DAY 4 / 17 JANUARY 2012 / TUESDAY / ARUSHA, TANZANIA
I wake at Planet Lodge at a reasonably normal hour (6am local time) after a reasonably decent sleep. I claim first shower and have the pleasure of about 3 minutes of warm-ish water, and then it's room temperature water for the remainder. The water pressure isn't that great either, but hey, I'm in Tanzania! Hakuna matata! I throw on some "town clothes" and go back into the main room. Chris is not there...uhhh, should I be worried?...then he comes inside from the balcony area (we have a balcony?!) and proclaims "It's f---ing paradise out there". Good morning to you too! But paradise is something I've got to see so I stick my head out of the balcony door and...he's right:
|Mount Meru, from our balcony at Planet Lodge. 14,977' or 4,565m.|
We can see Mount Meru from the balcony, but we don't even have to look that far to be amazed. The hotel is meticulously landscaped and maintained. I'm torn between appreciating its niceness and wondering how many gallons of irrigation water they go through each day.
|Panorama from the balcony of Planet Lodge.|
|The LandCruiser we drove around in. Photo is courtesy of TripAdvisor.|
|Typical scene outside Central Market. http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/discovering_tz/1/1263222293/central-market-arusha.jpg/tpod.html|
The Central Market is like nothing I've ever experienced. There are vendors everywhere, of every scale and level of sophistication. Some women are selling only a few carrots from a plate. Some are selling used shoes on tarps that cover several meters. Some have actual booths or carts. It is dense but not clausterphobic. Chris walks first and I am behind, so the bag (messenger style) is between us, but I don't really need to worry about its security because by and large people are ignoring us. I did not anticipate this; I thought the market was going to be a stressful solicitation event.
|A typical vendor at the Central Market. http://interningtanzania.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/arusha-central-market/|
|The ShopRite (aka ShopWhite). http://gettingaround.tanzania.xp-travel.com/HighlightDetail-GettingAround.Tanzania-Get-new-supplies-in-Shoprite-Market---Arusha-2075.aspx|
On the other side of the street stands what is fast becoming a symbol of African westernization - the ShopRite, which is a modern chain grocery store becoming more and more widespread in Africa. We don't buy anything but after the intensity of the market, it's nice to just walk through a few isles. As we are leaving, the power goes out. No one panics - it's a regular occurrence.
After the ShopRite we visit several little shops in strip malls on either side of the giant grocery store. it seems that this is a more touristy area of town since the shops actually have walls and windows and doors, and no Tanzanians are shopping here. We pop in a bunch of gift-shop-type places and I buy a postcard and a Christmas ornament. We also use the public toilets - squatting again! - before having an unusual coffee drink from Msumbi Coffee. It's called an iced coffee but it's very airy and not cold, sort of like drinking a whipped, room-temperature Frosty. Not exactly refreshing but still tasty. We still have an hour or so before meeting Joseph so we decide to just walk the streets of Arusha. We walk Sokoine Road to the Central Market and back.
|Sokoine Road. http://www.panoramio.com/photo/59616337|
|Chris sorts the gears at Planet Lodge.|
We meet Joseph back at the ShopRite at 4p and he takes us back to the hotel. Since it's sunny and warm by Northern Hemisphere standards, we decide to try the (small) outdoor pool. I swim a few strokes of goggle-less butterfly and pronounce myself in shape. We eat dinner in the hotel, complete with local brews: Kilimanjaro lager for me and Serengeti lager for Chris. The rest of the evening is spent sorting gear in the hotel room. It totally feels like AR prep for me and I am giddy. I can't wait to get on the mountain tomorrow!
|My gears all ready for the morning. CHALLENGE: Spot the Bonk Hard race shirt and tell me the race and year for a non-prize.|