Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania

Trip Start Jun 05, 2012
Trip End Jul 10, 2012

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Where I stayed
Twiga Campgrounds
What I did
Border Crossing

Flag of Tanzania  , Arusha,
Monday, June 11, 2012

    We got up at 5:25 to turn on the water heater for the shower.  They said to wait 20 minutes.  Got in teh shower and there wasn't really anything warm about it.  Went down to breakfast but it wasn't ready yet so we checked email and facebook.  We went to breakfast and there were lots of choices but we were both very careful about our selections.  We had pancakes (more like crepes), muffins, fruit, and cereal with cold milk.  There was good fruit juice too.  There was fruit that I had never tried.  It was a VERY tart passion fruit.  Victor said that the tartness is based on the level of ripeness.  We went up to the room and got the bags.  Miles had been sick with a fever in the night.  I even dreamed that he was too sick to start the trip.  We both had upset stomaches too.  We used the restroom then took our bags out to the truck.  It is a really, really big truck for 7 total people.  We put stuff into lockers, then went to the bathroom again, geez!  We loaded up. were introduced to our driver Alex and Kioko our cook. Then we met Godfrey the cook in training.  We had to deal with some city traffic but nothing really compared to Thursday and Friday.  We missed a turnoff by Athi River but not by too much.  Athi River is an industrial town with cement factories on both sides of the main road.  Over the next several years this town is expected to do very well economically.  We tried to sleep or rest for awhile, then Victor yelled 90 kilometeres to the Namanda border.  We got more our into the open and there were thompson Gazelle, and lots of Masaai people herding cattle, goats and other animals.  Then we saw 2 ostriches, with Ernest and Marlene saying this was only the second time they had seen ostriches in Africa.  There were also lots of donkeys.  Then they couldn't get the windows to go back up.  Around 30 km from the border there was a bush stop, because I had to go to the bathroom.  Everyone got our though and some did ues the bathroom.  
     We reached the border crossing slightly after 10:00 in the morning.  No photos can be taken at border crossings.  Even thought I have taken photos of other places that said not to apparently this is very serious here. Along the drive today there have been millions of white morning glory flowers.  The white/purple flowers look exactly like ours but the leaves are different. 
     The border crossing was quite an experience.  We started on the Kenyan side, filled out exit papers, got fingerprinted, got an exit stamp in the passport, then exchanged Kenyan shillings for Tanzanian shillings.  For 600 Kenyan shillings (about $7.50) we got 10,950 Tanzanian shillings.  the coins have animals and the back and so does the paper money.  At this point we have only seen the 500 and the 10,000 but I am sure over the next several days we will see many other denominations.  Next, we had to walk through a gate, and that marked that we were in Tanzania.  We went in the buiding on that side, got our visa stamped, Miles got re-fingerprinted, then we had to fill out a passenger manifest.  Then we went to the exchange center with US money.  We exchanged $200 and got 310,000 Tanzanian shillings.  Then we had to wait forever for our truck to get cleared.  None of us understood why it took so long, but finally after about 1 hour were were on the move again.  We came to a 2000 meter mountain called Longeto Hill where there is a community based tourism things that you can sign up to do.  If we ever came back we could arrange a hike through the tour company to climb to the top.  All the little kids  wave like crazy when our truck goes by.  It was time for lunch so we pulled to the side of the road, got out the chairs, then took a break while lunch was prepared.  We had a choice of peanut butter, or lunch meat with tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, peppers, and onion. There was also watermelon, but I just had a peanut butter sandwich.  The drink was pineapple orange flavored and it was concentrated. Suddenly four Maasai women popped out of the woods.  Victor invided them to lunch and they sat with us for a little bit and had a drink.  They were in full ceremonial gear with headpieces, neckpieces, and silver metal jewelry.  They had gourds full of soured milk that they carried on their back.  There were flies everywhere, but the women did not shoo the flies because if you do it means you are saying you are rich.  The reasoning is that flies are around livestock, livestock means you are doing well and you want to keep doing well.  They did not want their picture taken, but when they left and were very far away, I zoomed in and got one shot to remember the experience. After lunch we had to wash our dishes and then flap them dry by swinging them back and forth. 
    After lunch we continued south to Arusha. We came to a police check and everyone was ok except for one of the cooks.  They weren't even going to let us through but finally the very cranky lady called the border and after about 15 minutes we were released.  When we got to Arusha we had about an hour and a half in the market, grocery store, and to walking around. I got a Tanzania soccer jersey which I am very excited about.  It was 20,000 shillings which is about $14. In the grocery, we got some candy bars, drinks, and cookies.  Then we continued west towards Mto wa Mbu.  About half way between Arusha and Mto wa Mbu we saw a very large Maasai market.  The sun also peeked through for only the second time of the day.  We saw many traditional huts.  We stopped at a weigh station then turned off.  If we would have continued straight it would have taken us to Tangarine National Park where it is not uncommon to see 900 elephants in one day.  We started looking for giraffes.  Miles was really good at spotting them so we spotted 9 Maasai giraffes.  We also saw a couple groups of zebras.  We arrived in Twiga Camp and were taught how to set up these tents which are really not that different than ours, just made of very heavy canvas.  After setting up the tents we had an hour to look around.  We left the gates of the camp and were harassed by lots of vendors.  We walked all the way down to a place called Red Banana Plantation and almost bouth something but didn't.  A few kids asked us for chewing gum.  Then a guy said 10,000 shillings for 5 necklaces. I immediately said ok, but then when we got out the money, I think that he had misspoke.  There were canvas art pieces for 35,000 shillings which was a good deal.  Everyone wanted to get a piece of us, and didn't understand why were weren't buying everything under the sky.  There were really good offers on Maasai people made of wood, bracelets, and blankets that the Maasai wear. We made some people mad,  but we got back in one piece.  Dinner wasn't ready when they said but I am not surprised.  We worked on getting our day packs ready.  We had soup first.  It was ok, but not amazing.  Then we had spaghetti with meat sauce and vegetables.  Then time for dishes. We set up an assembly line, then flapped, put away the chairs, dishes, then showered.  We tried to use the internet but it wasn't working right.  Early to bed, early to rise!!!

$1 = 1550 TSH
Food- 12450 TSH
Souveniers- 30000 TSH

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Mom on

Wow! Sounds like quite an experience! Not hard to feel "rich" there, huh? I like the pic of the Maasai woman! Neat that they were taking a goat and a sheep as a wedding present. (no keeping that gift a surpise! Baaaa!) Sorry you got mobbed again, I'm sure it's the nature of the marketplace when foreigners are present. Looks like you were pretty up close and personal with the babboons! Awesome! Love the blog and photos! On to read the next one! :) Love you!

dad on

sounds like you are having a great time. thanks for the geat pics.

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