Once Upon a Time – In Africa

Once Upon a Time – In Africa


I opened Donna’s journal that had lain on a shelf, unopened, for over 43 years. I was immediately transported back to 1967 the year I met the young nursing student who would within six months become my wife and with whom I would spend the next two years in Tanzania, East Africa as CUSO (Canadian University Services Overseas) volunteers; our two-year honeymoon. With little experience in love and marriage and even less experience in our chosen professions, we ventured out with a guitar, an accordion, our newly minted college certificates (architecture technology and nursing) and a whole lot of energy ready to see and experience the world. Living first in a mud hut, then for a couple of weeks in a down-at-the heels brothel, and finally in a flat owned and furnished by Public Works, I recall the travails of learning to prepare meals with one pot, keeping dry goods free from weevils, creating a Christmas tree out of a cactus with disastrous results for the cactus creating a home that soon became known as a stop-off point for volunteers, missionaries and travellers of all backgrounds, facing the reality that I had to change some of my personal habits if I wanted to keep the love I had just found, and of interacting with the local police and learning very quickly what it means to be a minority. Much of the story focuses on the daily challenges and small victories that each of us enjoyed working with situations totally outside anything we had experienced to date. With the purchase of an undependable piki-piki (motorcycle), overcrowded slow and decrepit local buses, and thumbs made for hitchhiking, the reefs, beaches, national parks, mountains and plains all offered adventure and undreamt of beauty. The story describes in detail our participation in a hunting safari that would be impossible to do today, and, of course, no stay in Tanzania would be complete without a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. The final chapters of the book highlight reflections that we now see t.

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