Along the streets of Moshi Town

There are two major streets that run through Moshi Town, one is known as Market Street, the other as Double Road.

The central bus station as seen from Market Street.
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A view of Kilimanjaro from Double Road.
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All of the streets in Moshi Town are bustling from sunup till sundown, but these two streets are probably some of the most travelled. They are a key artery for the local public transportation system – if you want to head south, you catch a daladala on Double Road; if you want to head north, you catch one on Market Street. Their wide sidewalks are also perfect for those enterprising individuals who make their living selling goods and services to the thousands of pedestrians who pass by daily.

Taylors set up shop pretty much every day except Sundays, and every taylor has their specific location. The men mostly sew men’s suits; the women sew dresses for many of Moshi’s residents, as well as a variety of items for the countless tourists that come through. They will also mend your clothing while you wait.
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You can also find people to repair your watches, phones, and shoes, give you a manicure or pedicure (interestingly, I have only ever seen men provide this service!), duplicate your keys, sharpen your knives… there are even at least a dozen medicine booths where Maasai men will prescribe all kinds of combinations of their traditional herbs and powders for a wide array of ailments. But sadly, I don’t have photos of any of these.

Much of the rest of the sidewalk space throughout town is taken up by vendors selling almost anything you could imagine.

Produce
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Movies & TV shows
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Books
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Hats
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Shirts
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Socks
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Shoes (and soccer jerseys)
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Locally crafted leather shoes
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Street food (roast corn, tart mangoes with salt and chili powder, avocados, oranges, bananas, etc…)
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Watches, sunglasses, leather belts and wallets, jewelry…
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…radios, flashlights, even Al-Shabaab razors…?
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I think the street vendor culture is one of the characteristics I most enjoyed about living in Moshi. It’s so very different than what we are used to in the West, and it ends up adding so much color and movement to the streets. Walking on the sidewalk didn’t have to be just a means to an end, but became an adventure for the senses. I never knew what I might come across. Not to mention the fact that it gave me an excuse to browse the rows of shoes every time I went grocery shopping. 🙂

The first of the last posts

Sorry for the long silence. The past month or so have been filled with moving back to the US! A few days before we left Moshi, we walked around town and I took as many photos as I was able so that I could, a) have some great visual reminders of everyday life there, and b) help you hopefully create a better picture of Moshi for yourselves.

This first post will just be dedicated to my walk/ride into Moshi town.

The Doctor’s Compound, where we lived, is kind of on the northwest edge of Moshi. It took me about 30-45 minutes to get into town, depending on how many stops the Daladala (public transport van) made. I usually took this trek into town about once a week, for groceries.

This is the road leading from the Doctor’s Compound to KCMC.
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The fields surrounding this road all belong to KCMC. We recently learned that the hospital divides the fields up so that its staff can each have a piece of land to farm. Not only that, but it also tills all the land with a tractor (this is a significant help, seeing as most people would otherwise have to till their plot by hand!)
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Sure enough, right before the long rains, every portion that I could see on my walk into town was being cultivated.
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Most people around us grew beans, but a good number also grew sunflowers. I was told they take the seeds and have them pressed for oil. (Sunflower oil is one of the main cooking oils in Tanzania. I never really used it before we lived in Moshi, but it’s now one of my favorites for all-purpose cooking.)
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It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the Daladala stand. After the fields, I would pass the entryway to an alley everyone called Gaza Strip. Don’t ask me why! It’s packed with small “duka’s” that range from one-room grocery/general stores to stationary/photocopying services, to tailors/clothing shops, to restaurants. It sits directly behind the KCMC medical college, so I have a feeling it exists mostly for, and because of, the medical students.
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These next two photos show the road leading through and out of the hospital compound. The Daladala stand sits on the hospital property, to the left of this road, and is the start & end point for a good number of the Daladala’s in town.
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I actually didn’t take a Daladala when I snapped these photos. But to give you an idea of my typical Daladala ride in Moshi, here’s a video I shot the first time we were in Moshi.

Now the road leading into town.
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Looks like this Daladala was having some technical difficulties…
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There are very few street signs in Moshi, so people use other methods when giving directions. One is that all of the roundabouts are named. This first one is called the Water Roundabout. The statue in the center reads “Water is Life.”
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The second roundabout is known as either the Coke Roundabout, or the Clock Tower. (It’s maintained by Moshi’s Coca Cola bottling factory, Bonite Bottlers.)
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The Daladala would take me up Double Road, and I would get off right near one of the main “soko’s” (outdoor produce market). This is where I bought pretty much all of my fresh produce, beans, and meat. (The photo here is only showing the street adjacent to the soko – the market itself is behind the buildings on the left.)
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On the way back I usually stopped at a couple of different grocery stores to buy any packaged food (pasta, sugar, yogurt, bread, milk) or other household supplies. I found a few of my favorites and stuck with them. This one (on the right) is the Kilimanjaro Supermarket.
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Then, at the end of my trip, I would usually swing by Aleem’s, another grocery store where, depending on what’s in stock, you can pretty much find anything you want (for a price). Some delicious cheeses, awesome (cheap) curry paste, coconut milk, even boxed cake mixes and wine vinegar. Across from Aleem’s is Abbas Hot Bread Shop. They have pretty good white bread – round loaves and baguettes, and really delicious croissants. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of these two shops, so you’ll just have to make do with your imagination.

By this point, loaded down with a week’s worth of groceries, hot and tired, I would take a taxi back to our house for about $3. The whole grocery trip usually took between 2 and 3 hours. Phew!

Ginger Peanut Sauce

One of the people Steve and I have gotten to know here used to work in the Peace Corps. She introduced me to this recipe for Ginger Peanut Sauce, which she got from a Peace Corps cookbook. (As an aside, on the recipe Karen gave me, it’s called Hot Spicy Peanut Sauce, but I’d say it’s more gingery than spicy, so I changed the name.) I fell in love with its fusion of flavors, from tangy tomatoes and ginger, to nutty peanut butter, savory soy sauce, and sweet honey. I thought I would share it since it is is also really simple to make, and is a hearty vegetarian dish that, I think, is a perfect pair with brown rice.

First off, the ingredients:
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½ cup raw peanuts
¼ cup oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
1 hot pepper, minced
5 medium tomatoes, chopped (I think Roma tomatoes are the best for this dish)
1½ tsp. salt
½ cup peanut butter
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. honey or sugar

The first thing I almost always do when cooking is to prep all the ingredients, or at least the ones that need chopping. That way when I’m cooking, I have everything easily accessible and ready to throw into the pot.
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(Make sure to mince the ginger as small as possible, unless you like getting that burst of flavor from biting down on a piece of ginger in your sauce.)
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Also, I’m not sure how easy it is to find raw peanuts like this in the US. I’ll have to look into that when we return. Here they have huge sacks of them in the market and they sell them by weight. I think people buy them and roast their own. A lot of younger men also walk around town selling them, roasted, as snacks. Since I bought them in the local market, I had to sort through the raw peanuts to make sure there weren’t any rocks or bad peanuts.
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Anyway, in a small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
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Add the peanuts and boil for 5 minutes.
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Drain and set aside.
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Heat oil in another pot and sauté the onions until they are translucent (about 2 minutes).
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Add garlic, ginger, and hot pepper, and sauté for another 30 seconds or so.
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Add tomatoes and salt, and cook on medium until the tomatoes have broken down into a sauce. Stir occasionally to keep things from sticking.
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Add the peanuts and peanut butter and stir well to combine.
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Lower the heat and add 1 cup of water, soy sauce, and honey. Then cover, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add more water if the sauce gets too thick.
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Serve with brown rice and any kind of vinegar or lime-based salad. Enjoy!
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Kilimanjaro time-lapse

I’ve had the chance to go out and capture a few time-lapse sequences of Kilimanjaro, usually at sunset, since that’s when it’s most often the clearest. So I put three of them together into a short video.

I’ll also take this opportunity to admit to a secret love of dreamy synth/electronic music – ever since I was a kid in the 80s and early 90s, when synthesizers were making their way into canned elevator music. In fact, I have a very distinct memory of swimming in the pool at my Grandma’s golf club in Arizona and hearing what we then called “New Age” music being piped out of the poolside speakers. I’m sure I had heard that style of music before, but maybe the setting was just right for it to find a place into my heart – bright sun, shimmering desert heat, cool water, navajo flute and electronic drum sequencer… can you blame me?

But I digress. All that is to say that I added some dreamy electronic music under this time-lapse video, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Strange creatures in our backyard

For about a week, we had been hearing squeaks and squawks coming from one of the trees in our backyard. Neither of us could pin down the sound. Maybe a bunch of baby Silvery-cheeked Hornbills? We happen to have between 2 and 5 of the adult version in our yard on any given afternoon, and they make an almost pre-historic squawking sound. But why did they only start up at night? Maybe a large group of baby Bushbaby’s? We have a couple of adult Bushbaby’s that live in the trees in our yard, as well. But if I listened carefully, I could hear wings flapping occasionally. And the strangest thing was that it sounded like there were hundreds of them!

After a few nights of this, we finally adventured out with a strong flashlight, and it took me about 5 seconds to realize it was a colony of fruit bats! There are small fruits on the tree (it’s some kind of indigenous fig tree, i think), which they come to feed on for about 4 or 5 hours right after it gets dark. By midnight, they’re gone.

I spent the rest of the evening observing them from our kitchen window and trying to capture some video of them. The video isn’t the best, but it’ll give you an idea of what I was seeing, and it definitely captured their sounds accurately.

I didn’t realize fruit bats had faces more like dogs. You may disagree with me, but I think they’re kind of cute! Funny, Steve won’t let me keep one as a pet…

Snow on Kili

Well, rainy season has begun – it usually runs from mid/late-march to around may or june, I think. Along with an incredible green that seems to appear out of nowhere over the course of about 3 days, Kili also becomes covered with a cap of white that makes it all the more stunning when the clouds clear.

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I assumed we wouldn’t see it much during the rainy season, but the weather patterns here often create clear evenings, where the mountain catches the last rays of the sun in a golden flare.

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I captured this one while shooting a time lapse of the mountain, and the glow lasted about 5 minutes in total (which made for less than a second in my timelapse, unfortunately). It was a complete surprise, because I really thought the sun had already finished setting. I’ve seen it happen since, and will definitely try to capture a longer timelapse of it next time!

A couple more shots of Kili from a few days ago. These were taken right outside our compound. Thankfully there is a big field that offers a pretty good view.
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Early morning, around 6:30.

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Later in the afternoon.

How can you not want to climb it after seeing this??

Harvesting avocados

We have a couple of avocado trees in our backyard. I knew nothing about them – when to pick the avocados (or even how – they’re really high up), when they’re ripe, etc… But thankfully Hadija, our house help, explained it all to me, so I have really been enjoying harvesting and eating them.

Of course, there are so many that I can’t possibly eat them all (as much as I’d like to!), so I had some friends over to pick some of their own.

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This long, and quite heavy, bamboo pole is also used to knock mangoes down when they are in season.

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It definitely takes a little practice!

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Because they’re not yet ripe when you knock them down, they don’t bruise at all, even though they’re falling from a height of 15 to 20 feet.

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After a few days of sitting on your counter, they ripen perfectly. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that these are, literally, the best avocados I’ve ever eaten!

St. Margaret’s

I thought I would share a little bit about the church we have connected with in Moshi, since it is part of our life here now.

St. Margaret’s is an anglican church, but I’ve heard that probably only about 10% of the english service congregation is actually anglican. This, and the fact that there are at least 5-10 countries represented on any given Sunday, gives the church a very diverse feel.

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(There is also a swahili service that meets prior to the english service. It is much larger and, from what I hear, much more anglican. We would like to start going to this service, as well, but 8:00 is early, so we haven’t gotten around to it yet.)

St. Margaret’s english congregation is in somewhat of a unique situation at the moment, as their most recent pastor and his wife were only here for a year commitment, and have just left. This congregation has had experience in functioning without a pastor before, so this is nothing new, but it is always a time of unpredictability and necessary flexibility. Since it is a small congregation with an even smaller number of permanent/semi-permanent congregants, almost everyone has to pitch in in some way to keep things functioning.

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They have solved this in part by having a simple sign up sheet at the back of the sanctuary containing the positions that need to be filled for each Sunday of the month: Speaker, Service Leader, Music Leader, Prayer Leader, Scripture Reader, etc… There is also a Service Coordinator whose job it is to ensure that all necessary spots are filled before Sunday rolls around.

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Although it is a challenge, it is this kind of experience that can really draw a community together. Because there is such a necessity for involvement, people have to step up and pitch in. It is an excellent time to learn about personal strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately a place where the words of Paul can be experienced and affirmed:

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
(1 Cor 12:4-11)

We are looking forward to seeing the ways God will move in and through this congregation in the months ahead. …And if you know of a pastor who is interested in working overseas with a primarily western congregation, direct him my way!

Hashing in Machame

Machame is a town that is a few thousand feet up the western slope of Kilimanjaro. This was where our last Hash was. The path we took was incredibly beautiful, but a bit more tricky, with a number of false trails (ultimately marked with an F at the end, at which point we had to backtrack until we found the correct trail).

We were actually about an hour late to the Hash because our taxi was delayed. But this ultimately worked out to our benefit because one of the false trails was so long that we ended up catching up with the rest of the group as they were backtracking! We were also told that we missed getting soaked in the rain.