Reflections on Tanzania

Today, a year ago, I would have been sitting in the mess tent, with members of the Maasai on either side of me and I would be having the time of my life. Tonight would be the ceremony with all of those involved with hosting us and we would be dancing and feasting on the massive meal they provided.

This would be the last night of an extraordinary adventure, as well as the moment I realized the impact it had on me. This, was the night I gained my travel bug.

Here is 12 things I learned from this trip from the 12 nights I stayed there:

  1. Close your windows in countries with monkeys. The fact that the hotel had to put up a sign about it should say enough.
  2. Understand that you can not win every card game. That is not possible, well, unless you are Kyle. Accept defeat at some point.
  3. Be thankful for the privilege you have if you live in a first world country. I can not stress this enough.
  4. Mafia is the most entertaining group game on this planet. On the contrary, spoons is the most terrifying group game on this planet.
  5. Appreciate our education system. Or more simply, the fact you are able to go to a school. Or have a school to go to.
  6. Despite its difficulties, enjoy the issues with language barriers. “Sleeping like a pancake” is one of these instances that you kinda just accept it and laugh. Then you contemplate the meaning for the rest of your life.
  7. Enjoy safaris and be patient. You will ruin the safari for yourself if you just stress on seeing all the animals or focusing on just one.
  8. Be grateful for clean water!!! Let me repeat: Be grateful for clean water!!!
  9. Don’t get weirded out by extreme flattery from men. Yes you can turn down the proposal and the awkward invitation to go home with them, but don’t get creeped out. They aren’t going to harm you, they just think you are very pretty and qualified to be another wife.
  10. Be comfortable with drop toilets. Not all countries use the loo like the West does. Get used to the squat and drop.
  11. Try all of the food. Yes, you might not like the goat that you watched be slaughtered this morning, but at least give it a shot (spoiler: kinda tastes like chicken).
  12. When you come home, do not ever forget how you felt. Remember the reverse culture shock and surprise you had. That’s what you learn from. That is what will shape your life.

I am forever grateful for this opportunity. This trip made me the way I am today and has inspired many actions since then. Cheers to June, 2016!

6 Beautiful Beaches in Sandpoint, Idaho

Now that it is summertime, everyone has the urge to hop on down to the lake and go for a swim. Especially here, in North Idaho, boating and swimming and wake surfing is getting more and more popular. This is extremely true for little Sandpoint, given that we are on the edge of Lake Pend Oreille. So, if you are in the area, here are my favorite beaches to get some sun at.

6. Green Bay- Way off the beaten path compared to the others, Green Bay offers a stellar view of the mountains and a great swimming area. Nearby are the Mineral Point Trails and campsites if you want to bike or spend the night.

5. City Beach- The main beach in Sandpoint gives a wide view of the lake and is only a bridge away from some of the best places to eat in Sandpoint, including Spud’s, Panhandle Cone and Coffee, and Thai Nigiri. It also has a volleyball and tennis court, and some hoops for basketball. While it can be crowded, there is usually area for everyone, with a shallow end for the little ones and the pier for the older ones.

4. Third Street Pier- This one is very small, and someplace you would only go with a few friends. At the end of Third Street, it has a small platform that is good for jumping off of, and is usually fairly quiet except on really warm days.

3. Trestle Creek- This beach in Hope (it still counts on this list right???) is about ten miles from the main Sandpoint area, but is a very family friendly beach with a roped in area for the kiddos. It also has a place to unload boats for fishing or surfing. Its pretty quiet most of the time which is very nice.

2. Dover- These beaches are usually pretty quiet, with a well put together park play set for younger ones and paths for those who wanna walk their dogs (or put them in strollers, have seen that there before). The water is usually calm and offers some gorgeous views. Definitely an awesome spot to put kayaks in as well.

1. Dog Beach- This beach isn’t as well put together as the others, but there’s definitely some good swimming opportunities and trails for walking (path leads to Long Bridge). And the best part? Take a look at the title. Guess what? ITS DOG FRIENDLY! Plenty of people take their dogs down for a bath down here and if you are lucky, you can pet some of them!

24 Hours in Tombstone, Arizona

Ahhh, Tombstone, Arizona. The crowning jewel of the history of the Wild West. This city is the quintessential boomtown, all kudos to silver prospector, Ed Schieffelin. Later famous for the historical O.K. Corral Shootout, Tombstone has an exotic and frankly, naughty history. Visiting it, although it’s all mostly on one street, is almost enough for a multi-day trip. However, if you are trying to cram it in one day, here is your best bet:

7:00- Rise and shine to get ready and eat breakfast, either at a diner, your hotel, or wherever you are staying.

8:00- Drive to Boothill Graveyard. This is the historic cemetery of many businessmen, ranch hand, settlers, immigrants, miners, and the occasional drunk. You will also find the graves of the McLaury’s and Billy Clanton, as well as many other numerous key figures such as China Mary, Lester Moore, and John Heath. (Tip: Make sure you get the booklet describing who is buried where and how they died.)

9:00-  Drive or walk to Tombstone Courthouse Historic State Park. Tour the museum following the guides (chronological order) and marvel at the many artifacts and documents starting from Ed’s discoveries to the shootout to all the scandalous activities along the way. Make sure to look at the courtroom itself and the gallows

10:30- Start the main haul up Allen Street, but before you make it all the way there, make sure to stop at the Rose museum, even if its just to gawk at the massive plant. Yep, you guessed it, that’s the world’s largest rosebush. Inside is the personal accounts of the family and more artifacts on Tombstone, mostly odd ones about the culture.

11:00: Hopefully at this point you have made it up to Allen Street by now and didn’t get too caught up in things, but from here you can take a left and go down to the main attraction in Tombstone- OK Corral. Here you can pick up interesting gifts (flavored crickets, anyone?) and see plenty of artifacts. Leaving the building, you can see information and buildings on brothels in the city (yes, in a boomtown with a hundred saloons or so, prostitution was a big deal), as well as the life of corral and stable workers. Keep going and you will see Fly’s Photography, the main photographer in the city, and the building where Doc’s significant other, Kate, watched the entire shootout. Next to Fly’s is the area itself where the Clantons and McLaurys turned their guns against the brave and charismatic Doc Holliday and the Earps. If you are really lucky, you may be able to witness one of the gunfight reenactments, which in my opinion, were a little exaggerated but, they were sure funny.

13:00- Stop at Crystal Palace for Lunch. This fancy saloon was home to a brewery and even the offices of the Earps. In fact, this is the very saloon where Morgan Earp was shot in the spine, right before the shootout and then later, the vendetta of Wyatt Earp.

14:00- Walk on over to the Bird Cage Theatre. Pictured just the same as in the movie, Tombstone, it was home to most of the popular and scandalous shows in the town. Make sure to look at Fatima, the massive painting, and gawk at the bullet holes in the ceiling. Yup, things got a little rowdy there. Below is the brothel rooms and a gambling table that hasn’t been moved in over a hundred years, as well as a wine cellar. The area in there may be small, but by the time you have read and looked at all the history, it will have been a while.

15:30- Run back down to Toughnut to go on the Good Enough Mine Tour. These tour guides are the greatest. They tell the best jokes and are super helpful in guiding you around the massive mine that lugged out large amounts of silver. Learn what a honey pot is, as well as how they mined well beneath the town. Dogs are allowed and its pretty cheap compared to many mine tours.

17:00- I would try to check out some of the shops if you can (some close early), but lots have interesting trinkets and clothes. You will truly grasp how weird Tombstone is at this point (if you haven’t already). Stop and get some ice cream at Tombstone Mercantile if you want.

19:00- My favorite! Hop over to Big Nose Kate’s. I can not put in words how incredible this place is. You can barely order food because of all the things on the wall catching your attention. My recommendation is pizza, its so incredible. I wish I could go there more often, it’s seriously so good. Hopefully there is a live performer, if there is, tip them, they are usually really good and will play whatever song you want. Once you are done eating your second or third pizza (trust me, you will want more), go take a look downstairs at the gift shop and the Shaft. I love this saloon, its seriously amazing. Oh and did I mention everyone is in costume?

Hope this is helpful! Follow me on twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest @walksofnamayani

8 Incredible Travel Blogs to Take Away From

8. WANDERING EARL is quite an intriguing and helpful blog. Right off the bat, you will discover Earl’s name is actually Derek, but he finds his middle name (Earl), more kind to the ear for a blog name. Derek has been on the roads for years, and is well trained in advice giving. He even started his own tours in multiple countries and has visited less common places such as Zanzibar and Mauritius.


7. GOATS ON THE ROAD is another funky and fresh example of travel blogs, as well as a helpful one to follow. This duo makes six figures yearly and they don’t have to worry about paying for travel whatsoever. They also have taken some pretty incredible adventures all across the world, but their photos from Asia and Latin America are stunning. These guys are professionals to say the least.


6. P.S. I’M ON MY WAY is a rather unique blog with a completely different aspect of starting a travel-based profit. Trisha spends her travels in different ways than doing the cliche visit every landmark you can at once. She actually chooses to live in a place she likes for up to three months. Her posts are more geared towards her lifestyle rather than a how-to writing frame.


5. THIS IS THE PLACE I WAS TELLING YOU ABOUT is an eccentric yet minimalist blog featuring very talented photography. While it doesn’t offer many tips and guides for travel, it certainly features a lot of the world’s beauty. Oh and bonus! Our world is usually loaded with digital things, but these photos are all produced on film. How neat is that?


4. CAMELS AND CHOCOLATES is a blog dedicated to the freelance documents of Kristin Luna, an adventurous woman from the South. She globe trots all across the world, from  Sweden to Tasmania to Aruba, all with her dog and husband. However, she finds balance between a normal life and one of a traveler, rather then dropping everything to become a nomad.


3. BE MY TRAVEL MUSE is an adventurous, colorful, well put together blog with detailed itineraries and bright pictures from around the world. Kristin goes into detail on the costs of her trip, as well as how to save and what the best part of each destination is. She also is a very skilled photographer and adrenaline junky.


2. NOMADIC MATT is basically one of the best money saving blogs out there. Matt is a full time nomad and author, and has saved loads of money in many ways, from choosing to used certain credit card companies, to traveling on only $50 a day. He is one of the top travel bloggers across the world, and his sight is well put together and incredibly helpful. Not to mention, he has some great photography.


1. THE BROKE BACKPACKER is by far my favorite blog out there. Will completes some of the most insane journeys in the most insane ways. Right now he is traveling from the UK to Papua New Guinea all without a plane ticket. In his blog he elaborates on this and how he manages to live on under $10 a day. He has some pretty engaging stories from the time he went to an underground rager in Pakistan to the time he and his brother broke down in their psychedelic rickshaw while eating opium cookies (not joking, check his blog out). But anyway, Will leads a very exciting life and documents this among other things in his extraordinary blog.



Note: All photos and blogs belong to their respectful owners. I do not own any content.

Make sure to follow me on twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest @walksofnamayani

Journal Entry: 2, January 2017: London, England

Out of all the places I have traveled, London is by far one of my favorite places. It is the jewel of people watching cities, as every individual has such a unique story and everything is genuinely super interesting. There’s so many things to do, from visiting Buckingham to riding the London Eye to eating chips (French Fries) in cliche sounding pubs like the Royal Oak.

Here is an excerpt from my journal:

  • 9:00- Woke up and prepared to go to the city again to see some more sights
  • 10:30- Left Highgate to go to Green Park, which is basically the Queen’s front lawn. We went to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of guards. So many people attended the event. The band was loud and all the guards were in sync. They honestly looked like the one’s from the Wizard of Oz
  • 12:00- Left through St. James Park to go to the tower. There’s tons of birds, many kinds of pigeons, ducks, geese, swans, and who knows what else. From there, we walked to the horse guards, and one nibbled on my bag. At some point we went into the underground and went to Tower Hill. There we saw the London Tower, a castle like thing built a very long time ago, but despite the age, was very well intact. From there we went to the London Bridge itself. It is huge and beautiful, with intricate designs and paintings the entire way across. The glass floors allow visitors to see the water below, including the HMS Belfast.
  • 18:00- Went home on the underground after eating an awful Caesar salad and waiting decades in a Starbucks. Left with the whole crew to Pizza Express where after waiting an hour we ate a mediocre pizza, but a delicious dessert. Honeycomb cheesecake I think. Came home and I fell asleep
  • 22:00- At some point I stumbled awake and walked to bed


Journal Entry: 4, August 2016: Great Lakes, Michigan

Ah, dear U.P.. While not the most thrilling of vacations, my trips to the Upper Peninsula will always have a special place in my heart. Between family, great scenery, some incredible pizza, Beef-A-Roo, and good ole Yooperland, this place is hard to beat.

  • 7:00- Woke up with Kiah to drive with Wendy, John, Jacob, and Liz to Munising, Ishpeming, and other Upper Peninsula areas.
  • 8:00- Headed out to start our drive towards the area where my family originates. Kiah and I sit far in the back back, Jacob and Liz in the back, Wendy in passenger and John in front.
  • 9:30- We stopped at a gas station for food. As always, John bought a bunch of extra food we don’t need. Everyone got something weird to eat.
  • 11:30- We drove by my uncle’s snowmobile shop in Ishpeming where he sells lots of Yamaha’s, as well as side by sides and other sports vehicles. However, he was busy so we didn’t get to see him. We also stopped at the Yooperland, which is a tourist trap full of hooper stuff. Outside there is many strange mannequins demonstrating the life of a yooper, and then there is a gift shop and rock museum. Being Yoopers ourselves, we laughed and related to many sights.
  • 12:30- From there we went through Marquette to Munising to see Lake Superior. Having never been there, I didn’t realize exactly how big it was. Large freight ships are turning around and in the words of Brayden, it looks like the Oregon Coast. We found a white sand beach to go to and explored there. From there we decided to explore Munising Falls. It was a short hike, but it was very pretty and well worth the wait.
  • 14:00- We went then to Miner’s Falls, which was much larger and a longer hike to get to it. Lots of people there as well. Wendy was taking pictures the whole time.
  • 15:00- We went to see the Picture Rocks on Lake Superior after that. It was so pretty. There was a family swimming below, we thought they were fake at first.
  • 18:00- We drove to Lake Michigan in Escanaba. By far my favorite beach on this trip; it was so peaceful and tranquil and amazing. We stopped for pizza in a place called Sidetrack and it was really good. We decided to go home after that
  • 20:30- Had to stop to take sunset pictures
  • 22:00- Arrived back home

Journal Entry: 8, June 2016: Orbomba, Tanzania


Journal Entries from Tanzania 2016

This trip will forever be the one that completely altered my life. I experienced culture shock, gained lifetime friends, learned a bit about the world, and began my travel itch all in a matter of twelve days. Here is an excerpt from my journal:

  • 6:00- Woke up for walk
  • 6:30- Left camp, prayers were still going
  • 7:40- Returned to camp for breakfast (pancakes, cereal, toast, fruit)
  • 8:00- Ate breakfast, played ninja to earn spot
  • 10:00- Left for water walk. It was inspiring to see what they have to go through just to get water for their family. The water source was muddy and as soon as we got our water, a bunch of cows came and pooped in the only water source. We walked all the way to the village. The man had so many wives and so many children. The flies were everywhere. They crawled in the mouths and eyes of the children. They didn’t even flinch. The inside of the house was very small and smelt awful, I couldn’t breathe. When we came outside, we talked to the mamas and kids. The mom put the Maasai beads on me and called me a Maasai member. The kids took particular interest in my camera and swarmed me, wanting to press the buttons and see themselves. They loved my hair and hat and loved to play with it. Even though they knew no English and we knew no Maasai, we were able to understand each other. They loved touching me and my things. It was amazing. They all called me “Greasie” too because apparently that’s how you pronounce Grace.
  • 13:00- Returned from water walk and visiting the village. Ate lunch. Had to tell a joke. Ate bread and mayo, veggies, and other stuff
  • 14:30- Left camp to worksite. Played with the kids. I was able to communicate with them a bit. This girl called me rafiki immediately because we were the same age. She and I challenged each other with learning numbers. She played soccer with me. We talked about school and the such and although our conversations were fragmented, I understood. She was so nice. I talked with the teachers a lot too. I had to describe a moose to them. One boy said “You are very beautiful” and winked. I just felt so happy and accepted by them. They also liked my hair.
  • 15:14- Began working on school. We had to build the main pillar, which consists of bending squares, cutting wire to tie it, and rebar. This was difficult but we got a solid assembly line.
  • 17:30- Returned to camp, hour of free time, which was made up of card games. Kyle and I have now played 30 rounds of speed.
  • 18:30- Dinner, veggies, rolls, bean soup, passion fruit something
  • 19:00- Discussed highlights in the form of peanut butter jelly. Played more games including a drawing version of telephone*

*this is called telephonictionary

14 Reasons You Should Complete a Service Trip In Your Lifetime

I completed my first service trip in Tanzania in 2016. We went to a super impoverished area where the average family of seven lived on 5 USD (10k TZS), which could buy a couple fruits, soap, and a kilogram of corn for the entire week. In the time we spent there, we completed a water walk as well that involved walking several miles with 40 liter containers of water that was mud filled and potentially contained loads of deadly bacteria. This is the daily routine of the women who walk 7-8 times a day for this poor water source. These people were also lacking in education, which is what we helped with, by building a new school. This trip ultimately changed my life, and I definitely recommend completing a service minded trip for these reasons:

Often times, while traveling, we tend to be engaged in the cliches, whether its the perfect aboriginal experience in Australia, or Big Ben and Parliament in London, or Machu Picchu in Peru. While these are not bad experiences by any means, it is nice to get away from the mass crowds of people and experience people who are dressing and acting as themselves, not to attract tourists.


Doing the cliche tourist activities comes hand in hand with cliche tourist pictures. Again, not bashing on tourist culture, but to me, a picture of you helping alongside locals who each have a story behind them is much more valuable than you pretending to hold the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Again, those photos are not bad, but taking service oriented photos gives variety to your Instagram, scrapbook, or just you iPhone gallery.

Whether you are just in National Honor Society in high school, or just trying to set an example amongst your peers and fellow coworkers, helping those in need is a seriously good way to do so. You are showing that you are willing to do more than just helping the elderly across the street; you are literally globe trotting to aide those in need. That shows a lot of integrity and character within itself to influence the people around you with.

Instead of blaring, bright signs telling you where the best places to eat are or where the best shopping is, have the locals, the people you are working with, tell you. This potentially can save you a lot of money, and once again, gives you an authentic experience. The mom and pop restaurants off the beaten path are usually the ones with the best home cooked meals and lowest prices.

Suddenly, your trip is filled with a focus on a specific community rather than a whole bunch of spots scattered across a city. You are fully immersed in a group of people that somehow make you feel at home and even treat you like family. In fact, in Tanzania, I had a family in Orbomba, that the mother looked a lot like mine and once she saw a picture of my mother, decided that I am part of her family and called me her daughter from there on out.

You are not only completing a large group project such as building a school, but you are also helping in ways you don’t recognize. Maybe that is by teaching the little children some English, or educating them a new way to filter water, or teaching a skill that will help them earn money. There is essentially endless possibilities.

Photo Jun 21, 01 46 23

Some of my closest international friends are from the trip in Tanzania. These people are the ones you will be spending only a couple days with, but they will impact your life forever. The people that helped guide me around, such as Lekihiti and Mollel, were so difficult to say goodbye to. There were tears everywhere, but I still talk to them today.

These projects aren’t just for the people you meet now. The things that you do are impacting generation after generation. That school will educate for years to come and that water system will sanitize water for more and more individuals as time passes. The work may be temporary but it will last a very, very long time.

At some point, regular travelers will question why they are fueling this addiction and spending their money. Well, amongst the desire to learn about other cultures or ecosystems or places, a service trip allows you to help, another reason to gain a stamp in your passport. Helping people is also a very positive reason to travel, it aides yourself and others all in one!

I still laugh at really incomprehensible phrases like “sleeping like a pancake” or “schwarz!” that only have meaning to those who were with me on the trip. You will experience this often and it brings so much more memories and good times when you look back on your trip.

If you live in a first world country, poverty is much different in your country than poverty in a third world country. Here, there are resources for the poor, whether that is water, food, shelter, or education. Areas without these are few and far between. However, being below the poverty line in a third world country can often be severe, see my journals, photos, and above descriptions for more info on what I saw in Tanzania.

Especially in areas new to development, one will often have downtime that allows them to experience some new card games, or games in general from both your own country and the one you are in. This is super helpful in times of boredom, and in reflection of your trip. I will never forget the reigning spoons champion, Shania and the 24 times Kyle beat me in speed. Maybe I need to get better at card games.

Those structures you build or things you do are going to impact someone, possibly by keeping them alive. Maybe if you didn’t build that water filtration, some individual along the line may have contracted a disease, or maybe the schools taught the kids something they would need to know later in life. You will never truly know the full impact of your work, but it will for sure make a huge difference in many lives. This effort of yours will be for the better.

Coming home will be one of the most insane things you have done. Who would think that your little hometown would make you feel this way about things. For me, one of the biggest things was water. How did I get so privileged to have this resource so abundant and at the turn of a faucet? Why do others continuously struggle with finding adequate amounts of safe water. This took me a while to grasp, and I felt guilty for a very long time, but I learned to turn that guilt into gratitude and action. It changed me for the better, in every way.

After reading this, I hope I have inspired you to take a trip not just to see sights but to help others. What you do makes a difference!

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