August 2011

Today was the day that I would finally see the last of the Big 5 in Africa, or so I hoped. Ian, our guide to beat all guides spoke a little about the Rhinos in the area while we were driving to the area in which they lived. I sat in the middle of the first row of the truck with Sarah on one side and James on the other. The roads were quite bumpy and most of the time I was more concerned with staying in my seat and not falling on Sarah or James, instead of looking at the cool rocks and other things that Ian pointed out while he drove.

  Throughout our trip in Africa, I have (as well as the rest of the group I’m with) encountered scores of friendly people, especially children. I’ve loved sitting on the truck, driving through a town or past a village and having children wave, shout, smile or run alongside us. This is by far one of the best parts of Africa.

I sit in my foldable green canvas camp chair and lean back gently and look up. I’ve done this almost every night, but tonight is the first night (since the Serengeti) that the sky is full of stars. I was dazzled by them as I slowly turned my head from one side to the other. The stars were bright against the dark sky and in the distance, I could hear a light wind whistling through the trees. Each night in Zimbabwe is the same, a sparkling starry sky.

Dock along the Zanzibar Channel in Dar es Salaam After being robbed at the night market in Zanzibar, I was in a fairly quiet mood when we left Stone Town the following morning and headed to the Sunset Bungalows on a beach about an hour away. The drive was nice enough, but my mind was still on the events from the night before. As the van, we were in pulled into the driveway at Sunset Bungalows my eyes felt heavy. I stepped off the van, walked into reception and waited for my room assignment. Zanzibar is one of the few places on my Intrepid trip from Kenya to Cape Town where I’ll be sleeping in an actual tent, rather than in a tent. Happy days!

You can celebrate the full moon anywhere in the world. Many travelers celebrate it in South East Asia, I celebrated in Malawi.

Before we left Tanzania, George let us know that our second night in Malawi would be a ‘fancy dress’ night. The idea was that the truck would stop at a market in Malawi and everyone would buy ‘fancy’ (or just real old & odd) clothing. Our budget was 700 Malawi Kwacha (5 USD). At the time I thought we were just going to have a wee party. I had no idea that our fancy dress night would take place during the full moon.

I had an hour to kill before I was to meet Bernie, Em & Christina and head out to meet the rest of the group at Africa House for drinks before dinner. Initially I was going to sit on one of the carved wood sofas and play catch-up in my journal, however, one look outside at the children playing was enough to change my mind. For the first time during this trip, I was going to have decent hair, well, until I sat on the steps in front of our hotel. Within minutes of sitting down, 4 little girls came over and started to touch and play with my hair. Their dresses were dirty and a little torn and the girls ranged in age from about 4 years old to 7 years old.

Although it was dark, the air was still warm and smelled of the salty sea which was just 500 feet away. I sat down on a low cement wall and started to eat the vegetarian samosa I had purchased from the night market. *Unfortunately there are no photos of Zanzibar as they are on my camera...* I’m in Zanzibar for the next three nights and spending my first night in Stone Town. During the day the square is fairly empty (except around lunch when it’s seriously hot outside and everyone is laying around trying to find a shady spot). Once the sun sets, the square transforms into a night food market. Tables and BBQs are set up and locals (as well as tourists) are given a choice of different kinds of fish, bread, chicken or beef kebabs, pizza or sugar cane juice.

We packed up camp rather early this morning as we were making the long drive from Marangu at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro to Dar es Salaam which is on the Tanzanian coast. Sarah and I are tent-mates and went to work quickly. It was dark outside and only one of us was using her headlamp (not me). I cringed as I tried to pry the metal S-hooks off the tent poles and then struggled to flatten our tent. I wanted to get onto the truck early so I could reclaim my seat from Eloise (the now made up name for the woman who locked me in the bathroom), as she had snaked it from me yesterday, but I wasn’t fast enough. Right then, 10 hours on an old blue Coleman cooler it is.

Our drive from Mto Wu Mbo to Marangu was only about 3-4 hrs long, which was fabulous. I swear the best part of the drive was stopping in Arusha for snacks and such before pushing on towards Marangu. Our camp for the night was at the back of a hotel in Marangu which is a village at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Shortly after our truck rocked up (literally) to our designated campsite everyone got to work on setting up their tents for the night. Once that was done, I grabbed my roll of toilet paper and headed for the bathroom.