Twenty days in Tanzania – Day 1

Time to lace up your boots and take a walk in my shoes as they stomp through Tanzania, Africa.

Day 1 July 4th, 2018.

Today is my first day in Africa.  I cannot believe I made it here, it almost feels surreal. I am not enjoying a cold Busch beer on a boat while fireworks erupt in the background as most Americans are on this holiday, no big deal!

What the hell am I doing, I am in the plane and am even with the mountain above the clouds!

Africa is my third continent and I want to put my toes on all of them! I am still yet to see Mount Kilimanjaro from the ground. This may be for the better, considering it is the biggest mountain in Africa, and in two days, I will attempt to reach the summit via the Lemosho route.  No sense in psyching myself out even more. After catching a glimpse of her from the sky on our descent into Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO), I quickly said to myself, “what the hell am I doing, I am in the plane and am even with the mountain above the clouds!!”

Those feelings quickly faded as our ascent up the mountain began, and I will touch on them later.  For now, I am in Moshi for two days and it is time to explore. I strap on my boots, stuff my pocket with some schillings, and head out the door in search of just about anything and anyone that crosses my path.

To give a short bit of history, Tanzania was not always known as Tanzania. Up until 1961, it was under the name Tanganyika, and was under British rule.  After British rule was overthrown on the mainland in 1961, the Zanzibar revolution followed in 1964. This was a vicious and bloody revolution between the Africans and Arabs which was won heavily due to the element of surprise.  Zanzibar has a very diverse culture given its location and all of the surrounding islands, but the government was primarily Arab at the time and was a major player in slavery which was abolished in 1897. Following the Zanzibar revolution was the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar to form Tanzania.  I will touch more on this later when I recover in Zanzibar, but for now I will continue taking you through the journey of Kilimanjaro region and its wonderful countryside.

I’m gonna climb to the top of that big hill ya’ll have here, what’s it called again?  Oh yea, Kilimanjaro.

Back to discovering Moshi.  I am out the door in search of new tastes, smells, and friends.  The streets of Moshi are extremely busy. Motorbikes whistle by as I pass multiple food stands and vegetable markets. My goal is to empty the shillings from my pocket, and to fill my belly with local food and brew  My mission was eventually complete. Me being the social butterfly I am, I stopped and chatted with many groups of people along the way Everyone wanted to know where I was from, and what brought me to their hometown.  My response was “I’m gonna climb to the top of that big hill ya’ll have here, what’s it called again?  Oh yea, Kilimanjaro.”  That response usually drew some laughs.  To my surprise, not everyone in this region is attracted to reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro, some are even afraid of it.  “Why would go that high?”. Regardless of opinion of the mountain, everyone here is so incredibly welcoming and nice, I immediately felt at home. Little did I know, but this was only the beginning of that feeling.  I continued wandering the streets which are also filled with multiple art stands. I imagine these mostly attract the tourists, but as of now, I have not seen many other than myself. I eventually stopped at one of these art stands, and picked up a few banana leaf paintings which illustrated a tribe native to the region, the Chaga tribe.  I had no idea when I bought the paintings, but the following day I would visit their village and learn so much about their tribe and its’ history with a neighboring tribe, the Maasai. For now I’ll stick to describing day 1 of my trip.

There is no way this is a bad idea.

Just off the road beyond the various art and veggie stands lies large healthy farms full of produce and flowers.  Being a mountainous region, the soil is rich, and the people take full advantage of it. Just by looking at the use of the land, you can see the region is very self sustainable and sources its fruits and vegetables locally through hard work.  Seeing all this food, I halted my wandering pace and stopped at the closest stand to eat whatever they were selling. I saw small deep fried pockets of greatness and thought, “there is no way this is a bad idea.” I ordered two of the greatness pockets which were stuffed with meat, lentil, sweet potatoes, and given the name sambusa.  The cost was equivalent to a quarter each. Yep, you guessed it; I ate those two and ordered two more like any former fat kid would. My first food experience may not have been a delicacy of Moshi, but it sure was delicious and made me extremely thirsty.

If you can’t hike it, drink it”

My thirst for a cold brew guided me to “Simba Pub.”  In Swahili, Simba means Lion. I will be giving swahili lessons in this journey, so prepare yourself to pick up some fun phrases.  There are a variety of beers to choose from in Tanzania, Kilimanjaro Premium Lager being one of them. I naturally ordered a Kilimanjaro Premium Lager.  My thinking was, “I am about to hike this mountain, I have to drink this beer!” I quickly found out what I was doing was completely backwards The saying is, if you can’t hike it, drink it.  Seems I got off on the wrong foot, but hey, I still drank it, and some may ask why. The only logical answer is “because I like to party.” I guzzled down a few more Kili beers while chatting with the owner before heading home to retire from a long first day of travelling.  The body is beat, the mind is tired, and I am ready to crash. Next I will explore the Marangu region where I learn the history of the Maasai and chaga tribes. I will also have the opportunity to make fresh coffee with beans pulled directly from the tree to be roasted on the fire.

Hope you enjoyed my first day in Africa. See you soon!

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