10 INCREDIBLE YEARS IN TANZANIA! TIME TO CELEBRATE!

A Series of Facebook Posts … don’t miss the newsy P.S. at the end.

Post #1 – Aug 11 – Gift Giving and Dancing

We had a wonderful, intimate celebration with our staff and a few friends, marking exactly 10 years since Shirley and I touched down in Tanzania on Aug 10, 2010. Our hearts are full. Check out the video of our staff presenting us with gifts, accompanied with singing and dancing. Stay with the video till the end to see the smooch!

Post #2 – Aug 12 – Four Course Meal

On Aug 10th, we prepared a typical 4-course guest meal for all to eat. Wait to see how our staff did with fork and knife! Many of them have only used a spoon in the past.

Post #3 – Aug 13 – Barbeque … it’s a man’s world!

The beef for the party was courtesy of a Dashir steer slaughtered early in the morning. Our Muslim worker Athumani did the deed, halal style, so he could participate in the eating! Our Maasai guys, expert butchers by virtue of their culture, prepared the cuts. All the guys, expert meat-eaters by virtue of their culture, were in fine form and readily in attendance for the “pre-eating” event.

Chat Show – Aug 14 – Reminiscing about our 10 years in Tanzania.

Most Fridays, we have a Dashir Chat Show and post on Facebook and YouTube. It’s done with no preparation – one take with no edits.

Post #4 – Aug 15 – Appies

Here is the staff eating appetizers – beef barbeque … what else in Africa?! The cooks are busy in the kitchen with meal preparation of course.

Post #5 – Aug 17 – Guests

We had some friends join us for the anniversary. The first picture is me with our genteel African father Mzee Shikobe who started the lodge and worked with us the first four years. He and his wife Blandina (since passed away) surveyed the area, prayed, suggested the land, and faithfully used our money to purchase the first 12 acres before we came.

Shirley and I enjoyed dancing with our good friends – yes even me! This shy Mennonite boy has loosened up a bit and learned a few moves in Africa! James and Jovita and family graciously hosted us at their house for our first 16 months in Tanzania. It was supposed to be 4 months – only 300% off! The trip to and from Dashir each day was a 16 km motorcycle journey on rough road, down and then up the mountain.

Post #6 – Aug 18 – Soup and Salad

The Potato Leek Soup, now my personal favourite, tasted amazing! The herb bread melted in the mouth, with a delightful savoury kick.

A big surprise was that ALL but one worker LOVED and finished their Grape Sunflower Seed salad. Tanzanians call salads “chakula cha sungura” or “rabbit food.” It is customary for them to eat their vegetables cooked, not raw. This makes sense because many lack sufficient clean water for rinsing, and of course very few families have fridges.

Our small kitchen was a busy hive of activity. Plating four courses for 42 people at the same time is the biggest undertaking yet at Dashir! Shirley thought she was in charge, but hmmm … please don’t tell her otherwise! She was definitely in charge of entertainment throughout. 🙂

Post #7 – Aug 19 – Main: Beef Filet and Mashed Potatoes

The most interesting part of the meal was showing our workers how to eat with a fork in the left hand. For many it was their first time to use a fork! The beef with gravy was simply amazing – tender and tasty. No leftovers for this course!

Post #8 – Aug 20 – Dessert: Chocolate Cake with Kahlua Icing

It was moist and delicious. The day before the party happened to be the birthday of yours truly. It was a pleasant surprise to get some special attention with singing and dancing. All candles were dutifully blown out with one breath – no girlfriends! Just one lovely wife. 🙂

Post #9 – Aug 24 – Fork in the left hand

Check out this video of Dashir workers as they navigate the main course with a fork in their left hand. Not too shabby!

10-Year Party – Post #10 – Speeches – Aug 25

Oh, Tanzanians can really speak at length in public. They always start off by humbly saying, “I have just a few words to say since the time is short … .” Then 10 to 20 minutes later they are still going! This occasion was no different, as the speeches went on for almost 3 hours! It was a touching time of sharing. The passage of time was hardly noticed until the sun started to set, and then people moved into high gear to wind up! As memories were shared, there was plenty of laughing (funny times), plenty of grimacing (tough times), and more than plenty of thanksgiving with clapping (good times).

Simon spoke a mile a minute. Laizer was a stand up comedian as he told the story of my confrontation with him after he threw the burnt beans down the outhouse hole (ed. note: I was just trying to tell him that those beans should have been composted!) Joyce used a man’s voice to describe her first months of cooking at the back house, with the men trying to tell her what to do. It was gut-splitting hilarious! Wish I had that one on video. Joyce can stand up to any man!

The common element in all the speeches was how hard the first months were at Dashir, especially in the early days when we started from nothing. Every worker, regardless of post, has to do at least a month or two probation period of farm work – aka “Dashir Boot Camp.” Especially the Maasai and drivers have a hard time, since farm work is outside their normal regimen. Many said they wanted to quit, but ALL are grateful for the experience and feel proud about making it.

Post #11 – Simon’s Fast Swahili Speech – Aug 27

We laughed as much at his speedy talking as at his funny anecdotes.

Story #1 – Like many, Musa wanted to quit at the beginning of his farm work probation. He had severely sore muscles and a very bad headache from slashing grasses all week. So, he wanted to leave or go get checked at the clinic. I told him just rest a bit and drink lots of water, work lightly and wait 24 hours. He was incredulous, thinking I was trying to torture him (of course he didn’t let me know this). After 24 hours, he was good to go! (Ed. note: I used the same procedure many times with my own kids and students in P.E. classes in school. It was highly successful!) Then, after the first month probation/boot camp, I told Musa he’d done such a good job that I needed him to continue for another month!!! Somehow, he survived that as well, continued as a guard, and then moved into his present post as bartender. He’s the kind of guy you want to tell your life story; a great listener.

Story #2 – Simon talked about his early days at Dashir. At the end of his first week of farm work, he too was very tired and wanted to quit. His money was gone, so he asked me for help with transportation home to Arusha. I was so happy to finally have a driver at Dashir (after 4 years!!!) that I gave him 50,000 shillings (about $30 Canadian). He also was incredulous; this was a lot of money for just transportation (about $2 one way). Simon said to himself, “This is very good money at Dashir!” He was back and ready to go on Monday … and the rest is history.

Final Post #12 – Aug 29

This day was so special for Shirley and I. We shared in our speeches about how much our staff and community have meant to us over the past 10 years. As we heard one friend share recently, “I need Africa more than Africa needs me.” Our hearts were warmed with the staff gifts of T-shirts and a lovely copper plaque with clock.

Our new favourite song says,

“There’s something in those African smiles, makes you feel more than alive.

And if you let this place into your heart, oh you’ll never be the same again.”

You feel it calling. You feel it calling out your name.

Africa’s Time – Jeremy Olivier

That’s our experience and many Dashir guests also resonate with this. We are more than grateful and humbled. Ebenezer – Thus far the Lord has helped us!

P.S.

This 10-Year anniversary has become the catalyst for a new writing project of mine, depicting our African journeys. There are three Acts, each having significant waiting periods beforehand. Act 1 – Separately, before marriage, Shirley (1982) and I (1985) went to Zambia for three months. Act 2 – Together with our kids of 9, 11, and 13 years old, we traipsed off to Botswana (1999-2002) for three years of missionary work. Act 3 – Now Tanzania (2010-present) makes the “trifecta.” If the progression continues, 3 months in Zambia, 3 years in Botswana, we should be in Tanzania for 3 decades! … “kama mungu akipenda – if God wills.” One decade down, and two more to go. 🙂

These are some sneak peak pictures of our first month in Tanzania. Stay tuned for excerpts of our Tanzanian adventure in this space over the coming months.

Kindly share this blog if you may. And check out our 20% credit promotion on our Home Page (scroll down a bit) if you are interested in making an advance deposit towards a safari/Kili booking.

Have a nice day! Cheers, Darryl

Canada Day. Fundraiser. Big Announcement! Chat Show.

July 2020 Blog

We are SO GRATEFUL that our Dashir staff family and community have had no COVID-19 ill effects thus far. Our rural outdoor living, even in local market situations, seems to be the ticket. We thank God and pray this newsletter finds you in good spirit and health.

Canada Day Eh!

It was a party day at Dashir on July 1st, with the obligatory sodas and some simple ball hockey games. We taught the workers how to do a wrist shot, which they easily caught onto, hakuna matata. Now to the next iteration of making full-length sticks and playing road hockey with a tennis ball and nets. This will add yet another experience for our hockey-loving guests – Hockey Night in Tanzania! I must say that playing ball hockey does bring back good memories of my childhood … except for the frozen fingers and toes! J

Our Virtual Staff Fundraiser Breakfast on June 27th kept us busy for the month of June. Here are a couple pics, and a fun video of our first Maasai Dance practice, with Jeremiah playing a comical role. The workers in the peanut gallery had a hoot!

Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures of the event itself, hence the grainy thumbnails. Check out a couple of Zoom videos from the live staff fundraiser.

Full video (70 min plus slideshow)

Highlights video (9 min)

The day was pretty special for our staff family. We were pleasantly surprised at how comfortable they were speaking in front of the camera (several practice sessions did help!). After the event, we watched the video at double speed and split a gut laughing together, because the gestures and speaking of each person were exaggerated in a most humorous fashion. 🙂

The idea of a staff fundraiser came out of a deep desire to keep our workers employed during this crazy time of COVID-19. It was very humbling to ask for help. This in turn heightened our joy as we saw the incredible response of support and generosity from so many Dashir alumni and friends. As a result, our 31 workers will continue to receive a partial income till at least the end of October! Thanks to all who have supported. We invite others who would like to join hands with us and partner with our staff in this difficult time. It could be 12 months or more. If interested, email Darryl, and he will send out donation details, our staff mug shots, and our three fundraiser recipes – cinnamon buns, lemon loaf, and carrot ginger soup.

And now, THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT …

WE HAVE SECURED LAND FOR THE HEALTH CENTRE!

We are incredibly excited to have purchased an 8-acre piece of property right next to Dashir (south side along the road). This brings to reality the vision we have talked about for over 5 years now – to build and operate a health centre (with community centre to follow). Quality health care, youth and sports, reading and life skills, etc., are great ways to improve village life and a wonderful connection that will enhance our guest experience. This community multi-service centre, like all aspects of Dashir, will further our overall vision, “A community of friends from around the world.”

At first, it seemed paradoxical to call this a good time to press forward into such an ambitious community project. We are at our most vulnerable point with guest bookings. So, we consulted with several Dashir alumni couples. They unanimously agreed that it is indeed an opportune time to move forward with the health centre, but pole pole, slowly slowly. Little did we know that pole pole would very soon become a bit faster. At the end of our last consultation, the couple shocked us with a large donation of money, enough to put a majority deposit on the land. So now we are off and “running.” Asante sana dear Canadian friends B&L!

This is the TIME!

Yes, Shirley and I ARE convinced the timing of the health centre is perfect in so many ways. We have ample time available to process the plans and paperwork. Secondly, the project will provide meaningful work for our staff to fill the gap in the next 12 months. We are already boldly forecasting a tentative opening date for phase one – a simple Walk-in Clinic – a year from now in July 2021! That might be overly optimistic, especially with the dreaded “red tape,” but we think it is a great target. Our Tanzanian director and brother Elisante says it is definitely doable. (I’m sure he’ll be working his typical 70-hour weeks to make it happen!).

If you are interested in the health centre endeavor, email Darryl to learn more.

Dashir Chat Show Update

In other news, we continue to shoot, most weeks, a video of our Dashir Chat Show – one take, no cuts, no edits. I guess the race relations episode surprised us a bit. We don’t sense any racial tensions at Dashir. In our experience, with making friends and being close with people from so many different backgrounds, it is simply unthinkable for us to judge a person by their race (or sexual orientation, or religion, or politics, or …).

Here are the last 4 episodes – maybe watch one a morning with your coffee as you wake up … the “morning show.” 🙂 Next episode, we will feature “Back to School” in Tanzania (special guests, Dashir cooks Joyce and Sarah).

Follow our Facebook page and subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications of each episode.

It’s Africa’s Time!

Finally, we leave you with the video and lyrics of the beautiful song “Africa’s Time.” This son has become very dear to us at Dashir. We recommend you take a few moments for a good look and listen. The song is written and performed by the talented and affable musician Jeremy Olivier (Cape Town), along with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. We are in communication with Jeremy, who gave us permission to use the song for our fundraiser, and hope to have him out to Dashir in the near future!

“There’s something in those African smiles,

Makes you feel more than alive.

If you let this place into your veins,

Oh you’re never gonna be the same again.

You feel it calling, you feel it calling out your name.

You feel it calling, you feel it calling out your name.

I know, I know, it’s Africa’s time.

You should know, you should know, it’s Africa’s time.

No more weeping … no more suffering …

no more poverty … no more war.

Just love and love and love for Africa.”  

Jeremy OLIVIER

Wow, that’s our heart and prayer for Africa, and all those who visit Africa!

Till next month, over and out from Tanzania.

Stay well friends. Drop an email to say hi, as we’d love to hear from you too. Have a nice day.

Cheers

Darryl, for Shirley and our Dashir Family

DASHIR UPDATE JUNE 2020

Dear Dashir Friends

Well, well, well. Here we are, a long ways from my last blog. My apologies for being quiet since then. I’ll spare you the excuses, so without further ado, here we go! 🙂

Distancing during our morning staff meetings.

At Dashir, we are doing very well. We are incredibly happy that COVID-19 has had little effect in Africa so far, as compared to many other countries. Hard to know why, but suffice to say we are ever so grateful. So far, there are no known cases in our Dashir staff families of 45 employees and casual workers, and also none in our Kikwe village community. The city of Arusha was hit hard for a few weeks and now it has died down completely (we have our Arusha people who can provide us with accurate inside information). We are continuing to provide half work and salary for our 30 employees for as long as we are able. Our workers are learning to practice distancing, hand washing, and sanitizing procedures.

Screening for all at the Dashir gate

Of course tourism has been virtually non-existent in Tanzania for the past two months, having a drastic effect on the economy in our Arusha area, which is largely dependent on tourism. We do not expect any business or worker subsidies from the government. On June 1st, most of the safari hotels and lodges opened up in Tanzania, under strict health protocols. Our international airport opened on May 18th, with no quarantine if guests pass screening. Qatar, Ethiopian, and Turkish are some airlines which have started regular flights each week to Tanzania. Several hundred tourists are on safari already and more are coming. As some quip, “distancing is easy in the expansive Serengeti plains”!

At Dashir, we will open July 1st for guests who are able to come; those who would be the “early safari adopters” during COVID-19. We believe that Dashir and safari can be done in a very safe fashion, with much of the experience being outdoors, even at meal times. Drivers will have regular testing, while lodges and vehicles will be continuously and thoroughly sanitized.

One thing I have done almost every day in the past two months is a post to our Facebook page, featuring current safari videos and life at Dashir. Have a look to see what’s been happening.  https://web.facebook.com/dashirlodge/  

We are excited to have started a new chat session series – candid, fun, informative, and uncut – with the four of us who toured Canada last year: Darryl, Shirley, Simon, and Jeremiah. The episodes will air each week on Facebook and YouTube. Check out the pilot episode we shot in one take with no prep at the end of May.

The Dashir 4 Pilot Banter Session – Coffee Culture and Starbucks

Ok, that it’s for now. Glad to finally get back on track with a regular blog. We are currently working on some exciting initiatives to benefit our staff and community, and will inform you about those soon. In addition, we are offering a nice discount on future safaris for those who are interested and able. More details on that also coming soon on Facebook and our Website.

In the meantime, stay well, enjoy the outdoors, and feel free to drop us a note any time.

Have a nice day.

Cheers

Darryl, for Shirley and our Dashir Family

TRIP OF A LIFETIME IN CANADA EH!

What an amazing adventure we had in Canada this year! And getting all four of us there was an epic journey in and of itself.

The 4 musketeers getting ready to leave Tanzania.
Hamilton – day after arriving in Canada – cold!!!

Visa Scare

Shirley and I decided to bring along two of our superb drivers, to help spice up the information sessions, and for them to enjoy Canada and culture with our family and friends. Simon and Jeremiah were so excited, but there were big gut checks when it took a whopping 5 months to get Jeremiah’s passport, leaving only 4 weeks to apply for the two visitor visas. So, with our hearts in our throats, Shirley made a quick trip to Dar es Salaam with the guys. Somehow we got the visas in 2 weeks! Oh joy unspeakable (especially since we had already advertised with them and purchased their air tickets).

Outside CN Tower Toronto
Coquihalla Snowball Fight. Check out Shirley’s footware!

Canada Tour

We spent 6 weeks trotting across Canada in April and May – well, mostly flying (5 times) and a fair bit of driving – visiting 9 major city centres to promote Dashir Lodge & Safaris: Oakville, Ottawa, Langley, Kelowna, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Winnipeg. A special thanks to the kind folks (and hotels) who provided a bed and breakfast, and cheered us on as we moved about.

Travel, Cold, and Capuccinos

Simon and Jeremiah were taken with the breadth and width of Canada, the nice cars, the ease of business transactions and transportation (e.g. renting a car at the airport and driving away within 15 minutes), and the cold! – a few snowy days, a snowball fight, and snowman building. Alas, if only they had come in January. Starbucks was a frequent stop – cappuccino and lemon loaf, especially for Jeremiah and Shirley (the spenders!).

Homelessness and Winnipeg Harvest

Often asked, “What surprises you about Canada?” S & J often mentioned the hardships people talked about in the work force, and the homeless people they encountered in a few cities. They never thought people could be without a home in a prosperous country like Canada. CEO Keren Taylor-Hughes took us on an inspiring tour of Winnipeg Harvest – a wonderful, volunteer food bank that helps many communities and families. As former Winnipeggers, we are delighted and excited to donate a safari trip for four at their 2019 Empty Bowl Celebrity Auction fundraiser in October. Check it out!

Info Sessions

We had a great time at our 10 info sessions – invigorating and exhausting all at the same time! Of special note, were happy “reunions” with 190, yes, 190!, former guests (out of 144 safaris provided till then). They came out to say hi, catch up, and relive their Tanzanian adventure. In total, we met with 751 friendly folks (almost half from our hometown of Winnipeg). For us four, it was so heart-warming and encouraging see and feel the support and friendship in our growing Dashir community. Asante sana! Thank you very much!

Radio Interviews

We did three radio interviews: Toronto, Edmonton, and Winnipeg. The guys were pretty nervous but still did a great job. It did help that Jeremiah was a radio personality in his former life in Tanzania – Brother Jerry! Listen to two of the radio interviews below.

Global News Toronto – Alan Carter
CHED Edmonton J’lyn Nye. Interview starts after 1 minute of news.

Promotional Videos

We are developing several videos to provide an insight into a “trip-of-a-lifetime” with Dashir in Tanzania. Thanks to Lisa and her team at BRD Agency in Winnipeg for their great work in helping us get the word out, and working on the videos and other productions. Check out our info session montage.

Sightseeing

Besides the info sessions, we enjoyed time as sightseers: Niagara Falls and a vineyard, CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium (and then getting stuck in traffic before a Leaf’s playoff game), Ottawa Parliament and Rideau Canal, Stanley Park Seawall, West Edmonton Mall ice skating and bowling, Winnipeg polar bears and bison, walleye fishing, and more. …. Special thanks to the kind folks who facilitated outings for us.

A special highlight for Simon and Jeremiah, was an Easter visit to a larger church in Ontario, with full worship band, drama, and inspiring teaching. They thought it was quite funny that each of the 3 morning services was timed to the minute with a clock on the balcony facing the stage; quite different from the lengthier services they are used to in Tanzania. Other highlights included shopping and driving a John Deere tractor.

Family and Friends

Finally, we spent rich moments enjoying a meal and conversation with family and friends. Simon and Jeremiah were treated royally to many Canadian delicacies such as barbeque salmon, roast pork ribs, borscht, perogies (not a hit :)) and farmer sausage, pan-fried walleye, and of course bread with almost every meal! We even hit some junk food joints. McDonald’s in Hamilton was a hit – ordering on a touch screen and then having the meal brought to our table!

So how shall we top this next year? Hmm…. not sure. We might need a rest! One thing is for sure – we love to connect with people in person and then host them with the beauty and wonder of our beloved Tanzania.

If you or others you know are interested in a dream African vacation on a personal level, we still have space this year 2019. Next year 2020 is filling up fast, especially February, but there is still space available in January and March, as well as June to December (closed April 1 to June 9).

Have a great day! And drop us an email to say hi, or if you’d like to talk about planning a safari adventure of a lifetime.

Darryl and Shirley, Simon and Jeremiah, and our Dashir Family.

The Top-Rated TripAdvisor Dashir Lodge and Safaris! – What say the guests?

Africa and the African safari – a trip of a lifetime in a world much different from our own.

To many people, an African Safari vacation is near the top of their bucket list; something some dream of their entire lives, but often feel it may just be that – a dream.

Canadian couple Wes and Esther Friesen had the dream of Africa and realized very quickly after visiting an information session in British Columbia, their dream could very well be a reality; they just had to meet the right people and the right Safaris company. How amazing would it be? The opportunity to view the animals in their natural habitat, enjoy the company of the local people, and embrace the culture of Africa…it was now within their sights and they started saving immediately.

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We invite you to enjoy our home in Africa!

Have you ever thought of leaving the 9-5 life behind, to follow your fantasy dream life?

Meet Darryl and Shirley Peters, a Canadian couple who did just that and always dreamt of living a life they were passionate about, in Africa. Today, they are proud parents and the owners of Dashir Lodge & Safaris located in Tanzania, Africa. Dashir is more than four walls and a roof to the Peters’ and the guests and patrons who visit, it’s now known as one of the best African safari companies and resorts. Dashir allows you to embrace the African culture, land and people, sip your morning coffee with a view, and enjoy all the comforts of home during your stay. This luxurious African vacation spot will allow you to see Tanzania through the lens of the locals, while enjoying with elegant accommodations. The Peters’ journey has been filled with many obstacles and setbacks, but together, along with the community, they are achieving a life they never knew was possible.

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