Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Made it!

I actually made it to the top this time! Went up Loleza Peak (8714 feet high) with another couple of friends on Monday (a public holiday here) and had quite a time of it. We made really good time to the top (about 3130 feet of climbing in just over 2½ hours), stopping every now and then to exclaim over the clouds forming below and wafting up the side of the mountain.

At the top there are several telephone towers and a radio mast. We got chatting to one of the engineers who lives up there, and he let us into the compound and even allowed us to climb the mast! We didn’t dare go far, but we took it in turns to climb the ladder to the first platform; fun!

Unfortunately our return didn’t go quite so smoothly, after lunch we rocketed down until suddenly one of my friends realised she hadn’t got her camera. Last seen – lunchtime, nearly an hour ago. So, back we went, an exhausting return, only to find it wasn’t there. Coming back again, we found ourselves in the clouds, and then it started to rain. Fortunately it was a clear track so we didn’t get lost, but we slipped and slid on the mud and arrived back exhausted and soaked through, and very ready for a hot shower!


It’s a week since we returned from the ‘Island of Spices’, so now it just seems like a dream, but a very pleasant one! Beth (my colleague and friend) and I travelled up to Dar es Salaam for a meeting related to our work, and then popped over to Zanzibar with a couple of others. Our flight was delayed an hour because of poor weather conditions, but when we finally got up in the air, we were back down again before we knew it – it’s a short 20minute flight.
We spent our first day wandering round the narrow streets and alleyways of Stone Town, admiring the carefully crafted door frames and investigating the little shops full of paintings, materials, wood carvings etc.

We visited the Anglican Cathedral on the site of the former slave market, where you can visit a tiny room where up to fifty slaves were kept at a time, awaiting auction, with just a tiny window for air, and no food. Many died of starvation or suffocation. Our second day was taken up with a spice tour – I had no idea that turmeric was a root or what nutmeg looks like – it was a fascinating exploration of how different spices are grown.

<--Nutmeg Turmeric-->

Our next couple of days were spent on the opposite side of the island in a nice hotel, right by the ocean. It was wonderful to swim, snorkel (except for getting stung by lots of little jellyfish), relax with a book, soak up the sun and stroll along the beach under the stars. It was also a great time for food - delicious sea food at every turn, everything from shark to octopus.

Sadly my last meal on the island was rather wasted: Beth and I returned by ferry, like a big speedboat we hit those waves, and up and down we went, and out went my meal over the side!