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Published: March 15th 2014
We got up early to meet our guide for the weekend where we would catch the bus to Moshi. Nancy is Isaac's sister and has his intense energy. You take a bus to Moshi, which is a two hour drive. It only costs $1.45, but the ride is much like the dala dala. You are packed in tight as sardines and some stand, there are fold over seats that cross the aisle as well. Once in Moshi, we take a dala to our next connection point, which takes another 45 minutes. Then we grab a taxi and go to the start of the trail to Kilimanjaro. There are beautiful eucalyptus trees, and pines that look nothing like ours at home. The mountain creates its own climate and has a large forest belt on its slopes. The air is fresh and humid, unlike the dust streets of Arusha. Next we return down the mountainside to where we can walk to the coffee plantation. A coffee plantation is a misnomer. It's a plantation of banana, coffee, yams, tobacco, avocado, mango and trumpet flowers for the bees. Banana trees are planted in a circle around the coffee plants, because they need shade to grow.
The man who leads us through his forest is eccentric and very knowledgable. He commences each phrase with, "My dear visitors....." His hand gestures are enormous and funny. We greet his cow and goats, then walk through the trees. Next we pound coffee beans to remove their skin. The fire has been lit and the clay pot put on to roast the beans. Then we pound the roasted beans again till they are a fine powder, like turkish grind. We sing a song while pounding, to help us work. "Let's pound, pound, pound, so we can drink some coffee" the water has been put on to boil and now the coffee powder is added. Once it boils again, coffee is ready with cane sugar on the side. We leave our host and walk down to where we have preordered lunch. You can get fish and chips, fish and rice, and fish and ugali or the same with chicken or meat (meat is never described more clearly). Next stop the caves. The Chagga people live in this area and have always suffered from invasion when drought occurs on the plains. So they developed a system of caves to retreat into when
flat land warriors came. We get an intensive, fascinating history from the curator and then are admitted to the caves. I remind Jacob of the Turkish caves and our guide picks up on my comment and relays that these caves were built based on the Turkish ones. The world is a small place. When our eyes readjust to the light we walk down the road to the waterfalls. This is a beautiful spot, and Jacob goes in the pool to be pounded by the water of the falls. Our next destination is a live museum. Here there are traditional grass huts with animals. There is a museum of tools that are demonstrated by another curator, who has a sense of humour and much animation. Then we are off to find a dala to get into Moshi, but not before we stop at a road side stand to get a banana beer, it tastes like a soft cider, while we chew on a sugar cane that the curator at the last museum cut for us.
Nancy has found us a tiny hotel that is $7 a night. We have time to drop our overnight gas and then we get on
the back of a piki piki (motorcycle) to get to a restaurant, since it is now dark and not a good idea to walk. We all almost fell asleep at on our pizza and returned to the hotel to sleep. In the morning, we went for breakfast and then got on a bus to go to the hot springs halfway back down the road to Arusha. We finish our bus ride and must try one more type of transportation, a tuk tuk. This is a three wheeled motorcycle with a bench seat and cloth walls and canopy. We squeeze into one and bump out to the spring. You are dusty and hot when you arrive, so the springs are more then welcome. This natural spot has large trees sending their roots into the pond, clear aquamarine water, little fish that tickle your toes, and a water temp that is refreshing without ever getting cold. It is really quite beautiful and Jacob is in seventh heaven. There is a rope swing that flies over the water and you drop into the deepest part of the pool. Swim, get out, swing, splash, and do it again. We finally left when larger groups
of people started arriving in the afternoon. We couldn't quite sleep on the bus home, wedged between the crowds, but sleep claimed us early at home, after warm welcomes, hugs and I missed yous on our arrival there. It was a fantastic final weekend in Africa.
Good Night and Sweet Dreams.
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