For the past week the Kifaru group, including yours truly, Chris Madkins, have stayed at the Ohana Amani retreat. The center is located outside the city of Njombe, perched on a landscape of forests and hills…with lots of wind! Our care takers were Chevy and Curry Anton, two hella rad sisters from California- What! What! Our week of self discovery was powerful, even more so due to a tragic event that had recently occurred in the lives of the two women. As difficult as it was for them , we all shared in the process of nourishment, bonding and reflection. For the three days they were with us, Chevy and Curry taught us the holistic ways of life. In the mornings, Curry would reawaken our bodies with morning movement- usually in the form of yoga. Chevy would have open chats with us as we cooked the meals for our group. In the afternoons, we gathered firewood, blazed a new trail through the forest as well as participated in different group and individual bonding activities, including “dates” with the other students, group collage making and a afternoon hike with no one but ourselves. The morning of Chevy and Curry’s departure had us reflect on their words of encouragement, and gentle happiness. At the end of the week, I felt like I had gained a deeper understanding of Ohana Amani- peace between those who breathe together.
Despite the modern feel and comforts the main house gave, we were still in grasp of the African wilderness. The fresh air, the silence away from the city and the open space of the country side were a welcomed ambiance. At night time, before going to bed in our tents, our group would gather around the campfire to share stories. From tales of our lives to ridiculous stories of whales and Scotsmen, we would be laughing till’ we went to sleep. During our final day, instead of our usual daily reflections, we had traveled to a nearby waterfall were I gained my new nick name of “Swamp man” by traversing 50feet of deep, muddy, freezing water. By the end of that afternoon I certainly earned my nickname, as I was without a doubt, the dirtiest person walking back. I’m pretty sure I can speak for the rest of the Kifaru group when I say that this was just a sample of the fun we had at Ohana Amani.
Leaving the retreat, we all experienced a small dosage of culture shock. No sooner had we returned to Njombe than the charms and challenges of traveling Africa returned. The over crowded buses were the first to hit. Rows meant to accommodate 4 people were filled with six; and hot on our heals of the bus rides were the restaurant menus where certain foods were seemingly never available; pizza dag gone it!! Although these inconveniences are challenging, there still part of the charm and more often make us laugh then cringe on our journeys through Africa.
Until next time, this is Chris “Swamp man” Madkins signing out.