The Freedom Life: April 2018

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After five years of living in China, and two years of This Beijing Life, things have changed. I left my job as a college counselor in China, and now I’m living a life on my terms. I’m my own boss, I travel when I want, and live where I want. I’m FINALLY living my dream of location independence.

I hope you’ll all follow me along on my new journey: The Freedom Life.

The Freedom Life

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What I Was Up To This Month

This month I moved to Arusha, Tanzania!! While it hasn’t been a super easy month, it’s definitely been interesting. After five years in China, East Africa is a huge change, and arriving right in time for the rainy season probably wasn’t the best choice on our part.

Where I Went in April

  • Seattle, Washington USA
  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • Arusha, Tanzania
  • Zanzibar
  • West Kilimanjaro

Highlights

While this month wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped, there were definitely a few amazing experiences!

1. Playing Tourist in Nairobi

I had one full day in Nairobi to explore all of the incredible things this city has to offer. Chris and I went on a safari in Nairobi National Park, where we saw tons of rhinos (and a baby rhino), giraffes, wildebeest, impalas, warthogs, ostriches and more!

Then we headed over to the Elephant Orphanage, which rescues baby elephants whose parents have fallen victim to elephant poaching. Finally, we visited the Giraffe Center, which was a huge highlight. This center actually shares giraffes with Giraffe Manor, and for just $10 you can feed them, KISS them, and sip coffee with an incredible view.

Expat life Africa

Happy Birthday to me!

2. An Incredible Birthday at Africa Amini

For my 27th birthday, Chris took me to one of his favorite lodges in Tanzania, Africa Amini Maasai Lodge. Opened by a German mother and daughter, Africa Amini is entirely run by Maasai. We slept in a luxury boma, participated in fun activities like spear throwing, ate some incredible meals, and watched a traditional Maasai dance at sunset with a view of Mt. Kilimanjaro!

After a rough few weeks in Tanzania, it was so nice to be able to get away and experience what Tanzania really has to offer. I absolutely loved my night at Africa Amini and I wish I could’ve stayed longer!

Mt. Kilimanjaro

A glimpse of Mt. Kilimanjaro

3. Flying Low Over Mt. Kilimanjaro

On our way from Zanzibar back to Arusha, Chris and I took a TINY plane with only five passengers. We flew low over Zanzibar’s beaches, the ocean, Dar Es Salaam, and the Tanzanian countryside. I had a perfect view of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru, spotted Masaai villages, marshes, and more. I even sat right behind the pilots!

African Food

An incredible local meal

4. Pilli Pilli and Avocados All Day Every Day

Chris warned me that Tanzanian food consists of a lot of chicken, rice, ugali, and chapati. Okay, so basically chicken and carbs. However, he forgot to mention that Tanzanian’s love their pilli pilli, which is basically tons of different flavors of hot sauce! I have 3 different kinds in my fridge right now, and I’ve been having a great time trying all of the different flavors. I’m in pilli pilli heaven!

Oh, and the avocados here are GIANT and super cheap. We have avocado toast all the time, and I can easily make guacamole, or eat some avocado with pilli pilli as a snack without feeling guilty.

Expat life Africa

This office cat is my best friend

5. I’m in Animal Heaven

Chris’ boss loves animals. She has two dogs, a little puppy, two cats, a donkey, a goat, rabbits and for some reason, the neighbor’s dog, baby cow, and chickens are always around too. Chris and I also have four dogs that belong to the neighbor, two of which only have 3 legs so we call them “big tripod” and “little tripod”. Tanzania is full of animal lovers, especially our biologist neighbors who get super excited about snakes, scorpions, and THIS THING.

But my favorite animal is by far Aisha the office cat. She originally was our boss’ house cat, but randomly decided she liked the nearby office better, which is great for me! Every day I come into work I can cuddle Aisha on the couch, carry her around, and make fun of her when she meows at me for food when I’m really just making coffee. I’ve missed having a pet so much, having the cat at the office has been amazing!

Challenges

This month was definitely a rough one. Here are a few of the things that didn’t go so well.

1. Rain, Rain, Mud, and More Rain

I thought Tanzania in the rainy season would be no big deal… well, I was wrong. Arusha has had the worst rainy season in 10 years, and it will NOT. STOP. RAINING. Everything is flooding, the roads are mush, we can’t even walk the 15 minutes to work because the roads are too muddy. The car we were supposed to rent can’t make it up and down our hill. The only cars that DO work are our giant safari vehicles.

This means we’re pretty much stuck in our house. Our power goes off all the time. Everything is a giant muddy mess. It’s cold, and I don’t have the right clothes for all of the mud and dampness. Literally, EVERYTHING is wet, inside and outside. It takes days for stuff to dry, and our couch, all my clothes, our bed, my books, everything feels wet.

WHEN WILL IT STOP?

Nairobi National Park

At least we got to celebrate with a Safari!

2. FOUR Days of Flying From Seattle to Kenya

Long haul flights are not fun, especially not when you’ve got THREE red-eye flights in a row over the course of four days. We flew Seattle to Houston, Houston to Qatar, and Qatar to Nairobi, and it was pretty much miserable. Not to mention our giant layovers at each place we stopped.

I have a really hard time sleeping on planes, so by the time I got to Nairobi I thought I was actually going to die.

Tanzania expat life

Chris says hi from the office!

3. Not Getting Any Work Done

One of the main reasons we came to Tanzania was that we could live cheaply and work without distractions. However, when we first arrived to Arusha, the place we were supposed to stay wasn’t finished being built yet (thanks rainy season), so we headed to Zanzibar where we stayed with a coworker who had literally just moved into her apartment that morning.

Due to the rain, we couldn’t get internet installed, our 3G didn’t work in her house, and we fell really behind on work. It felt like we couldn’t win: we were in paradise, but all we wanted to do was work. But due to the rain, we couldn’t work OR enjoy the tropical island.

I was already behind due to our 4-day flight, our two-days in Nairobi, and our first few days in Arusha staying in a budget hotel with no internet. It was impossible to get anything done, I fell weeks behind on emails, didn’t publish any posts, and basically had a constant mild panic attack.

Thankfully we have an office with internet now (our SIM cards don’t work in our Arusha house either), we’re going to try to switch to another provider (that probably won’t work anyway), and I’m playing MAJOR catchup on work.

Xanadu Zanzibar

It was pouring rain when I took this photo

4. My Meltdown in Zanzibar

Things got a little rough in Zanzibar. We were in paradise, but it POURED down rain constantly, all day every day. When we arrived, the coworker we were staying with had literally just gotten her keys on the way to pick us up, so the apartment really wasn’t ready. No internet, no food, etc.

We were staying in paradise, but you wouldn’t know it. We visited fancy resorts in the pouring rain, only to be told: “It doesn’t normally look like this, we’re closing next week for a month!” We drove past beautiful beaches with hurricane-style winds.

Because our week was extended to two, all of our clothes were dirty. But after we washed them, we couldn’t get them dry. We kept losing power constantly. We got scammed by some local kebab sellers. Our bed BROKE. Yeah… it was not a great time for me.

Tanzanian food

I can make awesome Tanzanian salads like this one!

5. Not Having Any Food

When we first arrived back at Arusha, we didn’t have any food or anything to cook with. So for the first two nights, we were able to hitch a ride to the local grocery store and get some chicken to eat for dinner. However, on the third night, all we had was cold leftover chicken and some bread that was gifted to us. No sauce, nothing.

Not having any food in the house was super stressful. After a few days, we were able to get some eggs and bread from Chris’ boss to make it work, along with a pot to boil water and a little frypan. But every day there was a constant worry – what are we going to eat tonight?? When we finally got to go on a real shop a week later, I was so thankful. After weeks of eating what was given to me, I could finally cook my own healthy meals.

It’s experiences like this that remind me how lucky I am. Even when I had NO food in the house, I was still able to get something to eat from Chris’ boss. So many people around the world don’t have that luxury, and I definitely won’t take it for granted.

Zanzibar Sunset

If only the weather stayed this way…

Monthly Finances

Here’s My Monthly February Income Breakdown!

  • Advertising – $190.90
  • Blogging Partnerships – $435
  • Freelance Writing – $220
  • Affiliate Sales – $250.48
  • Teaching Referrals – $0
  • Consulting – $0
  • College Counseling – $0

Total Revenue – $1,096.38

Total Proffit (Minus Blog Expenses) – $784.68

Despite having almost zero time to work this month, I actually made over $1,000! I was paid out for a few partnerships I’d completed, added a tiny bit of advertising, and made a few good affiliate sales.

It’s my goal in the next month to start really ramping up my affiliate income, and get enough traffic so that I can finally apply for Mediavine Advertising, which bloggers have been raving about. I definitely don’t want to cover the site in ads, but a few advertisements sure won’t hurt anyone. Hey, a girl’s gotta eat!

Zanzibar beach

Two nights at this resort is more than I make in a month…

Total Savings – $11,246

You guys- this is the first month since I’ve quit my job that my savings haven’t gone down. I’m SO EXCITED about this, especially considering I had a giant drop in my savings last month (you can thank flights and wedding deposits for that).

Sure, life in Tanzania hasn’t been as cheap as I’d hoped it would be. There have been a few unexpected costs like rent, a flight to Zanzibar, a bunch of stuff for our house, etc. BUT I still managed to break even this month!

I know I say this every single month, but I really hope that next month will FINALLY be the month that I actually grow my savings, rather than depleting them. I have a big payment coming in, and I’m also getting paid for doing social media work at the safari company. Yay for finally having a slightly sustainable job!

Expat Life in Africa

My birthday at Africa Amini

April Blog Posts

My best and… really only true blog post of the month was the one where I explained in detail WHAT exactly happened this last month. I talk about why getting settled and the big move was much harder than I thought it would be, what exactly went down, and my thoughts on our future here in Tanzania.

Read it now: My Major Adjustment Issues- Expat Life in Africa

I did write a few other blog posts, both on my site and on Go Overseas too

Best Instagram

The most popular photo from this month was actually taken on my 26th birthday in 2017 where Chris and I hiked the Wild Great Wall, a section of Great Wall near Huanghuacheng that’s not officially open to tourists!


My second most popular photo is a Zanzibar sunset I took with my phone. This was the ONE day we had on Zanzibar where it didn’t pour down rain all day.

Podcast of the Month

I usually do a book of the month, but all I read this month was Young China, which I had almost finished last month and my Wedding Planning Book.

So in the name of switching things up, I thought I’d fill you in on an amazing podcast I’ve been listening to: The Rise to The Top. David Siteman Garland (DSG) is the creator of Create Awesome Online Courses, a course I purchased back when I lived in Beijing.

In his podcast, he interviews some really awesome people who are crushing it with their online businesses, from Nathan Barry the founder of Convertkit (the incredible email service I use) to a single mom who went from nearly homeless to making a 7-figure online course.

If you’re working online, I highly recommend checking out his podcast. It’s funny, informational, and inspirational! Oh… and it’s free!

Africa Expat

Store all your travel photos!

Best Travel Product

I’ve started a new feature this month- the best and coolest travel products I’ve found that month! Whether they’re apps, gear, photography stuff, etc. I figured this would be the best place to share all my cool finds with you.

This month I’m featuring Yogile, an incredible cloud photo storage platform that works on your computer AND your phone. This is a game changer for me since I love to take photos with my DSLR, edit them with Lightroom on my laptop, and then send them to my phone for Instagram.

I’m always running out of space on my MacBook, my phone, my external hard drives, and my iCloud, so this is definitely what I need to store all my crazy amounts of photos! It’s only $4 a month, and you can have an unlimited amount of storage.

Seriously, if you’re a photo-obsessed traveler like me, you need this in your life.

Check Out Yogile Now!

Nairobi Elephant Orphanage

The Nairobi Elephant Orphanage

Best Reads of April

Vacay Style Review: Your Next Trip’s Complete Wardrobe Planned – Hippie in Heels

I tried (and failed) to create a capsule wardrobe for my year in the US, Africa, and Vietnam. This travel capsule wardrobe service looks awesome, and I really want to grab a few of those pieces!

You’re Not From Round Here: The Pathway to Connections – YTravel

Americans love their accents! I loved this post from YTravel about how they find the US’ obsession with hearing new accents and asking questions endearing.

The Real Truth About Dating as an Expat – Ashley Abroad

This was the STORY OF MY LIFE for 5 years before I met Chris. You meet awesome people abroad, but getting anyone to commit to you is a huge struggle.

The Dangers of Motorbiking Around Nusa Penida – Travel Lush

Wow! The amount of injuries from people I know in this post is crazy. The roads and views in Nusa Penida really remind me of Siargao in the Philippines. Just because you’ve driven a motorbike before doesn’t mean their safe, especially not on gravel roads.

Africa expat life

Let’s hope the roads dry up!

What’s Next for May 2018?

May is a pretty big month for me! I’ll still be living in Arusha Tanzania, and towards the end of the month, we’ll be having the whole team here in Arusha for a big training and an awesome FAM trip! We’ll be checking out the Western and Northern Serengeti, visiting hotels, mapping drive times, and taking tons of awesome photos for the website and social media.

Let’s hope that by the end of May the roads are dry and I can drive so I won’t go crazy!

How does expat life in Africa sound to you? Do you want more Africa posts from me? Let me know in a comment below! 

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About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

12 comments on “The Freedom Life: April 2018

  1. Oh wow thanks for the shout out I wasn’t expecting that! I’ll have to look into the cloud storage. I actually am organizing my photos yesterday and today on my PC and hardrive seeing what I actually need on Pc. Just starting to shoot in RAW and the files are so massive. I’m too OCD for this lol

    • Ugh this is the story of my life! I’m so afraid of all my photos being on my computer and hard drive because if something breaks I don’t have a backup. I’ve been looking into long-term cloud storage systems just to save me from losing everything like that one time 2 years ago when I spilled coffee on my computer.

  2. Hi Richelle! Thanks so much for the shoutout. We would love to have you join us at Mediavine. Our threshold is 25k sessions within a 30 day period, which you’ll quickly reach if you keep creating great content like this!
    Good luck on your 2018 goals and we’ll see you soon.

    • Thanks so much, Susannah! I’ve definitely been working on it. Unfortunately, my views have been kind of stagnant for a while, so I’ve been working hard on Pinterest and SEO to try and meet your minimum. I can’t wait to work with you soon!

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