City Life in Arusha
Most tourists arrive in Tanzania eager to see the wildlife that inhabits the woodlands of Tarangire and the "endless plains" of the Serengeti. We were no exception, but today we enjoyed experiencing another side of life in Africa - the life of the people in the city of Arusha,
Arusha lies at the foot of Mount Meru in the northeastern part of Tanzania. It is "central headquarters" for tour groups due to its proximity to Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks, Oldupai Gorge and Ngorongoro Crater.
We started our day with breakfast at the lovely Moivaro Arusha Lodge where we greeted the two new members of our tour group and met with Cosmas, our guide for the rest of our tour.
|Breakfast buffet at Moivaro Lodge|
|Breakfast on the ouside patio|
|The gardens of Moivaro Lodge|
|Our cozy bungalow. But what is that line across the path?|
|Busy jungle ants were harvesting food and returning by the thousands into their nest.|
|The ants built a barrier with a tangle of bodies to create a safe corridor for the food-carrying workers.|
Happily, our group members were all in better spirits after our difficult trip from the Masai Mara the night before. We met our other two driver guides, Ansi and Richie, divided into three groups, boarded our three Land Cruisers, and set out to explore Arusha.
We drove for several miles along a wide, pot-holed, dirt road with very little traffic control. Alongside of this road were miles of road construction, mostly done by manual labor. The city is building a brand new highway which our guide called "The Chinese Road," as China provided the plans, equipment, and engineers. I could not help but think that America is missing out on an opportunity as China moves aggressively into Africa forming alliances and gaining access to resources. I'm sure the highway will prove a great asset in the future, but during our visit, it was a mess, and it was a relief to finally reach a paved road again.
|"The Chinese Road" under construction|
|A lot of the work was done by hand...|
|...including breaking and tossing huge rocks.|
|Shops along the highway|
|People were visible everywhere - in contrast to highways at home where the sight of a person is rare.|
|Neighbors visit outside of shops|
|A busy marketplace|
|Resident of Arusha|
|Carrying goods to market|
|View from our car|
A number of people were dressed in their finery, and Cosmas explained that, although most of the population is Christian, there are also many Muslims who were today they celebrating the last day of Ramadan. I loved the women's clothing. Whether Christian or Muslim,
|Muslim woman by cinderblocks|
|Muslims were celebrating the end of Ramadan|
|Muslim man on the highway|
As we got into downtown Arusha, the buildings became more modern and familiar. We learned that the buildings painted pink are government offices. Our first stop was at a local grocery store where we browsed for a few minutes. The store was more a department store, with appliances and clothing as well as food.
|Safe Water Ceramics of East Africa factory|
|The ingredients of Safe Water Filters: clay, sawdust, and colloidal silver|
|Forming the filter over a mold|
|A filter ready to be fired in the kiln|
|From dirty water to safe drinkable water!|
After describing the process, she introduced us to her father, Mesiaki Kimerei, a master potter who learned this process and began manufacturing the filters for rural areas of Tanzania. (You can read the history of his journey at the link above.) What a wonderful operation!
|Elias and his daughter share their story|
|Elias continues to work as a potter in addition to making the water filters|
|The shop where we bought filters to donate|
Several of us purchased filters which will be donated to needy communities and schools, and Rob and I plan to continue to support them in their mission. If you would like to join us, the contact information is here:
|These adorable kids were playing outside of the factory.|
We stopped for a yummy buffet lunch at the Mount Meru Game Lodge, which delighted us with the sight of their resident animals, and the visiting monkeys, including a rare black and white colobus monkey high in the trees above.
|Animals in the gardens of the Mount Meru Game Lodge|
|Black and white colobus monkey|
|Lani tames an exotic African cat!|
The lunch stop also introduced us to another service organization, Shanga, which provides training and support to the disabled. The workers use recycled materials to create beautiful jewelry and other items that are sold in the gift store. As we ate, our hostess and one of the workers, a cheerful deaf man, taught us some sign language, then we toured the facility to see how he makes glass beads from recycled bottles, while others turn the beads into jewelry, and make necklaces or weave scarves out of recycled fabric. It was heartwarming to know that our souvenir purchases were supporting such a worthwhile organization!
|Learning sign language in Swahili!|
|The Shanga Gift Shop|
|Making necklaces from recycled fabric|
|Making beaded jewelry|
|Making glass beads from recycled bottles|
|The dusty road back to the lodge.|
Stay tuned for the next installment!!!