Wednesday, June 29, 2016


By now, you all know that I'm a pretty informal person and that this blog, though primarily for Toa Nafasi and related news, sometimes lends itself as a vehicle for more personal entries: general life in Tanzania, me and my crazy friends, cats....

So this post will just be a brief recap of my recent vacation in Amsterdam with my friend, Kathy, who I have known since we were fifteen years old when we met at the Barnard Pre-College Program in New York City.  Twenty-five years later and 10,000 miles between us (for the last nine years, anyway), we are still besties and she is someone I will always consider family.

Kathy actually came to Tanzania in 2010 when I was still working with Visions in Action and living the life of a wee volunteer.  I was hoping she would come to Moshi this year and see how I've moved on up since starting Toa, but I actually needed a break from Tanz, so we planned to meet in Amsterdam for five craaaazy nights.

Well, not that crazy actually, given that we are forty now, but at least a lot of fun.  We had a blast hitting all the sights: Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House, Rijksmuseum.  We also did a little investigative work in the Red Light District (shocking!), had massages at the Waldorf Astoria (divine!!), and took a lovely canal cruise during which we managed not to drop either of our iPhones into the water (that we achieved this was probably more shocking than what we witnessed in the RLD....)

It was just what I needed to gear up for the rest of my year in TZ.  As usual, I will be headed back to NYC from Labor Day through Thanksgiving, so I really needed this little European respite before powering through the next two months.  Which, by the way, will be BUSY.

School opens up again after a one-month vacay for the kids and we'll be testing the Toa Nafasi groups at each school for the second time to check their progress.

Additionally, we have made some major changes to the Tanzanian board of directors and our constitution.  And now that we have our TIN, we are ready to pay our taxes and get the teachers set up with social security and pension funds.

I have also just hired our new Fundraising and Communications Officer, Heidi Lidtke, who will be coming over with her husband, Geoff, from California in early August.  We'll have a couple weeks overlap to get her settled and then I am leaving her to her own devices!!  Much more on Heidi later as it's early days yet, but that's another exciting development.

Lastly, but definitely not leastly, I'm climbing Kili with my dad in just about two weeks.  He heard so much about my trek with my mom last July that he wants to try his hand at it.  Here's hoping we don't kill each other....  Or Methley, my friend and our guide....

And July also brings up some more significant dates: the 2nd, my dream of being Mrs. Derek Jeter shall be officially dashed; the 4th is my nine-year anniversary since coming to Tanzania; the 19th is my third year since quitting smoking; and of course, the 24th will be one year since my beloved Vumi left us.  All significant, if bittersweet, memories....

At any rate, enough of my emotional chowchow.  Check out some photos below from Kathy and Sarah's Excellent Adventure!

Me at the iconic "I amsterdam" sculpture.  Kathy was NOT into it....

Canal ride.  It was windy.

Our version of a "Dutch treat."

Like a homing pigeon to its nest, of course I had to check out my peeps at the Portuguese synagogue.

Possibly my favorite activity of all - a visit to the cat museum, a collection of art and knickknacks, all feline-inspired.  Meow.

I had to buy new hiking boots for Kili since mine are pretty facacte after two treks already and many a rainy season in Msaranga.  The Dutch shoe salesman was quite intense about his job and we almost missed our massages due to his footwear thoroughness!

That's it for now folks, more from Moshi to come!!

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