16 June 2024

We’re on our way from Snake Farm to Kilimanjaro foothills

Shanga Project

December 19, 2019 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

We stop here to view The Shanga Project, a social enterprise business providing training and employment to disabled people. They produce a huge range of craft items from largely discarded materials. They had a wonderful weaving shop producing lovely rugs. The looms are largely made from old bicycle parts and coat hangers and the like, yet the technology is of a now extinct but tried and tested variety. All are hand operated with no motors used.

There is also a section where they make beads, necklaces and armbands. There is one guy with no hands who is using his wrists to hold a wire he is meticulously and with great attention threading with tiny beads from a tray in front of him. He also seems to have some deformity of his jawbone. I think about what his life might have been like without this project and shudder inwardly at the images in my mind. Then, he must feel me looking at him and glances up with a shy smile. I feel a burst of love for him and smile back and then he glances away and continues with his work. I hope he feels the love I am feeling and not the horror I was feeling at images in my own mind. I guess, during his life, he must have experienced expressions of horror and pity many times.

We then moved onto a glass making workshop where they make many different glass ornaments using traditional glass blowing techniques. The guys, and it was all guys, work very efficiently and competently working with potentially very dangerous processes such as open furnaces and handling red-hot glass. One false move could lead to a deep burn but none of them seemed scarred.

There is a gift shop attached and a nice little coffeeshop. I bought a coffee and two little buns. I don’t know what they’re called but they’re delicious. Coffee in East Africa, in my experience, is excellent.

We stay at the project for an hour or two and then back on the truck for our next leg of the journey.

Road from Arusha to Marangu

December 19, 2019 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

Had a good night’s and snoozed for a lot of the journey

Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre

December 19, 2019 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

We stop here to visit a cultural heritage centre where there is also a Tanzanite display section. I never heard of Tanzanite before

Tanzanite is the blue and violet variety of the  mineral zoisite (a calcium aluminium hydroxyl  sorosilicate), caused by small amounts of  vanadium,  belonging to the epidote group.

Tanzanite is only found in Tanzania, in a very small mining area (approximately 7 km (4.3 mi) long and  2 km (1.2 mi) wide) near the Mirerani Hills.

I’m not really in precious or semi-precious stones so I go off to have a stroll through the rest of the centre.

The Arusha Cultural Heritage Centre is located in Arusha, Tanzania. It is a place where the past and present of the Tanzania’s 120-plus tribes can be viewed in a single compound. The centre boasts of various carvings, gemstones, artifacts, clothing and books. 

I’m amazed at the staggering amount, quality and variety of the handicrafts available. There are many rooms, shops and gallaries full of the most beautiful carvings and paintings. Some must cost hundreds of thousands of €uro.

What surprises me most are the art gallery. There are many seriously good paintings there. I wish I had the money to buy some of the oil paintings or watercolours I see. I’m not very educated about art although I know what I like. I get the impression, and I could be totally mistaken, that the artists I see are western trained or influenced. The paintings seem different to traditional African art I have seen in books or documentaries on TV. These ones breathe Africa but in a language accessible to me. But, as I said, I could be wrong about this.

After an hour or two, back on the truck for our journey to campsite with a lunch stop on the way.

Marangu in the Foothills of Kilimanjaro

December 19, 2019 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

Spent the day relaxing here in Marangu in the Foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Marangu is also the heartland of the Chagga people, and there are many possibilities for walks and cultural activities. Marangu means ‘place of water’, and the surrounding area is laced with small streams and waterfalls (most with a small entry charge for visitors).

It also is a town located in Kilimanjaro Region. Before Independence in 1961, the town of Marangu used to be the headquarters of the Vunjo district led by Chief (Mangi Mwitori) Petro Itosi Marealle and Paramount Chief (Mangi Mkuu) Thomas Marealle, installed in 1951, who lived in Moshi itself.. The four and half day Marangu Route climb is considered the least arduous. It is believed that the first man in history to have climbed Kibo peak on Kilimanjaro was Kinyala Johannes Lauwo (1871–1996) of Ashira Marangu.

Many Marangu residents are farmers growing bananas, vegetables and coffee. However, the biggest source of income is tourism. The Marangu route is the most popular hiking route in Africa. The town has world class hotels like Babylon Lodge, Kilimanjaro Mountain resort, hosting local and international guests wanting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. New Marangu residents are young men from all over Tanzania looking to work in the tourism industry as porters and guides.

Marangu is home to The Marangu Teacher Training College and Ashira Girls High School and many other schools which provides education to not only marangu residents but to other residence from different places around Tanzania country

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