It’s the time of year, when we gather with others for merriment. There are many events throughout life when we revel in our accomplishments. How do you rejoice the holidays, usher in the new year, celebrate a graduation, a birthday, a heart stirring religious sermon, or a joining of two hearts at a wedding?
One of the most unusual and very special celebrations that I’ve experienced, was marrying my husband. No, he’s not the unusual part. It was that our wedding was anything but traditional. We celebrated on the top of a mountain in Tanzania. Originally, we were simply going to elope, but then we had a wacky idea to get married while we were over in Africa.
The trip was enlightening in many ways. There was a vast array of lifestyles and living conditions, from the metropolis of Dar Salam, to the city of Iringa, to the tiny village of Idunda, and even the wide-open wildlife reserve of Ruaha River Camp. Each place told of heart-wrenching times, dealing with corruption, such as gifts being held back for unaffordable fees, and the accounts of beautiful, kind and giving people, such as hospitals, and originations providing aid to the sick, well drillers bringing water to the thirsty, educators giving knowledge to the next generation, and more….
The highlight of this trip began, for me, when our group of eighteen packed into three Land Rovers and headed out to this tiny village called Idunda. High-up in the mountains, God, my best friend and I would become a team for life. The roads were treacherous as pointed out by our guide who stated, “Our people in the village are very appreciative, that you traveled so far and are risking your lives to visit them.” At which point, a fellow traveler replied, “Aren’t people in the other vehicles risking their lives as well?”
It amazed me to see the immense amount of goods they transported. Bicycles were loaded down with three to five crates. Carts and trailers, usually pulled by vehicles in my home town, were being pushed up steep hills, by one, two, or sometimes three strong men, of rather small stature. Along our journey, people young and old stood along the roadside. It appeared they had been waiting to greet us. Others set down their baskets, in order to wave.
As we drove into the village of Idunda a group of petite women appeared over the crest of the hill, balancing five-gallon buckets of water on their heads. Water was scarce on the top of the mountain and had to be carried in daily. There were no toilets, running water, or modern conveniences. However, the villagers seemed at peace in their way of living, cut off from news of the nuclear rights in Iran, and other controversies at that time. They were strong, hardworking, generous people with a great deal of love.
News of “wazungu’s” (white people) spread throughout the area, and our small ceremony grew…and it grew. And on the day of the wedding, we were shocked and amazed to learn that there were over three thousand guests standing on the crest of that mountain top. This union– of a man and a woman, was also seen as people from two different countries and cultures, speaking two different languages, coming together. A bond of love, rang-out in the bells and drums, on that starry night.
There was nothing that would have prepare me, for what I experienced in Africa. It wasn’t an easy, relaxing trip, on the other hand, it was very rewarding. The wonderful people we met along the way, taught me some of life’s most valuable lessons.
Here are a couple of trinkets I took from that experience, that I may find useful when writing children’s stories. Seldom can we prepare for what’s ahead in life. However, there’s a better chance you’ll learn more, when things don’t go the way you planned. Travel is one of the greatest teachers!