A Travellerspoint blog

Tanzania

Back in Tanzania

Camping and hiking

overcast 18 °C

Just thought I would check in to update everyone. I arrived back in Arusha on November 13th and will be here until December 4th before leaving for Paris. Since my phone is still messed up I have no pictures to add to this post. In Sri Lanka the Samsung store added a memory card to my phone for pictures but without removing it and inserting into a laptop or computer I can't access them. I stayed at the foot of Kilimanjaro for the first two nights in a very beautiful location. Hiking to the Weru Weru river from the lodge was a nice adventure. After staying in Arusha for a couple of nights and reconnecting with friends made last time, I went camping for a few nights near two waterfalls. A very peaceful and beautiful setting. Yesterday I took some supplies into the Joshua daycare that I had purchased in the Delhi airport. The children immediately started singing, "if you're happy and you know it" when they saw me! I will likely visit them again while I am here. So that's all for now. Probably the shortest post so far! I will update more when I can. Missing Kellie who is busy back in Nanaimo working and readjusting to life at home. For me, the pending end to this adventure is bittersweet as I am missing everyone and beginning to wonder how I also will readjust, find work, etc. Many mixed feelings right now.

Posted by kelshell 08:57 Archived in Tanzania Comments (3)

Zanzibar

The spice island

sunny 35 °C

Zanzibar. Ocean breeze, turquoise water, spices, snorkeling, relaxing. What could be better! That's what we thought. Somehow though Zanzibar fell flat. We felt it immediately. A sense of desperation seemed to permeate the atmosphere here. On the first day we walked for 20 minutes to the “best beach.” The sand here in Zanzibar and in particular in Nungwi where we were is quite lovely. It is fine, white in texture and looks beautful against the bright turquoise water … if we could see the water, the tide was so far out! We wondered when we could get into the water. Maybe 1:30 we were told. So we settled in under an umbrella. After waiting for a bit I decided to make my way through the urchins to snorkel. Kellie stayed behind. I will mention that we had already picked up a friend wanting to sell us a snorkeling tour because we had also found out that there is little to see from the beach here, I was happy to discover that there were fish and brightly colored starfish to be seen in this area. After Kellie joined in and the tide had come in quite far, we were able to swim, snorkel and enjoy. We paid a deposit to our friend “Captain Shah” who proceeded to try and befriend us with buying a small bottle of Konyagi (the local gin), and we all had a few gin and tonics on the beach. Despite being able to do some limited snorkeling from the beach front, we were looking forward to a more significant snorkel experience on Mnemba Island the next day. So, after a sun-filled day Shelley and I returned to our bungalow for dinner and rest. While a bungalow near the beach does sound inviting, Shelley and I both found our chosen accommodation to be lacking. Given our overall budget, throughout our trip we were often challenged with our places to stay which were often a slight step up from a backpackers hostel. Here in Zanzibar, while our place was large, the surroundings were very forested and dark, our air-conditioning didn't work, and the shower often was lacking in hot water. On the property we were staying they did have a turtle conservation area, which was cool, however we both questioned how relaxed these turtles were given that people were allowed to swim with them in a rather small, stagnant water area. On this night we decided to order food from a local cafe that served our hotel. After our meal we settled in for a good night sleep to prepare for our snorkel tour to Mnemba Island, or so I thought! The best laid plans were thwarted in the night as Kellie woke up with food poisoning which continued unabated into the early morning. If anyone has had food poisoning it really does feel like you are dying. This was no exception. Since Kellie had never had it, she was going through a list of travel maladies (do you think it's malaria?) but we were pretty sure what it was. In the morning she insisted that I leave for the day as she would be sleeping. I started walking down the beach.

When I caught up with Shah he said he'd already paid for us but it was okay, we could go any day. I gave him the rest of the money and returned to the room where Kellie fitfully slept. On Saturday we explored around our end end of the beach and had dinner at a high end hotel restaurant near us. It was the night of the full moon (yes we had been invited to many full moon parties) and we enjoyed our dinner on the pier with no land in sight, imagining the hundreds of miles of ocean between where we were and likely Southeast Asia. The dinner was very good despite Kellie's hesitation to eat as she had definitely regained her appetite. At this hotel there were many conferences and groups of people staying so they had an African band set up on the pier which meant we could relax, taking in the warm coastal breeze, listening to music and having a front row seat to the tremendous full moon. While our plans for Zanzibar hadn't turned out exactly how we expected, this night did make up for some of that, and it was a special experience to witness this full moon casting it’s light across the Indian Ocean.

The following morning we awoke ready for a snorkel day on Mnemba Island. With mask and snorkel in hand Shelley and I made our way down the beach. Halfway there we see Shah approaching us. We both looked at each other and thought uhh ohh, this might not be good? Shah explained that he had already paid for our snorkel for the previous day and we didn't show up. Shelley explained that she was told we could come any day, and today was our day. Needless to say, Shah had spent our money and now needed more money to pay the actual captain. While he insisted that he had paid a captain already, when we attempted to corroborate his story, it was clear that he had not paid anyone. He insisted he could make it work if we just pay him more money. Shelley and I refused and returned to the beach area where people were loading onto boats. Shelley asked the snorkel outfit where the police were that we had seen on the beach the other day. After several minutes we were told if we had $10 each, a different boat could accommodate us. The usual price for the trip was $25-30 per person and we had already paid Shah for $20 each. We both figured we should pay this small amount extra and get on our way. We are not certain if Shelley's inquiry into the police helped our situation, given they didn't want any problems, but we paid the extra and boarded the boat for Mnemba.

Mnemba Island is owned by Bill Gates. Snorkeling is allowed on the reefs around the island. At first it seemed like a pretty dead reef, the fate of so many reefs around the world today. However, we soon began to see fish, lots of fish. The quantity and variety of fish was amazing. There were maroon clowns guarding their anemones and some large feather dusters. There was very little hard and soft coral but as usual, we were the last ones in the boat. Kellie almost couldn't get back in due to the strong current, something that had also surprised us at our local beach. After lunch on a private beach across from Mnemba we motored back to Nungwi aided by a sail and strong winds.

On our last day at Nungwi we just wandered around and then packed for our pick up Tuesday morning. We were picked up at 9 for a spice tour near Stonetown. The spice tour was very informative. Many of the spices grown on Zanzibar were brought here by Arab people when they settled the Island hundreds of years ago. In fact, Zanzibar is 95% Muslim with a smaller island off the coast being 100% Muslim. We were surprised to find out that black pepper grows on a vine and fresh nutmeg is the most striking colour of brown and vibrant red. We tasted fresh picked cardamom, cloves, cinnamon bark, black pepper, cacao, turmeric (couldn't get the yellow off our teeth for days) and ate fresh coconut. We tried pomelos, two types of oranges, jack fruit (I like durian better!), banana and pineapple. It's funny how different the various pineapple varieties taste around the world. After buying fresh spices we headed for Stonetown for our short boat ride to Prison Island. Originally intended to be an actual slave warehouse, slaving was abolished by the British before its completion. So it became a place for British administrative personnel and is now a Seychelle tortoise sanctuary and a snorkeling spot. We got to snorkel on the healthier coral reef for an hour and this time saw more hard and soft coral than fish. Most of the reef was dead but we could tell it must have been stunning in its heyday. We wished we had spent less time in Nungwi and more time in Stonetown as it has a rich and colorful history and beautiful Zanzibar doorways and doors. Early to bed on this last night for our early morning flight to Delhi. Again with WiFi issues we have beautiful underwater footage to share when we can.

Local guy showing off a different kind of starfish

Local guy showing off a different kind of starfish

Amazing right from shore

Amazing right from shore

Just looked down and they they all were!

Just looked down and they they all were!

Nungwi beach with tide out

Nungwi beach with tide out

Baobab tree, we even drank fresh juice from the fruit

Baobab tree, we even drank fresh juice from the fruit

Not our hotel but we ate here

Not our hotel but we ate here

Shelley relaxing on the pier

Shelley relaxing on the pier

Full moon over Zanzibar

Full moon over Zanzibar

View to ..... Southeast Asia?

View to ..... Southeast Asia?

Hollow tree with cotton like pods for stuffing mattresses

Hollow tree with cotton like pods for stuffing mattresses

Kellie's palm frond frog

Kellie's palm frond frog

Nutmeg

Nutmeg

Pineapple

Pineapple

Jackfruit

Jackfruit

Our palm frond finery

Our palm frond finery

Stonetown beach

Stonetown beach

Zanzibar door

Zanzibar door

Stonetown from the water

Stonetown from the water

On the way back from Prison Island

On the way back from Prison Island

Prison Island

Prison Island

Seychelles tortoise

Seychelles tortoise

Feeding the tortoise

Feeding the tortoise

Kellie and the tortoise

Kellie and the tortoise

I should know this spice but I forget!

I should know this spice but I forget!

Not sure if this is Kilimanjaro? Leaving Tanzania...

Not sure if this is Kilimanjaro? Leaving Tanzania...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79VcHYALvvQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDU8D-tXo7I
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzHQMj2Xzgs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMs7ElvYPnw

Posted by kelshell 18:50 Archived in Tanzania Comments (1)

Joshua daycare in Arusha

We were treated like queens!

sunny 31 °C

On our trip to Arusha national park we were lucky enough to meet a small group from a local daycare who were on a Friday field trip. I had seen them while we all waited in line at the washroom before entering the park and then we all wound up at the same viewpoint a couple of hours later. While Kellie was off exploring, I shared my binoculars with the children. One young man was pretty captivated so we were there for some time. Lillian (Lily) who helps run the center was so gracious and kind. She asked if we could come to the daycare on Monday. I said we would love to and then remembered to double check with Kellie! Of course we would! On Monday we arrived at the daycare to be greeted with the most beautiful bouquets of roses, almost bringing tears to our eyes. I have rarely seen such full and colorful bouquets. The children were in two classrooms and were excited to see us - almost as much as we were to see them! We all decided to go to a larger space to be together in one area. It took some time to move everyone as Kellie and I needed to allow the curious ones to feel our skin and hair. These beautiful children exuded joy. After amassing in the larger indoor area, the children were led by the head teacher in songs in English. This is primarily a Swahili language school but their command of English was impressive.

Kellie and I joined in with their songs (and I messed up my only line when it was my turn) before we began leading in English. These children ranged in age from 30 months to 5 years but a few looked much older (they weren't). We started with head and shoulders which they knew, moved on to "if you're happy and you know it" and followed with the hokey pokey. They were real troopers, laughing and joining in happily. Charles graciously took pictures for us even though he may not have originally intended to stay.

Kellie and I went to get our blow up toys and returned with them. There was a bit of a free for all at first with the ball so the children were quickly formed into a ring. We went around the circle practicing different skills (there were about 50 children) and they were all very adept. Kellie then brought her clackers to the middle (giving me "the look") before leading a hilarious round of clacking. She showed them clacking high and low, under and over and then started teasing the children while handing them the clackers for their turns. We had watched a superb ice cream vendor in Cappadocia tease the local children while making their ice cream and if Kellie doesn't get work right away she could always sell ice cream in Turkey!

After resettling the children for their snack of popcorn and peanuts, we were treated to the same along with warm milk. The head teacher and her attentive staff asked us questions and wondered if they could keep in touch with us by email to get strategies as needed. It became clear that they really need resources for the classroom even though Kellie and I kept suggesting local alternatives (think home visiting). As the conversation continued, it began to dawn on us that the suggestions we were giving for basic preschool development were already being far surpassed by this group. I went into the classroom to get a couple of random primers from a pile and our jaws dropped as we reviewed the level of learning these children were working at. Addition, subtraction and division and all double and triple digits!! Matching numbers and words.... The literacy and numeracy was unbelievable! After begging their pardon, we asked for their help.

This daycare started with nothing. They rely only on parent fees. They have no mandate to teach. They want to expand into a full school. They will do it have no doubt! What a testament to commitment and love of children. We were the first non local people to ever visit the daycare. They thought we could teach them something. Little do they know how much they taught us that day! We will be organizing supplies to send when we get home so be prepared...

Before saying goodbye, we were honored with more gifts. Kellie and I were humbled and grateful to receive a beautiful Maasai blanket each along with a beaded necklace and key ring in the Tanzanian colours. We left a piece of our heart with them and will support them however we can. We were treated with such love and respect we felt like queens. But the children and staff of Joshua daycare deserve all of that and more. Assante sana, assante sana, assante sana Joshua daycare!

Oh and an interesting thing about what is meant to be: the blankets Kellie and I received were the exact ones we had been coveting even in Kenya but hadn't bought! We each got exactly what we treasured!

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Hokey pokey

Hokey pokey

Hokey pokey

Hokey pokey

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Our Canada beach ball

Our Canada beach ball

Inflatable Canada clackers

Inflatable Canada clackers

Songs at the daycare

Songs at the daycare

Fun!

Fun!

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

More clacker fun

More clacker fun

And again

And again

Kicking, throwing, bouncing

Kicking, throwing, bouncing

Lillian, Shelley, Kellie and head teacher

Lillian, Shelley, Kellie and head teacher

Joshua daycare

Joshua daycare

Greeted with roses

Greeted with roses

More ball fun

More ball fun


Beaded necklaces in Tanzanian colours

Beaded necklaces in Tanzanian colours

So thrilled

So thrilled

Receiving our key chains in Tanzanian colours

Receiving our key chains in Tanzanian colours

My blanket

My blanket

Happy young man

Happy young man

Kellie receiving her Maasai blanket

Kellie receiving her Maasai blanket

Charles receiving his Maasai blanket

Charles receiving his Maasai blanket

And again

And again

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye

Loving those binoculars

Loving those binoculars


Shelley receiving beaded necklace

Shelley receiving beaded necklace

Posted by kelshell 09:30 Archived in Tanzania Comments (4)

Last tango in Tanzania

How to see Arusha like a local

sunny 28 °C

Well what can we say about our amazing experience in Arusha, Tanzania. Let's start with our warm welcome to our "new home" for a week at the Arusha Giraffe Lodge. The staff couldn't have been more wonderful. We arrived being met with fresh made watermelon juice and we each received a hot towel to freshen up. While we initially were a bit concerned about the location of our hotel, which was far from town, we later found out that the manager of the hotel, Romwald, would provide us with free shuttle service into town, so this was excellent. Romwald also arranged for us to meet with a tour operator to arrange any tours we may be interested in. We were expecting to be driven to this office in town, but instead the owner of Aardvark Expeditions, a man named Philemon, picked us up from the hotel and brought us to town. Given our current budget constraints, it was difficult to hold back once becoming aware of the fabulous choices offered in Tanzania. Shelley and I both agreed that we would not head to the Serengeti for a second safari (even though it was very tempting). There was a national park close to us called Arusha National Park, that promised many animals, birds, and the ever evasive flamingo!!

After discussing many options, we decided to book a one day safari at this park and on another day visit a coffee plantation, which I have never done before. I think Philemon may have gotten a kick out of me and Shelley and our quest for a good bargain, and I also tried to wrangle his connections for some local tea for Quinn. He made some calls, and a connection was found. So, off we all went in search of an ATM machine and the tea dealer lol. On the way Philemon ran into one his drivers, Charles, who was going to be our guide. He joined our quest and they graciously escorted us around Arusha to find an ATM machine that would work with our Canadian cards. After bank number 4, we had our cash. Getting our first glimpse of this town we were both struck by many things. Many of the women were seen in their beautifully colored dresses, amazing scarves and many balancing loads on their heads that seemed to defy gravity. The commradery of the men was evident as we drove through town with so many "jambo brother" ( "hi") and waves and comments of what we guessed were friendly greetings. While the town itself is quite populated (600,000), it did not feel like this at all. It was closer to an African-style Mayberry then any larger town I had ever experienced. I (Shelley) found the beauty of the surroundings to be unmatched so far with purple jacaranda trees in bloom, the bright orange flowers of the mahogany trees, verbena, cannas and so much more. Philomen and Charles asked us if we wanted to experience some local nightlife and dancing at a club called Via Via so after taking us back to the hotel to change and eat, they picked us up at 10:00. Via Via is an outdoor venue beside the museum grounds housing artifacts from Olduvai Gorge. There was karaoke and a local band performing. This band played an excellent mix of music which resulted in a wonderful night of dancing. Philomen had to remind us that we had a safari the next morning so they dropped us back at our hotel.

The next morning Charles picked us up for our day in Arusha National park. Charles is an excellent guide whose passion for Tanzania was evident immediately. Charles has traveled extensively and led safaris for many years. He works with Philomen and also has his own company so if anyone is interested we can hook you up. At the park we had a very different experience because Arusha is so green and lush. Animals are much harder to spot in this park due to the tree cover. We saw black and white colobus monkeys with white hair on their sides like sloths. They are large monkeys who are very social and playful. We saw a pair of blue monkeys, crested cranes, flamingoes, a cuckoo and many other birds and butterflies. We also saw all of the large game save for elephants, lions and cheetah (none here) and the elusive leopard. We met a small group of children from an Arusha daycare who invited us to visit them the following week. Philomen had sent a delicious assortment of food for our lunch which we ate by a lake. As part of this adventure we were able to see the beauty of the surrounding area from a viewpoint showing off Mount Meru and in the distance Kili (to the locals) or Mount Kilimanjaro. There were a lot of clouds around Kili so we had to wait to see it during our flight out on the 4th. Charles' knowledge of history, botany and wildlife provided us with new insights into Tanzania and it's diverse and rich heritage.

On Saturday we didn't expect to do anything but chill and read. Around noon the guys came by to take us into Arusha for lunch at a local place. We were treated to local fare and warm hospitality, including a local meal known as ugali, and a local gin called Konyagi. Day became night and the fun continued. Feeling pretty tired the next day we were again escorted by Philomen and Charles to an organic coffee plantation called Kahawa in the lowlands of Mt. Meru. Kellie and I walked through the local village with our guide Amani who was born and raised there. The coffee plantation was started by a couple who organized a cooperative amongst the existing local farmers. Research and development occurs here with mainly arabica and some robusta plants. The coffee is organic and fair trade making this a win win for the Meru people of this village. As part of the tour we each got a bag of beans so everything smells like coffee in our backpacks! After a great BBQ lunch at a local place with Charles and Philemon we headed back for an early bedtime.

On Monday Charles picked us up for our daycare visit. We will post this amazing experience separately. After a longer visit than we all expected, we picked up Philemon and headed out to eat.

On Tuesday Charles escorted us to the local Natural History museum. Since we wouldn't be seeing Olduvai Gorge in person, the next best thing was seeing the artifacts discovered by Louis and Mary Leakey in the 1950s. This museum is a treasure trove of archeological information and exhibits. The development of man from Australopithecus to homo sapien is chronicled in displays containing bones and skulls found in Olduvai Gorge and other sites around Tanzania. This rounded out our stay in Arusha and we enjoyed a final meal with Philemon and Charles, who definitely showed us the local culture and the fascinating life in Arusha. We returned back to our hotel to pack for our flight to Zanzibar.

Arusha national park

Arusha national park

Mount Meru

Mount Meru

Shelley and Charles viewpoint Arusha national park

Shelley and Charles viewpoint Arusha national park

Crested cranes

Crested cranes

Arusha national park

Arusha national park

Blue monkeys

Blue monkeys

Arusha national park

Arusha national park

Private girl's school field trip

Private girl's school field trip

Black and white colobus monkey

Black and white colobus monkey

Arusha national park

Arusha national park

Arusha national park

Arusha national park

Beautiful colour

Beautiful colour

Daycare group field trip

Daycare group field trip

Charming Charles Mpanda

Charming Charles Mpanda

Jacaranda tree

Jacaranda tree

Ali at the local restaurant

Ali at the local restaurant

Tanzanian beer selection

Tanzanian beer selection

Local lunch

Local lunch

Ali, Philomen, Charles, Kellie, Shelley and (we forget!)

Ali, Philomen, Charles, Kellie, Shelley and (we forget!)

Shelley and Charles at local BBQ

Shelley and Charles at local BBQ

Beef and green vegetables

Beef and green vegetables

Grace and balance

Grace and balance

How do they manage?

How do they manage?

Posted by kelshell 09:22 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

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