Guten Tag, Berlin!

Berlin. A modern city with a historic memoir. Beautiful. Old. Full of life. An ancient city with a gripping, yet complicated history.

Our journey to Berlin was not disappointing.

Our flight actually flew into Frankfurt, Germany (our normal layover route on the way back to TZ). Immediately after getting off the plane we found the airport storage and stowed away some of our larger luggage we wouldn’t be needing while in Germany.  The train station attached to the airport was refreshingly easy to navigate (for newbies to traveling via rail in Europe!). We were so surprised how simple and hassle-free it was to buy a train ticket to Berlin. Maybe we’ve been in Africa too long!


Waiting for our train: Frankfurt – Berlin

As excited as we were to take the 4hr train ride to Berlin and be able to watch the German country side unfold along side us….we slept for probably 90% of the ride. Jet lag was seriously kicking us this time! Being from the US, and now Africa, we were so amazed at how efficient the German train system runs. Even the small cafe in the train where we got a ham and cheese baguette and coffee made us so happy! Most people around us probably thought we were way too excited about ‘train coffee’ and baguettes. But we loved every bit of it.


Jet lag was killer this time around!

In Berlin we stayed with some good friends of ours. They live in the middle of the city. The Berlin wall [used to] runs right below their apartment. The whole city is built with monuments, art installations, and historic stories from the Berlin Wall. There is nowhere in the city you can go without being reminded of what once kept families and loved ones apart for so many years.


Berlin Wall memorial/art installation – Berlin, Germany


Berlin Wall memorial/art installation – Berlin, Germany

Our friends suggested we take a bike tour around the city. Despite it raining a bit, we had a wonderful time! The tour was very informative and we were able to see so much we otherwise wouldn’t have been to with just a few days in the city.


Fat Tire Tours – Berlin, Germany

For anyone possibly planning a trip to Berlin I highly recommend this tour with Fat Tire Tours!




Fat Tire Tours, and my studly husband! Berlin, Germany


Fat Tire Tours – Brandenburg Gate – Berlin, Germany

The tour ended at a biergarten for lunch. A mug of beer and pork schnitzel was a must and not disappointing!


Stoked for German beer and bratwurst – getting in touch with his German roots!

Our friend met us after the bike tour and guided us downtown where we treated ourselves to a few chocolate stores. One of them being the Ritter Sport store. Some of our favorite chocolates.  You can create your own chocolates. Similar to a frozen yogurt store, you choose from a large variety of ingredients and they mix it together with the chocolate for you. We opted not to do this. Instead, we just bought a bunch of different flavors. The other chocolate store (I don’t remember the name) was more refined and sophisticated. They had a cafe upstairs serving decadent hot chocolate and a variety of chocolate desserts. So amazing.



We had dinner at another biergarten with our friend, her husband and their baby girl. If we lived in Germany it would hard not to eat at a biergarten every day!


A bit of rain wont stop us from enjoying German beer and pretzels at a biergarten!

The rest of our time in Berlin we spent visiting museums and eating more amazing food.



One of the things we loved about the city is how pedestrian friendly it is. From the apartment we were able to walk every where we wanted to go. The only time we took a taxi was to return to the train station.




Jewish memorial – Berlin, Germany


Berlin Wall – Berlin, Germany

Upon returning to Frankfurt, we stayed a night before our flight the next morning. We stayed at a hotel near the airport and again, had amazing food and drinks.


Ishtar Gate – Pergamon Museum – Berlin, Germany






Really enjoyed a nice hot coffee while wondering around Berlin!

The next day we said goodbye to Germany and began the long (and miserable) trip back to Tanzania.


Frankfurt – Berlin Train station – Germany

We loved Germany and Berlin and already cant wait to plan another trip there in the future!

Enjoy more pictures from the trip 🙂


(Continued from ‘Travel Buddies…Pt.2)….

We grabbed some dinner at chick-fil-a before heading to my cousins house for the night. The next day my brother and his wife left to head back to Tulsa and the rest of us girls took a day trip to Waco to see the Fixer-Upper phenomenon of the Magnolia Market. We had some great food, coffee, and ice cream from the local shops in Waco.


The Silos at Magnolia Market – Waco, TX

On the way back we stopped at the mall to do some shopping ( nothing says ‘Welcome back to the US’ than a trip to mall the first day). Mom was staying in Dallas for a business conference so we shopped for some new stylish business clothes.

That evening, my Aunt and Uncle took us all out to Mexican food where we met the rest of our cousins (who I haven’t seen since our wedding). It was so nice visiting with them and eating great Mexican food!

Funny side-story: In Tanzania, we are never ever ID’d for drinks. Although technically the drinking age here is 18, they never check ID. I don’t remember the last time I was ID’d for a drink. So we get to this Mexican restaurant and my cousins and sister all ordered these delicious slushy cocktails….I left my ID at my cousins house because it didn’t even cross my mind that I would need it for a drink! haha. I was able to sneak one sip of my cousins drink and it was soooo good! I was so bummed I couldn’t order one for myself! haha. Oh well. Welcome back to America.

The following day (after a generous breakfast of delicious bagels, cream cheese, fresh coffee and fruit) we said goodbye and went on our way. We dropped mom off at her conference and made a ‘quick’ stop at IKEA (because sadly we don’t have one in Oklahoma). After shopping our brains out we ate a quick lunch before hitting the road back to Tulsa.

Our grandparents live in Oklahoma City, which is between Dallas and Tulsa. We had dinner and a nice visit with them (they were coming to Tulsa the following week where we would spend more time with them). Arriving in Tulsa, we were greeted at the house by my Dad and older brother.


My grandpa brought out ‘His favorite Pictures’ while we were there. 4 generations of Rose men (L-R: Grandpa, his father, his son – my dad, and grandson – my older brother)


Family trip to Colorado with the cousins (L-R: me, my older brother, younger brother, twin cousins, and our grandpa)

My time in Tulsa was filled with local coffee shops, downtown art crawls, food trucks, visiting with my family, going to bridal showers, helping (as much as I could) with wedding preparations for my sister, and of course organizing and planning the bachelorette party with my two youngest sisters. Oh yea, and lots and lots of shopping. Too much shopping.


Downtown Tulsa – will always love this place!


Bridal shower for the Bride-to-Be! (L-R: Mom, Youngest sister, Bride and oldest of the younger sisters, second-youngest sister, me).



Oh I forgot to mention my youngest sister works at the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile as a Barista in Pawhuska, Ok. We met this sweet sister of mine after her shift and enjoyed amazing food, coffee, dessert, and shopping. Thanks for showing us around!

The stereotypical perspective most people have is that I would love all the shopping. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy shopping, but don’t enjoy spending money. The fun of looking for new things to wear, decorate with, or give as gifts is taken away when its a necessary chore of buying things we cant get in Tanzania to bring back with us. This involves Costco trips, general toiletries supplies (razors, shampoo, face wash, moisturizers, favorite brands of toothpaste and other beauty products). Not to mention stocking up on ‘feminine products’ (if you know what I mean) to last the whole year or more. Trying to think ahead and buy Christmas and birthday presents for my husband when its only June. Do we need more batteries? What kind? Should we go ahead and update our already outdated iPhones because we wont be able to for at least another year? Should we buy more socks now even though what we have are still good…will they last through another year of hand washing, wringing and hanging in the harsh African sun? Do we have enough sunscreen to last another whole year of working/walking in the African sun and holiday trips to the beach?

Its a total mind – mess.


The Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK. In love with that rug btw!

If you’ve seen me back home and think ‘all she does is shop the whole time’…you’re probably right, but don’t judge! Its not as leisurely, carefree and waste of money as you might think! haha. Of course there are definitely things we can live without. But there is a healthy difference of ‘living without’ and ‘missing out for no reason’.

So the truth is, when Im back in the States I really don’t enjoy shopping that much because it is so stressful and draining to think through everything. And what if we forget to buy something? We have to hope and cross our fingers that someone from the family will be coming to Tanzania at some point in time during the next year.

Alright, back to main part of my post. Tulsa was great. Family was great. I missed Colton the whole time. He arrived on the 25th of June, the day after his birthday. We were so thankful it worked out for his sister and brother-in-law to drive up from Houston, pick him up in Dallas, and drive up to Tulsa. They stayed for a couple of days before driving back to Houston. Colton stayed in Tulsa for the remainder of the trip. My younger brother’s birthday was on the 27th so we had a small birthday celebration at his farm to honor him and Colton.

The bachelorette party was the night before Colton arrived and was a big success.


Bachelorette Party…on the way to dinner

The rest of the days were spent with the bride and groom-to-be (who is pretty awesome) and preparing for the Big Day.


Sorry for the blurriness! My youngest sister hand painting the signs for the wedding. Beautiful work!

The wedding took place downtown Tulsa at a modern yet rustic venue. Perfect for my sister and her husband. The florists did a beautiful job with flowers, friends and family came from all over to help set and decorate, and the bride herself made the wedding and grooms cake. What kind of baker would she be if she didn’t make her own ‘FlouredRoses’ wedding cake?? Needless to say it was perfect.


Stunning Bride

The bride, my younger sister, was absolutely stunning. Its always kind of weird to see your younger siblings getting married…I always remember them as little kids. Time goes by so fast. Especially when you’re not around to see it happen.


The Bridal Party (L-R: Cousin, friend, mom, Bride, me, youngest sister, other youngest sister)

So there she was, my little sister all grown up, mature, elegant, beautiful, successful, and about to marry an amazing man. I couldn’t have been more proud of her! We all got ready in the back room. Photos were taken and music began. Holding back tears as I stood up front watching the bride be escorted by our father, who has always  been there for us, walking towards her future husband who will always be there for her in the days ahead, is pretty difficult!


The bride reading her vows one last time before the big moment


Hair and makeup prep morning of the wedding!

It was a beautiful ceremony and such a fun reception. So many friends and family came to celebrate the special union.


Father-daughter dance



The Bride and her groom – Mr.&Mrs. Warren

As the night went on and drew closer to the bride and groom departing for their honeymoon the emotion came over me. I stood there watching her dancing, laughing and loving her friends and husband I had to fight back tears, again (I’ve always been kind of emotional…but leave it to moving and living overseas to really bring out the emotions!). We were flying back to TZ before they would return from their honeymoon. Our entire trip was leading up to this moment. We pulled them aside, hugged, fought back tears, and said our congratulations and goodbyes. Shortly after we said goodbye they departed with a send off of sparklers and cheers.


Saying goodbye to the bride, my sister, until next time.





Beautiful Bride’s Cake – by FlouredRoses (the bride)


Appropriate 4th of July weekend send-off for the bride and groom!

After they left everyone who was still around pitched in to clean up and tear down what had been put up. Such an amazing crowd of friends and family. The younger crowd (being myself and Colton along with friends and cousins from our age range) went across the street to a sweet little ‘coffee shop by day, bar by night’. It was so fun hanging out with old friends, cousins, and new friends. It was a perfect end to a perfect wedding.


Reception party fun! (L-R: Colton, younger brother, friends (husband&wife), brothers wife, friend)

The next day was full of visiting with out-of-town cousins and family. Catching up on old times, and new ones. Our grandpa treated the whole family to Hide-Away Pizza – an Oklahoma tradition and favorite.

We had one day left for last minute shopping and visiting  before the 4th of July.


We were able to squeeze in a quick visit (like 15min) with my best friend from highschool and her gorgeous kids! She lives in Amsterdam with her husband and 2 girls and had just flown into to Tulsa the night before. So thankful it worked out to see each other even for such a short period. Haven’t seen this friend since our wedding 4 years ago!

The 4th was an all day event at my brother and his wife’s farm. Colton roasted a pig and everyone pitched in with different desserts, sides, and mains. The celebration was so much fun.


I bought 4th of July shirts and matching sunnies for the hubs and me….I was so excited about it! haha



Trying to teach Colton how to be a ‘Instagram husband’….haha! Not as easy as people make it seem! I have a feeling he just wasn’t meant to be an IG husband haha. Also he was in the middle of a serious game of Settler’s with those guys in the background….they all kept looking over and yelling at him! hahaha.


Mom and my youngest sisters drove us early the next morning to the Dallas airport for our afternoon flight. The final round of goodbyes were said. We arrived pretty early for our flight but were able to find a nice place to post up. Drinks and snacks were had while we waited for the call that would take us to our next adventure…the land of Biergartens, pretzels, and lederhosen….Germany! 

I am always so amazed and overwhelmed by how blessed we are with family and friends. The blessing of being able to financially afford to both fly back for my sisters wedding, as well as other siblings wedding in the past. The blessing of not missing flights, protection and peace while traveling so much. The blessing of being able to say goodbye with a full heart knowing the love of family is always there.

Enjoy all the fun pics from the trip!


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!).


Flying over Dar




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.


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.


Afternoon walk


Cooking breakfast for the crew


Walks around our ‘neighborhood’


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.


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


Colton’s Dad explaining some of his work


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


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.


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


Honey honey honey


Freshest honey ever!


Literally the best honey in the world


Succesfull honey harvest


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.


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!).


Colton showing the girls some of his work


Market shopping – where we buy our produce


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!).


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


Indian Ocean swim before flying for a million hours


Calm before the storm


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.


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!


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!

Travel Buddies…. Pt.1

Back in March, my youngest sister wrote me about visiting us in Tanzania. We had talked about it before but more along the lines of ‘I really want to come visit! That would be so much fun‘. This time, however, she was serious. She had a job. Had the money. And was going to make the time. So we started brain storming and planning the best time for her to come visit.

Now during this time of figuring out dates, we were also trying to figure out travel dates for ourselves to go back to the States for my other sister’s wedding. We couldn’t do this until she settled on a wedding date. So quite a few little things going on that played into our planning.

She set her wedding for the 1st of July. Now to figure out the best time for my youngest sister to come to TZ. Since she is still in highschool we were limited with our options. We finally agreed that it would make the most sense for her to come out before the wedding. I would travel back to the States with her so I could be apart of the wedding planning and sister-family time the month leading up to the wedding. Colton would join us later on for the wedding. Sounds simple enough.

After hours of research and a failed attempt at a travel agent I finally found the ‘perfect’ tickets for everyone. During all this it was decided that my (other) youngest sister was going to join the Tanzania trip. Super exciting! The tickets were rather complicated (at least for a newbie like me at being a travel agent!). Anyways, we sorted it all out and my two sisters were all set to arrive in Dar in early May.

I planned out an itinerary for their trip to ensure we could do everything possible while they were here.

The time finally came. Colton and I drove the 6 hrs to ‘our’ airport, parked our car next door, and flew to Dar. We spent the next day at the beach while we waited for my sisters plane to arrive that night.

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Waiting at the tiny airport before flying to Dar to get my sisters! (this room is literally the entire airport haha)

When we got to the airport I was so anxious about my sisters arrival and making it through customs without any issues that I couldn’t sit still. I probably checked the screen every 2 minutes to make sure their flight had arrived and landed safely. Finally, we saw their beautiful faces come through the doors! We embraced each other with disbelief they were actually here in Africa. Amazing.


Fresh off the plane in Dar after 30+ hours of traveling! What champs! So excited to have my sisters!

Colton and I had gone to the grocery store before the girls arrived to buy coffee, tea and a few breakfast items so we could have something to crunch the next morning.

One of the things about living in Africa is you become very close with family and pretty easy going about certain situations. The hotel we stayed at (we always stay here) only had one room available. This room only had 3 twin beds…a bunkbed and a single bed. All crammed one a small room. So the four of us packed into this room for a few nights. My sisters got the bunkbeds and Colton and I snuggled close on the single bed. We somehow managed to fit all our suitcases in the room as well.


How we recover from jet-lag in Tanzania 😉

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Beach in Dar with my sisters…couldn’t be happier!


Beach time – Dar

The day after the girls arrived we took it easy and spent the day at the beach relaxing, soaking up the sun, and getting over jet-lag. For dinner we went to our usual restaurant – Chinese food. So good. As always.


Can’t get more fresh than a coconut picked from the tree you are laying under, chopped open, and served with a straw!

Bright and early the next day we hopped on the ferry and cruised through the Indian Ocean to Zanzibar. We checked into our hotel and immediately set out to explore. We had one day to do all the site seeing and shopping. We went to the outdoor market that evening and satisfied our hunger with the local Zanzibari pizzas, shwarmas, sugarcane juice, and spiced tea.


Arriving in Zanzibar!


Our favorite Zanzibar spiced tea in Stone town!


Zanzibar Doors


Walking the streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar – we were welcomed to dinner by a beautiful rainbow!


Dinner and a show… 😉

Our hotel organized breakfast to-go the next morning since we were leaving too early to enjoy the roof-top breakfast the hotel prepares.


Lunch time/ break from the heat of Zanzibar at a delicious Tapas restaurant

Zanzibar was great. I think we were able to see and experience everything we needed to plus did quite a bit of shopping. We also managed to get henna, all in one day.


Lunch time/ break from the heat of Zanzibar at a delicious Tapas restaurant


Fresh drinks to cool us down from the heat of Zanzibar…so refreshing!

The ferry ride back to Dar was a little more wavy than normal…none of us got sick, but my sisters and I had to step to the back to get a bit of fresh air.

Before heading to Zanzibar we left the majority of our luggage at our hotel in Dar. Anything more than a backpack on the ferry is forced to be checked into the cargo of the ferry. The nightmare is waiting for them to wheel off each cart of luggage after you arrive. Its a tricky combination of trying to eye and grab your luggage while everyone else is trying to grab their luggage, all while making sure not get run-over by another heavy-metal cart full of luggage being rolled onto the platform. Very chaotic. We try to avoid this at all costs.


Fishermen arriving to the fish market after all night of fishing – Dar port

We arrived back in Dar without any issue (always an accomplishment to be noted) and snagged a taxi to our hotel. We had just enough time to grab all our luggage and freshen up a bit before heading to the airport for the next part of our African Adventure with my sisters.

A few more pictures from ‘part 1′ of my sisters trip!



Life Down South

Since our move down south life has been pretty busy. Its been non-stop of guests (mostly family), small traveling (mostly with family), and of course work. We live about 45min outside of Sumbawanga town, where Colton’s office is located. He makes the commute everyday and still finds time and energy to go on a run or long walk with me, workout, and help me with dinner…he really is the best!

Personally, I have not been quite as busy as Colton has with work. But that’s ok. I have my ups and downs regarding my work. The truth is, where we are located is relatively behind compared to the rest of the country (which is saying a lot), especially when it comes to companies or small businesses needing design work.

Despite sounding like life is boring and there is nothing for me do….that’s quite far from the truth! I spent the first 2-3 months of living down here getting the house organized, unpacked, set-up, rearranged, etc. There was a period where every weekend we were either down with Colton’s parents or they were up visiting us during the weeks. In between visits with family I have gone with Colton to some of his village meetings, looked at farms, and done some serious exploring on bikes and motorbikes.


Over looking the Rukwa Valley and Lake Rukwa

A few months back Colton’s mom, sister, and I decided we needed a ‘girls trip’ to get back to some kind of civilization. Colton escorted me through the villages and muddy, slippery roads to the top of his parents road where we met his mom and sister. The three of us continued in my car to Mbeya while Colton returned to work. We stopped at a very cute and delicious coffee shop after the 6 hrs journey to Mbeya. The funny thing is this shop would be nothing special in the States – still very cute with delicious coffees and treats, but to us, walking into the shop was like walking into a luxurious cafe with specialty drinks and treats you can’t find anywhere else. It was so refreshing!

We stayed the night in Mbeya then continued for another 4hrs to Lake Malawi (or ‘Lake Nyasa’ as known by Tanzanians). Here we stayed for 5 days at a simple yet comfortable lodge on the beach shores of the lake.

Most people probably dont know much about Lake Malawi. It is a clear fresh water lake with beautiful sand beaches. The lake has a noticeable tide and is also one of the deepest lakes in the world. Scuba diving and snorkeling are main activities on the lake.


Lake Malawi/Nyasa

The lake is also known for a special type of fly that hatches on the water, swarms up hundreds of feet in the air while mating and laying eggs, then dying, and repeating the cycle with the next round of newly hatched flies. When this phenomenon occurs it appears as dark clouds or smoke plumes rising up out of the water – when in fact its just millions of flies. I know, it sounds gross, but they usually stay on the lake. Its not super common to witness such a phenomenon. We did not see them while there, however a few weeks later Colton and I took a trip there and while in a canoe on the lake I noticed what looked like brown smoke rising out of the water farther out on the lake. It was the flies. Quite amazing to witness. As we were so far away when we saw them they don’t appear in any pictures we tried to take….so you’ll just have it imagine it.

So our girls trip was great. We relaxed, tanned, ate delicious food, watched chick-flicks, ate chocolate, and just enjoyed the time together.


River inlet to Lake Malawi/Nyasa. Apparently there are load of Crocs and Hippos in this area…thankfully we did not encounter any!

A few weeks later Colton and I took a trip there for Easter weekend and time to ourselves. We realized as we were planning the trip that we have not had a vacation together, just the two of us, in over 2 years!

We met Colton’s parents in Mbeya for dinner. They were on their way to Arusha for a few days. We ate breakfast with them the following morning before we went our separate ways. We were at the beach just around lunch time. It was very enjoyable, relaxing and much needed.

Lake Malawi/Nyasa

A few more weeks at home, working on the house, planning my sisters trip out here (oh yea, my two youngest sisters came out to visit…There will definitely be a post about their trip later!), and other random projects around the house.

For my birthday Colton surprised me by taking us away for the night to Lake Tanganyika. We left early enough to be there by lunch time, and returned the following day after lunch. It was amazing.


Snorkeling – Lake Tanganyika

Lake Tanganyika, like Lake Malawi, is a clear, fresh water lake known for its amazing scuba diving and snorkeling. It is the second oldest freshwater lake in the world, second largest by volume, and the second deepest. It is also the world’s longest freshwater lake with Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Congo on its shores. From our location we stared across the lake at the large mountains and rainforests of The Congo. Quite spectacular.


Lake Tanganyika – Congo Mountains in the distance

Since we were there for such a short amount of time we only snorkeled just in front of our room. We saw some small fish in the clear water, but all the larger fish worth seeing are all out deeper in the lake around rock formations. It was a wonderful birthday shared with my best friend.


Our cute room on the shores of Lake Tanganyika

Snorkeling at Lake Tanganyika

Lots more exciting updates from the last few months to come!

Onwards & Upwards (or South-wards)!

We moved!

Actually, we moved back in January. We are still in Tanzania, we’ve just relocated to the Southern part of the country. To put in perspective from where we lived in Arusha…it takes no less than 2 days of traveling, either by car or plane (after landing there is still 6hrs of driving) to get to our new home. So basically, we are in the middle of nowhere.


Area near where we live – Southern highlands, TZ

Ironically, our ‘new’ home is actually a home Colton’s Dad built back in the 90’s when they first moved to Africa. Colton spent the first half of his childhood in this house. The house has since been lived in and modified in the past decades by other missionaries. The family that was in this house before us were moving back to the States, and so it was available for us to live in. This was actually a huge blessing for us for a number of reasons, but I will try to briefly explain the story.


Colton with his Dad – Africa 1990

First of all, the relocation was for Colton’s job. The opportunity first came up last summer. Having been to the area a few times (its near by Colton’s parents), I was well aware of the fact the location is less than desirable for anyone, even Tanzanians.

Although the town has a few nice shops and a produce market, the nearest place to get ‘luxury’ items such as butter, cheese, yogurt, canned chickpeas and ‘western’ produce like broccoli, cauliflower, squash, apples, green beans, is 6 hours away.

The area, Sumbawanga, is known throughout the whole country for its strong and effective witchcraft. That’s not to say everyone down here is involved in witchcraft, but rather some of the most powerful witch doctors have lived here for generations.

Since Colton grew up down here, and his company already had a presence here, Colton was the obvious choice to move to Sumbawanga.


Colton with his Dad and younger sister – Africa 1990’s

So when Colton presented me with this opportunity, my first thought was ‘we have to go’. My response might be surprising given the location and my knowledge of it, but I knew in my heart that this was our next step. It was too ironic to be a coincidence – that Colton would be asked to move back to where he grew up – for work. Not to mention we would be only 2.5hrs from his parents as appose to 2-3days. In his later life of boarding school and college this would be the closest Colton has lived to his parents since he was 15.

I’ve always believed that if an opportunity is presented to you, take it. I also believe that we were not given this life to make decisions based on friends and comfort. Over the past 4 years we have made a lot of good friends in Arusha. Im not saying I don’t care about them or miss them. But what is life if we never take opportunities only because we are scared to leave our friends, comfortable home, and start over?


Good friends in Arusha

To make a long story short, there were a lot of ups and downs after the initial decision of moving. Around October last year the decision was final, but no final moving date. There was a lot of moving pieces that needed to come into place first before we packed up our home and moved across country where communications are not reliable.

We went on our Christmas vacation still not quite knowing when the move would be, but expecting it to be ASAP.


Christmas Vacay

When we returned from holiday it was finally decided that middle-end of January we would move…that was in like 2-3 weeks! We were able to get a home lined up to live in only to have it fall through the week before we moved. Colton’s parents generously spent 2 full days looking for houses for us to rent in Sumbawanga. Nothing. So only a few days until we moved and we did not have a place to live.


Clearing out the house and packing the moving truck – Arusha

The house was basically packed. We were moving no matter what. House or no house. We knew this was what we had to do and believed it would all work out. We just had to have faith. Literally 2 days before we moved this house opened up for us to live in. We could not be more thankful or blessed.

We had a few more ‘last’ get-togethers with friends before making the long drive. We sent the moving truck on its way then stayed the night with two of our good friends. We are so thankful for friends like them.

We left before the sun was up. Colton drove his company car and I followed in our ‘new’ car. Both packed to the brim. 12 hrs to Iringa, where we stayed the night, and another 12 to our new home. We made it without any problems.


The move – Day 2

Colton’s parents arrived at the house a few days before us to clean and do some touch up work. When we arrived the truck was just unloading its last item. It arrived half an hour before despite leaving an entire day before us! I don’t know what we would have done without the help of Colton’s parents. They stayed with us a few days to help get things settled, sew curtains, make dinner while we unpacked, etc.


The new bathroom all set up – very important!

It has been non-stop since we moved. Colton’s work has picked up in full force and we have been able to spend some great quality time with Colton’s parents and youngest sister. Life has been so crazy these past few months but we have had no doubt we made the right decision to take the opportunity and move here.

Christmas – The New ‘Normal’

I realize I only post about the bigger events in my life. One day I hope to make a few random posts about everyday life here, or maybe do ‘A Day in the Life of Us’ post every now and then, but that might be reaching a bit too far for me at the moment! So until then, you will just keep getting one big post about a big event in my life every few months or so.

With that being said this post is about Christmas 2016 – Yes its a few months late, and yes, I feel like I recently just wrote about last Christmas with my sister here. But regardless, here is Christmas 2016…

As Americans, and Westerners, when most of us think of Christmas the thoughts of cold weather and snow, twinkling Christmas lights, gingerbread houses, Christmas music, hot chocolate, warm fires, cozy blankets, family gatherings and decorating of trees, the smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and other ‘comfort’ scents all come rushing into our minds in reminiscence.

Every year since moving to Africa (for 4 Christmas’s now) I have dreamed in slight hope that we will experience a Western-world festive Christmas season with my family. Every year I think ‘maybe this year we will have a ‘real’ Christmas again’, and every year the thought gets put aside until the next year.

Although there will always be a small part of me that wishes to spend the Christmas season back home with my family, and in a country that thrives from the holiday madness and festivities, I am so thankful and blessed for the life I have been given with my husband and his wonderful family.


Stonetown, Zanzibar

The truth is, for most our holidays we are privileged to spend them in a tropical paradise, which has become ‘normal’ for our holidays. Thats just what you do. In fact, there aren’t many other options here! For Christmas our go-to holiday vacation is Zanzibar…and this is ‘normal’.  Who would ever have imagined?

Its easy to think of it as ‘just another trip to Z-bar’ and forget about how incredibly blessed we are that this is ‘normal’ for us. We realize this is a privilege that a lot of people will never experience in their life, and we hope to never take that for granted.

This last Christmas, we met up with Colton’s parents (who also live in Tanzania) in Dar es Salaam and spent a few days enjoying nice ‘Western’ restaurants that we don’t have down where we live, and laying on the beach.

On Christmas Eve day took a ferry through the Indian Ocean to Zanzibar where we stayed across the island at a simple Japanese-owned bungalow. The Bungalows were situated overlooking the white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The food was home-cooked and fresh (fish, sushi, pasta). Special ‘family’ dinners were prepared for all guests on Christmas day and New Years Eve. We all enjoyed a home-cooked buffet, explanations of the traditional Japanese foods, live traditional Tanzanian entertainment, and personal greetings by the owner.

From there we spent a few days wondering the narrow, winding and historical streets of Stonetown. Each doorway has a story – most probably heartbreaking as they looked upon the beginning, middle and end of the Arabic slave trade and its after effects.


Streets of Stonetown

The highlight of Stonetown, for us at least, is dinner at the open-air food market located on the ocean front. This is a perfect place to watch the sun sink down into the Indian Ocean while getting a taste of Zanzibar flavor.


Sunset in Stonetown

We took far too many pictures on our Christmas holiday….no surprise there! Enjoy some of the highlights from our ‘normal’ Christmas holiday.