Saturday September 8th:I believe Ryan left off with us getting into the shuttle to head from Nairobi (Kenya) to Arusha (Tanzania). The trip took about 6 hours – the 20 person passenger van was full. It was interesting to watch the scenery change from city to towns to savanah. We still haven’t figured out some of the traffic laws, however many communities along the highway between Nairobi and Arusha control speeding by putting in crazy speed bumps for which the van needs to slow to almost a stop to manage. It was a bummer if you needed to pee..bump bump bump bump bump.
After making the border crossings, which are a crazy flurry of women offering you handmade bracelets as a “gift” (i.e., pay me for this), people speaking every language you can imagine and trying to figure out the system of departing Kenya and entering Tanzania, we arrived in Arusha. We were able to borrow a fellow traveller’s phone to call Beans and let her know we had made the border and would arrive in a couple more hours. When we got into Arusha, Beans was there with groceries on tow. First we worked to find a bank to get some local cash, having discovered in Nairobi that USD is not all it’s cracked up to be. Sadly we went to 2 banks and were denied cash at both. Beans haggled a price for a cab and brought us to Boots’ house. We had a nice dinner with the girls, meeting Boots’ roomate, Boots’ boyfriend Pierre, and Beans’ husband Phamy. We were able to call the bank only to discover there is nothing wrong with our cards and the issue seems to be the ATM’s. Not sure how to navigate that yet. After a long few days of travel, it was nice to have a home cooked meal and crash for the night.
Sunday September 9th:Despite the fact that church wouldn’t start until 10:30am, both Ryan and I were up before dawn with the sound of roosters. Don’t the roosters know they’re not supposed to crow until sunrise??? We had a restless sleep from then on, but tried to catch as much as we could. At one point, Ryan got up and went for a walk around the neighbourhood, coming back to nap a bit more before it was time to get moving. We got up at 9 and got ready for a day out. We went to the Lutheran church in Arusha where Beans and Phamy were married – it was a neat mix of locals, ex-pats, short and long term volunteers, and travellers stopping in. We enjoyed the time after the service with coffee and tea and visiting. The people were very welcoming and many came to introduce themselves. Beans, Boots and Pierre then took us to a local place for lunch.
Ryan tried Ugali which is essentially a corn meal based version of cream of wheat that comes in a “cake” form with some veggies and beans on the side – it is eaten with your hands, as you grab a clump of the sticky stuff, mush it into a ball with your hand and dip it into the veggies and beans to give it some flavour. He was not a fan. I tried Pilau which is rice with meat in it and spices. It tasted really good, Ryan says it tastes like Chai tea, however I did become a bit concerned when I chomped on some bone and began wondering exactly what kind of meat is this? After lunch Pierre and Phamy ditched us and we went for a walk to find another bank to try. On the way we crossed through a good portion of the main market.
We were the only mzungu’s there (white people). It is a bit overwhelming, the sights and sounds…but mainly the smells…mostly rotting fruits and veggies. We stopped at a few shops, spent some time looking at fabric – they have the most amazing colours and prints – I think I will be coming back with some to make some things later. We finally made it to the bank – I forgot to mention that all the while Boots is walking with crutches due to breaking her foot and dislocating her knee, so it was slow going, but a great way to see the area rather than just rush straight through. We finally found a bank that wanted to give us money and we were ecstatic. So much so that I am pretty sure I left my camera sitting on the ATM. Crap. Didn’t notice until we got home though.
On our way home we stopped at an ice cream shop for something cool and then were entertained by Beans haggling for yet another cab. Both girls have really good Swahili and have been trying to teach us a thing or two. We made it home to discover the camera missing, Ryan went with Phamy to go see if he could find it or if the bank security guard had picked it up. Sadly this was unsuccessful, however the guard did let him know that the ATM is under video surveillance so we hope to go back in the morning to see if we can find out what happened. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying some dinner, playing bao.