a bit of a run down of the place, but then I went to have a nap. The others were meeting up with other volunteers from elsewhere for dinner and I figured I ought to participate to meet people, and also to stay up too so I could try to sleep the whole night, but I was a complete zombie…and also on the verge of tears. I was just so overwhelmed …wow. Thinking back I felt like a completely different person. I guess jet lag will do that to a person? I could barely speak, I felt I had nothing to say too, and I just wanted to go to bed.

I don’t remember the last time I cried so much….that night, it was painful. I was so overwhelmed and worried I had made a HUGE mistake. I was even having a bit of a hard time breathing a few times, but I managed to calm myself down. I couldn't stop wondering why I came here when I had so many epic things going for me in Vancouver. I loved my life there. I wasn't running away (as sometimes travelling may appear,…perhaps that’s also a stereotype of people who travel for long periods of time, or go live elsewhere are running away)…But I had so much to be grateful for in Canada, I wasn’t running away so why did I come here? Why did I give up on so much epic?

Would it all change when I came back? Could I get it back? I was so shell shocked.

I think it’s also something to do with the fact that it’s not normal/natural to fly…biologically/evolutionarily speaking…. I felt this before when I came here, that someone had picked me up and plopped me down on the other side of the world. You have no concept of transformation when you fly because you’re however many miles high in the sky, and travelling at speed that the human mind can’t even comprehend. You go SO far away but it’s hard to understand that…I mean, we flew at about 1,000mph, for 12.5 hours straight!! THAT IS FAR! And that was only one flight of three, albeit the longest one, I honestly can’t even comprehend how far that is…and then technology makes it feel all the more close, and so you’re body/brain/everything is just entirely confused.

So, whereas in the past when tribes would travel, but they would do so by foot or animal and so you’d see the changing landscapes and you’d evolve with the changes, it was slow, steady, and at a human pace…whereas here, it’s like one minute I’m in Canada, living luxuries galore, and the next I’m in the middle of a boiling hot jungle, with completely different smells, sites, sounds and everything… but as with most things, the body/mind adjust, and you get used to it and it feels like home in no time. I'm grateful for adaptability.

Sleep helped though, but man that was hard…both because my mind was racing, but also because there was a jungle chorus outside my window. Crickets, so many crickets, (I didn't realize they could be so loud!!) dogs and frogs, and as the night progressed and the sun got closer to rising, Muslim prayer began (which I hear now, too as I type this) then joined the birds, adding their songs to the mix, and the rooster made sure we knew what time it was.

I awoke in the middle of the night, wide awake, of course….so I found my laptop and thankfully had a friend to chat to on fb (thanks to the time change…:P) I was a mess…. But I decided to give it some time and sleep, I woke up feeling only a few percents better, but trusting, and knowing deep down that as time passed I would feel a lot better and it’s funny how the body forgets….this was pretty much exactly how it was when I came here before, the first few moments were so strange, and left me feeling uneasy, and missing home sana sana, oh man so much.... but that passes, and you acclimatize. Maybe I’m just extra sentitive but gosh I was experiencing some extreme emotions. I’m so happy that has passed.

So, it’s what, day 4 and I’m about to go to sleep for night 5….and I’m feeling pretty good.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that what I’m worried about (I know I should stop worrying and just live life but …I like to think about things, and explore in my mind...it’s how I go) is falling back in love with Tanzania…and it’s the same feeling I felt when I got Boo. Here was this adorable kitty, who had already stolen my heart despite my trying to shield it. I didn't want to get involved because the moment you get involved the moment you have something to lose (of course people do this with relationships all the time, but when we've been hurt in the past we become afraid, and unfortunately the first reaction is often - closing up and shutting down).....

...Why would we willingly accept pain at a future date… but of course it’s preposterous to make decisions based on future pain without regard for the pleasure it will bring …but such is the mind sometimes, especially a mind who has been hurt in the past (cats passing away etc, or heart felt relationships gone sour)….but just as it was with Boo, I couldn't help it, I’d already fallen for her, and, as most who know me know, she is now deeply embedded into my everything and that is just how it is, and well, it’s worth it.

I feel the same way about Tanzania….I was scared to fall back in love with the place (though I’m not sure I ever fell out of love, but the more you distance yourself the easier it becomes to make peace with not being there) but I feel it, I've gone and done it again.... I've fallen back into it, and it’s going to be so hard to go back home…despite loving so much about Canada and wanting to go back to start building roots and a life and community and all these lovely things…setting up shop if you will…. It’s going to be hard.

So these are some things I've been pondering. And it’s a strange feeling, to be here and loving it, but scared to love it more, and to miss home, and yet not want to go back but want to go back simultaneously. Then recognizing that the only reason such things can cross my mind because I’m extremely fortunate enough to be able to travel to such faraway lands – that I do realize, and I am grateful for the experience and opportunity.

I’ve also had these other realizations yesterday when I was out and I can’t quite articulate them yet so …more to come on that, but suffice it to say….when sitting in that aforementioned pub at the top of that building, looking down on the hustle and bustle, seeing the bus station where I said bye to a good friend the last time I was here - not knowing when I'd be back, and feeling so much pain leaving Arusha, and talking to my friend about life, and about people who “help” others, and people who are corrupt…and putting all my past thoughts and ponderings together I started thinking about how life can have its issues wherever you are, people are people, trying to live, what’s important is that you are near those you love. It’s being by those you love that makes you feel home, not any material possession or tangible home – though of course there are certain things that bring us comfort and that can be helpful. ….it's about the intangibles...that what makes life magical isn't that you’re in Africa, or in Canada or wherever you are, it’s that you embrace each moment, you build community, and you get to know your neighbours (to be fair I did believe such things before coming here but now even more so).

Meaningful interactions…I believe that is the meaning of life, and that isn't location dependent, that it heart dependent, that is energy dependent.

The realization was entirely deeper than that but as I said, I can’t quite articulate it yet. Still processing. It’s funny I needed to come all the way back here to have these mini revelations but I suppose I expected as much :P

I have not even ventured to the rest of the site here – specifically Kesho Leo where the kids and mamas are…I’m going to get a site tour Tuesday so stay tuned. I’ve also started to do a bit of the accounting with the fellow I’m replacing….learning how to use quickbooks, and adapting to the cultural businesses differences…quite interesting indeed.

Oh and I finally had a shower two days ago, and yesterday finally washed my hair. Man that was amazing! The little things in life can be so enjoyable.

I am so thankful for water to bath with and drink. Water is such an amazing life source. And how perfect that I post this today, March 22, as it's world water day, and people are getting together at 3pm PST to show collaborative gratitude toward this life giving source.

"There is only ONE Body of Water as all rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans are connected. All humans, regardless of race, religion or creed, were born from a womb of water, depend on water to live and connect with water everyday. All cultures and sacred traditions have practiced water blessings, from people praying in the Ganges to Baptisms in churches. - see World Water Day - UNIFY

Asante sana.

Posted by Jocelynn.R 02:44 Archived in Tanzania Tagged water culture travel life love accounting permaculture Comments (0)

Simultaneously getting stoked and freaked at the same time.

In this moment.

rain 9 °C

I know that this is something I want to do, there's no question, but that doesn't stop my idle mind from wondering a series of what if's and in general, questioning the overall intent of this trip, and the length too...one year?! Crazyness...

I've moved out of my place now, and I head to Calgary tomorrow. It's weird to see my place, void of all things that make it "me", and now inhabited by others...as I knock on the door of the place I've lived in for the past three years - it's certainly feeling provoking.

My little Boo is set-up at my friends place, and I am so thankful she is in such a loving, safe, caring, home. It is exactly the type of situation I would have hoped for, so for that I am ever so grateful. However, still breaks my heart to see that it's not longer her and me, partners in crime. I get it, and I've thought long and hard about it, and I know that in a year I will look back and we'll be cuddling in my bed, and all will be restored -our little games, our laughs - but for now, for now my heart hurts, but I think that's okay....I think that's normal.

I randomly ran into two friends who I hadn't yet seen that I wanted to before I headed off - one on the seawall whilst I was going for a run, the other whilst biking home from the bank, and I just happened to decide to go up a particular street, so that I could leave something at my other friends house, and the only reason I had that something, is because I had been at my favorite place (Templeton), and they told me my friend forgot their debit card, on a previous night of being there.... it's neat how each and every moment tends to seem so incredibly purposeful when looking back... and it's moments like that that make me feel I'm on the right path, and that the universe is on my side. . . maybe I'm simply trying to create a story out of nothing, but maybe not, too...both are equally as likely....one perhaps even more so.

I've been thinking a lot about leaving, and what that means. It evokes quite the array of emotions, one being gratitude. I've been trying to think about what it is about leaving that makes everything seem so incredibly amazing, and makes you question leaving it all in the first place. And, in scribbling down some thoughts in my head I came up with this.....

"That the moment you are going to leave your current life gets a flash of brilliance and maybe what I ought to take from that is not just that things are good when you’re about to leave, but that things ARE good, in general… and if we just stopped for a moment to appreciate (which is essentially what we do when we leave…because we recognize we will be without this person or that space..etc)… we would realize it was here all along, and it’s always amazing, at every moment, we revel in it."

So.... with that, I have of course been trying to revel in each moment left, but not because I'm leaving, just because it IS, I am, and we are. And, I will try to take this new found logic with me wherever I go, to not miss a beat, and to be present to each moment...because people say the moment is all we have, and I'm starting to understand what that truly means.

Posted by Jocelynn.R 18:13 Archived in Canada Tagged travel leaving universe synchronicity Comments (0)

Nimekuwa amekosa ninyi

When it just makes sense. When it just feels right.

sunny 7 °C

In general my goal is to transform accounting so that it's more holistic and representative of the interconnected system and Web of life we are all apart of. What that will look like evolves but for now, it looks like me learning more about ecological economics, growing and engaging in the new economy, and doing Permaculture and accounting. I'm going to help out as finance manager of this organisation in Tanzania that has an eco-village and has Permaculture deeply woven into their very fabric... 'Tis true, the possibilities are endless....almost too endless, but I trust everything is in flow.

The time is drawing close, and I will be heading off to Tanzania once again. Perhaps if one has only been following the blog post, then it may not be clear how deeply connected I felt to the lands, and the people over in Tanzania, such that I knew I would return. Though if you spoke to me since my return you won't be surprised by any of this! It's something that has been on my mind since I came back to Canada in August of 2010, a feeling inside that can't quite be expressed with words, nor extinguished with anything else - I knew I would return.

In Vancouver, over the past three and a half years I've made some amazing connections, met some phenomenal people, and finished what I started doing which was completing my Master in Accounting, and getting certified as a Chartered Accountant. Wow, am I ever stoked the UFE is behind me!! I was also fortunate enough to spend two summers in Saskatoon, this was where the Master happened, but where I also discovered my love of Permaculture; where it was first introduced to me, it along with many amazing, caring, genuine, and loving folks. I completed a Permaculture Design Certificate Course on Bowen Island, with Pacific Permaculture, taught by my good friend, Jesse Lemieux. That ended in June 2013, and then I qualified for my CA in August 2013. Now...to combine the two - Accounting and Permaculture. : )

I've now left my financially secure job to pursue what felt undeniably right inside my being. Because if not now, then when? Life is short and there is no reason we need to spend it "hating our Mondays", and not taking responsibility for our own happiness! To be clear, I deeply appreciate the experience I've had to date, getting my CA designation, the amazing mentors I've met along the way, and the experience to last a lifetime, which will surely help me in my future endeavors. I use the monday's as a general expression of how I've noticed people feel in jobs they are unsatisfied with, and it's become the "norm"...but it's not normal! Follow your heart!

The plane ride home, leaving Tanzania, feels like yesterday. The bracelets I have had on my right wrist since my return in 2010 remain, as a visual and tangible reminder of my time over there, of how meaningful it was to me; they also keep me feeling connected. I vividly remember looking out the window on that airplane ride back to Canada thinking "I will be back, and I will be in the airplane returning, remember this exact moment"....and that day is coming close. I officially leave March 11, 2014, at 1am, and those thoughts will surely cross my mind. So many times have I looked up at airplanes and thought "soon...soon I will be in that, and headed back". It's cool to watch that transform into reality.

So, I was debating if I would write as part of my other blog, or start a new blog, or just keep this one going and I opted to keep this one going because a ) it has the previous Africa trip, b) it has geared to travel - though this is more work than travel, but that's ok....and c) why not...although, it seems I can't see stats on this blog so maybe I will convert to blogspot.... TBD.

Why am I REALLY going?
A few people have told me "that's so great of you to go help", or, if they are wishing I'd stay they say "there are so many people here who need your help instead!"...so I feel I should clear up my reasons for going : )

My intention is not to help people. At first read that may seem preposterous or even cruel of me to say. I hope that one can understand where I am coming from when I say that. It is not that I don't want to help people, it's that, I recognize it is not my place to go over and "help".... it's the history of "help" and what that's done that fuels my thoughts around this, but it's also the fact that, I don't think we have it "right" over here in the Western World, and I am not intending on saving anyone, or what have you. I'm open to sharing information because it's good to share, if the moment is right...., but quite honestly, I believe I will be helped more than I could ever help. And I witnessed that the last time I was there.

The beauty of it all though, is that by me helping myself, I help others, too. This is made possible by virtue of all of us being deeply interconnected. As I said before to a friend, in the world of interbeing, the concept of "selfish" doesn't even exist - how can it?

My desire to go back to Tanzania is one that can't easily be put to words because it is a feeling, a calling. A deep deep sense of rightness, I can feel it inside, and it's beautiful - to be in perfect alignment with your inner purpose/calling/core - whatever you want to call it. It's what I would like to do, experience, see, and be - it has nothing to do with feeling this sense of "omg, I need to help people,". It comes from a place of certainty, and genuine interest in other ways of life - it does not come from a place of frantic or pre-formulated action.

Quitting my job, and leaving the consistency of every day life is scary to many, and perhaps even unthinkable, and what I've done may well be deemed crazy by even more but to me it just feels right. Despite being in a situation of complete unknown, I feel something inside me that says - this is absolutely exactly where I need to be, all possibilities exist; potential is in its purest form and life is going to emerge beautifully as it intends to. By me stepping out of control, resistance, and routine, I've allowed my self to exist in flow, and be open to the beautiful synchronicity that is, life.

So, this is why I am going, and I absolutely can't wait!

Posted by Jocelynn.R 13:37 Archived in Canada Tagged life journey accounting transformation permaculture Comments (1)

Oldoinyo Lengai (meaning 'Mountain of God' in Maasai)

or as we found out after the fact, "Kill-Yourself Mountain" and we were also told it is the hardest mountain in Tanzania.

sunny 25 °C

Well, as many of you know, I am back in Calgary now (and sick with a bug from Africa - it's only fair I suppose). I wanted to write one last blog though to document, and share, my battle with mother nature on July 23, 2010 which lasted 14 hours. Climbing this mountain was, without a doubt, one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life, both mentally and physically. I say this because for a moment, as we neared the summit, death became a sure outcome in my mind. I was trying to reason with it. I have been in situations before where I feared injury, but never once had death crossed my mind as an option. To be honest I didn't even think it was possible to feel what I felt....I can barely remember the feeling now, too, because I took so long to document this. I will attempt to explain the feeling though. My body had been ready to surrender to the mountain back at the 3/4 mark and then all of a sudden, with maybe 20 feet to go, my brain was ready to accept the surrender as well...and I think that was what must have happened for me to rationally consider death. When your brain decides to go along with your bodies desire for death...it's a scary, scary thing. Thankfully the thought did not last long or else I might have not made it to the top (actually, I might have not made it, in general). I am so thankful for Lesmolo, my guide, who, somehow, enabled me to get to the top. Once I reached the summit I was quite shaken up inside and, with just enough time to sit down, I cried tears of joy because I was so thankful to be alive. I should mention to that if that mountain was in Canada, you would be harnessed in - I'm sure it would be mandatory.

If this were an essay or a report, I suppose above might be the abstract, but what's an abstract without the body? So, I will tell you about the whole climb!

Typically, if not always, people climb this mountain at night because it's too hot to try to tackle it in the day (also I think it helps you to succeed because then you don't see what you're up against until the sun comes out and by that point you're at the summit ...or, in our case, still an hour away from the summit but wanting to finish what you started). Also, the idea is that you get to the top for a beautiful sunrise.

We had an early dinner on the Friday and went to our tents around 8pm so we could get some sleep pre-climb. We woke up around 12am, had some coffee, and then drove to the starting point. By the time we got organized, pushed the land cruiser out of the sand, took a few photos, and said our goodbyes it was about 1am. Time to start our climb! The beginning wasn't bad at all, we kept a steady pace and had water breaks every now and again. We were merely walking up to the base of the mountain as I realized later on our way back in the light of day. The terrain started to get a bit more difficult given that the rocks would break off and crumble in your hands (since they are merely hardened ash) but it was still manageable. Also, the first hour or so it was insanely windy so it was a bit chilly but once we got up higher the wind slowed down and, eventually, it stopped.

I am still amazed at how much light the moon gives off (granted it was a full moon, but still!). When we would stop for water breaks and all was silent it was pretty surreal standing up there, feeling so insignificant, on such a large piece of rock created by earth's inner workings. I digress.. we kept on climbing, following our guide, Lesmolo, as he chose the best path for us. All was good until the moon set and we were left in total darkness. None of us had head lamps either, which would have been extremely favourable in this particular situation. Nonetheless, Lesmolo grabbed his torch and we managed to get a good system going; he would climb up a few feet and then shine the torch back down to us so we could follow in his footsteps. This took considerably more time but there was not too many other options considering the rocky, unstable terrain and sub-par lighting conditions.

Not too long after we started being able to see a bit better and we realized the sun was rising but we were nowhere near the top! We decided we needed to pick up the pace but failed to realize that we were too far from the summit to make it in time. See, this mountain, like many, was extremely deceiving - having many parts that appeared to be peaks and yet, once you reached the supposed peak, you would realize you had another half a mountain to climb (even on the climb down, we kept thinking we were at the bottom and then no...it would be another ten minutes, and then another twenty minutes) it was never ending!! Very frustrating, to say the least.

As I stated in the beginning, the last bit of the hike was sheer insanity. I was already so exhausted and malnourished (having only eaten two cliff bars in seven hours) when we got to a part which I figured had to be the peak, it legitimately looked like the peak once you reached it, too, so I thought, for sure, this was it. But no, of course it wasn't, why would it be? Lesmolo looked at me, pointed, and said "up" and I gave him the dirtiest look...pleading with him, asking if he was sure he was not joking. It was that last bit where death crossed my mind and I won't repeat the story since its written above.... but thinking about it now gives me chills.

Once at the top...we waited for the rest of our crew to reach the summit. (Oh yea, I failed to mention that at about 3/4 of the way up we inadvertently split up... I got in the zone of just wanting to reach the top so I could relax for a second and Lesmolo guided me the rest of the way. Jen and Innocent stayed back and went at a more comfortable pace. And, as we were on our way to the top, we passed another group of people who we ended up getting to know quite well at the top). Once the others arrived we ate a bit and tried to enjoy the view but it was hard because the peak was not like your average peak where you can just spread out and relax. There was minimal, to no, space at the top. On one side there was a huge volcano and on the other was the mountain with a steepness rating I can't even fathom (almost horizontal) - what we had just hiked up.

Not too long after, we were all ready to go back down but it seemed as if there was no clear route down and it would be impossible to go down without sliding all the way since there was nothing to use a leverage. We sat at the top for two hours while our guide along with the two other guides from the other group "axed" (aka jammed with a broken walking stick and a rock) out holes in the mountain so we could stick our feet in and sort of crab-walk down. Those two hours of waiting were quite painful.... everyone at the top was terrified so that didn't help matters, I had to pee really bad (we all did, actually, and we ended up going on the edge of the mountain...ha ha), my sweat was starting to freeze, and I was insanely tired. Oh! I forgot to mention one of the better parts....maybe 45 minutes before we reached the top I got a huge rip in my pants from right knee all the way up and past the zipper...it was awkward to say the least. On this peaceful mountain all of a sudden I hear this huge "rrrrrrrrriiip" sound and I look down and see what has just transpired. I shrug it off and keep hiking but Lesmolo looks back at me with a puzzled look on his face so I show him what happened and in showing him I realize it ripped a lot father up than I had thought (I figured it had just ripped to my thigh or something)...nope, definitely gave Lesmolo a bit of a show that he did not need to see haha and he's like "umm you don't have other pair of pants" and I'm like..noo... and then he tells me he has a shirt I can use but then I remember, so do I, and I tie my long-sleeved shirt around my front add hike the rest of the way up. Luckily Inno had a pair of trekking pants over his pants so he let me use those for the way down!

Sitting up there watching them make those holes in the mountain, wondering how we were actually going to get down, it felt like such a nasty nightmare...except that this time, we actually could not wake up - no matter how hard we pinched ourselves (all I wanted to do was kiss the earth that was next to the car...however many km's below us). Finally after waiting in agony at the top (having gone through all other possibilities of getting down from there without having to actually climb it, times three) we started our decent as one big group - our initial group of four plus three other tourists (a very nice swiss family - husband and wife with their son), and their two guides. We made a sort of choo-choo train behind our respective guides (although my guide was helping the Swiss woman down so I was left to my own defenses and joined in behind Jen, who was behind Inno...and then behind me was the Swiss son and behind him was a guide) It kind of felt like we were tobogganing except replace snow with sharp rocks and ash and remove the toboggan - so basically tear all the fun parts away from tobogganing. (If only we had been tobogganing...what fun that would have been and how fast we would have reached the bottom!).

For those of you who are keeping time, our decent began around 9am and we reached the bottom at 3ish pm...what a gong show! It was so hot on the way down and we started peeling off the layers we had frantically thrown on at the top when the sweat started rapidly evaporating off our bodies. We also had to stop and apply sunscreen which turned into a disgusting dusty paste on our faces because we were covered in dust from walking through ash/sand/etc. The hike down seemed never-ending but it was also great because I knew with each step down we were getting closer, and closer to safety and I was happy to have passed the hardest part of the mountain.

My stomach was in rough shape, too, for most of that hike (talk about the icing on the cake...or the lava in a volcano?) I think had it not been, I would have been in a lot better condition to tackle said Lengei. Also, we borrowed hiking shoes because we didn't bring any with us so I think having had my own would have helped tenfold. But, you do what you can...and despite everything, we managed to hike what we were told was the hardest mountain in Tanzania, if not Africa. I couldn't believe it! "Harder than Killimanjaro?" I asked.... Apparently Killimanjaro, on the last day, is equivalent to Lengei...except you get no relief on Lengei, it's all insane. We were told the mountain conditions on Lengei are always changing (I suppose this makes sense given it's an active volcano)...so no-one really knew how crazy of a climb it would be (hence why we did not get warned). I had a friend who did it last year and she said it was relatively straight forward because the lava had paved the way for a decent channel where you could walk up, in the channel, and it was deep enough that you could use the sides as support...our hike did not resemble that description in the least (though I guess the top was still super steep and pretty crazy!)

I am glad I'm alive, and I'm glad I have a story to tell people...but if you asked me to do it again I'd surely say no. I think, too, had there been magnificent foliage (actually any would have been nice!) surrounding us whilst hiking, or if we got to see red hot lava I would be more stoked on doing it again...but because the mountain was so barren ...it doesn't leave much for the eye whilst climbing (that and half of the climb is in the dark anyways).

I should mention - one of the Maasai guides (the one with the Swiss family) hiked the mountain in his sandals!! I told him he was crazy and he just laughed at me... I guess it's what you're used to, right? I spoke to a few Maasai who said they were terrified of swimming and of water in general...so there you go.

Oldoinyo Lengai

Oldoinyo Lengai

Is this really happening?

Is this really happening?


We did it!

We did it!

Posted by Jocelynn.R 17:58 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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