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Kenya + Zanzibar 2 B • June 24-July 10, 2022

Jambo from Zanzibar!

July 2, 2022

6/25

JAMBO from Africa! Thank you all for tuning in — we cannot wait to tell you about the amazing first leg of our journey together! After an almost 24-hour flight time to get here, the group met Owen and I outside of the Nairobi airport baggage claim, all in different states of exhaustion and excitement. Thankfully it appeared that the group had already formed some great cohesion during the planes, trains, and layovers it took to get here. Owen greeted everyone with smiles and warm hugs, all while Meredith tried to prevent a potential visa dilemma and met our last two stranglers, Addie and Field. Once everyone was together and had their bags loaded up, we hopped in our sick rides — two safari land cruisers — and headed to our first lodge outside of Nairobi. Our drivers, Nick and James, gave everyone their first lessons in Swahili and shared a few essential facts about Kenya on the way. We pulled in and were guided to our canvas tent dorms, where the girls and boys could each have some good bonding time. After settling in, the group was given a late night dinner spread full of African staples: curried veggies, beef short ribs, spice marinated chicken, and chapati. With bellies full, we sent the group off to try to shake off their jet lag and catch some much needed sleep.

 

6/26

On Tuesday, we awoke to bright sunshine and the sounds of exotic birds. Once everyone was up and ready, we met in on the dining porch for our first breakfast together in Africa. Eggs, beans, toast, and sausage were our munchin’ materials, paired nicely with a lovely juice spread. We realized the heavy amount of coffee drinkers that we have in our group this trip.  While bags were being loaded back into the cruisers, the kids rallied around the ping pong table to get a few rounds in before heading to the airport. During the trip to Wilson airport, our driver, Francis, gave some of the group information on the upcoming Kenyan election, where a new president will be elected for the first time in 10 years. Once we arrived and checked our bags, Field brought out her stash of rainbow hair tensile and started to decorate other students’ noggins. Will was the first to volunteer. We ordered lunch and went through a slow customs check before boarding our plane to Zanzibar. Hannah kindly gave Henry the middle of the back row to accommodate his extraordinarily long limbs. The flight went by swiftly and we even got a glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro peeking out from above the clouds. Once we landed on the largest of the spice islands, we disembarked onto the tarmac amongst waves of the warm island air. Thankfully customs and baggage claim were easy peasy, and Charlie kindly volunteered to carry our gear bag, which was fittingly nicknamed “big chonk.” Our team headed outside of the airport to board the bus to our Zanzibarian hostel about an hour south. And boy was it a crazy ride! We passed through towns all swarming with interesting sights, smells, and people before arriving in the village of Matemwe. The group let Meredith share her small but growing list of Zanzibar facts. Owen manned aux, and Will educated all of our music tastes with bomb song requests. Once we arrived at our home base, we unpacked and headed to the beach to put our toes in the water! The girls watched the sunset over the marvelous ocean blue and the boys joined just in time for dinner to be served. The group bonded over platters of chicken, rice, and veggies. We help our first official Moonup of the trip, where Meredith and Owen posed questions of the day, introduced the nug jug, shared a meaning quote to start the trip on a positive note. The only interruption came when Field, Tatum and Addie managed to break a woven lounge chair and fell to the ground. The kiddos ended the night convening around the pool, all sharing school stories and guessing the types of wheels they sported at home. Emmie stumped the crowd with her Mini Cooper, and everyone filed of to bed to catch some much needed rest after finally finishing our long travel days!

 

6/27

Wednesday morning, we woke the kids up for our first bright shining morning in Zanzibar!!! Meredith and Owen engraved a name on the metaphorical trophy for hardest student to wake up: Miss Tatum Murr. But once everyone arrived at breakfast, we snacked on pigs-in-a-blanket, fruit, and crepes, all while Henry, Will, and Charlie rehashed the happenings in their room the previous night. They caught a gecko, named it Jam, and put him in a water bottle to show the group in the morning. Jam suspiciously escaped as they slept, but he will be forever missed. With our towels and sunscreen in tow, we hopped in the vans to head to our dive shop for our first activity section: SCUBA! Upon arrival, we met with our dive instructors and split into three groups. Tatum, Emmie and Henry went with instructor Asheli to one training pool, and Hannah, Charlie, and Will went with instructor Bacari to another. Field, Addie, and Aubrie (our previously certified divers) went with divemaster Mcha to their first open water experience in the Indian Ocean! During their first lessons back at the pool, everyone learned the basics of scuba safety, hand signals, and gear handling. It was absolutely crazy to watch the group take their first breaths underwater! Over the course of the day, Bacardi’s group had to strap on an extra wetsuit when the day turned overcast, and Emmie hilariously kept Tatum from drowning in front of a crowd of curious spectators. Once the group had completed their first set of skills, they played some cards until the certified divers returned. Emmie’s shuffle and bridge has yet to be matched. On the boat, Addie, Aubrie, and Field took to the water. It was a quick review for Aubrie, but Owen and the instructors were impressed with how quickly and naturally she picked it back up. The group saw three octopi in the water, and Field had some awesome spots of wildlife along the way. Owen and Addie played a game of tic-tac-toe in the sand and made a special handshake underwater. Field, who had unfortunately mistaken instructor Mcha for Addie, poked the divemaster in the stomach before realize it was not indeed her friend. Field has yet to recover.

Once we were all together again, we headed home for a late lunch and chill time back at the hotel. Bryan, our tour guide for the rest of our time in Zanzibar, came to the hotel to bring us to Kendwa for some afternoon activity. We boarded the bus and headed off to the other side of the island. We promptly laid claim to a covered couch area on the beach once we arrived, and everyone got to listen to music and make friendship bracelets. Aubrie, Hannah, and Tatum caught some rays, while Field and Meredith read their books and had some good chats. Charlie met a nice man who almost sold him on what would have been an awesome jet ski experience. Will and Henry used heir chacos to mark goals in the sand for a game of soccer, and Addie showed off her fancy footwork on the makeshift field. Before heading home, the group watched the sunset from the water, where we found some colorful starfish, played a game of TIPS, and snapped some pictures to capture the memories from our day on the beach! Once we arrived back at camp, we ate dinner and headed to our hammock spot where Emmie and Tatum — our first Leaders of the Day (LODs) — lead us in a wonderful Moonup under the stars.

 

6/28

The next morning, the group woke up early for another glorious day under the sun. Extra magic was in the air for Hannah’s sixteenth birthday!!! At breakfast, she was surprised with a birthday crown as the kitchen staff played Swahili birthday remixes on loop over the load speakers. We were also greeted by our two new feline friends that the group nicknamed Simba and Maui (one of whom left a nice, smelly surprise on Aubrie and Addie’s doorstep). With full bellies and high spirits, we loaded into the vans to head to the ocean for our first group open water dive! We grabbed our gear and loaded onto our boat, conveniently named ‘The Caroline.’ Much to Field’s rejoice after her underwater stint with Mcha, Ludo took over as the advanced divers’ instructor. Asheri and Bacari’s groups both descended into the depth for their first skills lesson in the open ocean. We rested on our knees along the ocean floor while everyone got to practice taking out their regulator, clearing their masks, and adjusting their buoyancy. Once everyone had mastered their new skill sets, we got to tour around the dive site called ‘Aquarium’ because of all of the different fish species populating the coral. We found eels, scorpion fish, parrot fish, clown fish, and so many more! Tatum and Henry always seemed to be floating above or below each other (colliding on occasion). Once everyone had emptied their tanks and ascended above the water, we got to practice surface skills. Hannah proved to be best at pretending she had a leg cramp so that other divers could practice towing a tired/hurt diver. With everyone back together on the boat, we were presented a tray of dank snacks by the dive crew. Fruit, chopati, mandazi, and warm spice were the perfect fix to energize us for our second dive. Charlie shared his love for grapefruit with the rest of the group, and Owen showed everyone a tasty trick by wrapping a tiny banana in chopati. Our second dive was just as interesting as the first, with so much wildlife circling us on all sides. On our journey back to the dive shop, the kids soaked up some sweet rays while piling on the bow. Tatum fell asleep in an odd position which might’ve given her a few neck aches.

We headed back to our hotel for lunch and to prep for our exploration of the largest city in Zanzibar: Stone Town. Bryan picked us back up for an hour long car ride to the North of the island. Once we arrived, Charlie, Will, and Henry got themselves some juice, and we began to follow our guide through an open air market and through winding city streets. We stopped to take a picture and shop around at the old Portuguese fort at the center of the city. Some of the girls got bracelets, necklaces, and trinkets to remember the trip. Where was Owen you asked? We finally spotted him befriending a cloth weaver who taught him how to work his intricate weaving machine. Thankfully we snagged some pictures. We stopped at an ice cream cream store for a celebratory treat for the bday girl. Just after that we headed to our final stop at a rooftop overlooking the skyline and coast just after sunset. While there, we happened upon a balloon arch, lights, and dance floor for a stranger’s sixth birthday party. Some of the kids mistook it for a surprise put together by the leaders, but we took advantage of it anyway. We had an impromptu party on the rooftop and took pictures of Hannah under the birthday arch. We then headed to dinner at the street market, we’re everyone snacked on pizzas, samosas, and pasta. Will and Charlie found some nice women who they got give them some interesting updo’s while they ate. Just wait until you see pictures. All of the girls got matching henna flowers while they counted how many cats they saw running around the town square.  Once everyone had had their fair share of food, we loaded back onto the bus to head home. Field and Meredith sang on the bus most of the ride home while many others used the time to make progress on their friendship bracelets. Hannah and Will (our LODs), held a wonderful Moonup on the bus during the drive back to Matemwe. When we got back, we had late night snacks and chats in the dining room before the lights suddenly went out. The kitchen staff emerged banging on pots and pans, singing loud birthday tunes, and carrying a beautiful cake with Hannah’s name written in pink frosting. We snacked, celebrated, and sat in the dining room for a while. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.

 

6/29

The kids sauntered in a bit late to breakfast, fitting the mood of the reggae pop covers that were playing in the beachside restaurant of our hotel. At breakfast, they served a mysterious green crepe, deviating from the normal crepe that they usually make. Charlie was eager to try the dish and made a burrito out of beans and veggies. The rest of the kids were nodding their heads to an Ed Sheeran reggae remix. Will especially jammed out to the music (he’ll probably bring back a lot of the reggae pop songs, so get ready). It was green crepes and jams in Zanzibar!

Today was the day that all of the kids were getting officially certified as open water divers, so there was a lot of excitement getting to the dive center. The kids were also eager to learn more Swahili phrases and requested Owen’s make-shift dictionary. Once greeting and meeting with our dive instructors, the group set off to the dive site.

On the boat, as the new divers were getting their Open Water Certifications, Owen, Addie, Field, and Aubrie were getting their advanced dive certification. The task of the day was identifying fish and taking underwater photos. Addie was the first photographer and our diving instructor was quite impressed with the consistency and clarity of her photography. However, once Addie and Owen got to the fish identifying part during the next dive, they did not do too hot, barely guessing any fish correctly. On the other hand, Field and Aubrie crushed their IDs (but only relatively). The other divers were down under having some amazing underwater finds as well: we saw frog fish, stone fish, wahoo, and shrimps galore. Asheri’s group had a laugh when Meredith excitedly mistook an anemome plant for an octopus. Hannah fulfilled our dreams of having a real life leash kid on our trip by having to latch on to her instructor’s extra regulator, being towed around for the rest of the dive.

Once we were back on the boat, Emmie did a graceful backflip and motivated Charlie, Will, Field, and Addie to join her as well. Amidst the flipping frenzy, our Captain, Combo, spotted a pod of dolphins off of the port side of the boat. Gathering everyone on a smaller motorboat, we set out to swim with the dolphins. One of the dive instructors, Asheri, was directing the driver with determination; he really wanted the kids to get a chance to swim with the dolphins. Once we got near the pods, the kids all frantically rolled off of the side of the boat, with GoPros in ready position. Henry’s long limbs got so him close to the dolphins that he ended up petting one, garnering jealousy from the rest of the group members. However, the first time around only half of the kids saw the dolphins. Asheri was steadfast in his mission and with a yell, we set off buzzing after the elusive pod. Once in the water for the second time, the rest of the kids saw plenty of dolphins as a pod of about 20 dolphins passed beneath their goofy snorkels and goggles. Dolphin overload!!

After the second dive the kids all sat on the front of the boat soaking in the rays from the gorgeous day. Tatum fell asleep sitting up once again! Once we got back to the hotel, the kids were slumped and fell asleep reading by the pool. They napped for about an hour and a half, which helped them finally recover from jet lag. Charlie was the first awake and joined Owen drinking tea on the front porch of the restaurant, where they chatted and listened to the waves crash in front of the awning.

Once the children rolled off of their beach chairs, they lethargically marched towards the beach for a sunset walk. We brought our soccer ball down the beach, but lo and behold we were stopped by a horde of young school girls, wanting to steal the soccer ball! Will, Charlie, and Henry dropped the ball and ran around with them, as they tried their best to keep the ball away from the cute little menaces. Field and Addie ran to join the disorganized game, as the kids swarmed whoever was carrying the ball within seconds. The sand the towards the water was like mud and the kids legs were awkwardly getting stuck in the sand while running. A few tumbles later, we turned back towards the hotel to get ready for dinner.

At dinner, Tatum fixed Will’s new braids and made them a bit more colorful with friendship bracelet string. Then Will brought his jolly rancher stash out to share with the group, which was devoured (or sucked?) in seconds. Will’s generosity was inspiring and brought the group wholesomely close for the night. They ended the night by piling into the boys room for late-night laughs and chats.

 

6/30

The next morning the whole group was determined to wake up for sunrise— which most of them did. Henry chose to stay in bed, but he didn’t miss much of a sunrise because it was mostly covered by puffy clouds spread over the horizon. However, the sunrise crew saw a glimmers of beauty as the sun shone through the clouds. Charlie and Will were spotting funny shapes in the clouds. Will saw Bowser and a dragon, while Charlie spotted a dinosaur! On the other side, Tatum, Field, and some other girls smelled something funky for the duration of the sunrise. It wasn’t until afterward that we realized Tatum had unfortunately been sitting in a trail of Maui’s poop (thankfully she only noticed it at the end and got to enjoy a poop-free sunrise in blissful ignorance). She led the group to catch a few extra Z’s (and to clean her shorts) before the breakfast spread was out.

We were then picked up by our diving instructors and headed to the dive site. The skies were a bit more ominous today, and the waters had a slightly tougher current. But thankfully no rain. The advanced divers were preparing for their final skills that would get them their certification. They were setting up for the deep dive, down to 100 feet; Field bravely stated that she was quite nervous, causing the others to confess their own nerves as well. We collectively commiserated our emotions before getting strong and facing our fears: the deep unknown of the ocean beneath us. Once the kids were down under the water, the nerves settled and the deep dark water were meditative and breathtaking (thankfully not literally breathtaking). The newly certified divers had some really cool finds of the day: a spotted stingray, two octopi, leaf fish, and some especially puffy starfish. While it’s usually hard to communicate underwater, Will mastered a signaling sound to alert the group on any cool subsurface finds. After Tatum, Emmie, and Henry got some practice blowing underwater bubble rings, Meredith snagged some pictures of their bubble blowing skills.

Once the kids were back on the boat they ate lots of fruits, Zanzibar donuts (mandazi), and the famous chapati banana. The group sat on the front of the boat laughing and joking, clearly all getting very close to one another. Once we got back to the dive center, everyone was allowed to ring the bell in celebration of their certifications.

After the bell, we ate quickly before our next activity, the “spicey farm”. At the spice farm our guide, Sayid, showed us a bunch of different fresh spices that were brought to Zanzibar by Arab colonizers centuries ago. We saw, smelled, and tasted vanilla, coffee, tumeric, ginger, cloves, cardomom, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and more. The girls bought natural perfumes and were crowned as queens. While the boys were then crowned as kings, Will put on the lipstick that the locals make from a native fruit, and ended up looking more like a queen. Will got some funny pictures with his newly made friend, Yusef, who was wearing the same natural make-up.

Soon after the crowning of the spice queens and kings, we walked a bit to an area in the trees where “The Butterfly” climbed a coconut tree and danced and sang for us. While we were all singing a Swahili song, “Jambo Bwana,” our guide grabbed Addie’s hand and started to swing dance with her; a lot of laughs and rhythm were shared, filling our bellies and souls. After the coconut show, we had a unique chance to buy fresh spices from the farm! Lastly, they gave us a buffet of fresh fruits before we left; the group tried jack fruit, grapefruit, papaya, passion fruit, pineapples, and more.

Once we got back to the hotel, we ate a light dinner since the kids were filled up with spices and fruits. When the chefs burst from the kitchen clanging pots and pans and singing their version of happy birthday for a nearby table, the kids joined in the celebration. The kids formed a conga line around the couple that was celebrating the birthday and cheered and danced. The couple was so delighted and shook hands and thanked us for our wonderful energy.

Henry and Aubrie then led us out onto the beach for our best moonup yet, under a bright blanket of stars. We moved down the beach when a man with a flood light ruined our stargazing, but at our new spot, Aubrie and Henry came up with some great questions, asking the group what they would do if they could go back in time. They followed up with a more serious question, asking, who was a person that each member looks up to and how that person has impacted their lives. It seems that the whole group has a lot of wonderful people to look up to.

 

7/1

Today is our last morning in Zanzibar, and we woke up to a late breakfast while taking in our last glimpses of the Indian Ocean. Since we had some time to relax, we sat at the dining table for about an hour and a half, chatting and enjoying each other’s company. Meredith cut Owen’s hair while the rest of the group played cards. When the two leaders returned they found Emmie, Charlie, and Will taking gymnastics lessons from a local on the beach— they were quite talented. We ate a light lunch and are now headed to the airport for our travel to Nairobi. Wish us safe travels and an easy flight!

 

Asante sana for reading and check back in with you soon,

Owen and Meredith


Arrived in Nairobi!

June 29, 2022

Hello Kenya + Zanzibar Families!

We heard from our leaders that the group landed safely in Nairobi. The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.

Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!

-Moondance HQ


Students

  • Hannah
  • Charlie
  • Emmie
  • Tatum
  • Field
  • Will
  • Henry
  • Aubrie
  • Addison

Staff