After weeks of wrangling the girls organised their respective diaries so we could at last visit Simon Mtuy and his family up at their shamba in Marangu. We've spoken of Simon before and I had recently been invited to write an article about him for Ultra Running World. Suffice to say Simon is one of Tanzania's premier athletes and endurance record holders. He is married to a lovely American girl called Tara who works at KCMC in research as well as managing two small boys, Kari and Aiden...both of whom make Zac and Josh look saintly.
|Our Host and Hostess|
Their shamba is a family run business providing most of the stock food products for Simon's expedition and trekking businesses. He has also started to develop a coffee plantation as well as a replanting scheme for trees and shrubs. The farm is situated around an hours drive from Moshi and is in the Marangu-Aris area no more than 1km from the main gate into the park. This is where Simon grew up and given the altitude (1900mtrs) it's no wonder the guy runs like a gazelle.
We left with Toby (the Swede) and his family following Simon et al on the manic drive that is leaving Moshi town, we were soon off roading through small villages as we climbed ever higher to reach the farm. Once there we met Simon's parents whom I then found out was old news to Zanz as she had already been giving his mother medical advice at KCMC. Ever the keeper of confidences I was the last to know. The boys got stuck in strait away with feeding the pigs and chasing the chickens.
The purpose of the weekend was for Simon, Toby and myself to mountain bike 60km the 60km back to Moshi, but both Simon and Toby were sick and Zanner spent most of the rest of the day trying to convince Simon to take pharmaceutical remedies, which run contrary to his beliefs. However he was going downhill as the honey and hibiscus seemed to have no affect on his symptoms. I think any of you who have experienced child rearing will note that their coughs and colds are bubonic when they hit an adult. Zanner continued to push her drug taking and eventually I think in a state of weakness Simon relented...but quickly got better.
|brrrrrr a bit cold|
We took tea and went to bed with the idea of trekking the following day after an early breakfast. Now I'm not sure if the idea of an early anything when planned is not someone of an anathema to our way of doing things. But the following morning led to midday before we got on our way. Zac as usual wanted to be out front, and given the rains in the area it was damp and slippy! No prizes for guessing who has a big scab on his knee now?
|Yep definitely COLD!!!!!!|
Eventually we came to an amazing waterfall and plunge pool area, Josh was immediately chomping on the bit to be in. Simon walked over to the edge of the fall and described it as a 'bit cold'. In no time I had stupidly jumped in simply to get it over with thinking the others would follow...no...just my hardy boys, who then decided the needed me to jump in with them at least five times. A bit cold does not describe sufficiently the feeling you get in your teeth as fillings freeze and your lips become a type of blue not yet envisaged by Dulux. I realized it was stupidly cold when the Swedes, who take to the ice waters, thought it was a bit too chilly to get in!
|There's always one|
We dried off and trekked on, taking in the amazingly variegated fauna surrounding the foothills of Kilimanjaro and Mwenzi. Upon our return we toured the area that Simon is developing as part of his expedition company. This will eventually become a truly remarkable place to acclimatize for the people wishing to climb the mountain at the same time assuring future generations of Mtuy clan security within their homeland.
We trekked the following day, taking in more of the beautiful scenery, crossing rivers and basking in the spray of the waterfalls. All in all a real hidden gem that I think few people get to experience made all the more enjoyable by the sunny disposition of the locals you come across.
As it was Sunday and therefore Zac's birthday we had birthday lunch whilst texting round many of our Moshi friends to invite them to an impromptu party when we got home. We headed back soon after lunch and got stuck into to preparing for Zac's party.
|The Altitude training camp in progress|
It was a great night no matter how tired all the weekenders had been, unfortunately it was also Queens day in Holland and therefore many of our Dutch friends couldn't come, but it didn't stop 20 odd people coming round to sing happy birthday round a quickly baked cake. This was carried out individually in every language represented, English, German, Hebrew, KiSwahili, Swedish, Finnish and American, the last of which no-one understood! Zac said he thought his party was pretty cool as he got a Pirates of the Caribbean book and compass...which Josh managed to break within 5 minuets.
The party ran till late as the adults managed to consume much alcohol on Zacs behalf and we tucked Zanner up in bed before me and the boys cleaned up!
|Josh getting to know the pigs|
|Doctor and Patient|
|A room with a view|
|You see that Simon gets his height from his mother!|
|20min chocolate cake|
|Its my party and I want a film|
|There were four on the tree and the little one said...|
|The only way to get Simon to look up at me.|
|Attention...Calvin Klein wet look underwear|
|Are we there yet?|
|Anybody seen Alex?|
|Ok we surrender! No more boys please.|