Walk into Moshi
Today we ventured into Moshi to find an Internet Cafe and a grocery store. It was quite overcast, and we couldn’t see Mt. Kili at all – it was completely covered in clouds. So it seemed like a good day to get some errands done.
Patience at the front here at the Springlands said that the walk into Moshi would only take us about 20 minutes, so we put on the backpack and went. As soon as we walked out of the gate of the hotel, the local children were all over us. Jon and I immediately put our hands into our pockets so they couldn’t latch onto them. All they could say was “Hello…. Gimme chocolate… gimme pen…. gimme pencil… gimme money”. I was starting to wonder if they knew English at all, or had only been taught those few key phrases.
The walk into town was over bumpy, dusty roads, and all the locals stopped to watch us walk by. It was nice to have learned some key Swahili phrases (see July 1) and the locals loved that we made an effort to wish them well in their own language. Although whenever they ventured outside our limited vocabulary all we could do was smile. At one point, we passed some young boys playing soccer who stopped the game in order to watch us walk by. When we said “Jambo!” (Hello!) and their response was “Gimme money!”, so we just kept on walking.
After about 30 minutes, we finally got into Moshi. We were told to look for the clock tower, as it is the center of town, but we couldn’t see any such landmark from our entrance point. Jon had a gut feeling to go to the right, and it turned out to be a good gut feeling. About 15 minutes down the road, we found the clock tower in the center of a traffic circle. Within a few minutes, we found the signs to the Internet Cafe and were on our way. Unfortunately, the local vultures saw us and moved in. This is where our limited Swahili came in handy. Being able to say “no” in Swahili made them second-guess that we were clueless tourists and they left us alone after only a few minutes of pestering.
At the Internet Cafe, we logged in and did our thing (Yahoo! still hasn’t fixed the upload bug, although they’ve assured me via email that they’re working on it). Then we walked down “Market Street” to find a grocery store, which are very hard to find! We looked for 10 minutes and finally found one that was smaller than a small bodega in New York City. We loaded up on water and chocolate for our Kili trip, and then went to find a taxi to take us back to the hotel.
Back at the Springlands, we sat out at the pool (despite the overcast weather) and read our books. Then I napped and Jon went out for a run, much to the delight of the neighborhood again. He says that some of the people outright laughed at him, saying “Mzungu! Mzungu!” (White person! White person!)
We went down to the garden bar at 7:00 for a drink and had dinner. We sat with a nice English couple who we passed while we were in town (two of five white people we saw the entire time), and we laughed at each others’ experiences in town. They had just finished Kili two days before.