Happy Birthday to Jon!
It’s Jon’s 30th birthday today! So I woke up singing “Happy Birthday” and gave him a birthday backrub (he’s old now, so we have to take care of his atrophying muscles). He slept like a log last night, while I slept only a little. The kitchen started up at about 5:00 with lots of banging pots and people all about. We can’t wait to move rooms today.
So we went to breakfast and then packed up our room so it would be easier to move. Patience – at the front desk — said that our new room would be ready after 10:00.
Tour of the Forest
At the advice of some nice British gentlemen last night, we arranged to go on a tour of the forest with a guide named Lawrence. To get to the forest, Lawrence asked if we wanted to go the long way or take the short-cut. The British gentlemen had recommended the short-cut, so that’s the way we went. This was through the rice fields and was an incredible thing to see.
Each rice paddy is owned by a single family, and the size of the rice patty is demonstrative of the wealth of the family. The fields are separated by mud walls about 1 meter high, and it was on these that we walked from one side of the area to the other. The mud walls were very unstable at times, and other places there were logs instead of mud walls. So Lawrence would tell us to walk “pole, pole” (slowly, slowly) so we wouldn’t fall off.
Some of the Rice Fields
After the rice fields, we were in the forest. On our walk through the forest Lawrence pointed out different kinds of trees for different furniture. There was also a 200-year old tree that would take 9-10 people with their arms outstretched to surround it. Lawrence said that the bark of this tree is used to treat asthma in children.
Then we wandered upon the monkeys. First we saw the black and white, or colobus, monkeys. These have a black body with long white bushy tails. They’re quite beautiful, actually, and their tails are longer than their bodies. We could see them in the trees high above us. Further on our walk, we ran into some black monkeys flying from one limb to another. And even further down the road we got to see three more colobus monkeys at a closer range. Lawrence whistled at them so they would move about, and we watched them fly from one tree to the next tree to get further away from us. The last of the three obviously thought the jump was a little too risky, because he went back down the tree and took the low road. It was fabulous to see them flying through the air.
We walked for a while further, but we didn’t get to see any green monkeys. Lawrence thought that this was because it was too hot for them. “Leo joto kali”, he said, which means “today is very hot”. At this point, we decided to take on some lessons in Swahili, and Lawrence decided that it was his mission to educate us on some key Swahili phrases. Here’s what we learned:
Swahili English Hakuna matata No worries, no problem Habari za asubuhi How are you this morning Habari za mchana How are you this afternoon Habari za jioni How are you this evening Mazuli Fine (response to the above three greetings) Lala salama Good night Jina lako ninani What is your name Leo joto kali Today is very hot Leo juwa kali Today is very sunny Mbega Black and white monkey Kima Black monkey Tumbili Green monkey Mahindi Maize Maharage Bean Ndizi Banana Nazi Coconut Mchele Rice Naomba maji Give me some water Naomba soda Give me some soda Naomba bia Give me some beer Hapana No Ndiyo Yes Asante Sana Thank you very much Umechoka Are you tired Samahani I’m sorry/Excuse me
A pretty extensive list, actually! After we’d been back at the hotel for a while, Lawrence brought us a sheet of paper with the Swahili words written down, and told us we had to write down the English equivalent. Like a test! It was so funny. We did pretty well, although we needed a few nudges here and there.
We returned to the hotel by lunchtime and ordered some food from the bar. Our new room is in the front of complex on the 2nd floor, and is a corner room so we’re quite happy with it. We moved our backpacks and then had a lazy day laying around the pool in the sun. Jon long ago finished “The Natural” and is now half-way through “The Longest Day”, which is a book for which we traded a Tom Clancy novel in Arusha. He says that it’s very historically accurate, and is a good read. I’m only half-way through “Out of Africa”, and love every word of it. Jon claims that when he finishes his book I’m going to have to entertain him until he can have mine. Kind of a catch-22, if you ask me. I can’t finish my book and entertain him at the same time!
Later I took a nap inside and Jon went out for a run. He says that most of the locals found him very humorous. Running for fun isn’t something they see every day. He also said that he could tell the effect the altitude had on his run, as he was out-of-breath very quickly. When we were driving to Ngorongoro last week, we saw 3-4 professional runners out on the roads (remember that neighboring Kenya is a major supplier of world-class runners) and Jon commented that between the hills, the altitude, and the heat, this is an ideal place to train. If you can run here, you can run anywhere.
At dinner, we met two nice American couples around our age. One of them were on their way up Kili, and the other had just returned. The latter said that everyone who took altitude-sickness pills made it to the summit, and Jon and I are already regretting our decision to forgo the medication. But we’ll never know until we get there!
View from outside the hotel – Mt. Kilimanjaro