Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
Trip End Aug 27, 2010

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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ilboru is a very quaint lodge with lots of cute little two-room bungalows set in lovely gardens, a large pool, good restaurant and very friendly staff. Right on time, Joseph arrived at 9am to drive us to a local village high up at the base of Mount Meru to experience traditional life and culture. Joseph seemed happy to see us again (as if the issue over the tip had never happened) and introduced us to Abbi who would be our guide for the day.

Abbi led us through some very lush and healthy agricultural areas in his village to the local primary school for children from Ilkadinga village and many other surrounding villages. Mary the headmistress welcomed us to her school and seemed happy to give us a tour. The school has three fairly small buildings, ten teachers and… get this … approximately 1500 students – you do the math on teacher:student ratios! Admittedly, there are two sessions per day so only half of the children are at school at any one time, but the numbers are still staggering. Word soon spread that we were there and it seemed like every single student came out to see us and wanted to touch and welcome us! Lauren and Alex were literally mobbed with children of all ages wanting to shake hands, touch their arms, hair etc. The children were so pleased to see us and proud to show us their English skills, asking questions and singing songs for us – we were made to feel like rock stars and our children were a little overwhelmed by all of the attention.

With lots of smiling faces and waving hands, we left the school and Abbi led us through the fields being tended by the villagers, showing us some of the many crops that they grow and their irrigation systems. The land is surprizingly fertile and they are able to grow a huge array of produce; cabbage, potatoes, beans, maize, sunflowers, etc. Their water comes straight from Mount Meru and what we saw trickling through their irrigation systems looked like beautiful, crystal clear water. Interestingly, although they have quite intricate irrigation systems for their crops, their homes have no water and we passed several standpipes where women were collecting water by the bucket.

Despite a rather overcast beginning, the weather was beautiful and in the warm sunshine we hiked up the mountain to where the village meets the forest. The forest is government owned and controlled and so the village cannot expand any further or use the land for crops, although they use some of the plants growing in the forest for medicinal purposes. On our way to the forest, we passed the nursery school and seeing many curious faces we stopped to see the children, but despite the curiosity there seemed to be a large element of fear and when we entered there playground the children all ran away! They soon returned and like the elder children were keen to touch us and one or two were bold enough to talk to us. After being given the green light by Abbi to take pictures, we pulled out the camera which sent them all scurrying back into the classroom…..we were certainly beginning to feel that we had found a corner of Africa not desensitized by tourist traffic. Slowly the children returned and after a few photos we waved goodbye and continued our hike. Away from the schools there will still plenty of children and no matter where we went in the village there were always one or two little people tagging along behind us, usually following Lauren or holding her hand.

It was a much easier stroll back down the mountain and we soon arrived at the traditional healers house where he showed us the various remedies he makes and explained their uses. The powders all looked a remarkably similar beige colour to us and despite having exported a little tummy trouble from India Derek declined to enquire about a natural remedy from the healer and decided that he was feeling better all of a sudden!

Our final stop in the village was back at the house we had arrived at where we were served a traditional meal consisting of rice, maize and beans, potato soup and a spinach-like vegetable all washed down with tea made from one of the plants we had seen earlier in the day. The food was delicious and Lauren particularly enjoyed it (likely due to the lack of spices!) Our cultural experience with Ilkadinga was a very positive one and we'd highly recommend anyone going to Arusha make time to pay a visit there.

Tomorrow we’ll be flying from Arusha to Zanzibar; we have no plans as to what we’ll do once we get there, but we’re looking forward to spending a little time on the alluring spice island….
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Shirley on

Very cool. I'm watching the world cup kick-off celebration on TV. God I'm a sap. I keep almost crying.

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