Due to an aforementioned hit from rainy season, original plans to go on a self-drive safari through nearby Mikumi and hiking in Morogoro a couple weekends ago were called off at the last minute. And what is I am sure a saying somewhere in the world, when the jungle won’t work, pack up and head to the beach.

So after a dinner party with friends where the conversation led to stories of a successful road trip to Kilwa, it was settled. Kilwa is a small fishing village (there seem to be so many in Tanzania) about 300km south of Dar es Salaam, along the main (only) highway, B2. Like any other road trip from Dar, getting out of the city is half the battle— it took us about 45 minutes to get out of the city proper, and that was considered a good day.

Screen Shot map of Dar to Kilwa

After 4 chicken sandwiches, one roadside restroom stop, a short stretch of unpaved road, lots of checkpoints, countless speed bumps, and one split second where I thought our car was going to end up nose diving into a deep mud pit, we made it to the little town of Kilwa.

kilwa post office

Kilwa is a sad little story of a 14th century powerhouse (due to its strategic location between Africa and the Eastern Arab and Asian world), who rose to power under the rule of one former Persian prince who arrived in Kilwa town to purchase the neighboring island. Legend says he purchased the land for “enough silk to wrap around the circumference of the island”. Thereafter, great palaces and mosques were erected on the tiny island, and soon enough it became the seat of power in East Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. After centuries of domination as a stopover for ships and tradesmen, it changed hands to the Arab, Portugusese, and eventually over to the Omanis.

kilwa locals

That’s a quick, one-minute history of Kilwa. Today, it is far overshadowed by Dar’s large and deep water port. It’s island is now inhabited by local villagers who have since built up their farms and huts under the shadows of once-great mosques and castles. On mainland Kilwa, a small strip that is the center of town exists, with one bar, small single-standing shops propped under metal sheeting, two two-pump gas stations, one bank, one post office, and a few guesthouses scattered along the beach. We were witness to bustling weekend activity, as villagers walked back and forth the strip of beachfront, performed running exercises, played with their children in the shallow ocean bay, and in general gathered to hang out along the breezy shore.

kimbilio lodge, kilwa

We stayed in a beachfront property recommended by friends, a place run by an Italian woman who preferred the quaint quiet life of Kilwa even to the more glamorous paradises of Zanzibar and Fiji. The lodge itself was a perfect balance of rustic amenities and modern comfort–Housing were bandas that opened up to the beach, with sparse yet comfortably furnishings: the locally familiar four-post beds and mosquito net, along with large open showers that pumped out hot water at any time of day and electricity available at any time. No a/c was available, but powerful fans were supplied in the rooms and a strong island breeze swept through each night.

Speaking of the night, with a waxing crescent moon our party of four saw more stars than ever visible in Dar es Salaam; More stars than I’ve seen since spending time in Montana two summers ago. It was as if a careless painter completed a haphazard paint job, splattering droplets of white paint against a massive wall of black. With the lights off in our banda and no devices to connect to internet, the blackness and silence was completely humbling. It certainly called my attention to how much artificial stimulation is constantly present in my life, where every night in Dar there is always the glow of the security lights just outside my room, an a/c humming throughout the night, and my phone(s) sitting beside my bed and occasionally glowing upon the reception of an alert.

Both night and day, Kilwa was a nice break away from it all, and such a great road trip from Dar.

Montana via iPhone

Montana BBQ w/ Homemade Smoker Our pilgrimage to the northern midwest was prompted by a friend’s wedding. And also by the fact that neither of us had ever been to the great state of Montana. Which is just as good a reason as any to go somewhere, right?

Can I tell you about Montanans? Montanites? Montaneers? Whatever they like to be called, the folks we met from Montana were the nicest people I’ve ever met. Period.

Long lost relatives unite in Montana

The wedding was gorgeous, set amidst a backdrop of huge sprawling purple mountains and big blue sky- the biggest sky I’ve ever seen. America, the beautiful, indeed. Week two back in the U.S., and I was feeling pretty gosh darned patriotic.

There were even horses grazing casually by us as we were seated at the wedding. Horses! Grazing! By us!

Wedding in Three Forks, MT

Regretfully, I was not wielding my DSLR for most of the trip to Montana. But luckily, I’m the new owner of an iPhone! The DiploMan’s dad was generous enough to loan me his old iPhone 3GS, which is still in perfectly good condition, and good enough for me to do what i want with an iPhone- which is to take photos and use Instagram.

practicing for a rodeo


With the DiploMan’s old iPad gifted to me and now this old iPhone from his dad, I’m quickly becoming known in his family as that-girl-who-will-take-any-old-i-product. I’m okay with that.

By the by, if you’re interested in a play-by-play of our roadtrip from CA to MT – meaning, if you want to know how 7 adults fared in a 7-seat minivan – go to twitter and search #MTroadtrip.

Puckerbrush, NV