Part 1. Marangu Village – Waterfalls, banana leaves, and a fella named Milton.
The birds are chirping, the sun is still waking up, and I can faintly hear sounds of motorbikes zooming by as my second early morning in Moshi comes to life. I take my time getting out of bed as I see the sun is yet to rise. I am not leaving for the mountain until tomorrow, but the excitement of being in Africa is waking me early with a very busy and curious mind. I reach across the bed to grab my glasses which are as thick as beer bottles, yes I am basically blind. Of course, I drop them, but luckily they are not damaged. This is why I cannot have nice things (except guitars). I start my day with a few pages of a book called “Going Sane.” I am still not sane after finishing the book, I guess it is broken and I should return it, just kidding. I highly recommend reading “Going Sane” by Adam Phillips. Ok, enough bedside talk, let’s get out of here and get some breakfast in the body.
You’re gonna need more cowbell.
I shuffle my way down to the kitchen for my first taste of an African breakfast. I go to the buffet table, and pile it high with fresh fruits, toast, baked beans, sausage, and a wonderful Tanzanian favorite, boiled plantains. The plantains were beyond incredible. No breakfast is complete in my book without coffee, so I poured me a cup of Kilimanjaro Coffee topped with powdered milk which is called “Cowbell.” I usually drink my coffee black, but since this was named “cowbell”, I could not resist and had to ta say “You’re gonna need more cowbell” before gulping down my first sip of the daily caffeine fix.
The morning is a bit chilly, but I hope it warms up so I can take a dip in the water at the base of the Ndoro waterfall. I head back to my room to grab the essentials before we make our way towards Marangu village, a village one hour northeast of Mohsi which is located at the southern entrance of Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park. As we whistle down the road, we pass an abundance of crops ranging from corn, beans, coffee, and bananas. The agriculture is very rich and green. We slowly start seeing African tribesmen and women walking in the distant fields. The feeling of me being in Africa is becoming more and more real as scenery I have only seen on TV comes to life before my eyes.
You can even cycle to the top of Kilimanjaro if you want to!
One hour later we arrived in Marangu Village , our first destination was the Ndoro waterfall. Wait! I just realized I never mentioned who took us there! I’d like to thank my lovely friend Milton Msacky, my brother from another mother. Milton owns a Hike and Bike Tour company which runs out of Tanzania. Want to explore Tanzania via cycling? If so, this is your guy. You could even cycle to the top of Kilimanjaro! From a guy that hiked to the top, cycling sounds crazy tough, but also very intriguing! You can find out more about them on Hikeandbikeheroes.com or on facebook and instagram under the handle of Bike_Heroes_Tanzania.
Deeper level of thought beyond physical characteristics.
Promo period over. That was all my idea, not MIlton’s. We parked the car at the coffee plantation in the Chagga village, grabbed our water bottles, sprayed on some mosquito spray, and off we went to the waterfall. The walk to the waterfall very relaxing. We passed many small villages and schools on our way. I noticed all the kids had no hair on their heads, boys and girls. In Tanzania, both boys and girls have their heads shaved at very young age, sometimes even as young as 3 months. If that age is wrong, I blame Ally, one of my Kili guides. The kids also wear matching uniforms in school. The main reason for both of these is to create a universal look for everyone to minimize feelings of jealousy and to avoid kids from picking on one another. In my opinion it works well because each school we passed was filled happy smiling children playing games and running around the school yard. I believe it teaches the kids to identify any differences they may have amongst each other on a deeper level of thought beyond physical characteristics. No hard feelings, I’m a sexy man beast now in my own humble opinion 😉
This thought brought me back to my catholic grade school days when the kids couldn’t make fun of me for my clothes either due to the uniform we were forced to wear; Instead they used me being fat as ammo haha. I blame the after school snacks. This “snack” was an entire sandwich with a mountain of doritos piled high next to it. Why did Janice (my mother) let me eat this? To this day it still remains a mystery. No hard feelings, I’m a sexy man beast now in my own humble opinion. Quick embarrassing story! I remember going to the bathroom once and the button on my pants broke. I wasn’t wearing a belt that day, so I had Scott Alvino tell the teacher I needed help in the bathroom. He offered me his belt, but it was to small for my chubby self as Scott was a little fella compared to me. Scott fetched our teacher, Mrs. Solovitz, who came with a bobby pin to hook my pants back together, god bless that woman. I don’t know if I ever thanked her for that, so I’ll consider this a thank you to her for that day. She helped me keep my pants on, but I still had to go face the class. I bet my face was redder than a tomato in the oven, boy that was embarrassing. Ok. I’ve derailed. Time to get back to Africa and off of memory lane.
No worries, none of us got malaria
The leaves on the banana trees are so massive they can be used as umbrellas when it rains. This is my first true rainforest, my excitement for what the mountain has in store for me grows. We make our way down the steep path towards the waterfall as we hear it’s roar grow stronger and stronger. The sounds of the rainforest are so incredible. The mix of all the birds and the running water makes it a true blissful moment. About halfway down I see a mountain way in the distance, and excitedly ask Milton “Is that Kilimanjaro?!” His response is a quick “no” hidden behind a chuckle. We have just seen Mount Meru. Mount Meru is a Dormant stratovolcano located about 70 km west of Kilimanjaro. Meru’s peak rises to an elevation of 4,562 meters above sea level which makes it the second highest peak in Tanzania, and the fifth highest in all of Africa. On top of the array of birds chirping, and the peaceful running water was the lovely presence of mosquito attacks. No worries, none of us got malaria (to our knowledge).
As mentioned earlier, I was hoping to take a dip in this beautiful waterfall, but unfortunately the strength of the water current kept me out. I didn’t come to Africa to get swept away by water. If mother nature was going to kill me, she will be in the form of a Mountain named Kilimanjaro. I allowed my toes and shins to have a quick cool down, but that is about it. As I stood there taking in the scenery around me with a slight mist feathering my face, and the sun glistening off the water, I felt so peaceful. I was completely relaxed and had not a single worry in the world, it was quite nice. After a few photos, and some peaceful moments of silence it was time to go. Join me next time to explore the history of the Maasai and Chagga tribes of the Marangu region. Who were they? Were they friends or enemies? Find out next time, and we’ll also learn how to make fresh Kili coffee over an open flame. Bdai Bdai. Which means later, later in Swahili.