mt. kilimanjaro coffee tour

Upon landing at Mt. Kilimanjaro airport (whose peak was sadly concealed by thick cloud cover), we found the hotel hostle hovel shuttle and settled in for the 45 minute ride to Moshi and our room for the night.

I think I will write a separate post about how much I loved where we stayed.

Anyway, months earlier we'd signed up for a tour of a local coffee plantation.  Since our flight landed after noon, we only had a few hours of daylight and needed to hustle.  We got out of the shuttle at the um, place, dropped off our bags in our room and got in a different car headed toward the mountain.

Our young taxi driver took us through Moshi, the town from where most Kilimanjaro climbers begin their ascent, and wound his way up the base of the mountain and deeper into the bush. About five minutes past my comfort zone (which has arguably expanded significantly over the last 14 months), we finally pulled into what appeared to be an empty farm and were greeted by who was apparently our tour guide.
"Enjoy coffee tour"
He took us to a cabana, where he gave us an overview of what we'd see on the tour and asked if we'd like to have our traditional lunch now or after the tour.  We were both starving (weird), and asked if we could eat first.  So, naturally, that's when the cook began to prepare our lunch (I mean, it's not like we reserved the tour months ago and arranged what time we'd be there or anything.  Oh wait...).  As we sat and conversed awkwardly with our guide for the next hour, I couldn't help but wonder why we'd rushed to get here (I really should know better at this point).

Eventually, though, we were served our lunch of Pilau rice, bananas and a little bit of meat.  And banana soup.  None of it was particularly bad, just bland.  We finished our meal and sat, awkwardly, a little longer, as it began to sprinkle and the time ticked closer and closer to sunset.  Our guide finally decided he was ready to start the tour, and he led us into the bush.

We walked for at least ten minutes until the guide said anything.  At this point, I was fairly convinced the Tanzanian interpretation of tour meant, "we'll hike your ass all over this plantation," but eventually he began his spiel and we (Joey) made our own cup of coffee starting with the plant to the brew.

Step 1: Pick ripe, red beans from coffee tree.
Step 2: Peel red skin from coffee bean, leaving slimy residue.
Step 3: Use above contraption to rinse slime from coffee bean.
Step 4: Leave cleaned coffee beans out to dry
Step 5: Remove second skin from dried coffee bean using large mortar and pestle.
Step 6: Roast beans
Step 7: Grind roasted beans
Step 8: Add ground coffee beans to boiling water
Step 9: Strain grounds from coffee
Step 10: Enjoy your very fresh cup of coffee in a mud hut.
We also learned about all the different kinds of bananas grown in Tanzania, most notably, the kind they make into beer.  Naturally, the highlight of Joey's coffee tour was this liter of home-brewed banana beer.  He said it tasted something like flour and nothing like beer.

As delicious as that looked (and as convinced I was by the tour guide's reassurances that everything had been prepared hygienically), I decided to pass on the opportunity to drink bush beer.  I watched Joey get dysentery in Mexico and I was fairly certain I was watching him get it again.

But despite all my paranoia, Joey survived the beer and we survived the drive back to Moshi, and even arriving as the sun set.  Now all we had to do was survive the night at our hotel.

Click here for all of my pictures from our coffee tour.

the ugly american

2.26.12  9:30am (Two hours later)

Just encountered the most annoying traveler on our way to Mt. Kilimanjaro: the ugly American.  This diva is clearly headed on a fashion safari, replete with her olive cargo shirt stuffed with her muffin-top into matching olive, skinny cargo pants that are tucked into her shiny, gold platform tennis shoes and accessorized with a dusty pink purse.  But don't worry, lest you think this woman's outfit might be too drab.  She dressed it up with not one, but three rhinestone barrettes.

And wouldn't you guess that after this consummate annoying safari-farer had loaded her six duffle bags on the security conveyor belt, she insisted her floral bag be returned from the other side of the X-ray so she could retrieve her SOCKS.  To put over the socks she was already wearing in order to walk through the metal detector.  Which beeped repeatedly because of those fancy, sparkly additions to her fabulously bad, black dye job (and Mallory, I know you get mad when I call it a dye job, but please trust me, no color specialist had been near her head).  When the security attendant asked her, kindly, to please take out her barrettes, the diva only exclaimed, repeatedly, "IT'S MY WIRE BRA!"

Oh.  God.

Are you serious, lady? In case you haven't noticed, you're in a domestic airport in Africa, and those guys with AK-47s are not a joke.  Meanwhile, the entire line has stalled and the United States of America has just been denigrated by one of its finest citizens.

I bit my tongue for as long as possible.  But the hotel shuttle had dropped us off at the wrong terminal, where we went through that security line before realizing we'd need to leave that building and run the quarter mile to the domestic terminal (which makes total sense since we're flying from Ethiopia to Tanzania) to make our flight and now we're stuck behind this prima donna.  I finally turned to her and said something about the line (I'm sure I was very tactful).  We eventually got around her as she was taking off her second pair of socks.

We made it to the departure area just as the plane was starting to board, and upon sighting the second round of security screening giggled with the relief that we wouldn't have to witness that spectacle again.