Trekking in the heart of the Usambara Mtns!

I left Dar and was surprised to find the man I bought my bus ticket from waiting for me! I told him I wanted to take the dala dala, not a taxi and he said  no problem. well, ok. I guess he’s just being helpful. He took me to the bus station, got me onto the bus, driver wrote me a newticketand off he went. I gave him a smalltip as he didn’t seem to expect anything.Then after a while, I got to thinking. This man didn’t help me out of the kindness of his heart- we’re in an industrial city, I’m a muzungo (white person), afterall. I begun speaking to a Tanzanian man and he told me he paid 10,000 tsh. I paid 18,500tsh (about $17). He got upset that I was overcharged, told the woman assisting on board and they tried to get things straightened out. Turns out, they couldn’t do anything because I bought it from someone seperate from the company. The man trying to help was saddened because he doesn’t want tourist to have a bad impression of his country. It felt so nice. There will always be people out to get you but there are just as  many kind people wanting to help out. He ended up buying me a snack at one of our pitstops. How nice!

The bus ride was great, safe and even had complimentary cookies, candy and coke! More than I’d expect!

The scenery to Lusoto was beautiful. Lush vegetation, banana trees everywhere. Lusoto is a peaceful little town in the heart of the western Usambara Mtns. I checked out the cultural touristoffice and considered hikes. I didn’t really think in advanced what I’d want to do but next thingI know I was committing to a 3 day trek to Mtae- with panorama vistas.

The trek was 47 kms ( I think about 30 miles)- a lot of walking and climbing.I can walk forever but climbing isn’t my favorite thing. Had I known what I was getting into I would have never agreed. But thank goodness, I had no idea as I would have missed so much.

My guide, Kiki and I, passed through the Magamba rainforest, several villages, farms on the steep hillsides and plenty of children along the way who were extremely excited to see me. “Muzungo,muzungo,” they chanted. I’d reach out my hand so they could give me five. “nipe tano” (give me five). The children warmed my heart. I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt like a celebrity and yet it felt so strange that it provided such excitement for them. The villages I was passing through don’t see many Muzungos so it was quite a treat! Woman looked at me warmly and often inquired to Kiki where we were headed. They walk for miles everyday for daily chores so it was quite surprising that I would choose to walk for pleasure. Though, I wouldn’t call it pleasure. heheh. Women and children carried firewood, sugarcane, buckets ofwater, tools for farming, or baskets with foodon their head. I’m amazed. They’re so powerful and strong in my mind but this is their life.

I feel so priviledged to have the opportunity to have a glimpse into their lives. I reminded myself often that I was in a small village(s) in the Western Usambara Mtns in Tanzania. It’s crazy! 

The trek was challenging for me and it didn’t help that after an hour into the journey, I pulled a  muscle/overextended my hip joint wheremy legmeets my pelvis. It hurt tremendously but there wasn’t analternative. It happened the day after thewedding in England so I knew it would go away but it wasstill painful. I was worried that the following day  I wouldn’t be able to walk but Kiki had hope, even though he saw me walking funny. Hekept telling meI was strong. Thanks.  I asked, in case I coiuldn’twalk if there was abusto the next village. Nope. But 1/4 of the way walking on our 2ndday he tells methere was abus butit leaves in theafternoon. GRRR. But it was good. I walked in pain. Challenged myself and saw some incredible scenery. By the next day, the pain disappeared and just sore tired legs remained. In some ways the memories are more beautiful and amazing than the experience… simply because it was not an easy journey.

The first afternoon we arrived, I realized squat toilets and bucket showers were my only option. For a while, I figured I’d for go the shower. Ijust felt too tired and too bothered to try it but I had no choice. Kiki, insisted I take a shower as it would make me feel better. It did. To have refused a bucket shower would have insulted him as this is the only type of shower he ever takes. Bucket showers are in a little room, some with light, some with akerosene latern. water is boiled over a wood or charcoal fire,  poured ina bucket and ta da. soap and enjoy. My western comforts are often limited here… but I definitely enjoy a Western shower.

A few asked for money and Kiki would question where they learned that. I said I was saddened that children ask for money but i assumed the expectation or hope came from previous muzungos giving money or giving things. Kiki said kids are  kids and he believed elders probablytold them stories or told kids to ask. hmmm…. The answers are spun in a complex web.

I’m off to Mombasa tomorrow (sunday the 18th)to meet my friend, Daniel. Excited to see a new place… will see how I like Kenya. It will be nice to be around an American. I never thought I’d say that but travelers are very few here and the ones whom are here don’t seem to be very friendly or eager to  interact with other muzungos. I’ve been getting used to being on my own… afterall, I did decide to venture to Africa on my own…

Love

Lauren

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5 thoughts on “Trekking in the heart of the Usambara Mtns!

  1. Pingback: Flashback Photo Fridays: Usambara Mountains | Roamingtheworld

  2. Oh myyyy… Lauren! Your pics are wonderful!
    And hoh you did a 3 day hike??? Well done! Cool that you are going to Kenya and meet your friend, it will be a nice experience. Maybe you could find a volunteeringproject to stick with a while if you feel like it…?
    I’m so so so impressed by your pictures and story! Here everything is fine, I’ll send you an email. I hang out a lot with Allyson, every weekend, and stay at her place, we’re having a great time (meant to be), but very often think about you and talk about what we read on your blog, pics etc. We’re with you in heart!
    Love, your friend that loves you so much!

  3. Hi Lauren,
    Your blog and photos are so wonderful that I feel like I’m traveling with you. I’m always so relieved to see your update. Your travels so far sound so fascinating and interesting. I can’t wait to hear more!

    Love you and MISS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Mom

  4. Hi Lauren!!

    I’m following your adventures with excitement! You’re a real good travel-writer. Sounds like you’ve had a lot of great experiences already. So happy for you!

    Greetings!!

    Marieke

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