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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Shy Mountain

Updated: May 21, 2023

I arrived back in Tanzania with a bitter taste in my mouth.


~ I'd semi-missed my flight.

~ I'd ALMOST had to buy another flight.

~ I'd encountered issues with my Visa.

~ I'd ALMOST had to purchase another Visa.

~ I'd been completely ripped off by my taxi driver.


I was tired of the battle.

I was tired of continually trying to convince absolutely everyone I encountered that I wasn't rich... or even remotely close. I was exhausted with the scams and the scammers and the 24/7 mzungu games... It's a real thing. You have to be on alert at all times. You have to be on your toes at every turn and it's imperative you micro-manage every moment, where money or possessions are involved.


Yes, I will admit that some of it was my fault... but, in my defence, I was exhausted after a full day of travelling. I'd forgotten my Tanzanian exchange rate and my conversion app had chosen right then and there to reboot without the necessary WIFI to update. I was cranky and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep for eternity.


I was on my way to "A Better Inn," which, after my draining day, I fully counted on to live up to its name. It was a small guesthouse on the edge of town, and from what I could tell by the pictures, it looked quaint. The perfect place for me to unwind for the weekend before heading back to Arusha.


I arrived at midnight, in the dead of night. I had surpassed cranky and crabby, and was now downright difficult and cantankerous. All I wanted to do was climb into bed and pass out.


Then... just as I was stepping through the door of my guestroom, I turned around and quickly inquired, "WIFI password?"


"It's broken."


Of course it is.

Why wouldn't it be?

I have taken to writing to my accommodations, prior to booking, to inquire about WIFI availability. They ALL say that the WIFI is impeccable.


98% of them are lying.

It's annoying.

They also let me know that they would be moving me to another room in the morning, due to the onset of redoing the guesthouse renovations. To counterbalance the commotion of construction, they assured me that the WIFI would be perfect first thing. I hardly believed them, but I hardly had the strength to debate or dispute.


At exactly 6am, the deafening pounding began.


6AM.

Directly above me.

6AM.


I got up and went outside... to find anyone worth speaking to about this anarchy, keeping in mind that I was beyond cantankerous. Worse, actually. Probably. What's worse than being cantankerous? I think I was a cross between crabby, exasperated and enraged. Not exactly a good ME to be at 6AM, for anyone.

Of course, their first line of defense was, "We told you there was going to be construction."


True.

They'd failed to mention the time though.

To top it off, the perfect early morning WIFI was fabricated.


Maybe in the afternoon...

Maybe tomorrow...


I knew the correct answer was, unfortunately, maybe never...


It didn't take long to make the decision to depart from A Better Inn and head to something even BETTER... and slightly more expensive. I had full cooperation of the owner, due to the chaos of construction and the lack of connection to the outer world.


Off I went to the Honey Badger Lodge.


Part of me picked this lodge, merely for the funny name alone. Anyone that's seen the Honey Badger video will know what I'm talking about.


Honey Badger don't give a shit.


Part of me also picked this lodge for the pool and the poolside bar. I knew this was where I had to be. I think the majority of me picked it for the pool and the bar... but who's keeping track?


I lounged by the pool.

I soaked up the sun.

I sipped on rosé.


There were monkeys and tortoises. My room was enormous and there were actually three separate areas to the lavatory! One for #1 & #2, one for showing and one for washing up. At first sight, I was overcome with Tanzanian euphoria. It's bizarre to realize how exhilarating the simple separation of toilet and shower can be, but it's true.


It was so lovely being able to relax... and something I really needed.


Yes, I am fully aware of how absurb that sounds, my relaxation requirement, considering I don't have a job, any money or significant commitments at present.

There was a volunteer in Arusha, who had sent me a multitude of messages, mentioning how miserable she was. She was slightly older than the average crowd at the dormitory, and consequently was feeling quite isolated and excluded. As I had experienced some similiar struggles at Sawa Sawa when I first arrived, I felt empatheitc towards her plight and invited her to join me in Moshi for the weekend.


She accepted.


This was a lady I did not necessarily know very well and definitely someone I had not clicked with at the very beginning. In fact, at first, I wasn't really a fan and found her quite fickle. She had come across as rude and patronizing... and had inadvertently berated me on a couple of occasions.


As she had recently suffered a tremendous loss in her life, I decided to put much more effort into trying to establish a relationship with her, if only temporarily. I really think this is important, especially when traveling, considering the variety of people you encounter along the road.


But... sometimes my heart is in the right place, but my head is whistling a different tune. Despite the different directions they can both occasionally take, I really do try. I'd been a good friend to her, even giving her one of my dresses, in an attempt to boost her confidence.


She arrived full of melodramatic stories, which only proved to frighten me, considering I was heading back to Sawa Sawa within a few days.


She spent the weekend at the Honey Badger Lodge, and I think my invitation to her was appreciated. The pool and the bar seemed to be exactly what she needed.


Over the weekend, I listened to everything she had to say.

All her concerns. All her stories.

I empathized with her difficulties.

I consoled her.

I encouraged her to be strong.


Essentially... I empowered her.


BUT... much more on that later...

One of the days, we walked into Moshi, which took us just over an hour. The Honey Badger was located a few kilometres out of town. I enjoy walking, as it presents more opportunities for taking great pictures.


My knee chose this weekend to act up, and it actually got to the point where I wasn't sure if I could continue or not. There was no way I was capable of walking back... but I did get some great photos.


One thing about Moshi... I fully expected to see Kilimanjaro.


I was wrong.

I did look for it. Really, I did.


At 5,895 metres, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single, free-standing mountain above sea level. For a mountain so big and so free-standing, one might expect to see it.


Nope.


It hid in the cloak of clouds for the entire time I was in Moshi.

Some people told me that if I wanted to see it, I should climb it.

Harsh no...


I had originally planned to stay in Moshi until Tuesday or Wednesday, but I made the promise that I would accompany her (the volunteer mentioned above) back to Arusha.


After all the horror stories of Sawa Sawa... I was definitely not ready to return...


But off I went... bracing myself for the worst...

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