For a solid 70 years, I have had no connection to Africa, yet within 2 months 6 different people, connected with Africa, have crossed my path.
My first three articles about Africa can be found below:
- January 1, 2014, Africa Story #1 focussing on Becci Crowe, titled Adventure Artist – Becci Crowe.
- January 14, 2014, Africa Story #2 focussing on Barista Krista Schrader, titled Coffee Artist.
- January 20, 2014 Africa Story #3, focusing on Barista Lindsey Evans – titled Return To Africa.
Right after these articles several people told me, “Joe, you have to interview Barista Chelsie Strowbridge. She has a connection to Africa too.”
While Chelsie was a student at the University of Washington – Tacoma, studying environmental science, a friend reported that a school trip to Africa was about to be cancelled because not enough students had signed up.
Two of Chelsie’s friends, Brenda Lemay and Terri Hurlbut along with her professor, Jim Gawel, were going on the adventure.
Chelsie decided to be a part of the solution, so she signed up for the trip to Africa using one of my favorite highly intelligent decision making tools, “Why not?”.
Between January – March 2012, she travelled throughout Nairobi while working with the Green Belt Movement, which was started by Professor Wangari Maathai (b. 1940 d. 2011). Chelsie stayed with the Kikuyu tribe in the village of Chuka, near Mount Kenya. She helped plant native Fig Trees.
She travelled in the Samburu region, Mombasa and Watamu. She went on a “big five” photo safari which included lions, elephants, giraffes, rhinos and zebras.
Watamu means sweet people in Swahili. Chelsie made numerous friends in Africa that she still communicates with.
Her second trip was between August 2012 and March 2013, when she lived six months with friends. She found the culture to be immensely fascinating. Most of the village is old world with no toilets, no sewer, no water, no food and no doctors. In the same village across the street is a fancy expensive tourist hotel catering to guests from all over the world.
She purposefully rented a room in the village for $60 a month instead of $100 a night at a hotel.
While the indigenous people have much to be stressed about, they are not stressed. An example of a big problem in America is ordering a Starbucks latte only to discover the barista made you a cappuccino. Faced with a huge problem like this, many Americans go nuts yelling at the barista, throwing the cappuccino on the floor just before tipping over a coffee bean display.
In Africa, the very fact you wake up in the morning makes life look good. There are no life guarantees in Africa. They live day by day. In America, we have a long life expectancy, on average 80 years. We spend great amounts of time in America worrying about the future. In Africa, they do not worry about the future. Their life expectancy is on average 55 years. Africans can only look to tomorrow and in fact are never certain they will wake up to a tomorrow. They just live day by day until life is over.
After comparing life in America and life in Africa, Chelsie no longer gets upset about all the small irritants in life. Africa has given her the gift of calmness. In Africa, you might see a friend on Tuesday and they are dead on Friday. They died because they were not able to get enough food.
Additionally, she gained spiritual growth she never felt before. Chelsie now lives more in the moment. She had felt disconnected before. Kenya connected her to her emotions and feelings. She now has a much better grip on what is important in life. She purposefully does not own many material possessions; only 5 things including a car, clothing, bicycle, cell phone and books. She does not own a computer or television.
Her first trip to Africa was just a lark to support her friends in making their trip possible. Her goal was to study the environment. Ultimately the trip impacted on Chelsie far more significantly than she had anticipated.
Chelsie’s second trip was focussed on social goals related to visiting with her new African friends.
Chelsie has fallen in love with Africa. She told me Africa stays in your head. She cannot really explain it.
Chelsie, I can explain it. You have chosen to experience life by connecting with other cultures, rather than simply watching others live their lives on television or National Geographic. There are watchers and doers. Chelsie, you are a doer.
The experience of visiting Africa is like moving through a magic black hole in our universe. Once you are on the other side of the black hole, you know what it is there, but you are not able to fully explain it to anyone who has not travelled through the black hole.
I have experienced traversing through the black hole; not with Africa, but with motorcycle riding. It is a natural high that comes from intense life experience.
Chelsie’s commitment is so strong, she tattooed the Kenya flag and the words, maisha moja on the inside of her wrist, which means, “One Life”. That message is clear. With only one life to live, when Africa calls, Chelsie will return.
Chelsie, live your dream and thanks for sharing your life experience with my readers.
My dear readers, consider turning off your TV. Shut down your YouTube. Do something to experience life for yourself; what ever your dream may be.