arggghh. ever since Ethiopia, Iâ€™ve been so behind with my blog. I still havenâ€™t been able to catch up. damn. anyways, after the 2nd safari, there were several days when not much happened. here’s a quick summary:
after returning from the safari, we treated ourselves to a more expensive room w/ a TV and everything. we went out to eat at an indian/italian restaurant (weird combination, eh?) across the way which was very good. at night, Joey and I went to the hotel bar and had some drinks, and by the time we got back to our rooms, we were too tired to take advantage of the TV. doh.
we spent the day in moshi, a small town near the base of Kilimanjaro. our main priority was to figure out what we would do about climbing Kilimanjaro. what company would we go with? what route would we take? how would we get our gear? well, in the end, the more research we did, the more we realized that kili would be an impossible undertaking for us. the cheapest route, Marangu, was 700$ and this exhausting strenuous 4 day climb turned out to have an only 10% success rate!! everyone else ended up giving up due to the extreme altitude. the next easiest route, one where we would actually have a good chance to get to the top was over $1000. OUCH! we just couldnâ€™t afford that kind of money. there was the possibility of trying to go w/ some cheap independent operator, but we read a bunch of horror stories about that. apparently, sometimes these guys take you up the mountain, and then just ditch you!! you wake up, crawl out of your tent, and there you are all alone with no guide, gear, or porters!! also, a lot of the cheaper companies give you total crappy gear that doesnâ€™t fit, sleeping bags that are too small, etc etc. climbing Africaâ€™s tallest mountain was a serious undertaking, so we decided we just couldnâ€™t risk this. so we gave up. it really sucks cause we were actually really excited about climbing. I had wanted to climb the mountain for months now. *sigh*. oh well… maybe some other year.
for a funny account of someone’s climb on the mountain, check this out: http://gorp.away.com/gorp/location/humor/lansky_kilimanjaro.htm
Moshi, the town we were in, would almost be a pleasant place, except for the millions of touts. every person in town works for a safari company, a climbing company, or another tourist agency. every step you take in town, you are bugged by people who want to sell you tours. it drives you crazy after a while.
other than being really depressed by our decision regarding Kilimanjaro, we didnâ€™t do much that day. ate at the Indian restaurant, twice I think! and ended the night in the hotel bar, drinking our troubles away. we heard about some club in town which sounded interesting, but were too afraid to go there in case it would be swamped w/ hookers.
since we werenâ€™t climbing Kilimanjaro, we decided to do a quick hike around the area just for fun. we made an arrangement to hire a guide, but he ended up trying to rip us off, so we backed out. in the end, we decided to just do it ourselves. we took a taxi to this hotel that was several kilometers out of town, and then just started walking. it actually turned out to be a pretty fun hike. we had no clue where the hell we were headed, so it was kind of like an adventure. we walked and walked. we passed coffee plantations, and then eventually got to a more jungleish are where we walked through large banana trees. we found a small village and walked through that, waving at children and other people who lived there. eventually, we ended up walking by more coffee bushes, and then out of nowhere we saw this huge compound in the distance.
at first we thought this place was a hotel. we thought we’d go there, have a drink, and then make our way back. as we got closer though, we noticed that this definitely didnâ€™t look like a hotel. instead, it was all surrounded by barbed wire, had lookout towers, and looked more like a prison than anything. we thought about turning back, but we were now curious, so we walked closer. after getting through all the trees, we got to the front of the compound and saw a girl sitting on the porch. she yelled out “karibu” (meaning “welcome” in Swahili). I yelled out “do you speak English” and she answered in Swahili, though I donâ€™t know what she said. she yelled out a few m ore things, and then as Joey and I approached the place closer, she yelled out something that sounded like “please, no!” and grabbed a rifle that had been sitting behind her. oh crap! we decided to not stick around and see what she meant to do w/ the rifle. we turned around quickly and got the hell out of there. we still have no idea what that place was. prison? military camp? al-queda?!
we returned back to town, ate at the Indian place again, and went to sleep.
the next morning, we took a bus to Dar Essalam. it was a 7 hour bus ride, but the roads were paved, so it wasnâ€™t that bad. actually, this bus ride was really cool cause they gave everyone on the bus free sodas. at one point, we stopped for the usual bathroom break where everyone, both men and women, scrambled into the bushes. it’s funny how Iâ€™ve gotten totally used to this and it’s totally the norm for me now. what’s the big deal, right? but then I was thinking, could you imagine if this happened back home? if a greyhound bus just stopped in a field and told people to go to the bathroom behind bushes?! people would be so angry! eventually we had a lunch stop. we asked how long it would be and it turned out to be only 10 minutes!! everyone had to get there chicken and fries in a sack, and then squirted tons of hot sauce on it and ran back on the bus. the whole bus slowly munched their chicken and fries on the bus.
hours later, we got to dar Essalam. we had dinner at a hamburger place called Steers where we had eaten in Kenya. the one in Kenya had been so damn good!! this one sucked though, and I had lots of bone chunks in my burger and the whole thing was just nasty.
didnâ€™t do too much today. had breakfast in a tasty cafe. across the street they sold t-shirts that said “mzungu” on them. we had no clue what that meant, so we asked our waitress and she started giggling and then said she didnâ€™t know. well, it was obvious she knew but wouldnâ€™t tell us. later we found out that it means something like “white man” or “foreigner” or something. it’s not meant to be an offensive term either, I guess that’s just what we are called.
Joey and I spent the rest of the afternoon running errands. we went to the post office. we got a bunch of money from an atm, since we were going to Zanzibar the next day and there would be no atms there. we bought ferry tickets. we exchanged money for dollars (on Zanzibar you have to pay for hotels rooms in dollars, not sure why.). eventually, when joey and i were ready to leave the post office, it started pouring like crazy.we decided to run for it. we ran full speed through the downpour, jumping over puddles and dodging cars that gor in our way. we got lots of funny looks by everyone else who stoff under overhangs keeping dry. we got so totally soaked, but it was all kind of funny. later on we went to a bookstore. big mistake. we left there $100 dollars poorer with 6 new books. we unsuccessfully shopped for shoes. we eventually ate dinner, did more internet, and went to sleep.
in the morning we took the ferry to Zanzibar. 3 hour trip. the ride was hell. probably one of the most rocky ferry rides ever. caryn came really close to vomiting and Joey and I felt awful as well. luckily, we survived the trip since the sea settled down eventually.
there’s this tribe that lives here in east Africa called the Masai. they are very recognizable because they still wear their traditional red checkered robes and loads of silver dangly jewelry. it’s pretty crazy that we can just be sitting on this ferry, and there will be a few Masai tribesmen just chilling on deck talking to each other. we randomly here and there see them in the city as well, walking down the street and whatnot. it’s pretty cool that these guys have preserved their own unique heritage, even when they live amongst the much more modern dressed Tanzanians. later, on Zanzibar, we would even see these guys in bars and clubs. so funny. a huge dancefloor full of tourists and locals, and then you’ll see these dudes in tribal robes totally rocking out to American pop songs.
… so that’s it for those several days. yeah, yeah, I know this is kind of a boring entry, but not that much happened on those days, so what can ya do?