Vacay in Tanzania
This is a bit of a departure from my regular blog material, but the location is still Africa, so it sort of still fits.
My wife and I visited an old friend of ours last week in Tanzania. Yep, we took some time off! First week off from the ole’ safari/hot air balloon treadmill in a few years.
Did I say treadmill? Oops. Sorry.
I don’t totally mean that. Sometimes it feels like a treadmill, but there are lots of parts of it that I like. Still, it was nice to get away for a week.
We could have gone to a resort along the Kenyan coast, or even in Madagascar. I have a friend that has built a great private, small resort a few hours north of Maputo. I’ve seen photos of the beach-front cottages. Simple, clean, lots of wood, lots of light. They look perfect.
But that’s not where we went. Instead, we took up an invitation of a friend of ours to help her for a week.
She’s a preschool teacher in the middle of Tanzania. Runs a year-round pre-school for the kids in one particular area, to get them launched into a successful literacy experience in first grade.
We stayed with her in her little house. She has two bedrooms, a tiny bathroom, and one living room/kitchen/dining combination room. She doesn’t have ac, so it can get pretty toasty in there, so we actually spent more time outside than in.
So we spent the week following our friend around (her name is Logan) and helping her with her classes. She had some special activities planned for the kids, and we were able to help her with those.
The activities were a combination of games and crafts. They were all geared to their age level, of course, but also geared to the materials and resources that Logan could get easily. Which, given where she lives, doesn’t say a whole lot. It’s not like she can run out to the nearest craft store to stock up on supplies. Most of what we used were things like stones, sticks, empty tin cans, strings, dried beans, and elbow macaroni.
I had no idea you could do so much with so little! Logan astounded me with her creativity.
The kids love her. It’s obvious. She rules with a firm hand, but you can see that the kids thrive under that, and that they know she loves ‘em. I saw several of them bring her gifts throughout the week: a special rock one had found, a rice cake that a mom had cooked, an interesting beetle missing one wing.
Logan holds the preschool in an actual building. Everyone from the community got together and built it, specifically for use as a preschool. It’s mostly empty inside. The kids sit on mats. There are a couple of tables and a chalkboard, and that’s about it.
Logan holds classes inside and outside. She finds that the kids respond well to changing up their location. There’s a big tree outside that has enough shade under it for the whole group, so they’ll sit under that tree for different parts of the day.
So that’s where I’ve been. Not your usual vacation, but it worked for the wife and me.