Road Trips, Papayas & Good Times

This past October Colton and I decided to take time off from work to visit Colton’s childhood home in Southern Tanzania. We first drove from Arusha to Morogoro (about 10hrs) where we spent the night and departed early the next morning for Iringa (about 6-8hrs) where we stayed with some family friends. We stayed only one night but would have loved to have been there longer. From Iringa we drove to Mbeya (another 6 hrs) and stayed in a little hotel with a small ‘zoo’ next door that overlooks a walled in gorge with wild animals. From Mbeya we drove down to the Rukwa Valley (about 6 hrs) and made it to Colton’s home.

Eliam was there to greet us. He has been a great family friend of the Rabenolds since Colton was a baby. After arriving and unloading the cruiser we made the rounds and said hi to the other missionaries. The Rabenolds were the first missionaries there back in the 90’s. Since then several others have moved there and helped Ted (Colton’s Dad) develop a vocational school, a dispensary (the closest hospital is about 6 hrs away), sunflower oil presses, agricultural development projects, and intensive bee-keeper trainings. The Rabenolds have been in the US the past 2 years raising support so they were not there.


Colton in front of his home in the Rukwa

We stayed there for about a week and kept busy enough, but were still able to find time to relax.  One of our more busy days we spent driving to different villages with some of Ted’s guys and exploring land for his next project when he returns in July. We also stopped by a field growing papayas for a quick snack…they were so good! We brought a big bag of them back to the house and ate them for breakfast every morning.


On another day I went down to the local school with Terese and helped her teach an English class.

Some other things we did while there were ‘Waffle Wednesday‘ lunch with the Bentons, ‘Pizza Friday‘ dinner with the Guilzon’s (serious gourmet pizzas…including Ranch pizza!), ‘Girls Night‘ at the Guilzon’s with Jodi, Terese, Grace, myself and another lady, Brook, who came down for a short visit from Mumba.

Colton and I went on a hike along the river or up the mountain almost every day. It happened to be the hottest and driest time of year so our hikes could only take place earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. The heat was so bad we could hardly sit next to each other on the couch…and the evenings weren’t much cooler. Mid-day was usually spent inside watching a show or 2 on our laptop or taking a nap.IMG_6636

Upon leaving the valley there were a handful of people (and stuff) who needed a ride to the top of the mountain. We were happy to help as there is no reliable public transport going through the valley.

We made it up out of the valley, dropped everyone off, and continued to Sumbawanga for a brief lunch before heading to Mumba. It was important for us to visit Mumba because when Colton’s family first moved to Tanzania in the late 80’s early 90’s they lived there before moving down to the valley. The mission station in Mumba is still in operation. We stayed with some other good friends/missionaries – the Caraways. The Hodgsens – a family who lives in Mbeya were also visiting as their home had run out of water supply…which makes living a bit difficult!


Us with Mike & Lynn Caraway and their son Luka in Mumba


We stayed for one night in the house the Colton used to live in…now occupied by the Caraways. This is also where the missionary lady Brook, who had been at ‘Girls Night’ in the valley, lives.

From there we drove back up to Iringa and stayed with the same friends, the Moyers, but this time in their other home up in the highlands. They had graciously invited us to come with them. Never would we have thought that something like this existed in Tanzania. It looked like a view from Scotland – lush green rolling hills for as long as the eye can see and crisp cold winds that kept us huddled by the fire at night.


Highlands of Iringa

We stayed there a few nights enjoying the Moyers company and then drove from there to Dodoma, stayed the night, and continued on back to Arusha.

It was a long but much needed and fun trip for Colton and I.

Here is a map to show the route we took. The light blue is going there, and the dark blue is coming back to Arusha (Sorry it’s in French).


Check out more pictures from our trip in the gallery below.

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