Upon arriving in Tanzania in early January 2013, all WorldTeach volunteers stayed together at Maui Rest House in Kunduchi Beach for a week long English intensive training.
While staying at Maui Rest House for our week of training, at 6:30am the sun rose just beyond my balcony which overlooked an incredibly gorgeous Christmas tree (no, not an American Christmas tree – a vibrantly gigantic tree with intricate red flowers) and a fishing village in Kunduchi Beach, which is a small village in Dar es Salaam.
The mystical beauty of this “paradise” included intense smells of fish, children smiling brightly,
dala dala’s (buses) racing about on the roads, women walking with all sorts of buckets on their heads
and fabrics brighter than imagined.
Frogs chirped loudly at night and in the early mornings,
I was woken with the rising sun and a plethora of roosters crowing and birds chirping.
Just beyond our parameters, men, women and children walked about getting their water for the day, preparing for fishing and adventuring to whatever their task at hand may be.
The weather was HOT and sticky, oh so very sticky.
The first days staying in Kunduchi Beach, I had trouble finding words to express the reality I was witnessing.
As it was something never before seen by my eyes – a combination of absolutely beauty and sadness.
Tanzanians are so community oriented, so friendly, so welcoming.
We walked about the streets and little children jumped up and down saying,
“Jambo” or “Hi” or “Karibu” (welcome) and an occasional “Mambo Vipi?” (What’s up).
A simple pause, looking at their face and responding with “Poa” (cool) brought about a huge smile on their faces. Greetings are extremely important in Tanzania as you typically hear three to four when meeting a person.
While training, English lessons began at 8:30am and continued through dinnertime, typically around 7:30.
Our training included anything from Swahili lessons to cultural training to afternoon siesta’s where we had group swimming sessions in the pool and lots and lots of “Genki English” lessons.
Towards the end of my training, we all found out our teaching placements.
Seven of us went to Mafia Island (off the coast of Tanzania)
and the remaining volunteers went to Kilwa (on mainland Tanzania, south of Dar es Salaam).
Although we spent most of the first week in the parameters of our training center, we did venture out several times.
The first outing was up to Bagamoyo, which was about an hour away from Maui Rest House.
I spent the hour standing up in a very crowded dala dala talking to a local Tanzanian who volunteered to guide us around for the day about her American interest. Once we got into Bagamoyo, we visited an old slave dwelling where slaves were held before getting sent to Zanzibar – a combination of absolute depression from seeing where slaves were hung to absolutely joy when hearing the pride in Raymond’s (our tour guide, a local Tanzanian) voice as he expressed his countries history.
The dala dala ride home was spent in silence staring out the window as we passed through town after town – a sense of melancholy overcame my body as I am living a dream I’ve had for as long as I can remember, yet am seeing the struggle of the people that live this reality every day.
The second outing was with the group of us whom were placed on Mafia Island.
We left Kunduchi Beach after breakfast and ventured to Mwenge to shop at local cultural shops and into an air conditioned Tanzanian mall called Mlimani City and yes it was air-conditioned with cappuccino and ice cream shops!We then ventured on several other dala dala's in Posta and Kivukoni where we took a five-minute ferry across the ocean to Kigamboni and ate lunch at a street vendor.
Below are photos from my week long adventure on mainland Tanzania in Dar es Salaam!
Many blessings and enjoy!
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From engagement photos to wedding photos to now, photos of a beautiful being waiting patiently in the womb of his or her mother.. I say his or her simple because the sex is a surprise!
The two of them are keeping the sex a mystery to not only others, but themselves!
In just a few weeks, this little being will come into our incredible world!
I have truly been so blessed to capture such life altering moments in both Angie and Moe’s lives.
Their engagement shoot consisted of a family outing exploring the famous Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
While their wedding ceremony took place in a pristine church close to that of their home with the reception taking place at the infamous Artesia DES Portuguese hall in Artesia, CA.
And the latest shoot was done at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden on Long Beach State’s campus.
Every time I see Angie and Moe, I smile a little more as they grow with one another!
Their love for each other goes over a decade back and its completely evident in their communication and smiles.
Angie and Moe, thank you again so much for yet another opportunity
to capture such life altering moments in the both of your existences!
I am truly so blessed to be such an intimate part of all these moments! I cannot wait to meet your little one!
Day after day I am constantly amazed at where moments in life guide us.
Several years ago, as a senior in college at CSULB I applied for an alternative spring break semester long course with an emphasis on Hurricane Katrina.
We spent the semester learning the dynamic aspects of the hurricane, why it hit, the governments reaction or inaction for that matter and effect on the New Orleans community!
Most importantly, we not only learned about the New Orleans culture and community, but we spent our spring break building homes with Habitat for Humanity in the Lower Ninth Ward.
Shelia and I were classmates during this gratifying adventure, but didn’t have much of a friendship.
After months of staying in touch and having “Katrina Family” potlucks, our relationship went from being classmates to being very close friends!
It’s been such an honor to grow with Shelia these past couple years as we both go on our independent quests in this beautiful world! Recently, she did a profound piece in the local Vagina Monologues in Costa Mesa.
Upon this production, she came to the realization that she had no photographs of herself!
And it just so happened that I was back in Southern California. What better way to spend the day than going around on a sunny afternoon laughing and taking photos at The CAMP and Lab in Costa Mesa?
Shelia, I am so proud of you and your lives journey!
Thank you so much for the opportunity to document that curiosity and smile of yours!
In December of 2012, my three month travel adventures began with exploring back East in the United States for a couple weeks right around Christmas time!
The adventures began two days after Christmas where I flew into Newark, New Jersey.
My flight came in late in the winter evening.
I exited the plane, grabbed my luggage, transferred terminals to meet my college roommate and walked into the shocking freezing cold winter breeze of the East.
Man, was that weather shocking.
We quickly found a taxi and took a surprisingly quick city ride over the bridge
and landed in the neighborhoods of Manhattan.
Ali and I woke each day with plans to see a new distinct part of this famous city.
A city filled with so much energy, so much movement, so many people just huddling and bustling about!
I have to be honest in that this city made me feel defeated, oh yes -- with the city winning.
Amongst the chaos and cold there existed a lot of beauty and warmth.
The buildings -- the architecture and colors were just breathtaking!
And by warmth, even though it got down to 28 degrees with the winds unbearable,
the people were very welcoming and extremely helpful.
People truly cared and assisted in many ways unexpected -- stopping to give directions when they saw us looking at a map, offering endless recommendations and carrying my intense suitcase up three flights of stairs. These were all humanitarian gestures that went along way.
Adventures in New York and New Jersey included everything from walking down Malcom X blvd in Harlem, to walking all of Central Park -- yes all from top to bottom, to the mayhem of Times Square and Rockefeller Center around Christmas time, to trucking through hours of snow and heavy rains to the 9/11 memorial to looking over the water at the Statue of Liberty to 5Pointz in Queens where the gratify is legal and so vibrantly appealing to the Brooklyn Bridge to an entire ocean view of Manhattan city in Hoboken, New Jersey and everything inbetween from dancing to drinking to spending New Year's Eve at a Blonde Redheads show
at Irving Place in Union Square!
Ali and I then took a four hour bus ride from New York to the historical Washington D.C. where we wondered around photographing the historic streets of Georgetown and Capital Hill for a couple days.
Below are some of my favorite photographs from the three historic states - New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C.! As always, enjoy!
For more travel photography, please check out the travel tab!
I am in love with life and all those in it.