Weekend at Mulala

This past weekend was our last excursion in Africa. To think about this was a really hard feeling because I didn’t want to leave in a week. Leaving for this trip on the 25th made me realize how short a month actually is and how much more time I wanted to spend in Tanzania. I love everything about this country and am so thankful for all of these wonderful trips on the weekends to explore more of the country.
Mulala was a beautiful place to be this weekend with breathtaking views of Mt. Kilimanjaro on one side and Mt. Meru on the other. On Saturday, we went on a walking safari up this huge hill. We first came across a herd of buffalo that was blocking our path to walk. Our guide that was with us carried a gun just in case something were to happen but she never had to use it. She told us that she would shoot it in the air to scare the animals if they got too close. As we walked past the buffalo, they just stared and watched us. The view of Kilimanjaro was so clear that day that we got a great view. We continued to walk and we first reached a waterfall. This one didn’t have a place to swim but it was still super cool seeing the rocks and the opening to where the waterfall was. The entire way walking was on either little paths or grass. We had to dodge branches, plants, and tons of animal poop. On the way up, we did see a couple monkeys and a few people saw a snake. Thank goodness I didn’t see that snake!! We hiked a total of about 3 hours to reach the top of this hill and look out at the spectacular view. We could see for miles and miles of different towns. The only thing about going up is that you must come down. So we walked down on an all rock road, which was super hard to do without falling! We came across a tree with a huge hole in it that we could walk through. It is called The Fig Tree Arch. We quickly stopped to take a picture because we quickly realized that the whole ground was covered in red ants under that tree. Those little guys really bite! We then made it back to where we started and ate lunch at a little picnic area. We loaded up the safari vehicles and took a drive in Arusha National Park. It was so lush and dense and just very different from what we have seen so far. We saw some more baboons, a giraffe, buffalo, flamingos, and cranes. In Arusha National Park, there are a lot of little lakes that we drove by. Our driver was telling us that they are salt water but not very salty because they can control the amount of salt that goes in there. I am not too sure what that means but nevertheless, it was still beautiful. We then headed to our destination of Mama Ana’s house.
We were staying at Mama Ana’s house who lived in a home in Mulala. She is a Maasai woman and she showed us and taught us a lot about the Maasai. When we got there, they had tents set up for us to sleep in. These tents reminded me of little igloos because there was just enough room to sleep and not sit up. They were very snug but it worked! We put our stuff in our tents and they had prepared a wonderful dinner for us. It was so delicious! There were about 6-8 dishes of food for us. I tried all of the dishes and loved them all. Everything was made right out back behind their house on a few different fires. After our meal, we were welcomed to a bonfire that they made for us. We sat around the fire talking about the Maasai traditions and I learned a lot about their culture. We also listened to our safari driver and his first time ever driving through the Serengeti getting lost! It was such a great night and the moon that night was unbelievable. It as a burnt orange color that just filled the sky. It took my breath away looking at it and knowing where I was at that moment. Just taking a moment to appreciate the little things, makes me feel so good about where I am.
The next morning they had coffee, fried plantains, and a day full of activities for us.
After breakfast, we were able to all wear kanga’s. They wrapped us in them and we all got into a circle and danced while they sang. It was so much fun!! We then went on a hike that took about 2-2.5 hours and along the way, we learned about different plants that were used as medicine. There were so many plants that he pulled that they used to help themselves either get over diarrhea, a head ache, body aches, stomach aches, and much more. I was so surprised at how many there were and how they knew what plants did what. They mostly would smash up the plant leaves and mix it with water and then drink it. We kept walking and walked up a hill where there was a “natural fan” of wind coming up from below. It was such a cool feeling looking out how far we were and seeing many cities. We weren’t able to see Mt. Kilimanjaro because she was “being a shy lady” that day. The hike then continued to another view point to see a lake that was pretty big. We turned back around to walk back and there were so many kids that had come out of their homes to see us. We were giving high-fives and lots of smiles to these precious kids. They showed me how to make a whistle out of a big leave from elephant grass. It was a good hike!
We reached Mama Ana’s house and had lunch which was also delicious. She and a few other members that were there at her house welcomed us for lunch with a lovely song and dance. After lunch, we learned about bee hives and what they are made of. They cut a log in half and hallow it out and leave a little a hole where the bees can get in and out. They put the two halves together by using a glue. They opened one for us and we were able to try the honey straight from the hive! It was really bitter at first but the after taste was really sweet. These bees in the hive where no sting bees and this honey is more expensive than the sting bees.
After this, we then were able to see coffee trees that were on their land. We got to cook and grind coffee. It was so fun and interesting to learn how they make coffee. They are only able to pick the coffee beans when they are a red color. You then take off the outer skin and run the beans through a machine that takes off the slippery part of the bean. You then have to let the bean sit for 3 days and then take off another shell. After this, you roast the beans over a fire for about 15 minutes and they are ready for grinding. We got to try a roasted bean and it was the best coffee bean I have ever tasted! We then tried grinding the coffee by pounding the beans in a bowl. The entire time we were making coffee, Mama Ana and others were singing and dancing! She is such an active lady who is about 4 foot tall. She is the most precious little lady ever! She then let us try carrying bananas on our heads! We only carries about 8 on our head and those were heavy! I can’t imagine trying to carry a whole bundle of bananas.
That was all of the activities they had for us and we left to go back to The Outpost. This weekend was definitely a challenge because of the safari hike on Saturday, but we kept telling ourselves that this was prep for hiking Kilimanjaro tomorrow! I loved staying at Mama Ana’s house and seeing how she lives. All of the Maasai culture lessons were fabulous to learn about. This weekend really made me appreciate the life the people who live in Mulala. They do very well for what they have and they appreciate everything they have as well. Everything is hamna shida; no worries. I am thankful for this weekend trip because it was so much different than the other weekends.