Arusha to Lushoto; Lushoto to Dar es Salaam

Up early to pack the truck for the seven-hour drive from Arusha to Lushoto in the Usambara Mountains. The drive was fine, over roads with good surface, south through Tanzania. We caught sight of Kilimanjaro with its snow-capped peak towering over the plain surrounding. It really is magnificent. We were lucky to have seen the peak, we were told - usually it’s shrouded in cloud and haze.

Arriving in Lushoto, a small town, we headed up and into the mountains. It took ages to find the campground, since neither of our guides had been there before and the signage was… inadequate, shall we say. We did find it eventually - it was at the top of five kilometers of very hairy narrow road with sheer drops on the left side, which was most definitely not meant for trucks the size of ours. We had to fasten down the canvas sides for all the vegetation whipping around - Peter got slashed across the neck before we did. We were in mortal fear for our lives for the last kilometer, but Adam got us through.

The campsite here’s quite nice - some of the others got up a volleyball match and were instantly joined by the roaming horde of dusty little village kids who roam the place. In the morning we and some of the crew went on a guided walk into the mountains with a local guy named Michael leading us. The kids are incredibly friendly and open here - everywhere we went we were followed by choruses of “Jambo! Jambo!” (hello in Swahili). It was very hot but we made the 1800m peak with no loss of life, only loss of breath, and the views were excellent. The flora here is astounding in its diversity - we saw banana trees, avocado, and a host of others. Coffee is grown - the first time I’d seen coffee plants - but the main crop is sugarcane. I always thought of sugarcane as a lowland crop, since I’ve only ever seen it grown on Barbados. It seems to be doing okay here, though it’s only half the height of the Babados cane. Michael took us through a few tiny… settlements (I can’t call them villages, they’re too small) of wood and mud-brick. We saw the local brickmaker at work actually, it looked like fun. Too, we saw a cane-press, ingeniously carved out of wood into an interlocking screw turned by two men with a rotating horizontal pole. We all had a taste of sugarcane, which I hadn’t realized I missed.

Back at camp we both decided to take a lazy couple of hours and catch up on journal-writing and things. We set up our sleeping pads under a tree in the only bit of shade available. I got more done than Sheryl - she had the computer and got mobbed by the local rugrats and had to show them videos and pictures of the safari tour until she ran out of battery.

The next day we had another very long drive of around 400km. This took us around ten hours, but it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. The first hour was getting down out of the mountains and the last two hours were fighting traffic and construction to get through Dar es Salaam to the campsite. It was a very hot, very dusty ride. I zoned out and listened to music for most of the trip. Despite the traffic and the construction dust and the heat, skirting Dar was actually kind of fun. People were all shouting hellos and waving, and not just kids either - truck drivers, construction workers and general loiterers all joined in. One road worker took a picture of us, which I thought funny - turnabout is fair play, after all.

We finally reached the campground on the peninsula southwest of Dar in the early evening. We were all very happy to find out that the campground was right on the beach. I think Sheryl went directly from the truck to the ocean without covering the intervening distance. She was a bit disappointed to find that the tide was out and the water was only knee-deep. Everyone got tired of sitting in the water and headed for the showers and the bar, more or less in that order. Sheryl and I found that the beach reminded us of Barbados. It was lovely white sand (a sand beach after the pebble beaches of the Mediterranean, at last!) and was lined with palm trees. I found Sheryl a few nice shells, and after dinner we went and explored all the little tidepools. There were a million tiny fish and crabs, beside anemones and sea-cucumbers. We found one sea-cucumber washed up on the beach - we weren’t sure what it was at first since it was quite hard - almost armoured. I’d always thought they were squishy. But he was still moving when we poked him, so acting on the principle that anything washed up would be happier back in the water, we threw him into a tidepool. We couldn’t stay up very late, and the beach wasn’t safe outside the campground boundaries, we were told, so after sitting out and watching the stars for a bit, we went to bed.


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Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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