Tanzania Trip- Part Four:
Dar es Salaam and Moshi
After a wonderful few days in Stone Town we collected our bags and headed to the ferry to return to Dar. At this point I was really regretting the fact that I am not a light packer and I guess carting my bag all around town was my punishment for my gluttonous ways. Boarding the ferry was a bit of a traumatizing experience because the formation of neat and orderly lines is a foreign concept in Tanzania. Attempting to make it onto the loading dock is a vicious free-for-all and if you were to step back and observe this chaotic stampede the scene would inspire you to contemplate Darwin’s evolutionary theory that describes survival of the fittest. The locals have adapted the skills necessary to succeed in this competitive environment while many of the foreigners are left to fend for themselves while a combination of their fear and fancy backpacks weigh them down until they find themselves last in line. If you are not willing to be aggressive and push people around it is better to just wait until the end which is exactly what we chose to do. We ended up with seats on the bottom deck and ventured out to sea just as storm clouds came rolling in. The trip back to Dar was almost twice as long as the journey to the island and the incoming storm meant the boat had to battle some rough waves. Three of the five members of our group spent the trip on the outside deck throwing up into the little plastic “sick bags” that were distributed every 30 minutes. I was lucky to be one of the non-vomiting members and spent my trip sleeping peacefully and watching the TV that displayed videos of children reciting verses from the Quran- remember this was taking place during Ramadan. We finally made it back to Dar and headed out to find a hotel for the night. By this point we were all hot, tired and grumpy and also poor. Many of us underestimated how much money we needed to bring and found out the hard way that due to some political tension Tanzania refuses to exchange money from Rwanda. So this left us in a financial bind but luckily my sweet father stepped up to the plate and absorbed the hotel bill for us. I shudder to think of where I would be without the support of my fantastic parents, especially in situations like this where I don’t exercise my best judgement and fail to bring enough money to Tanzania! We found a place close to the bus stop called the Rainbow Hotel that had wireless internet, hot showers,and best of all air conditioning!
We cranked up the cold air and crawled into bed for a quick nap before heading into town. 30 minutes later we emerged from the room with a refreshed attitude towards life and ventured out to explore Dar. We didn’t make it too far before we discovered a building that appeared to be some sort of mall. One of the first shops was a Subway Restaurant which was one of the highlights of the trip! After exploring the mall we went to find the bus station to get our tickets for Moshi and then returned back to the hotel for the night. We didn’t spend a lot of time in Dar but we enjoyed our experience and found the people to be extremely nice and generous. If you ask for directions they not only stop to explain the way but they often walk part (or all) of the way with you.
From Dar we took a 10-hour bus ride to Moshi. When we arrived at the station a manager from the Twiga (Giraffe) Home came to collect us and we spent a lovely night hanging out and watching the TV that was showing highlights form the Beijing Olympics. The next day we hired an awesome guide, Baragash, to take us on a walk through the local rice fields and a really cool jungle. The whole trip was only $20 total and we learned a lot about the area. Here are some photos from that excursion:
This cool little plant looks like snap peas but when you break it open it is full of a really sticky goo that locals use as glue.
This adorable little boy was sitting at the base of tree that Catie was climbing in. I think he thought we were a little crazy but I love this picture of him staring up at her as she is climbing.
This a sweet little girl we met on our walk
Beautiful flowers along the path to the rice fields
First glimpse of the beautiful rice fields and surrounding jungle
One of the many cool birds we saw during our outing
You can actually see the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in this picture but the snow blends in really well with the clouds. Can you see the snow covered peak hiding behind the clouds? A pretty cool view!
One of the monkeys in the jungle- they were pretty fast and high up in the trees so it was easier to hear them thrashing about then to actually spot them!
This leaf was extremely rough and the locals use it as sandpaper- an interesting job for a leaf since we usually imagine them as rather fragile objects.
Our guide climbing a vine like it is the easiest thing in the world. Most of our group members struggled to get our feet off the ground. 🙂
This picture is blurry but I am still surprised I even had the courage to get close enough to take it in the first place! We saw a lot of big disgusting spiders and this guy still plays a leading role in my occasional spider-themed nightmares.
The first part of the jungle walk involved wading through a sea of enormous leaves like this one.
These women were transporting gigantic stacks of wood on their heads and I felt tired just watching them!
Cute baby hitching a ride on his Mama’s back.
After the rice field and jungle tour we stopped in town to eat lunch and then Baragash helped us find local transportation so we could visit a village near the base of Kilimanjaro. The bus was completely packed by the time we needed to get off and one of the annoying aspects of people on buses in Africa is that they tend to not move when you need them to make space. Baragash hopped out the window but I imagined myself breaking an ankle that way so I pushed and shoved my way to eventual freedom . We walked though another forest and then arrived at the border of the park where we paid to hike down to see the Ndoro Waterfalls.
Cool little house at the entrance to the park where they distribute walking sticks and collect entrance fees.
It was nice that the path had steps but most of the trail was very steep with big steps and loose dirt so it took us a while to make it to the bottom but luckily was all made it down in one piece! The hike back up was an intense leg workout but went a lot faster which was nice.
Finally made it! It was a beautiful area and it was nice and cool since the breeze sprays you with water every few minutes.
The whole group- you can see our handy walking sticks.
Meredith, me, Baragash, Heather, Sara (Catie was the photographer)
Beautiful flowers at the top of the trail
Celebrating the end of our hiking adventure!
After the waterfalls Baragash took us to a village bar so we could taste the local banana bear that was just as disgusting as the Rwandan banana beer. I suppose some people like it but the consistency and flavor remind me of vomit so every time I see, smell, taste, or think about it I want to vomit. It is probably really gross for me to equate a drink to vomit but that is truly the best description I can think of. How people voluntarily drink this vulgar concoction is a wonder to me!
Now that I have grossed you out with my description of banana beer I feel compelled to end this entry on a non-vomit related note. We really loved our time in Moshi and especially the Twiga Home- should you ever be in Moshi be sure to stay there! The workers were extremely friendly and always going out of their way to make our trip better and there is a free shuttle from Twiga into Moshi. The next entry will be the final installment of the Tanzania Trip Series and then I will continue on with stories from Rwanda. I am still on holiday and preparing for the arrival of my sister and mother in 9 short days!!!