The bus to Arusha wouldn’t leave until 14.30 and the shuttle from Twiga Lodge left at 12.30 into town so we decided to sleep in a little bit.
I woke up around 10:00 and did my usual routine by walking out of the compound and have a look at old Kili to try to realize that I was where I was.
Returned to the room and packed my bags before walking out to the courtyard and have some small breakfast and check my mails as well as update this blog.
The main coordinator Nicole was sitting in the Twiga Lodge this day and we talked away about all and everything including their NGO WorldUnite which I had a short look at and it seemed quite interesting what they offered as I am in these thoughts for the end of 2013.
As we were sitting and talking one of the employees came and asked if we were leaving that day as we needed to get our things out of the room by 12:00.
Funny as we were the only guests there.
I had talked a little bit with the woman who drove us in the shuttle from the lodge into town previously on the day we had arrived.
And of course she spoke some Swedish and she had been there a few months earlier as she had friends living in the suburbs of Stockholm and actually around that neighborhood where I spent some time growing up as my father lives there.
Seems like I will encounter Swedish speaking people everywhere I travel but to run into two women in Tanzania within a few days who both knew some Swedish I guess is not very common or maybe it is just me who succeed in these things?
Emmason had texted me in the morning as he needed some money upfront from us to rent the car and set up all the accommodations and charge the entrance card for the Ngorongoro park.
The funny part is that he needed the money in USD and not in Tanzanian Shillings so we needed to change some pink elephants into USD.
We needed 600 USD in other terms, 300 USD each as we had agreed on a total price of 500 USD per person for the safari.
Now 600 USD translated into pink elephants means a lot of them. Both me and Jake needed to make a withdrawal and headed off to the ATM to make a minor violent withdraw to cover the cost.
In total we needed almost 1.000.000 TSH meaning 100 pink elephant notes.
I stacked up on 80 of them for later costs as well and with our pockets full of elephants we started walking towards the exchange office hoping no one would understand what we were carrying in our pockets.
We exchanged the money with great of easy to an extremely good rate that we could not understand and meet up with Emmason to hand over the money.
Now it is not everyday you hand over 600 USD to a person that you just met the following day so we were dividing back and forth if this was a good idea or not.
We decided to go on the weird gut feeling and handed over the money with some hardship but it turned out to be one of the best decisions we had made as Emmason is an awesome guy.
We walked up to the Dar Express station and waited for the bus that would take us the two-hour ride to our next destination Arusha where we had an other host from CouchSurfing waiting for us.
The bus ride went much quicker then I had expected and I was lucky and managed to get a window seat where I could see everything that was passing by as the bus accelerated.
We overtook people in tuk-tuk´s, people on bikes, motorbikes, slower cars and also slower dala-dala´s (taxi buses).
The music playing was a mix of Tanzanian hip-hop and the local style called Bongo Flava.
One song got stuck in our head and ended up following us the whole trip through Tanzania with us singing the chorus here and there and the locals joining in as they knew exactly what song it was.
The landscape outside my window was changing rapidly even though the distance between the two cities is only about 140 km with the Kilimanjaro International Airport being situated almost in the middle between the cities.
We passed through the farming and more dry landscape that we had seen around Moshi and Kilimanjaro where people were on their tractors and turning up their soil.
The more closer we got to Arusha the more green and lush the landscape became with more vegetation appearing as the bus slowly climbed in elevation as we were reaching Arusha.
And suddenly the bus passed the sign welcoming us to the district of Arusha.
Our host had given us some road directions and we got off at the hotel as he had told us and I made a call on my Tanzanian SIM card that I had bought previously.
A few tones later a voice replied over a bad phone line with some distortion in the background.
Now here comes the twist. The guy speaks Swedish!
Benjamin is a guy who was born in Iran but grew up in Sweden and moved to Arusha 2½ years ago starting his own tour company Fair Travel to promote sustainability and fairness in salary as the tourist industry in this country unfortunately in a way exploit the cheap labor to maximize the profit for the operator.
Ben´s company does it the other way around instead. They give their employees a fair salary and re-invest the profit into the community in different projects instead to make the world go around.
We got the directions and started walking towards his house where someone would come and meet us as Ben was still at work when we arrived.
Walking up the hill towards Mountain Meru which is Tanzania’s second highest mountain we were looked at from all sides as we were muzungus.
This was the country side and everything was so beautiful as we were walking and people from all directions started greeting us here and there.
We found our way towards Ben´s house and as we passed a small side road a voice reached my ear on my left side “Couchsurfers?”
I turned my head and I see this tall, bearded guy coming walking towards us in shorts and flip-flops repeating his question which we replied.
He took us up to the house and let us in so we could put down our bags and started talking while we were waiting for Ben to come home from work.
Funny enough this Croatian guy was a travel blogger and had been out on the road for 1½ year in total on his trip named “1000 days of sun” and he had stayed with Ben for the last 10 days as he was a couchsurfer as well.
After some talks we were offered to have some pineapple and I didn’t turn down that opportunity.
When we were standing in the kitchen talking we discovered that Me and him actually had met already in Prague back in 2009 during the second CzechSurfing event and that he had been hosted by our good friend Rolf.
Now how amazing is that?
When Benjamin came home we all started talking and discussing some really heavy subjects like religion, thoughts, anthropology and so on.
We were offered tea and some nice cookies that Tomas had baked the day before and the effect made me a bit sleepy. The pineapple had burned off in our stomachs and we started to get a bit hungry.
Tomas had bragged so much previously on how good of a cook Ben was so we were actually looking forward to something amazing.
Kind of hard thing to live up to already at first meeting.
He invited us into the kitchen and us 4 men started peeling, cutting, chopping, dicing all different types of vegetables, fresh I must add, while Ben stood at the stove and started mixing all ingredients together as he was using his skills thought to him by his father.
Ben is doing slow cooking so the food itself took a while to complete but as we all were talking, tasting all ingredients and having a great time the time flew away.
I ran down in the middle of the darkness, there is of course no street lights in a village, to the local barn to get a couple of beers.
The food was served and a spicy vegetable curry served with mash potato was an amazing joy for the stomach and I can honestly say that this was probably one of the best meals I have ever had in my life.
I wish my father would have had the culinary skills as Ben´s father and had passed it down to me.
But the world wanted different for me.
After the food we were all kind of sleepy as the clock had struck almost 23:00 in the evening and we continued to talk.
Tomas fell a sleep quite quick and Jake and Ben went outside to lay under the stars and discuss further about all the necessary heavy subjects of life existence while I headed off to the bed that had been appointed to me.
I feel a sleep after a long day that had put a lot of cog wheels in my head in motion.