Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Cold North

Since I'm borrowing the office computer at the hotel we're at in Moshi - at the base of Kilamanjaro - I will make this short and sweet.
Physically speaking, it's not that chilly up here, but people here are a lot more ... businesslike than they seem to be down South and in Zanzibar.
Our Northern adventure began by getting off the plane (the largest we've seen in a while - could take like 16 passengers) in the rinky dink local airport in Arusha (consisting of the runway and a coffee shop, all outside) to find nobody to meet us.
After some panicking that I won't go into, we finally ended up with our safari guide - who was late - and got to the national park by nightfall, after seeing a lot of elephants and a lion in the distance on the way to the camp/lodge.
the 'camp' was pretty much a swank hotel lobby with a grass roof, complete with bar and dining area - and tents equipped with shower and toilet like the one we stayed in before... but really posh.
The food was good and the place was full of tourists - even americans, who we managed to go about 2 weeks without seeing. we ate more there than we did in the rest of our trip combined. Our driver - the guy who was late, Godwin - was very informative, but a bit icy.
These are people much more accustomed to dealing with tourists than others we've come across so far. Of course they're jaded.
The park was beautiful - the lodge looked over a vast valley, part of the Great Rift Valley, in fact - and we pretty much had a patio safari right there from our tent, where we could look down upon hundreds of elephants, zebras and wildebeasts drinking from what was left of the river below.
Today we moved parks to Lake Manyara, which was more a jungle than the dry savannah. it is fed from springs that come directly down from the west wall of the Rift Valley.
The highlight was seeing a lioness lounging in a tree - pretty cool.
Our Land Cruiser broke down right before we got back into Arusha, which convinced me that Arusha just doesn't like us.
After some mechanics met us at the gas station we clanked into, we were back on the road before dark.
Have no idea what Moshi looks like, as it was pitch black when we arrived, although we could see the top of Kili right before the light disappeared.
The owner of the tour company connected to our safari met us at our hotel for some reason -to give us back some money we wasted on a cab into town awhen our driver was late. he brought his wife and everyone but me drank tea (I had a Kilimanjaro beer. It just seemed like the right thing to do). None of us were much into small talk.
It was like sitting among statues. Awkward as fuck.
One of the nearby mosques has been blaring prayer calls for the entire evening and is still going.
I respect organized religion, and i know it's Ramadaan and whatever, but a loudspeaker? Really.
Tomorrow's plans are up in the air, but we are toying with the idea of doing a hike around the base of Kili. Maybe visit a coffee farm.
Hope everyone is well.

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