Travel Buddies…Pt.2

On the flight to Mbeya with my sisters we decided to just battle straight to our house after landing (instead of staying the night and resting before driving 6hrs), as Colton had to get back for work. We landed, picked up our car, and hit the road. 6hrs later and we made it to our house in the middle of nowhere, Africa. Dinner was made and ready for us when we arrived (so thankful!).

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Flying over Dar

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Mbeya

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Taking in the view of Mbeya before driving for 6hrs

The rest of that week was spent exploring the area with my sisters, going on hikes/walks, having ‘spa days’, and making fun recipes. Of course there was lots of good conversations and experiencing a little bit of our life here in Africa.

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Our home

We had a farewell party for one of our staff. The girls helped me make a cake for him on which we wrote ‘Asante Sana, Yuda!’ (thank you so much, Yuda!). He was speechless when we surprised him with it after dinner. Quite a special night for everyone.

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Afternoon walk

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Cooking breakfast for the crew

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Walks around our ‘neighborhood’

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Thanks to my sisters for helping me decorate my home with beautiful flowers!

Colton’s Dad came up for a few nights. The girls and I went back to the valley with him. Colton followed on his motorbike as he had some work there. He joined us that evening for dinner and left the next morning. The girls and I hung out at his dad’s house, explored the area a bit and spent some time by the pool. Colton’s parents were at the end stages of packing up their home to move. Very emotional time.

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Mkukwe – Mountain behind Colton’s parent’s house – Rukwa Valley

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Colton’s Dad explaining some of his work

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River hike with Colton – River behind Colton’s childhood home where he spent his time exploring the wilds of Africa

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Pool time

That evening Colton’s dad had his last honey-harvest and my sisters and I were able to join. This was an experience that doesn’t happen often and was so special the girls were able to experience it. When Colton and I were dating, I was able to join a honey-harvest with his Dad as well. It was so amazing. That was the last and only time I had been apart of the experience until this last trip with my sisters.

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Suiting up for the honey harvest

I was the designated (iphone) photographer for the harvest. We all got suited up and headed out with his team to harvest honey. We brought a small bowl of honeycomb back to the house to eat ourselves.

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My sisters with the Beekeeper King of East Africa – Colton’s Dad

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Honey honey honey

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Freshest honey ever!

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Literally the best honey in the world

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Succesfull honey harvest

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These girls were such champs! Battling the heat, sweat, and swarms of bee’s for a few hours was all worth it!

That evening we had a pizza party. Colton’s Dad made them in his pizza oven. Just as he brought in the last pizza his guard came to the door. I could tell from the tone in their voices that something kind of ‘bad’ was going on. He calmly said he had to go check on something real quick. I watched as he got his shotgun and walked out the house. I thought maybe there was a mamba or python somewhere. Meanwhile, my sisters and I continued to eat our pizza. After a few minutes he called for me to open the front door for him. He told me there was a leopard by his pig pen and the dogs were flipping out. The dogs were still puppies so the leopard was probably stalking them. He had to scare it away by the sound of his gun and asked me to let the girls know so they weren’t worried.

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Evening wine time

Colton’s dad returned and we finished our meal with a bit of fresh honey comb for dessert. Quite an exciting evening!

The next morning my sisters and I got up early to watch the sunrise by the pool. It was probably the best sunrise I’ve seen, and the last one I would ever see from that pool and Colton’s childhood home. Colton’s dad joined us for a bit before making us a nice breakfast of eggs, toast and honeycomb. We were driven back up the mountain to our house.

* These next series of photos are of the sunrise from the pool-overlooking the valley. No captions necessary.

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The rest of the week was hanging out, chilling by the fire, star-gazing in the freezing cold, early morning deep conversations with each of my sisters, and packing for our trip back to the States. We went to town one day and did some shopping in the market. The girls loved it and even got a few marriage proposals (not too uncommon out here!).

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Colton showing the girls some of his work

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Market shopping – where we buy our produce

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Market shopping

The day came for us to leave. Colton was joining us back in the States a few weeks later so goodbyes were said (somewhat tearfully …for me at least!). One of Colton’s friends was driving us girls to Mbeya for our flight to Dar. Goodbyes are never easy and always seem to be a bit emotional. So I said goodbye to the love of my life for whole month.

After a few hours at the airport, a quick lunch, and a short flight to Dar we made it to our (same) hotel safely. We walked next door for pizza that night. The following day I took the girls to the beach one last time. So nice and enjoyable (aside from a bit of rain). Pizza again for dinner (it is so good out here!).

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Last morning at the beach before flying HOME. Fresh coffee and homemade trail mix for breakfast. YUM!

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Indian Ocean swim before flying for a million hours

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Calm before the storm

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Hiding from the rain with fresh juice and cocktails!

The next morning we did all our last minute souvenir shopping. We had a nice lunch out and bought all the gifts and souvenirs we needed. Went back to the hotel to freshen up and change from our hot tropical clothes into our travel clothes (although it was still so hot and sweaty – there was no way around not being sweaty before our 24hr trip to the States). We made it to the airport with more than enough time.

We boarded our SwissAir flight and took off. This was my first time flying with SwissAir and it was so nice….very impressed! We were all in the middle isle, which, if I’m being honest, I was a bit bummed about at first (It’s always hard to sleep on a plane without a window to lean against…and this was an overnight flight). Surprisingly, our flight was not full. It was just the three of us in our 4-seat row. I was able to lay down and actually slept for the majority of the flight. So nice!

Our layover in Switzerland was only about 2hrs. It was early morning when we landed so shops and restaurants were still opening in the airport. We logged onto the free wifi so I could update Colton and my mom about our trip. Starbucks was one of the only ‘restaurants’ open at that hour. We grabbed some breakfast and coffee before our next 10hr flight.

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Switzerland (My only ever view of the Swiss Alps…barely noticeable but beautiful!)

From Switzerland we flew to Newark, NJ where we went through all our customs. Hopped on our last 3hr flight to Dallas (it was significantly cheaper to fly to Dallas than it was to fly to Tulsa). That last 3hr flight felt like the longest flight of the whole trip. We made it to Dallas and were met by my Mom, other sister, and our brother and his wife. Was so nice seeing everyone!

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My sisters in Rukwa Valley

I just need to make a shout out (in case it was evident from my post) that I couldn’t be more proud of my sisters! We pushed them hard and on minimal sleep most of the time and they were complete champs about everything. Not everyone can handle this kind of trip. My sisters (all of them) are so hardcore, tough, adventurous, easy-going, sweet, caring, beautiful and smart. It was such a proud time and honor for them to want to spend their time and money, travel half way across the world to a remote place in Africa (with limited hot water, showers, & comforts). 

Here are the rest of the pictures from the trip!

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