Sunday, June 22, 2008

Visit to Moshi

We're currently sitting in an internet cafe in Moshi with our friends, Jake and Mitch. We met the boys here in Moshi on Friday and have spent the entire weekend here. The bus ride to Moshi began in Arusha on Friday around 2 PM. After being told we would be charged 2,000 shillings (a little less than $2 US), Megan and I were forced to pay 2,500 shillings when we refused to give up our bags (to be placed out of our sight) in order to accommodate another passenger. I'm usually very willing to make space for others on public transportation, but in the case of a mini-bus, making space for others means cramming five people into a bench built to hold three. If our mini-bus had crashed at any point, which is totally possibly, I have no idea how we would've gotten out. Every space of the bus was filled. Kids were sitting on strangers' laps, strangers were sitting shoulder to shoulder with their bags at their feet, there was absolutely no leg room. The other bizarre aspect of riding a mini-bus is that there is no air conditioning and the windows are kept closed the entire time. With nearly 40 people on a bus built to hold at most 25 and absolutely no air flow, the stench and heat produced inside could have killed a puppy. It was the longest bus ride of my life.

Friday evening the boys met us at the bus station and took us to a local bakery. We then headed back to their house to meet their host family. Their family is considerably richer than Pastor Harry's, which was made obvious by the porcelain choo, electricity, and running water. Their family was very sweet and allowed us to watch as they cleaned a freshly killed chicken.

After meeting Jake and Mitch's family, we headed out to dinner with their friends Luke and Jeff. Jeff volunteers with Jake and Mitch at their conservation project and Luke is a Peace Corps volunteer who teaches in Morogorro. We had an enjoyable Western dinner (pizza) with great conversation. It was nice to be surrounded by people with similar interests and a belief in bettering the world around them. When we got to our hotel that night, Megan and I both commented on how much we enjoyed talking to smart, humble, genuine people.

Saturday was our big adventure. We went with all of the boys and their "brother," Oscar, to hike in Kilimanjaro Park. Our destination was the twin waterfalls. Unfortunately it had recently rained and much of the park and surrounding village was completely mud-filled. Our dalla-dalla could only take us halfway up the village before fishtailing, forcing us to hike an additional 1 1/2 miles to the start of our hike. The hike itself was very enjoyable, despite the mud. Actually, the mud might have enhanced the experience. We all fell multiple times, myself a few more times than everyone else, because we hadn't thought to bring our hiking poles. By the end of our trip, we were covered in mud, leaving our shoes and hands unrecognizable. I was bit by a few bugs and caught a few thorns in my hand, but I'm no worse for the wear. I am a bit sore today, though.

After hiking for nearly 5 hours, we made it to the twin waterfalls. My words can't do them justice and I'll attempt to post some pictures when we arrive back in Arusha. The entire hike gave me a greater appreciation for nature and a stronger desire to do my part to help conserve the planet. I never expected Tanzania to be this beautiful. There are probably hundreds of surprisingly beautiful places across the planet that I don't know about. That alone encourages me to remain as eco-conscious as I can. If I can do my part to preserve these majestic corners of the world, I'll have spread their beauty.

The hike ended up taking a total of 7 hours, with no food other than bars and nuts. By the end of the day we were both exhausted and hungry. We ended the day at a local restaurant called, "Golden Showers." Famished, we ate fish, chips, veggies, and chipate (a local bread product similar to a tortilla). All in all it was a wonderful weekend with wonderful people. Megan and I feel really blessed to have met Mitch and Jake and look forward to other excursions with Mitch (Jake heads back to Chicago in a week).


Mom said...

Glad you had a great time. I'm glad your getting out and about even though it is difficult. These are the things I hope your remember not the poltics.

Love ya Mom

Mom and Dad said...

Mitch shared your blog address with me, and I am excited to read your entries! You all are having a wonderful experience - despite the disappointments - mission work can be unpredictable - which is sometimes difficult for Americans! Plan to be surprised and flexible!
Blessings to you and Megan.
Mitch's Mom (Jan)