July 26, 2023
We have made it to the airport!
The past few days have been spent in our new home away from home! The Maasai Mara! Our first day in the Mara started with lunch then we put on our tennis shoes and headed out for a bush walk! During our bush walk we learned what it is like to become a true Maasai Warrior. We threw, jumped, speared, and shot our way into the true way to become warriors! Bauer threw the makeshift spear the farthest, while Morgan and Mason jumped the highest! We also did one where we had to make a certain sound with the club, Patrick did it every time! Our last contest was the bow and arrow, last of the girls and the best of all was Caroline! She has a natural talent for it. We were able to see the whole valley on our walk back to camp and even a few baboons! Once we got back to camp, we had a little time to sit by the bonfire and watch the sunset. The whole sky was orange and pink! We couldn’t be happier getting back to the Mara!
We got to put our skills to the test the next day! We woke up and ate a delicious breakfast of fried eggs, donuts, sausage and veggies. Once we finished with that we geared up and walked to the village. Once we arrived the Maasai men sang and danced for us! Morgan and Claudia said this was their favorite part of the day! They performed three different songs and it all ended in a jumping contest where Bryan and Grant gave each other a run for their money! Walking into the village was surreal, it’s set up like a big circle lined with Arcacia tree thorns for protection. Patrick has had a few run-ins with the thorns and his crocs. All houses are made by the women and out of soil and cow manure, an interesting combo but lucky for us we got to fill in some cracks! Claudia and Mason got wrist deep into the mud mixture and filled in almost all crevices. After we cleaned up, we had a tour of a traditional house! They usually are 3-4 rooms, the main bedroom where mom, dad, and kids under 10 sleep, the kitchen, a space for baby sheep or calves, and sometimes an extra bedroom for kids over 10! After getting a tour and slight cooking class where we made Ugali, we all made bracelets with the Maasai women! Lucy decided to pick out her colors of blue and white! Baker was given one with the Kenyan flag colors on it! Not sure they loved his original one. Maasai women are world famous for their beadwork. We got to see each families work laid out at their market! Many of us are coming home with new tools, others new jewelry, but everyone with a little less money!
Our last full day in the Mara was a day full of game drives! Once we entered the park, we immediately saw tons of zebras, giraffes, and gazelle! We also got to see a Leopard, and they are so rare that it was so exciting! We are just in time for the Great Migration. Something people travel hundreds of miles to see each year! We saw a few Wildebeests at the beginning but to Lindsey’s surprise we were quickly surrounded! The herd went on for what seemed like forever! Bryan’s camera was a fan favorite for this! Although Lucy and Grant used it the most. We are going to need all of those pictures! We stopped for lunch under a big tree next to zebras and a creek! Bryan, Patrick, and Grant had a rock skipping contest while all the girls sang along to Futurebirds! After lunch we continued our drive seeing many more wildebeests, elephants, zebras, cape buffalo, giraffes, and even ostriches! Sadly, we couldn’t stay forever, but the school awaited us! We were fortunate enough to be able to visit a nearby primary school just to further emerge ourselves into the true Maasai culture. They welcomed us with hugs and smiling faces no one could forget! We got into two heated soccer games. The first was all girls where we ended in PK’s, thanks to Maggie’s soccer skills she carried us to victory! The boys had a much more intense game where Baker showed off his skills and Mason scored! This was some of our favorite hours the whole trip just due to how happy everyone was. We ended our perfect day with a bonfire and Moonup.
We spent our last day driving back to Nairobi listening to our favorite songs and soaking up every minute with everyone! We also distributed little notebooks so all 14 of us could have written notes from everyone on our trip! It really made the trip more special and started the tears. We had an incredible banquet dinner and a final Moonup where we gave each of our kids a little keepsake from the trip! Our trip could not have gone smoother, and we are so lucky to walk away with 13 new best friends and a million new memories!
Thank you all so much for sharing your loved ones with us. We can’t wait to hear all about the rest of their year!
Mary App and Carter
July 21, 2023
After another smooth travel day we have made it! Baker and Mason were so excited to hop back into our safari cruisers! This time we are headed to the conservancy. Half way on our drive we stopped at a shop to stretch our legs and everyone got their first taste of bargaining. Bryan and Bauer almost bought things for $80! We quickly let them know it wasn’t worth more than $15, they need a few more lessons before we let them loose in a shop again! Once we all got readjusted we hopped back in and headed on. Not too long after we arrived at our new home for the next few days! On our drive in we saw rhinos, Cape buffalo, water bucks, antelope, and even gazelle! After our long drive we were famished and couldn’t wait for lunch. Thankfully, it was ready when we arrived! We had chicken, ugali, and cabbage. Morgan said it was her favorite meal yet! Mason and Grant couldn’t get enough of the chicken! After lunch we got to go on our first official game drive. We split back up into safari cars and cruised on. Before we knew it we were in the middle of a heard of elephants! We even got to see a baby, Caroline’s favorite! Maggie even said if she could be any animal it would be an elephant! It felt like we saw more rhinos than blades of grass! We also stopped at the chimpanzee enclosure. This particular one Jane Goodall started. She was able to rescue tons of chimps all across the world from zoos, smugglers, and even film crews. We were fortunate enough to also see the most chimpanzees our guide has ever seen at one time! Since their enclosure is huge it is hard to see so many at one time. On our drive back to camp for dinner we came across a family of giraffes, babies and all! They crossed the road right in front of us, so Lucy got some amazing pics! We had another amazing dinner consisting of fried rice and beef stir fry! By this time it was dark so we sat by the fire and had Moonup!
Our first morning sleeping in past 7am was amazing and well deserved! Most everyone got up and showered before our alarms even went off! We had a quick breakfast that was made much better with some hot sauce Bryan found! We then put on pants and headed into the community. First we arrived at a government owned church sanctuary that is connected to a farm. We got to see cabbage, corn, beans, rice, tomatoes, and squash! Good news… it’s HARVEST season! We got to harvest the beans! It was really satisfying to pull them all out of the ground and put into piles. Something they do here is have tea breaks, a little British influence! So we had a tea break with sweet bread, hot chocolate, and coffee! Lucy has figured out the trick to half coffee and half hot chocolate, definitely the best combo! We got to see and even feed the chickens and turkeys in their pen after our break. Mason attempted to catch one, sadly he only has a feather to his name. The farm visit was fun but we couldn’t wait to get to Gilbert’s clay workshop! This is where we learned how to make clay without actually having natural clay. First you gather dirt, Bauer and Morgan got that down pat. Then Bryan and Mason were our designated wheelbarrowers so they were transporting the dirt from point A to point B! Our next step was to sift through and get the rocks out. Everyone took turns but Caroline definitely needs a little more practice with this step! We moved from there to the kneading. We all got to take turns jumping and mixing the dirt with more water to make it into a clay substance. This was Patrick’s favorite step! From here we moved inside and began to workout the clay with our hands to then put into a mold for an oven. This whole process takes a few days and even can be weeks so Gilbert let us see a finished stove after this. It got so hot you could cook an egg on top in less than 20 seconds! Before leaving Gilbert was nice enough to give us clay rhino imprints he made. We hope they all make it back home! We came back to camp, ate dinner, and geared up for our night safari! It was definitely one of the coolest we have had yet! The part that made it so special was when we got to the hyena den, they were chasing two warthogs. So we got to see a hunt happening! Unfortunately we didn’t get to see a successful one but still a ton of action! We also saw giraffes, elephants, jackals, zebras, and a ton of antelope! By the time we got back Morgan decided she’s taking a jackal home with her and Lindsey is bringing a baby hyena! Definitely should be interesting trying to go through customs! We had Moonup and some star gazing by the bonfire that Mason so graciously made for us. Another great way to end an even more amazing day!
We got to sleep in even longer this time! Today is the big day… our northern white rhino day! The last two in the world! We started our morning off with a conservation briefing and doing a little light work for them. We cleaned out their sleeping huts, leveled them, and redirected different streams. Grant appointed himself as the manager and definitely over saw everyone’s jobs! Maggie and Caroline were our smooth/stompers that made sure the ground was even and flat! While Mason, Morgan, Claudia, and Lindsey moved huge rocks and shoveled dirt to fill in the uneven surfaces, Bauer, Bryan, and Baker were our transporters! Lucy even got a go at the wheel barrow! Patrick moved around and tried out each job to see which one he liked the best. He ended up with a shovel! Kenya is special in the fact that it houses all three types of rhinos; the black, white southern and last two northern. We have been fortunate enough to see all three thus far! The northern whites are a mother and daughter, which makes it even more sad that they are the only two left, but don’t worry, there is hope! They are attempting an IVF route with a surrogate Southern White rhino. The coolest part about everything that we learned is they are expecting to do that very soon, maybe even weeks! We lucked out on timing because we get to follow up with everything we learned! Once we finished with the work they had set for us we went to see Najin and Fatu! We were extremely lucky in the fact that we got to go right up next to Najin and even touch her! This is the only group that has been able to see either this up close and personal. We got to stay for a while until a southern white rhino came along and wasn’t too happy we were so close, so we hoped back in our safari cars and headed to lunch! After lunch we got to layout, read, throw the frisbee, and take naps before we went lion tracking! Lion tracking was one of the coolest we have had yet! We came upon a pride of lions we were tracking and then we went to find a different pride after that! Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the other pride but we found a male sleeping! It was the prides male! He was sleeping in the brush. After that we decided it was time for dinner so we headed back to camp for our last night! We almost had Moonup with the British aerospace team that we have gotten pretty close with over the past few days, sadly they didn’t want to partake. Bryan and Bauer were the most upset. It’s okay though because after Moonup we hung out with them around the bonfire!
The next morning was early but worth it because we got to see the Grevy Zebras!They are highly endangered and there are only 7 in total at the conservation, so it took a while to find them within their enclosure. After the rangers called to let us know they found them we hopped into a different car the zebras are familiar with so they would feel more comfortable. Maggie figured out how to take live pictures on her camera so she is coming home with videos, pictures, and lives! On the way back to grab our bags we ran across the lion pride we couldn’t find the day before. They had just made a kill and were eating a Cape buffalo! Definitely one of the coolest moments of our whole trip! We then hoped into our cruisers and headed to Lake Naivasha! We are only here for a night but can’t wait to share all that we see in the Mara!
We have a few special messages for you all!
Baker – Hi mom and dad, I am having so much fun. Africa is super cool. Can’t wait to tell y’all about it. Love you. Bryan and I might be coming home bald
Grant- Hello mom and dad, I miss y’all so much. I have been crying in my bed every night till I sleep and been crying all day because I miss you so much. I hope Leiden enjoyed my instagram dm and how she will shortly be moved to Africa for the marriage. We are getting 2 cows and a goat for the transaction. Love y’all and miss you so much, can’t wait to see y’all soon!
Mason- hi mom and dad I am having a great time In Africa, the water taste great and yummy and the food actually is good. My favorite part of the trip is seeing all the animals that I have never seem before. We have a good group of people. I thought I would get sick but so far so good. I have met lots of people along the way not just on Moondance. Scuba diving went well, I thought i was going to suck at it but was good at it my scuba teacher got mad at me a lot but it’s ight. Also got a haircut and I think Stephanie is going to like it. Love you me eating dinner then going to run some people in cards bye bye.😴
Bauer-Hi mom and pops i am good wE saw many animaLs and met many cool People, hope to see you soon. love you
Bryan~ hi mom and dad, I’m having such a fun time in Africa. Miss y’all and can’t wait to see y’all. I hope buster is doing good. Hope y’all will like my new haircut….. love y’all and can’t wait to show y’all all the pictures I got.
lu – hey mom dad and sups!! I miss y’all so much and can’t wait to see y’all! Africa is so much fun and the food is amazing esp the salted peanuts! over here building my immune system 💪🏻 to my friends: y’all told me to give u a shoutout so here you go. Ik it’s hard, but stay strong without me. 🤧 The unicorns were my fav part and sooooo fun to see on the safari 🦄🦄 miss y’all also I got a piercing , sorry!
Morgan: greeting and salutations to my mother, father and other fellow companions!! I am having an absolute splendid time here in this wonderful place I now call home(Africa). I miss you all soooo much and hope not too many shenanigans are fortaking without my presence. Dear friends, Stay strong without me I know it will be difficult…. Peace out ✌️ sincerely Miss. Morgan Avery Bleakney reporting from AFRICA
Claudia- heyy i am having the best time ever in Africa and miss and love y’all soo much!! Jelly fish were brutal but had fun getting airlifted🏥scuba and safari was amaz can’t wait to see y’all ik u feel the same way🪦🏻🏻
Caroline-hey mary and kevin and jack! also hi sus!! having the best time and being super duper safe (maybe🤷♂️) and rad! we’ve seen a bunch of radalicious animals especially my fav 🦒🦒i hope y’all are having the most absolute radical time in the USA and nothing wild (get it) has happened… can’t wait to see y’all and say hi to oconee for me! love ya lots ❤️
Maggie- what’s up team. I’m having a great time but miss y’all. To Chris…I hope the house isn’t too lonely after your whole fam ditched you for cool trips that you’ll never get to go on but get to pay for. Chao!
Lindsey – hello mother and father! I am having an absolute exquisite time exploring this beautiful new landscape known as Africa!! I miss you both but am enjoying my time here and wish to come back in the future. Hopefully you will consider my request. Love you and see you momentarily! 💗🤠
Parkey- Hewwo mom and dad. I am having the jolliest of time here in the desert. We also saw Bo’s family in the chimpanzee exhibit. The highlight of my trip so far is getting my fade in Zanzibar. Scuba diving is also dope and I can’t wait to do it with everyone in the future. See y’all soon ✌️-Pat
Thanks for tuning in!Mary App and Carter
July 18, 2023
Ni co poa!
After two long travel days we have all successfully made it to Kenya! Lindsey had a slight change in plane routes but made it to us just in time to jet off to Zanzibar! We woke up in Nairobi and ate a delicious breakfast full of eggs, sausage, potatoes, and even an assortment of local fruit! Bryan and Grant got into a heated game of giant chess where Grant eventually came out on top. Some were exploring our camp while Parker (who has rebranded himself as Patrick) was zip lining down to the girls near the ping pong table! Since we were finally all together, we had our first Moonup and passed out all of our new merch during the morning. After that we geared up and headed to the small local airport! In one car Maggie shared her favorite Tyler Childers and Taylor Swift songs while the other was jamming to Bob Marley!
We ate a quick lunch of BLTs, chicken wraps, and hot-pressed ham and cheese, and hopped on our flight to Zanzibar. It was perfect, nothing beats a good sandwich! Our flight felt quick, maybe due to lots of naps? or maybe the intense blackjack game Bryan and Baker got into? Nonetheless before we knew it, we were touching down in Stone Town! We had a scenic drive back to our hotel where we saw sugar cane fields, corn, mango trees, and a ton of cattle. We eventually arrived and were greeted with green juice and our amazing hotel staff! It didn’t take long to settle in before we were exploring the beach out front! During dinner Mason tried passion fruit, still not clear on if he liked it, but he kept eating it! We have had such smooth travel days but are ready to dive in! After seeing the beautiful blue water from above we are so excited to get below the surface for the next few days!
Our first night in Zanzibar was a mix of excitement and confusion. We are so excited to finally be at the beach but our room temperatures are in Celsius so Lucy came to breakfast in 2 long sleeve shirts and a sweatshirt! To her and Caroline’s surprise you are able to change the thermostat so hopefully no more layering! This was also our first day of pool dives, and it went amazing! Although we were fighting the wetsuits trying to put them on, we appreciated the warmth when we were in the freezing cold pools. The dive masters couldn’t believe this was Maggie’s first time diving and insisted she must have dove before because she looked like a pro! Lindsey, Bauer, Grant, and Claudia’s group got in and did their skills the quickest! Morgan, Maggie, Parker, and Bryan were done shortly after, leaving our last group of Caroline, Lucy, Baker, and Mason in the afternoon! While our afternoon group was in the pool Maggie decided to be the first into the ocean! Lindsey, Grant, and Patrick played soccer with the locals! Bryan started digging a huge hole on the beach big enough to fit multiple people sitting or standing. He soon recruited all of the boys to help, can’t wait to see what they do with it! This afternoon was perfect for lots of warm showers, naps, catching up on books, and of course digging! We were treated with a traditional African meal for dinner AND the Maasai came to preform for us! Our dinner consisted of samosas, ugali, chapati, and octopus. Although a few of us were apprehensive about the octopus, everyone tried it and Bauer even asked for seconds! We were all really tired so a quick Moonup on the beach and bedtime was in store for us!
We all slept amazingly! Grant said he perfected their room by turning off the AC but turning on the fan! The weather was sunny and 75 for our first day of boat dives! We got to the dive shop bright and early Morgan and Maggie put their wetsuits on immediately so they were ready! Due to the extreme tides Zanzibar has we were not able to leave from our beach so we hopped into a van and drove to a beach only 5 minutes away. It was beach you see in magazines! The huge white sand beach that meets the turquoise blue water. We all suited up during our boat ride to the coral reef and jumped in! On the first dive we had a slight mishap, Morgan jumped in lost a fin and her weight belt! No need to worry, she had her saving grace, Bryan and Patrick! They swam after her fin and eventually caught up with it unfortunately by the time they caught up with it the current had taken them far away, so a boat came to bring them back! Made it for a quicker return. Never found the weight belt though. Nonetheless they were still able to hop in and complete a few skills before taking a quick break before the second dive! The consensus on our second dive was the fish were the coolest! Caroline said when she swam up to the school of fish they would completely surround her! Definitely memorable. We had an amazing first boat day but hungry for sure, good thing we had lunch waiting on us at our hotel! We ate quickly so we could go see what spices Zanzibar has to offer. Once we got there, the girls were given woven purses so we could carry around all of our goodies! We saw everything you can imagine from ginger, to turmeric, to coffee, and even cinnamon trees! The spices are used for cosmetic, medicinal, and obviously food purposes. We had to opportunity to try some of their locally made perfumes and smell their soap. Quite a few bottles and bars are coming home with us! Once we got everything we wanted from there we continued on. We all saw monkeys and while Maggie was taking a few NatGeo worthy pictures a coconut fell out of a tree and almost hit Mason! Luckiest man alive it missed him by just an inch! We were soon crowned with woven hats and tiaras, making us feel like we are on the top of the world! Once we got all the pictures we wanted we headed over to buy some spices. To our surprise there was a man cutting up fruit, so we all got to try jackfruit! It wasn’t Claudia’s favorite but Bryan and Patrick loved it! Sadly this was our parting gift. Everyone was so tired we were excited to eat dinner, have Moonup and go to bed. After an intense game of cards of course!
Our second boat dive day was even better weather than our first! It was sunny, little to no waves, and amazing visibility! We started our day the same as last by taking a short car ride down the road to a more accessible beach. We often have people running up to us asking us to buy things, but luckily everyone has perfected their response of “hapna asante” so they usually leave us alone after that! Although Grant had to tell them multiple times. We couldn’t wait to get on the boat and dive again! Our first dive consisted of our remaining skills we needed to be fully certified! There were more fish than grains of sand! Maybe that’s why they call it Aquarium? Who knows, regardless it was the best marine life yet! We had another short break to eat some fruit and bread then back in the water for us. This time while we were waiting for the boat to come get us we all got tangled up in a few jellyfish. Definitely not our favorite memory but memorable nonetheless. The only one to come away unscathed was Maggie! We all were fortunate enough that the boat crew had vinegar and cream to help us all out. Bauer had other remedies in mind… and made sure to put those into action. All three ways helped and we were thankful the stinging went away quickly! After taking care of that we headed back to the dive shop to fill out our log books and take our certification pictures! We are excited to report back that all 12 kids are officially SCUBA CERTIFIED!!!! We worked hard and had a few challenges but are excited we never have to put our own gear together ever again! We had another quick lunch then headed towards to other side of the island and on to Prison Island. It was a short boat ride across from Stone Town. Prison island is not actually a prison, and never has been! It was used to cover up the continuation of the slave trade to the Middle East. It is now used as half hotel and half tortoise habitat. We got to feed them and see the 197 year old one! Very rare that he is spotted. Patrick said this was his favorite part of the day! We timed our return perfectly and got to watch the sunset on the boat ride back! Many pictures were taken, butI think Morgan’s camera got the best ones! After our run in with the jellyfish we decided it was a day to treat ourselves, so we stopped at a local gelato shop and it made the perfect ending to our certification day!
Our last day of diving was the prettiest day we had yet! Such a good day to dive! Since we are certified we no longer have to put our gear together! Definitely Morgan’s favorite part. Bauer and Grant mentioned how the second dive was one of the best ones they had over all four days, and everyone agreed! Carter and I think it was one of the best dives we have had all summer, making it such a perfect last dive for all! Sadly Claudia was attacked again by a jellyfish, good news is she’s a pro at this point and said it wasn’t even nearly as bad as the day before! We filled out our log books for the last time here in Zanzibar, and then headed into Stone Town! We walked around saw churches, mosques, markets, and even original slave chambers. It was educational but also beautiful as we got to see the Arabic and Indian influence on the architecture. Before sitting down for a sunset dinner, the boys had something in mind. They have been conspiring and begging the whole time we have been in Zanzibar, so we finally let them… go into a barber shop. We can’t WAIT for you to see what they all decided to get! Good thing hair grows back! After that, we got to watch the sun set over the horizon and get a good meal in! Caroline and Maggie were bamboozled to find out we could see the mainland of Tanzania from our seats at dinner! It only became apparent when the night lights beamed. Dinner was full of pizza, chicken, steak, and cokes! Bryan, Patrick, and Grant shared a sizzling brownie with chocolate ice cream on top for dessert! Others wanted gelato so we had to go back to our favorite spot in town, Mama Mia’s! Lindsey ended up getting a cannoli! We were so tired from our busy day that we did Moonup on the bus and went to sleep.
It was bitter sweet leaving our tropical paradise, but we had a smooth travel day, a lot of positive energy and a hot meal of beef tenderloin, cheesy mashed potatoes, corn, soup, and fruit waiting on us at camp! Thanks for tuning in, we can’t wait to report back from the conservancy!
Mary App and Carter
July 11, 2023
Hello Kenya + Zanzibar 2A Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Nairobi, and are excitedly awaiting the late arrival of Lindsey! The trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure as they head to their service section.
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!