Until June!

Wutravels will not be posting any more until we take off for Tanzania on June 1st!  Will be blogging aplenty then, during our visit to Dar Es Salaam, seeing some development projects of my friend who lives in Tanzania and works for Africare, visiting Zanzibar, and going to the Selous game park.

Getting super excited!  Until then!

Here’s a video — getting excited!

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Travel clinics?

One of the most frustrating things about all this trip planning for Tanzania is figuring out what vaccinations are required before the trip.

The information is just not exact!  Its not for lack of trying and searching.  I’ve googled for information.  I’ve gone directly to the US State Department searching for travel advisories for Tanzania.  I’ve looked at the CDC’s website.  I’ve gone to the Tanzania’s Consular website.

I made an appointment with my doctor and she recommended I ask a travel clinic at Walgreens and Bartells.  I call both, and they don’t know the requirements for Tanzania.

Essentially it looks like nothing is required, but there is a lot recommended.

What I’m really looking for is to cut to the chase — someone just tell me what I need!  And if the answer is nothing, then say so!

Should this be that difficult?  Frustrated……

Links:

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/tanzania

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/tanzania-travel-advisory.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Search?geo=293747&latitude=&longitude=&searchNearby=&pid=3825&redirect=&startTime=1524951126202&uiOrigin=MASTHEAD&q=required+vaccinations&supportedSearchTypes=find_near_stand_alone_query&enableNearPage=true&returnTo=__2F__Travel__5F__Guide__2D__g293747__2D__Tanzania__2E__html&searchSessionId=09411A71FF8E0A9FB1D1971DD513260A1524951115208ssid#&ssrc=f&o=0 

 

Traveling to the Third World?

Like most other things in my life, I try to approach upcoming travel with carefully thought out plans and checklists.

I start figuring out what to pack months before the trip.  I obsess over details such as visas, immunizations needed, air flights, accommodations, exchange rates, and most importantly, the itinerary.

I pretty much plan each day in three parts – morning, afternoon, evening.  I do try to keep parts of days unplanned, to make room for the spontaneous adventure or unforeseen travel delays.

Obsessive?  Perhaps. But having traveled to third world countries most of my life, I find planning is essential to make the most one’s time and also try to stay one step ahead of the chaos.

Another factor — corruption and the expectation of bribes at customs and immigration.  In all my travels, I have managed to not pay a single penny in bribes because I prepared carefully and ensured I had everything I need.

I hope the same goes for my trip to Tanzania.  A beautiful country with a rich setting for tourism, and hence, rampant bribery attempts of tourists:

Bribery Encountered at Airport Customs

How to Avoid Corruption & Bribery in Tanzania

Travel planning is a skill

And it helps to have a friend who lives in the place where you are going!

My friend who lives in Tanzania sent across the following links for accomodations.  The beauty of this is that he has actually visited and stayed in these places, so I can trust his reviews!

They look beautiful.

In Zanzibar, we are staying for one night in the world heritage site of Stone Town, the old town.  Some hotel recommendations:

http://jafferjihouse.net

Jafferji House he described as “a bit fussy and overdone, and very ‘cultural'”, whatever that means!  But the price is good!

https://www.marumaruzanzibar.com

Maurmaru he described as “less fussy, plainer, but very nice, with a nice rooftop for breakfast.”

And up the coast of Zanzibar, which is an island, my friend recommended Flame Tree Cottages.  “Quite nice, simple, lovely breakfast.  Right on the beach.  Yoga and diving, etc.”

I’m in!

We’re going to Tanzania!

Barring any unforeseen circumstances — like losing all our savings in the stock market! — we are headed to Tanzania the first week of June!  I am traveling with the same high school friend I went to Cuernavaca, Mexico, with, and we are visiting another high school friend who is stationed there for the development group, AfriCare.  And my husband and eldest child is coming along as well!

Tomorrow morning we have a Google hangout call to determine flights, budgets, itinerary.  I am going full on into planning mode, and am daunted at how little time we have to plan.  In less than two months, we have to turn our idea of a bucket-list type trip to reality.

So for the trip will be divided into three parts:

  1. A few days in Dar Es Saleem, Tanzania’s largest city, steeped in history.
  2. A four day, three night Safari.  We are looking at this lodge:  http://www.vumahills.com/home
  3. And a few days in the world heritage site island of Zanzibar.

More research and planning notes to come!

Where is Tanzania?

As a world traveller and fairly educated person, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know the answer to this question.  I knew it was in Africa (give me that much credit) but for some reason pictured it on the north coast, near Morocco.  Wrong!  It is on the east coast of Africa, right below Kenya.

With roots from both Asia (my parents are ancestrally from China and I lived and worked in Asia for 14 years) and Latin America (I was born in Ecuador and have strong family ties to my Ecuadorian family), my travels have always taken me to those two continents that I know really well given.  I have also traveled some through Europe for work and pleasure.  But Africa was never on my bucket list, until now.

So per my previous post, I am taking the FOMO attitude and making a commitment to this reunion with my high school friends in Tanzania, even though I have no idea how I’m going to pay for it.   However, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, to visit a place steeped in history and adventure, while one of my best friends is still there and can play host and tour guide.  The trip is June 1 – June 11, and my eldest daughter and possibly husband will also accompany us!

So always a learner, I’m going to be researching about Tanzania and using this blog to write about my learnings!  I love to travel, and I love to write — so I guess that’s the purpose of this WuTravels blog.

Onwards.

Loney Planet – Tanzania

From Mexico to Tanzania

Back in the United States since Tuesday, and greeted with a Nor’ester snow blizzard on Wednesday as I am in New York City for the next few weeks.  Honestly, I was glad for the opportunity to see pretty snow blanket the atrium garden outside my studio terrace, and not have to go to the office!  Really, not a big deal — New Yorkers don’t have to drive and God forbid, as they would be horrible and dangerous drivers with snow and ice.

I went to Mexico to accompany one of my best friends from high school as she visited her “comadre” for her 60th birthday.  I traveled with her husband and sister and quickly became known as “Switzerland” on the trip.  Traveling with family can have interesting dynamics, but in the end, we had a wonderful time filled with memories that we will laugh about for years to come.

The Mexican pottery I got painted with colorful chiles made it back in one piece!  Some pictures of my snow day and pottery below.

We are now in the throes of discussing another trip to visit another dear high school friend who works for AfriCare and is based in Tanzania!  So more fodder for this travel blog as I start to research Tanzania, Zanzibar, and travel to Africa — a continent I never imagined going to in my lifetime, but never say never!

Mariachis and Cuernavaca

What a whirlwind week!  I haven’t been able to post at all about my trip to Cuernavaca, which was ironically the whole point of resurrecting this Wu Travels blog!  I will definitely write about my experiences here, but the hour is late and we need to leave for our flight early in the morning.

We ended our last night with good friends — Mexicans, and a few French guys who fell in love with Mexican women and made Cuernavaca their home.  We went down to the zocolo (town square or plaza) and as a genuine Mexican send off, we hired a Mariachi band to sing some classics.  Twelve songs later, I am left with a fascination of the history behind Mariachis, their history, their customs, and their music.  More later, but here are some interesting links I found about Mariachis.

https://ich.unesco.org/es/RL/el-mariachi-musica-de-cuerdas-canto-y-trompeta-00575

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariachi

 

The year of Latin American travel — birthdays & quinceañeras

I started this Wutravels blog in 2013 for the entire purpose of chronicling my family reunion and bucket list travels to Ecuador and Peru.  Aside from visiting family in Guayaquil, Manta, and Quito, my kids and I traveled to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos.  I then resurrected this blog in 2015, when, I went to Oaxaca and Huatulco, Mexico for my niece’s wedding.

Well wouldn’t you know it — what goes around comes around.  I started blogging again as a class requirement for my Participatory Journalism class at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of Missouri.  But it turns out I would have started blogging again anyway, as…..

I leave for my trip to Cuernavaca, Mexico tomorrow!  We are going to celebrate the birthday of a dear friend of my dear friend from high school.

And just yesterday I booked my ticket for another family union in Ecuador in September, this time to celebrate the quinceañera, or 15th birthday of my niece.  A young woman turning 15 in Latin America is a big deal!  It’s sort of like a coming out party, and for sure I’ll be blogging about it!

More about quinceañeras aquí:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quincea%C3%B1era