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Pamela MacNaughtan

This morning was probably one of the best ones so far on this trip. Sure, I’ve gone on a safari and seen some amazing things, but today was definitely a fabulous day.

I was feeling quite pampered this morning being able to sleep in until almost 7 a.m. (trust me, that is a big deal on this trip). Things began with a brief explanation about our morning and the type of things we would be seeing on our cultural tour of Mto Wu Mbo. Our first stop was the rice fields in town.

I’m not sure why, but I’m always fascinated by rice fields. I love the square pools of water with bright green shoots. I love watching the people work with a hoe or sickle and marvel at their dedication (I know I couldn’t do it). At first everything was cool. The, walls of the rice fields were wide, but soft and I felt a wee bit nervous as my ankle is still bothering me and I had visions of myself falling into a field.As we walked over the first wall I was slow, but good. When we arrived at the second wall I looked at the small log connecting them and the skinny wall and didn’t want to go forward. The rest of the group was quite a ways ahead of me, but the thought of skinny logs and skinny, soft walls made of algae, dirt and grass made me nervous. Yes, it’s a silly fear, but it was a fear none-the-less. I felt like a ninny as I held onto the hands of one of the guides (another guide standing behind me) and slowly walking over the wall. I didn’t trust myself to get across and I was mortified that everyone was ahead of me and most likely watching.

Once the rice fields were behind me I was fine. Embarrassed, but fine.

Our next stop was a small community of people from Mozambique who carve various statues, combs, bowls, spoons and more. Our guides explained what they do and how important it is. They also encouraged us to buy straight from them rather than at the markets. At first I was keen to do so, but, their prices seemed to be a lot higher than most places in town and I opted out.

After some time in the community, we left and walked through fields of vegetables and banana trees into another small community.

“Jambo!”

As we walked into an area with cement houses we heard the voices of many small children as they ran towards us. This was our first encounter with African children on this trip and it was absolutely fabulous. The kids were small and dirty, but so happy. Each of them wanted to give us high fives or hold our hands and it was hard for us to walk away. I wish I could have spent my entire morning there, but we were on a guided tour/walk and we had other places that we needed to be.

Our next stop was a local primary school. The kids were extremely animated as we walked into their classroom. Some of the children grabbed my hands and made room for me on their bench. They all wanted to touch my skin or give me high fives. I couldn’t help but fall head over heels in love with them all, they were all so adorable. Once again, our time was too short and we were escorted to a local artist shop where we were told we could purchase paintings done by the artists for cheaper than on the street. Similar to the carvings, we quickly discovered that many of us had been given a better deal on the street, however by buying at the shop, our money would go directly to the artists themselves.

Our tour then took us to a local pub, which was a low hut made of mud walls and a thatched banana leaf roof. This is where we were introduced to a local beer and wine made from bananas. Unlike beer tasting at home, this pub offered a single  quart size green plastic jug full of banana beer for everyone to sip from. As each of us were handed the jug we had to blow back the layer of yeast on the top so we could get to the beer. It was definitely a unique experience.

Our morning was completed with a lunch of local dishes, followed by a walk through a market. It doesn’t seem to matter how many markets I visit, I always love it (even though most of them as basically the same). Although parts of the village walk seemed like a sales pitch (the shop stopovers), I still really enjoyed it. The rice fields had me mesmerized and scared, the children definitely lifted my spirits and the food was quite tasty.

Traveling in Africa, solo can be a scary thought -especially for solo female travellers. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it can. What I am saying is that there is nothing wrong with joining a group tour.

For 45 days I travelled from Kenya (Nairobi) to Cape Town with Intrepid Travel. This was my very first group travel experience. At first, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, but as time progressed, I began to relax and fall in love with this type of travel. In fact, I would definitely travel with Intrepid again. 

Comments:

  • August 14, 2011

    I’m really fascinated by rice fields as well.  I’m loooving your African adventures!

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