Wow, what an incredible day! Our group was picked up at 9 a.m. by our tour guide, Alpha, for a windshield survey of the area. We rode in 4-wheel drive vehicles, which was good because many of the roads were not paved, so it was a very bumpy ride at times! Our first stop was a hike with a beautiful view of the villages and forests below. The views were so picturesque that they looked like a large painting you would see in an art museum--hard to believe they were real! After the hike, we rode to Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park to take pictures at the bottom of the mountain. There was a group of people starting their journey up the mountain, and I thought it was interesting that they all had to weigh their items before they could start their climb. From the bottom of the mountain, we walked down about 5 km through the villages and waved to many people along the way. People here are very friendly and will call out “Jambo,” which means hello, and “Habari,” which means how are you, wherever you go.
When we finished our walk down the mountainside, we drove to a little market where we saw blacksmiths making spears, knives and other items made out of metal. The blacksmiths kept their fires going by using a bag on each side of the fire that they pumped in and out; it was very cool to watch them work! The blacksmiths let all of us try to keep the fires going, and it was really hard! It took a lot of coordination, skill and timing to get the fire to stay hot enough. We also went to a local market and were the only tourists there. The market had lots of fruits and vegetables for sale but also fabric, shoes, sunflower oil, animal feed and maize. It was so cool to get an idea for how the locals do their buying and selling!
After the market, our group went to a waterfall. The waterfall was famous for a story about an unmarried woman who became pregnant and went to the waterfall to contemplate killing herself, but decided not to; however, a leopard ran at her from behind, so she jumped to her death from the falls. It was a very sad story, and there were statues and signs posted all around the walk to the waterfall detailing the story. The waterfall was beautiful, and there were many white angel trumpet flowers at the bottom, making for a great picture spot (the angel trumpet flowers are found near water sources, and the flowers point in the direction of the water to look like they are “drinking up” the water). The walk to the bottom of the waterfall was very steep, and you had to duck down because there were thick vines overhead that were covered in big thorns.
From the waterfall, we went to a little village where there was a group of women singing and dancing in a circle. We got out of our vehicles and joined them--it was so much fun! The woman in the middle of the circle was the leader of that village, and she was 90 years old! She had a lot of spunk, energy and a great sense of humor. I took a picture with her, and she made goofy faces and laughed about it--haha! After we finished dancing with the women, we got back in our vehicles and drove back to Kilema Hospital. It was an absolutely amazing day, and our group enjoyed every minute of it! We got to see a lot more of Tanzania and get a flavor for the local way of life. We all made memories to last a lifetime!