Last weekend was the last Tanzanian weekend excursion 😦  Kind of bittersweet!  We spent the weekend in the outskirts of Arusha, camping and hiking the foothills of Mount Meru.

Saturday morning we packed up our room and left for Arusha National Park in the early am.  We did not really know what to expect but we entered Arusha National Park and went for a game drive where we saw some buffalo, zebra and giraffe.  Since we have already been to the Serengeti, these animals were not all that impressive 😉  We then went for a four hour hike around the foothills of Mount Meru in the Arusha National Park.    This hike was not what we were expecting!!  It was a very steep climb where we hiked uphill for a solid two hours.  “Climb every mountain, far as I can see….”  haha Thats definitely what it felt like!  It was suppose to be a hiking safari but the only animals that we saw were buffalo and supposedly a snake eating a dik dik.  Luckily, I did not see the huge snake!  We also saw a spring waterfall and a sweet tree that covered our path.  The climb was very intense but the walk down was even more extreme.  We walked for a good hour down hill walking on a rocky road.  Since the hill was so steep, the walk down was nerve-racking as rocks would sometimes slip from under your feet. It was a great hike and a great Pre-Kilimanjaro climb 🙂
After our hike however, we continued with a game drive around Arusha National Park.  I was so worn out that I feel asleep in the car as we toured around the land.  Apparently there was a big pool of flamingos, I woke up for a brief second to look out the window.  Saw the Flamingos and was very surprised that they were more of a white/ faint pink color.  The 30 second view was good enough for me haha  We then drove to Mama Anna’s farm house which was tucked at the top of a super bumpy road at the top of a hill.
Our tents were all set up for us and they were sooo cute!  They were teeny tiny, only big enough for two people. The only thing on our agenda that evening was sitting around the campfire, listening to stories from our safari drivers.  It was nice to enjoy the evening and hang out with one another just chatting.  From where we were staying at, we were able to see the snow on Mount Kilimanjaro on one side and Mount Meru on the other.  It was such a clear night for some star gazing as well 🙂
It was a lateish night but I was super excited knowing that breakfast wasn’t until 8:30…that meant sleeping in!  However, I didn’t quite realize that living on a farm meant rooster calls at 4:00 and Cow mooing at 5:30.  So much for sleeping in haha The morning was filled with another hike around the hill that Mama Anna lives.  One thing about the Tanzanian people that I am noticing is how proud they are to be a Tanzanian and how proud they are about our land.  After going on a 4 hour hike the day before, I definitely did not want to go on another hike!  My buns were tooooo sore! Haha  But I went on another 2.5 hour hike to a view that overlooked Arusha and the National Park.  It was gorgeous!  Baba, Mama Anna’s husband I believe, told us everything we eneded to know about the land!  He was telling us about all of the different local medicines found in the plants that could help cure anything from pains to diarrhea.  This is very fascinating and I am a huge fan of the natural remedies.
When we got back to the house, the program also consisted of us honey and coffee making.  The honey making was so neat to see!  They have stingless bee’s here in Africa.  These bee’s did not look like regular stinging bees.  They were fly sized and kind of looked like a cricket with wings.  Baba, hollows out a log and hangs it in a tree with a small hole for the entrance.  The bees find this hole and start making their honey comb.  We got the opportunity to open one of these logs!  When we opened it there was sooo much honey!!! It was also nice to know that even though bees were swarming around, they could not sting 🙂  I tasted the honey straight from the honey comb and it was delish!
After this, we learned about the process of making coffee.  I learned that making coffee is a very long process!  The coffee bean grows on bushes that when ripe, they turn red.  They then pick these seeds and put them in a hand crank machine that takes off the outer shell.  When they take off the outer shell, the bean is white in color and very slippery slimy. They then have to allow the beans to dry for three days.  After three days, there is yet another layer that develops on the bean.  They pour the beans into a hand masher and mash up the beans to get the layer off.  Once this happens, the woman do this neat flipping thing (its hard to describe, its kind of like throwing up pizza dough)  where the wind blows away the layer that you don’t want.  Then it is time to roast.  They roast the beans over a campfire in a cast iron pot.  Roasting only takes about 10 minutes, but you need to constantly stir the beans.  The roasting smelled so heavenly!  Once they are all brown…whala!  Coffee!! 🙂
It was a very enjoyable weekend but I am so glad to be back at the Outpost!   I can not wait to get home home though, lay on the beach, and just relax!  This has been a great trip because we are really living up Arusha, Tanzania, culture, people and activities to the fullest but I can not wait to just sit and relax haha
 Well this is the start of our last week here in Tanzania!  One week from today I will be home with the ones I love 🙂

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