One Year In

Yesterday was our one-year anniversary in London. Woop woop! We spent some time throughout the day reminiscing about what we were doing at that particular point in the day one year ago. It ended up going something like, “oh, we were sleeping still.” “Aahh, remember we were heading to the pub down the road and met a bunch of people from the embassy?” And so on. It’s been quite a year, but things are beginning to normalize after the craziness of getting settled here, doing non-stop wedding planning, finding a job, both of us getting settled in our jobs, actually having the wedding, going on the honeymoon, and finally getting back here to resume life as “normal.” After we got back from the honeymoon, we kind of sat there for a second, looked at each other and said, ok, now we can actually start living a somewhat normal life. Phew.

So quick recount of the wedding – it was amazing. The weather was perfect on the day of, and almost everything went perfectly/as planned. And most importantly, we had the time of our lives. It was so wonderful to see everyone, and every ounce of stress and money that went into it was so so worth being able to have that experience and share it with all of our friends and family. So yeah, if you find yourself getting married very quickly in the basement of a lawyer’s office in Virginia, with none of your family or friends around, take the time to plan a big wedding with everyone you love there – you won’t regret it. 😉 My other advice: get a day of wedding planner, don’t compromise on your vendors, and wear comfortable shoes.

There were so many great pictures taken (thank you to Perry Vaile Photography!!!), but here’s just a handful to share:

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So that’s a very very short snapshot. At some point the rest of the pictures will be up on facebook, but that will require me first getting my life organized (and #1 on that ‘get life organized list’ is sending out thank you notes, so the photos will have to wait awhile).

The honeymoon was equally amazing. Neither of us had experienced anything like Tanzania, and it definitely did not disappoint. A lot of people have been asking us how it was, and where exactly we went, so here’s a recap.

Day 1: Flew into Kilimanjaro Airport after first flying to Istanbul for a short layover and some amazing food in one of the airport lounges. We arrived in Tanzania at around 3:30am, went through immigration, got driven to a lodge (Kia Lodge) about ten minutes away, and promptly collapsed for about 3 hours.

b7455-dsc_0014Day 2: First official day of safari. Our guide, Fisoo, picked us up from Kia Lodge and drove us through  Arusha, a town nearby, before we ended up at Lake Manyara National Park. That particular park is known for its monkeys, and lo and behold, that was the first animal we saw!

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Then we actually drove into the park and saw this:

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Yeah. Normal. By the end of the day we’d arrived at Gibb’s Farm, an actual working farm (and lodge) near the Ngorongoro Crater and had a great night by the fire inside, and had an amazingly fresh, delish dinner. The farm was absolutely beautiful, and the views breathtaking, mainly because we were so high up. The only downside to the high altitude – and something that actually surprised us throughout our trip – was that it was super chilly. Who knew.

Day 3: We headed to Ngorongoro Crater, which is actually a caldera, and is absolutely massive. It’s the world’s largest unflooded caldera, and was created two million years ago after a massive volcano collapsed. Try to imagine that. And then take a look here:

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We saw lions, wildebeest, zebras, ostriches, elephants, gazelle, the list goes on and on and on. If you ever get a chance to go to Tanzania, don’t leave this one off of the list.

Day 4-5: Serengeti. I’m not sure there’s much to say about the Serengeti. It was pretty unbelievable, and we finally saw giraffes here. Oh, and a leopard that was up in a tree. That one was pretty bizarre. Our guide, who had an uncanny ability to see animals that were zillions of feet away in the distance, told us to look up a tree because there was a leopard and a gazelle. We thought we’d heard him wrong, but we had not. Two gazelle had been chased up into the tree by the leopard, and the leopard was just hanging out a few branches below, sleepily waiting for them to try to leave the tree so that she could complete her kill. That didn’t happen while we were still there, but we’re assuming it eventually did, due to the look of terror on the one gazelle’s face. It was kind of sad, and kind of amazing all at the same time to see nature – real nature – like that.  Also, this:

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Day 6: We finished up our last game drive in the Serengeti as we headed to the airstrip in the middle of the park, where we were set to catch a tiny plane to Zanzibar. I’d never been on a plane that small, and I was straight up terrified once I saw it.

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We’d been warned that the weight limit would be 15kg per person, and that only soft bags were allowed, and so had appropriately packed our backpacks. However, when we got to the airstrip, we immediately saw a couple walking with a huge hard suitcase, and another smaller one. I started praying that they weren’t going to be on our flight with their ridiculous bag that was sure to take us down, but of course, that’s straight where they headed.

To make it even better, as we were loading our bags and saying goodbye to our guide, we didn’t realize that we were taking too long to do all of this (to be fair, I was trying to follow the weight limits that were specified on each of the three luggage compartments, which NO ONE ELSE SEEMED TO CARE ABOUT), so everyone else had boarded already. This meant that there were two seats left. On the right side of the plane there were 4 rows of two seats paired together, and on the left, there were all single seats. The ones remaining were of course just two single seats on the left, and they were not even right behind each, they were separated by one. At this point, I started to get a little angry that not only was I not wanting to get on this plane and die, but that I was going to have to die alone and without being able to clutch M’s hand the entire flight since we wouldn’t even be able to reach other. A scared lisa is not a happy lisa.

Regardless, we had no choice but to grin and bear it if we wanted to get to paradise (aka Zanzibar). Safaris are fantastic, but they can be pretty tiring, believe it or not, so we were really looking forward to getting to the beach and just lazing about, and I was not going to let a tiny prop plane and paralyzing fear stop me. That might be an oxymoron.

Needless to say, we made it to the next airport in one piece. And then boarded another plane, enduring another take off and landing in a piece of machinery that I’m not sure should have been allowed up in the air. But we made it! And Zanzibar was amazing. We spent the next three full days there hanging around the pool and drinking fruity drinks at our hotel (Matemwe Lodge), and stuffing ourselves like only Americans can seem to do. The food was so fresh and just plain delicious, so we couldn’t help ourselves.

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That’s the abbreviated version of our travels. We’ve been back in the groove here for 4 weeks now, and all is well. M starts a new job in another section of the embassy this week, and I continue on in mine. It’s hard to believe that in a year we’ll be heading out of here, ready to spend 9 months back in the US trying to learn Thai. I officially know one word, so some progress has been made. Cheers to the future! Thī̀ ǹā tụ̄̀ntên dạngnận! (I’m never learning this language.) 

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