As promised, I will recap on some of my small weekend adventures since I’ve arrived in Tanzania. Three weekends ago (has it really been THAT long) I made the arduous climb up some of the Uluguru Mountains supporting the backside of Morogoro city. I hiked with one of my fellow teachers, Julius Dionis, and around 8:30am we began our 8+ hour adventure. The first hour of the “hike” was actually just walking down a realllllly long road but at least we had some shade from trees on this road! I brought a little bit of water with plans on purchasing more water on the hike so it’d be cool. Dionis said that there would be a place in a village further up the mountain to get water but when we arrived they were not open yet (The only certainty about a business here is that the hours of operation are optional…) But it was too late to turn back to get water from town so onward we went. Eventually we passed through someone’s farm and then another farm which made me wonder if there was ever an actual trail we were supposed to take or if we were literally just hiking UP the mountain.

 

Finally after 3.5 hours we ascended to the peak at which we were aiming for and the view was spectacular (see other blog for the photos!) After catching our breath and laughing at how red my skin was getting we decided to start hiking back down. We went about a 100 yards DOWN the mountain when we met a group of children returning from the market in town. They invited us back to their village up the mountain so we went with them…back UP the mountain. We arrived and purchased a soda from their store/home. They told us about their village (with all of 40 or so people living up on the mountain) and how each day they hike down the mountain for school and/or the market. Now, these were children… ages 7 to 15 hiking about 2 miles up and down a mountain to go to primary school or to sell fruit at the market. I was humbled and embarrassed about my grumbling about how exhausting the hike was for us this ONE time.

 

After we enjoyed our stay and felt rested we began the Great Descent. Since we didn’t take a specific trail up the way down was of course going to be different. From the top we saw a big-ish road that should lead us back to town so we worked our way towards it. While descending we passed through Cassava patches and Banana tree groves and then… I saw it… my first NATURAL pineapple sighting. It was just sticking out of the ground as if someone had placed it there on a pole. There we stopped at the house and bought some mangoes (delicious!) and a NEW fruit called Fanesi.

 

Fanesi is a large (2-3 times the size of a football) fruit that has a rigid, green skin but contains some of the SWEETEST fruit I have ever tasted. I couldn’t finish it…that’s how sweet it was. And for those of you that know of my sweet tooth, it takes a lot to cut me off… But this fruit (go ahead and search for it on Google!) has small white pouches inside that contain large seeds. If you separate the white pouch from the fruit and eject the seed then you get the reward of eating the pouch and watching your taste buds go crazy! Oh yeah, there’s one more catch too. The seeds and pouches are extremely sticky for some reason so usually you eat this fruit with oil on your hands so you can eat it easily without everything sticking to your hands. It’s a lot of work but well worth it. I don’t think I have a picture of it but when I see another I’ll be sure to get a picture and post it!

 

This was a delightful break from the hike but soon we had to press on so we could beat the sun home. Finally we reached that road (oh yeah, it took 2 hours to get down to it) then we had the pleasure of following this road for at least an hour or so before we saw some buildings that looked familiar! Hooray that we were going in the right direction! Pretty soon we arrived back at the bus stand and Matt the Lobster was tired, thirsty and smiling from a good DAY’s hike. The crazy thing about this whole story is that Dionis said that this (you know the 8 hour hike) was supposed to be a 45 minute hike up. It made me nervous when he then began to share with me that he had heard about a 3 hour hike! Haha…

 

But sitting up on top of that mountain top overlooking the city that has become my new home was quite surreal. Am I really on a mountain? Am I really in Tanzania? Have I really followed God all the way to hear? Am I crazy or what? From looking at the city and pointing out buildings that I recognized, I thought about God and how God overlooks our lives and the plans and potentials out there for us. Each day brings a new adventure and praise God that wherever I am, celebrating on the mountain top or stuck in the mud next to the bus stand, God is with me.

 

“Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from you presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

If I settle on the far side of the sea,

Even there your hand will guide me,

Your right hand will hold me fast.”

-Psalm 139:7-10

 

(This past weekend I went to visit a dam and a pond and that’s just what it was… a dam…and a pond. Another teacher, Salvator Kyakwe was very excited about going (for some reason I don’t know) so we went. We stood there for over an hour and watching guys bring in their fishing boats and haggle prices with locals. Salvator bought some fish and I practiced my Kiswahili some more and watched people look at me shocked that I spoke some Kiswahili. Then we returned to town to walk through the Saba Saba Sokoni (big weekend market) as I bought some shirts to wear for school. These have been my adventures thus far but I know that more is to come. I think next Saturday, Pastor Umba has invited ALL the teachers and staff to go visit some waterfalls… this should be interesting…)

Peace,

Mathayo

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