Jan. 20, 2011
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African travels are not always easy

By Tom Campbell

Mary Schott and Muyombi Kyungu have been through a lot in the brief history of operating Trees for Tanzania.

Photo by Tessa Ratner

Mary Schott, BS ’84, and Muyombi Kyungu have been through a lot in the brief history of operating Trees for Tanzania, including a 10-hour car ride through the backcountry of Tanzania with seven other people last year.

It was a trip that would test the limits of the most seasoned of international travelers.

Mary Schott, BS ’84, left her Attica, Ind. home for Indianapolis on May 10, the first leg of a journey that would take her to the shores of Lake Tanganyika on the western edge of Tanzania.

“Little did I know that 68-mile trip would be the start of such an unusual adventure just to get there,” said Schott, who is working on her master’s degree in horticulture.

The seven-hour flight from Washington, D.C., to London took an additional four hours when the British Airways plane had to detour around a gigantic ash cloud spreading through the atmosphere above an Icelandic volcano.

“When I was checking in with British Airways for my flight to Dar es Salaam (on the eastern edge of Tanzania), I discovered that an e-ticket had never been issued because British Airways workers were scheduled to be on strike during my return trip.”

Schott called her travel agent, who got her on a same-day flight to Dar es Salaam and rerouted her return trip through Zurich, Switzerland, on a Swiss Air flight. 

The flight to Dar es Salaam was uneventful, but upon landing at the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere International Airport, Schott learned that the only Air Tanzania Company (ATC) flight to Kigoma had been grounded.

“Indefinitely,” Schott said. So Schott and Tessa Ratner, a college intern on her way to work for Joy in the Harvest in Kigoma, had no choice but to hang out in Dar es Salaam for a couple of days.

Since it seemed it could be several more days – or even weeks – before ATC was flying again, they ended up flying a Precision Air flight to Mwanza, a provincial capital on the southern shores of Lake Victoria, 550 miles from Dar es Salaam but still 270 miles from their destination of Kigoma.

They met five other similarly stranded missionaries from Oral Roberts University.

“We were met by John Mambo Masitiro and Muyombi Kyungu from Joy in the Harvest,” Schott said. “They drove us from Mwanza to Kigoma, which was a hard, 10-hour drive. The nine of us all piled into their Land Cruiser,” said Schott.

Despite all the setbacks, as any seasoned travel would do, Schott made the best of a bad situation. It was just a small chunk of the overall trip of some 7,850-mile trip from her home in Attica to her final destination in Africa.

“It was a great way to see the backcountry of Tanzania.”

Read the complete story of Mary and Trees for Tanzania in the next issue of Purdue Agriculture Connections at http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/connections February 2, 2011.

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