Where the previous night we had dinner with the elephants, this morning we awoke to have breakfast with zebra. I wondered if we had stayed there the entire day what other animals would have come to visit us. What a great way to begin the morning.
But our day was not to be spent with the wildlife, but with a chance to visit the local community of Mto wa Umbu, which translates to “Mosquito River”, and have lunch with a local family. After arriving in the village, we met our local guides and were introduced to our new rides for the day, the tuk-tuks. These three wheeled enclosed motorcycles are the local taxis in the village and it is how many get around.
Our first stop of the morning was the local market. There, you could find fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as various sundry items a family might need. We found the most delicious pineapples right off the back of a truck that had just pulled up to the market. We were also on the hunt for the vegetables we would need to help our host family make our lunch. Our last stop was to purchase fresh bananas. And when I say fresh, they were just picked off the tree the previous day.
With our purchases in tow, it was off to visit our local guides home and see how she and the Chagga tribe turn bananas into banana beer. After boiling the peeled bananas for eight hours, they let the juice naturally ferment. At that point, germinated millet that has been ground into a powder and made into a porridge, is added to the mix. This created a very thick, almost chewy beer. We all went into the local watering hole to have a taste. It wasn’t bad, and was very different from what I would call beer. One was enough for me. I don’t really like chewing my beer.
Next, it was off to visit a banana farm to see how the bananas were grown and harvested throughout the year. I had never seen a banana tree, so it was fascinating how these fruit grow on the tree.
As we left the banana farm, we headed to our host families home to help make lunch. On our way, we had an unexpected surprise join us as we walked. The local school had just let out and several kindergartners were walking to their homes for lunch. They seemed very fascinated with a bunch of very white strangers in their village and followed us the entire way. Once we arrived at our hosts home, a small number of children stayed to watch the show. Unlike our culture, where parents hover over every move their child makes, these young children didn’t seem to have a worry in the world and there were no mothers frantically looking for their children because they were late.
Everyone pitched in to help make lunch, which consisted of salad, fresh fruit, and a makade, a dish with beans, carrots, onions, corn and fresh coconut juice (Cheryl actually helped grate the coconut out of the shell). There was more than enough food for everyone, including the children that continued to watch us.
With full bellies, it was off to Ngorangora Crater in the Karatu region. Our stay was at a beautiful lodge outside of the park and would be home for the next 3 nights.