Thursday, December 08, 2005

Carrying on...

We had part of Monday (Oct. 3) in Moshi Town, and this is actually where I managed to do some great shopping. Urio, one of our guides offered to show us around Moshi and lead us to the best fabric shop I have been in all of Tanzania. In this store I found beautiful batiks, sarongs, pareos and sundry items, such as t-shirts and other knick knacks. But the fabric... well, suffice it to say that we all left with at least three yards. I also found some jewelry in Tanzanian colours, at a co-op store/restaurant. We were not bothered too much by touts or flycatchers, I am not sure if that was because Urio was with us, or that they aren't as aggressive and plentiful as I was to discover later on in Arusha.

We managed to get back to the hotel to catch our transfer to Arusha and the Meru House Inn. After a sad good bye with Urio, we piled into the large van and headed out of town. But not for long, the engine overheated and we had to turn around and get a new van and it was almost out of petrol. So in we pile again and before heading on the highway to Arusha, we stop at the slowest gas station in the universe. It took over twenty minutes for our driver to get 20L of gas into the tank. I decided I should get used to "Africa Time", which means whenever...

It was starting to get late when we finally pulled into the outskirts of Arusha. What struck me first was the dry sparse landscape, interspersed with lush greenness. The Jacaranda trees were beautiful, strewn with purple flowers, draped gracefully over the boulevards and streams.
The outskirts of Arusha, a purple Jacaranda tree and Mt. Meru behind:
Outskirts of Arusha
Little did I suspect that the noise and pollution in downtown Arusha were going to be so overwhelming, or the hotel that we had arranged to stay at was nothing at all like the pictures advertised on its website. But it was only for one night, as the next day four of us were off for a week on a pampered lodge safari!

My first night in Arusha was a bit overwhelming. After the quiet and organized calm of the Keys Hotel in Moshi, with the view of Kili from the second floor balcony, to a very noisy hotel with a cement floor in the bedroom and a shower that was almost directly over the toilet,I was a bit disconcerted. However, the food was very good at the hotel even though the "courtyard" looked down on the parking. I had another hot shower before bed (I will never tire of them) and packed up (I was only taking one bag and a daypack) as we were getting picked up very early to start our safari. The bed was comfortable and I ignored the holes in the mosquito netting and wore
repellent to bed, certain that the next seven days would be nothing like this night.

I drifted off to sleep, listening to what sounded like thousands of car horns (through my earplugs) and wondered what would be the first animal we would see on safari?

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