A Quick Stop in the Smoke


Moshi, meaning smoke in Swahili, is named after the ever present cloud looming over the Kilimanjaro mountain.  Most tourists go there for the climb.  Having already done the climb, I didn’t really have to go there.  The altitude is alot lower than Arusha, making the place very hot and I do everything to avoid real African weather.
However, someone forgot his stove in my room and I went there to break up my bus rides and check out the nearby excursions.  In Moshi no one really bothers you.  The touting has a shelf life of 5 minutes.  “You looking for a safari?  Kilimanjaro?” “Hapana, already did it” “Congratulations” “Asante Sana” and everything is over.
Let’s rewind a little bit, this happened before I left Arusha.  On my way to the buses, one of the first touts that talked to me saw me and started talking to me.  This time about music.  He kept talking until I got on the bus, then he even went on the bus.  At the last second, his true intention showed.  “Come on bro, buy the bracelet so I can eat breakfast” “Nope, come on, you follow me all this way but you already know I’m not buying shit” “For breakfast man”. He isn’t starving.  Things turned 180 real quick.  ” All the others would help out man, you ain’t like them, you are selfish”. That is exactly the problem, all the others rather give you money than have you starve so that you start helping yourself.  I’m talking about a perfectly physically capable person here, who speaks better English than most, who spends all his time being a douche on the street.  The best was yet to come.  “That’s not hip hop culture man”. Like he knows.  ” I don’t remember Eninem, Dr. Dre, 50 begging for handouts on the street like you”. 50 is big in Tanzania, I swear.
He was kind of getting angry from the sound of it.  I hoped he was.  Call me the devil but his suffering made me happy.
Finally he got out the dala dala as the vehicle picked up more passengers, without a word.  With more passengers the vehicle finally started moving forward instead of just circling around for people.  I grown to like dala dala more now despite the deathtrap nature of the vehicle.  The shear amount of people it carries make it unstable, but being among all the passengers make it safe if any impacts is going to happen.  Human airbags do wonders.  Dala dalas have the least amount of wait time and on top of that, most amount of air flow.  I can’t stand the heat of closed window vehicles.  What I hate more is sitting in the bus for an hour without moving, waiting for passengers to fill up.
Slowly I arrived in Moshi, and dropped my bags off.  The heat was unbearable.  Arusha gets hot too, but never humid.  The humidity is unbearable.  Kilimanjaro is in the background but it’s always covered in the cloud.  From personal experience, 6AM is the time you take the pictures.
Alot of Arabic buildings on the main street, and alot of mosques too.  I remember I almost went to see a mosque in Calgary, good thing I didn’t.
There is also a coca cola clocktower in the city center round about.  There is another roundabout with a statue about Uhuru, which means freedom and on the other side, about conserving water.
Unfortunately, the guy Nir who forgot his stove had already gone to a day trip in Marangu when I arrived.  Having not much to do, I went on one of my own.
To maji moto I set off.  Maji moto, fire water, is a cold spring near the town of Boma Ngombe, which is very close to moshi.  I took a bus there even thou I should have took the dala dala but at the time I was awfully stupid.  The bus lagged and I hated it.
After arriving in Boma, I negotiated with Boda Boda drivers to the spring, but they all giving me the Muzungu price.  20 thousand, 50 thousand, and I just sat there and said 3 thousand one way.  Finally one person with the motorcycle quoted me 10 thousand for there and back and he’ll wait for me.  I’m sure it’s mzungu price too, but guess what, time is money, I can’t afford to bullshit with them any longer.
I hopped on the motorcycle and we went on a very long journey on a real bumpy road.  The view was as fine as it gets as dust and wind blew in my face.  I loved the ride.  It felt free, and it felt wild.  The scenery was sublime.  Greens, deserts, and the village Rudungai in the middle of the journey made the area felt more occupied.  The road is terrible and I had no helmet.  The driver put on his helmet in a large stretch of road because of police, and I thought to myself, um, where is mine?
Dude got a really nice bike, with great suspension and I enjoyed the ride alot.  I love taking risks, but most of the time I put my life in my own hands, not in the hands of a Tanzanian motorcycle rider.
The way to maji moto was longer than I thought, but the dude, despite being very young, rode well and we got there very easily.
The spring water bubbles from underground and the area is filled with palms despite being surrounded by desert.  Most parts of the spring is shallow up to the torso and kids are diving in the water from a swing.  I saw some people from Arusha that I knew and they told me they were there because I told them about maji moto haha.
I got myself a bit wet, but my true purpose was to get the catfish to clean up my feet.  Walking on the mountain wearing boots and rewearing the same four pairs of socks made my feet filthy.  Washing didn’t work that well, but I know from the cenotes that catfishes will do the trick.
I laid in the water and the little fishes cleaned everything up, so much so I lost a shade of brown in my feet.  At the same time, some land turtles swam by and a large lizard did too.  I really wished I arrived earlier so I can stay longer.
The ride back was as good as the way there.  However, the dust made my semi wet shirt dirty.  The motorcycle taxi slowly creped up to be my favorite transportation in Tanzania.  My hands and face were also dusty so I needed a shower asap.  On the way back, some other biker locked eye with my dude and of course he did what I would, they raced.  I was lowkey worried, but nothing happened, and I got to Boma faster.
I went on a dala dala and got to Moshi way faster than the bus.  I was a bit lazy so I decided to stay another day in Moshi and go check out Lake Chala as a similar day trip.  Moshi is so close to Kilimanjaro that the area is way more interesting than Arusha.  A lot of day trips can be done in the area, but like Chiapas, it is a pain in the ass without a car.  Actually, in Africa, you need a land cruiser.
Going to maji moto was a hassle, and going to the lake will be a bigger one.  You can also go to waterfalls in Marangu or look for colobus monkeys in the forest.  Waterfalls mean nothing to me, springs have became a common occurrence.  The more places you go the more places look the same.  The savannahs of these national parks have the same landscape as the back drop of a tiny village, except lions and rhinos roam about.  The cenotes are underground maji motos without turtles.
Ate some really good Indian food and drank beer before I went to sleep, intending to wake up early for the lake.  I had learned Safari beer is the local favorite, and everyone else’s favorite, and it was rightfully so.
That night, it was so hot despite the small fan churning, that I couldn’t sleep till 4AM.  So of course I woke up late and didn’t get to go to the Lake.  The Chala lake is almost 4 hours away and I have limited knowledge about how to get there.  I think dala dala to Mwika and then motorcycle to the lake.  It was going to take forever, so I didn’t do it.
Instead, I bought the tickets to lushoto for next day and beers.  I have learned from my various excursions that drinking beer and relax is always better than my single person, next to impossible one day excursions.  It does make for great story thou.
I hung out with two Germans I met back in Arusha. They work at an orphanage in Tanzania and come couple times a year. Great guys, and there are a group of Israelis and one of them owns the stove. They try to do everything cheap, but spend alot buying paintings, patches and snacks off the street. Just because Jason and Sundi don’t do the dishes doesn’t make them bad people. The same goes for the Israelis, they are really cool people, but just do inconvenient things sometimes. One of them, David, put all his shit on a lower bunk bed while he slept on top. The air from the fan doesn’t reach the top, and what he did caused himself and I a really shitty sleep.
The Israelis have their own traveling support group and they all meet up wherever they go. Two girls from the group wanted to join me to go to the Usambara mountain. We all got the bus tickets together because they seemed to think I know what I’m doing even thou all I say is I’ll copy the routes from the tourist information center.
The Israeli went to the bus to Nairobi, but came back an hour after. Their bus broke down on the way to Moshi. I never buy bus that isn’t originating from the place I’m taking off, its Africa, anything can happen. Like I said, value is everything, not the price. All I heard was them asking the reception for a deal on the room, I mean it’s 6 dollars a night.
Then the Germans left for home too. They bought a shit ton of coffee to make some money for the orphanage and told me that they’ll show me all the good beers if I ever visit Germany.
I went to sleep early and with everyone gone, I went to sleep with no problem. The fan sends the wind to the lower bunk just perfectly. The bed was no longer used to hold another man’s axe spray. Next day I woke up early, went to get breakfast. Breakfast wasn’t ready and didn’t look it was going to be ready either. The same company owns both the Arusha joint and Moshi joint, yet the one in Arusha is so much better.
I knocked on the girls door, they talked among themselves in Hebrew and went silent. Well, I never had patience for people who lag, especially people I just met. I hoped that they won’t waste their bus tickets and went out for the bus to Lushoto alone.


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