14 Mar: First rest day in Arusha

I enjoyed waking up with no pressure to have to be anywhere at any time. Breakfast was a buffet again. This time not Indian flavored, with a range of cereal, porridge, fruit, omelets, beans etc. Also a range of cakes.

Before and after breakfast I managed to catch up with all of my children and catch up with news. Great to hear that my daughter Lizzy was successful in her application for a Charge Nurse Manager role.

Mid-morning, we set off from the hotel to go to the bank to get local currency, to get a SIM card, and to go to the supermarket. Our hotel is only a 10-minute walk to town so we decide to walk.

Within 5 minutes we have the first tout coming up to us – a “tout” is someone who starts talking to you, trying to get you to give them money, or to go to a gem shop or buy a painting etc.  We are trying to get away from him and another man, who is walking past, tells us if we want someone to go away, we need to say “hapana asante” which means no thank you.

We get into conversation with this man, he tells us his name (Saitoty) and tells us that in his village there are doctors from NZ who have come to provide health services to woman and children. Saitoty offers to take us to, and show us around, the markets which are few minutes away. The markets are huge with all types of food, household goods, fabrics and traditional medicines. The place is packed and the aisles between the various stalls are very narrow and packed with people. I am not sure if I would have had the confidence to venture in there without Saitoty.

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The Marketplace – more photos below

We ask Saitoty about SIM cards and he advises the best provider is Airtel and takes us into a branch. But it turns out that we need our passport so we will need to come back again tomorrow.

After this Saitoty suggested a gem store near our hotel. We had a tour of the gems and it is very interesting seeing the ruby surrounded by the mother rock, and also Tanzanite.

Tanzanite is only found in a very small area of the world, so far only in Tanzania in a 7 km long 2 km wide area near Arusha. Tanzanite is named after Tanzania and it was added as an official birth stone for the month of December by the USA gem association in 2002. The first new gem to be added since 1912.

Tanzanite is not considered to be a precious gem despite being 1,000 time rarer than diamonds. This is because to be a precious gem you have to have beauty, rarity and hardness. Tanzanite, like emeralds, are not a hard stone and you have to be careful wearing and cleaning it.

Once we had had the tour the reason for no entry fee was clear: the hard sell of jewelry. The items they started with were very pretty – at 2,500 USD they should be. I quickly advised that they were totally out of my league however I do like buying earrings as a memento of the big bike rides. Tanzanite comes in 3 main grades A, B and C and so now I have a nice pair of grade C earrings, at 165 USD.

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Visit to Arusha Gem Museum

After this, Saitoty suggested we come to his workshop which was just by the hotel to see his paintings. This may have been the plan all along but we really enjoyed talking to him and got a lot of information about Tanzania and the way of life here. I liked a painting of locals celebrating the birth of a child and bringing gifts, so bought that for 126 USD, then back to the hotel.

Saitoty came in with us for a drink and then lunch and we continued chatting. Saitoty wrote down some useful words for me such as pole (sorry) – useful for when you bump into someone, Asante Sana (thank you) and Kwhaiheri (goodbye).

Saitoty is from a village called Mondale Mferijini where there are about 70 people living. Saitoty has a five-year-old daughter and is training to be a social worker. Saitoty told us that as not everyone has cellphones when people go away from the village they fold a leaf a certain way that lets visitors know if they will be back very soon or gone a long time.

Despite not having got to the bank, supermarket or got a SIM card, it was a great morning. We exchanged emails so we can get in contact if I come here again.

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Our “self appointed guide” got us to his shop

After lunch we spent some time at the pool. The water was not too hot and I enjoyed swimming around it even though it was not very big (four strokes of free stroke either way as pool was square).

We set off to find a restaurant close by that the Lonely Planet rated as worthwhile going to. Two minutes out of the hotel and we had a tout for a friend. However, he was helpful in getting us across the busy roads (no crossing lights or foot paths anywhere to be seen). He was very friendly and when we got to a hotel called Arusha Residences he advised that this was Restaurant 8 with a new name. Turned out he was right, without him we would have been completely bemused as there was no sign to say it was also a restaurant. We ended up buying a print of elephants from him for 20,000 Tanzanian (equates to $12.62 NZ).

We checked when we went in if the place took credit cards and were assured they did. We had a very nice, slow cooked lamb stew, with an African 2016 Shiraz called Leopard’s Leap which was also very nice. It was lovely seating outside, sitting in a lovely breeze.

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Dinner at the old “8” restaurant

All was very nice until “umm our credit machine is broken down, but if you give us your credit card we can do it on the internet”. Sadly, I fell for this but became increasingly uneasy as the person at the counter took the 3 code security number etc. He then said it wasn’t going through and would have to be done again. At this point I said no and pushed cancel. We were 3,000 short for the bill and said we would bring it back the next day.

When we got back to the hotel I immediately put a block on the card and checked there had been no transactions on the day. It may have been genuine but it smelled of a scam and better safe than sorry.

I had a very nice brandy and ginger down in the hotel to finish the evening off. Yay another rest day tomorrow.

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Brett’s caption: In the hotel after room service had been through. Kaye’s PJ’s were in shock, they’d never been so neatly folded

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Arusha Markets

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Arusha markets, a maze of laneways.

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Arusha markets, don’t ask!!

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Arusha Markets

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Arusha markets, hardware section

Categories: Tour d'Afrique | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “14 Mar: First rest day in Arusha

  1. Imad Aljanabi

    I think you did the right thing with the credit card, the worse is to comeback and see it was hacked with money loss. I always thought it is better to have cash in some countries. Well done.
    What was in the photo? you said do not ask but it seems very unusual.
    It is windy in Wellington.
    Wish you a great time.

  2. Lynn

    The credit card thing happened to Katie overseas they double swiped her card and a year later over Easter when Nz banks were closed used her card in South Africa to the total of $9000! Took ages to sort out with the bank

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