Sunday, 25 December 2011

... Tanzania: Merry Christmas!

After a great nights sleep in a comfy bed, surrounded by much needed mosquito netting, I awoke relatively early obviously still on my Kilimanjaro schedule. I felt great. No muscle soreness and no aching bones. Still, today was definitely going to be a R n' R day especially seeing as I technically should have still had half a day of hiking to go. I was going to milk the extra day of rest for all it was worth!

Once breakfast was out of the way, with members of the group arriving at various stages throughout the serving window, we moved to a large table and set up camp just chatting & chillaxin'. I think people held out on the beers until about 1030am.... Well it is Christmas Day!!! I opted for the traditional non-alcoholic drink of Stoney Tangawizi, a very refreshing ginger drink. Our guides came to say goodbye and I donated my backpack & rain cover to Juma, the assistant guide. I had followed him for many hours looking at his falling-to-bits pack and the tatty jacket he used as a cover: my gear was going to a fantastic home!

Just after midday 4 of us girls decided to go and do what girls do best.... Shop! We arranged a minivan to drive us into Moshi (and of course take us to the best places to buy stuff) as it was certainly far too hot to walk. Getting in & out of the van posed a few problems... So I do still have quads & hamstrings and they let me know they weren't too impressed with me.

Moshi sits at the foot of Kilimanjaro and is the centre of one of Tanzania's major coffee regions. Coffee is believed to have been brought to Tanzania around the turn of the 19th century, after being introduced by Jesuit missionaries and flourishing as an industry during the British colonial era. That to me sounded like a pretty good excuse to find a coffee shop for a much needed java.

Despite being Christmas Day the centre was full of activity and although the much talked about market was not running today plenty was open willing to take our Tanzanian schillings and American dollars. We hit small shops that had barely enough room for one person let alone 4 plus the owner. All the stores we hit were selling items that had been made by locals and the stores were basically providing them with a means to sell their goods... at a huge fraction of the cost. I couldn't resist a touristy Kilimanjaro t-shirt for $8 but managed to get a really cool but funky oil painting for a great price. Before heading back to the lodge we stopped at a coffee shop called The Union for java. It was incredibly delicious and made me wonder why I pay what I do back home for something nowhere near as good.

Christmas dinner came in the form of a turkey with its head still attached and wearing a crown made out of a tomato. Yes... A crown. I am not sure who informed the Tanzanians of the latter being a tradition but the whole event was incredibly thoughtful for those away from family. For us non-carnivores there were plenty of veggies and, whilst no brussel sprouts, I felt as stuffed as the turkey by the time I'd finished. The rest of the evening was spent under the stars with a great bunch of new friends sharing tales of our recent adventure. It was hard saying our goodbyes at the end of the evening.

So as I begin to think about packing for my next adventure, starting tomorrow, I wish you all a Merry Christmas from Tanzania!

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