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Published: September 10th 2019
It’s mozzie nets for the next three months (and anti-malaria pills.
We’ve spent the past two days based in Moshi before heading out to Mto wa Mbu to commence our month of volunteering on the Bandari Project. As I write this, sitting in the open communal area of Honey Badger Lodge, the monkeys are cruising around overhead and occasionally on the ground around us. One of them approached us and eyed off my sandals next to my feet, maybe thinking what a laugh it would be to carry them off.
Yesterday morning we took a stroll through the local village around our accommodation, It’s getting towards the end of the dry season. 3-4 months of little rain make the dirt roads so dusty and it rises to cover the foliage of roadside plants. Any vacant land between houses is put to good use, and the remains of the last maize crop are mostly still standing. We passed some women harvesting the dried cobs. The dry plants are not wasted either, being bundled up for cow feed,
We had arranged to meet up with Baraka, one of the guides from our 2016 Mt Kilimanjaro climb. We lunched at the Union Cafe, in a colonial atmosphere that reflects its pre-WW2 history as
part of the Kilimanjaro Coffee Growers’ Co-Op, and afterwards Baraka provided some good local knowledge as we sought to buy a few necessities. It was great to see him again!
We spent today with Gloria, the Bandari Project manager, who came over from Mto wa Mbu to collect us with Bandari’s driver, Jafari. Also on board was Mwanakombo, the original Bandari teacher (who now works in security at Kili airport). Glory wanted to show us her home village of Marangu, which is also known as one of the half dozen climbing routes for Kili. Marangu is in the foothills of Kili and the greenery is quite a contrast to the dryness of Moshi. There was a spectacular waterfall to visit en route and we landed at Gloria’s village at lunchtime. Her aunt and uncle provided lunch of chicken and banana stew. These aren’t your everyday bananas but a special variety used for cooking, much like a potato. They adopt a kind of grey colour in the stew and could best be described as an acquired taste (but not one that we’ve acquired yet!), but serve the all important role of providing carbs in the local diet.
there was a surprise visit to a site of historical importance to Gloria’s Chagga tribe - the Chagga Cave. Several hundred years ago, there was a big drought that created conflict over land use between the nomadic Maasai herders of the plains and the Chagga farmers of the Kili foothills. The Maasai came into Chagga territory to feed their cattle and there were battles. Like the Viet Cong, the Chaggas of this village dug a 6 km tunnel network in which to hide when the Maasai warriors invaded. We were taken down the tunnel to see the chambers where each family was “housed” until it was safe to venture out. The tunnels hid around 60 families from this village. They even took their cows down with them, feeding them ash in their feed to stop them mooing and giving their hiding place away. The soil from the tunnel was washed down the river to leave no physical trace of the excavation, and poisonous plants grown around the air vents to discourage closer inspection. Any Maasai that did venture into the tunnel were ambushed and either killed or enslaved underground. A pretty interesting insight into how a sophisticated tribal war was
Dry season dust blankets the roadsides.
waged in the 17th Century!
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