Author: Arafa Ibrahim Mumba
Early Saturday morning, we were woken up at 3:30 am with shouting and loud funny threats of being dragged out from our tents by the unzip team. I mean come on, I just slept not a while ago. We arrived at Bagamoyo, the prior day at 7:20 pm after leaving Mlimani City, which is located in Dar es Salaam. The trip to Bagamoyo was is approximately 65.6 km, which is about 1 hour and 35 minutes’ drive. All of the Unzippers were loaded in three buses as we headed our way to the location.
As we arrived, we were welcomed by a flight of stairs to the Beach Cottage Hotel. Their services were up to par and welcoming. Much as I would have liked to sleep in one of the rooms, there were tents waiting for us near the beach. The real unzip experience, adventure at its best. After having dinner, we all headed to the beach to sink in the warmth of the bonfire. The sounds of the guitar can be heard as people sang along to different songs, voices blending as the waves were silent, letting our voices be heard loud and clear. Rhythm filled people’s bodies as others stood up and danced, I being one of them.
From afar, we hear the beat of drums. Beating to melodies, we know of. We had neighbors with their own bonfire, enjoying to their own tune. Engrossed, some people head over and join them. As I watch from a distance, I see as they join together; singing and dancing. You would think, we all came together. The amazing thing about traveling is meeting people with the same interests and adventures to tell each other as each of our bucket lists of countries to visit increase. Therefore, that is why I am on the bus changing positions on my seat as I get restless to get to the beautiful Magoroto that I was told about. The distance between Bagamoyo to our final destination is about 299.2 km which took us approximately 4 hours and 58 minutes.
I stare outside the window as I get a glimpse of the green pastures, men and women working on their farms as their children play not far from them as the village begins to rise up as of the rest of the world. At times, I envy their life for its simplicity, fresh air and the beautiful view of the mountains. I find that the rural areas humble you, for it reminds you of the amazing creation of GOD, for its untouched beautiful scenery. Moreover, seeing them is a reminder what really matters on this earth to achieve the peace that we yearn.
Time passes by just like the houses and people we left blurry behind. We reach Magoroto at 11:30am. We offload our luggages and head down to our home for 2 days. The sight that greets me is amazing. Tents overlooking the lake as trees surround it. Simple small huts and seats made out of wood to accommodate us as we chill and eat. A boat at the edge of the lake, waiting to be taken for a ride as small rafts float across. People rush to settle into their tents as they eager to jump into the man-made lake. I realize there is no network, which is greet. Proper space from the loud noise of the outside world.
I on the other hand, take my time enjoying the view as I take a deep breath in. Exactly what I needed after a hectic month. My moment is cut short as my sisters call me to dip in the water. I did not plan to but decide to change nevertheless. After we are done, we head to the edge of the lake. They immediately jump in as I stand there like a pole for I am not a huge fan of cold water. I hear one of them yell out ‘Stop being a sissy’ and I shout back ‘But I am a sissy’, as I reply back laughing. I take my phone and start taking pictures of them and the terrain around me.
They head to the other side to join the others as I move as well via land. I take a couple more pictures and mingle with people. Everyone is relaxed in a good mood as conversation and laughter can be heard. I watch as the others enjoy themselves in the water and I think to myself this does not happen very often, so why the hell not. I put the phone down, strip my shorts and jump in the water. The water hit my body as it sent shivers through out my body. It is not as bad as I thought. I glide through the water as I alternate from front stroke, frog, dog paddle and back stroke. The water is amazing. We all head back up to begin diving whilst taking videos and boomerangs.
The sun begins to set and people disperse to get ready for the night. Later, we met with the rest at the common area where a bonfire is lit. Conversations and music continue to flow as we wait for dinner, our tummies growling. Finally food is served and we eat our hearts out. Now full and energized, the boozing continues as the night has just begun. For the couples, they separate from us to enjoy time alone. The area is big enough to indulge yourself whether alone/ with your loved one or with people. People in small groups as others dance whilst others tell interesting tales.
I stay around until close to midnight where I head to the other side with my relatives and friend where we start our own bonfire with chilled music. People come and go as we relish in each other’s company until I am left with my own device. I welcome the peace and quiet as I dance under the stars and moon swaying to the sounds as I feel my lungs with the fresh air. Nothing can beat this moment. To others it may seem weird dancing alone and enjoying your ‘me time’ but they don’t understand what gratification it can bring. When you travel, you have to be prepared to meet different type of people. The extroverts, introverts and the in-betweeners as you will meet the simple travelers and luxury travelers. Checking the time, I realize its 2:00 am which means time for bed as tomorrow we are going hiking.
The next day, I wake up early in the morning around 6:00 am and decide to go walk around the lake and explore. Getting out of my tent, I met others whom are Keen to go on a mini adventure. As we explore, we take a lot of pictures for memories. Each of us becoming a model in their own sense of style. Some of us are on foot as our other companion decides to ride a bicycle instead. We circle the area around the lake finding a small stream and some fishermen setting their net in the lake to catch fishes. Being as it is morning and a cold breeze resides among us, I can’t help but ask if they are not cold for they were only in their shorts. To which one of them replied “We are used to it”. We bid our goodbyes as we wish them luck on catching a bounty. We head back to get ready for breakfast and hiking before we are left behind.
Upon reaching the tent areas, we see people scrambling to get ready as others are done and waiting for breakfast to be served. We waste no time as we also rush and prepare ourselves. After I was done, I headed to the common area with my tent neighbors as we head to await breakfast. It did not take long and food was served. Each of us lined up in a straight line as we slowly moved across the buffet, getting served. At 10:30 am, we all gear up for hiking. We were going along the manga trail (black pepper). Reaching the top of the mountain will take around 40 minutes.
We start our journey as we push though the small forest, passing through slippery areas as we are careful not to fall. We pass the black pepper farm as some of us look closely for it is our first time. Moving further along, we greet the villagers we encounter on the way. They are so kind, some of them offer us cassava as we continue with our trail.
Reaching the top of the mountain will take…….. at a distance of………We start our journey as we push though the small forest, passing through slippery areas as we are careful not to fall. We pass the black pepper farm as some of us look closely for it is our first time. Moving further along, we greet the villagers we encounter on the way. They are so kind, some of them offer us cassava as we continue with our trail.
We encounter a small community and we interact with them. I collect the children around the area and decide to give them a treat. I asked where the nearest shop is and they pointed to a small shop a bit ahead at the edge of the football ground. A thought comes into mind, I shout to them whilst smiling ‘Let’s race to the shop”. I dash off and the follow behind me, laughter erupts as we race. The wind blowing our face, being with them made me feel like a kid again, reminiscing of those times. Reaching the shop, I ask the clerk what snacks he has.
Choosing my best options, I turn around and count 15 children. Therefore, I order 15 biscuits for them. As I gave them out, more children began to pour and I ordered more to accommodate them and some of the adults. When I was done giving out, I turned to the clerk and paid what I owed him. I waved at the kids as they said ‘Thank you” and began slowly trotting to the others that were behind waiting for me. I hear giggles and I turn back to find the children running behind me once again. I am left in awe and a smile spreads across my lips. When we reach to the other Unzippers, I turn to wave and say bye as they all shout back, waving as well.
Finally, our destination is in view. Standing on top of the mountain, alluring field of vision as others take photos. We indulge as we drink fresh coconut water. I cannot help but have two, the taste is heavenly. Fearing the time, we do not stay long and head back to the camp. We make a stopover back to the small village and people settle into the grass. The men head toward the locals to ask for a friendly football match against the locals, to which they agree.
I on the other head to the other side towards the children. I sit on the grass and they immediately circle around me. We share stories and indulge in some laughter. The football match rages on as I begin to tell a story that once my grandmother told me called “Alfu lela ulela”. I let the children agree on their choice of the characters names, making it more exciting. I relish in this moment for this is something I yearned to do.
After my story ended, I suggested to play games with nursery rhymes to which they agreed. We began playing as we danced around in a circle whilst singing and one of the woman from unzip came to join the merry go round. We changed to a game of tag whilst singing along another song. It was so much fun but was cut short when one of the girls was accidently hit by the ball. I consoled her and instead decided to seat them down further away from the possibility of one of them being hit again. Resuming, I share another story told to me by one of our housemaids whom used to take care of me. I narrated the story as the children silently listened as I sang to some parts of the story telling. Time flew by and before we knew it, the football match was over and it was time to head back to the campsite.
On our way back, I notice one of us has his feet bare as we track back. Feeling a bit envious, reminiscing of the feel of the soil underneath your feet. I resolve and remove my shoes, him offering to hold them which was kind of him. Continuing along the path, a friend and I notice a jeep with someone we know inside. We approach and ask her what she is doing here since we left her at the campsite for she and some others decided not to tag along. To which she replied that some of the people had gone to the waterfall. I thought to myself, I can’t leave this place without seeing the waterfalls. The others in front shout for us to catch up and I yell back that they should go along, we will join them. We ponder how we will get to the waterfalls as we do not know the way to get there. I further think to myself, how I will hike to the waterfalls bare feet. I could not go get them for the others where far along. Well, this does not happen often. Let us go this adventure and pray not to get any injuries.
We turn and to see 3 local women with a babysitting. We humbly approach them and as if one of them could show us the way to the waterfalls. One of them offers to show us and she stands up as she wraps the baby on her back. Being concerned I ask her if it is safe for her and the baby. She lightly brushes it off and comments that she has gone there several times with the baby. She goes in front of us and leads the way as we began our journey. Going along further, she meets one of her friends whom as well decides to tag along. In between the journey, we come upon our other friends heading back with the tour guide behind them. We hijack the tour guide to take us back to the waterfalls, we bid the ladies goodbye and promise to give them a little gift when we come back up. They all head back except for I, my friend and the tour guide. Continuing the journey, I endure with my feet bare as we climbed rocks. We fell several times for the rocks were slippery, luckily not causing injuries.
I am really enjoying this trip as the adrenaline rush courses through my body, I can’t help feel like I am Jane from Tarzan or Tom Raider. Finally, we reach the top of the waterfalls. We sigh and chatter happily as we take pictures. My friend and I give our phones to the tour guide. We head under the waterfalls, the cold water hits us and we scream with surprise but still sit there as it continued to pour on us. When we are done, we head back to the campsite. Trekking through the trees, we find a spring and I drink from it. The water tastes fresh and pure.
We receive a phone call to hurry up and we speed up our pace. Finally, we get to where we started. Passing the women, we gave the one whom helped a little money compensation and bid them goodbye. We hurriedly rush into the jeep and head back to the campsite. We arrive there at 3:20 pm to find others still eating and find people in the lake swimming. I do not waste time and I join in the fun. We swim for a short while and get out to pack our stuff before we head out. At around 5:15 pm, we bid and hug each other goodbye as we went into separate buses, thereafter begin our journey back to town. Faces gloom as we will miss this peaceful place that gave us tranquility. I am looking forward to go on more trips with Unzip Tanzania as we explore our phenomenal country, breath taking sceneries and meeting new people. Close to 10:00 pm, we arrive at our stop. My sister and I drop off as we say our farewells to the others on the bus. Upon reaching home, exhausted I head straight to bed as sleep succumbs me as I dream away to the peaceful slumber with the memory of the beautiful Magoroto on my mind.