At the temple ruins in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Khao Yai National Park, Thailand on December 13th.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

First day in Tanzania

Our plane had arrived at just before 10:00am, so despite the fact that we were pretty tired, we still had the whole day ahead of us. Our contact Justin drove us and our new friends Marti and Ryan into the big city of Arusha (pop 500,000). Arusha is typically the main start off point for anybody doing Serengeti safaris.

We stopped at the big Mt. Meru Hotel where we dropped off Marti and Ryan and exchanged contact info. We hope to see them again on Friday. They will be climbing Kilimanjaro a week or so before us, so we are excited to see how they make out.

It was about a 40 km (25 mile) drive from the airport into the city, but it's pretty slow going. 

The local bus.


Not sure.

Yes, we drive on the left side of the road here.

The entrance road to the building where we are staying.

The entrance road is pretty rough! But Justin laughed and said "no, you haven't seen a rough road yet!"

The building where we are staying.
Our apartment is on the top floor.

Justin went out and got me a couple of the local beers to try.

We relaxed for an hour and talked over some plans with Justin. He has us scheduled to do the four night Mt. Meru hike starting on Monday morning the 25th. And then a couple of days rest and then the seven night Mt. Kilimanjaro hike starting February 2nd. Justin arranged it so that we would do the summit on my birthday, February 7th!

Then we went out and got some lunch.

Despite being a world famous tourist center, there is not a lot of English spoken by the locals unless they are directly involved in tourism. So Justin has started teaching us the basics of Swahili. It seems like a fairly easy language to learn (as far as that goes!) because at least when you are reading it, the majority of the words sound exactly as they are spelled.

After lunch, we went to run some errands. We stopped at a bank machine to get some local cash. I took out 300,000 shillings ($165 CAD, $130 USD) just to test the system, and was charged the standard 2.5% foreign exchange fee that gets charged anywhere in the world, plus a 10,000 shilling ($5.50 CAD, $4.35 USD) ATM fee. I don't so much mind the 10,000 shilling ATM fee, because a fee of some kind was expected, but I don't like the fact that the machine didn't disclose the amount of the fee prior to completing the transaction. I will try another bank next time.

Then we went to get some internet access. There is no WiFi in the apartment, so Justin suggested we get a cellular MiFi device. He would pay for the device and will be keeping it when we are done with it, and we get to use the 40GB data package that comes with it. The device with the data cost 75,000 shillings ($41 CAD, $33 USD). It would have been slightly more with a new SIM card, but Justin already had a spare he could use.

So, now we can keep in touch with you all! Apparently there is some very spotty coverage on the mountains, so we might be able to post the odd update during those trips, even if it's just to say we are okay.

Next up was to get some supplies for the apartment.

He brought us to a specialized expat grocery store with a lot of goods imported from the UK. But prices were downright ridiculous. As an example, it was 19,000 shillings ($10.40 CAD, $8.25 USD) for a box of corn flakes. We can't figure how they stay in business. We bought some oat flake breakfast porridge that was only a bit expensive, and a bottle of the local hooch that Justin said was a good price.

We learned in Barbados (a very expensive country) a few years ago that the locals survive by eating like the locals. Lots of fruits and vegetables, and beans and rice. Chicken, beef, and pork are actually quite reasonable too, when bought at the places where the locals shop. If you want to live like an expat or a tourist here, it can easily be expensive. 

Buying some rice at the local market.

We bought 3 kgs (6.5 lbs) of rice for 4,800 shillings ($2.75 CAD, $2.10 USD).

Another example is milk. We saw 1 liter tetrapack boxes of milk for 4,500 shillings ($2.50 CAD, $1.95 USD). That's some expensive milk. But the locals use fresh cows milk (yes, right from the cow) and boil it themselves. Justin said he would get us some of that for our tea and hot chocolate in the morning.

We were beat, so Ruth and I went back to the apartment and had an hour nap.

Around dinner time, Francina and Angel came over with Francina's 7 year old son Eugene. Francina owns the tour company Rwalinda Tours that is organizing our Kilimanjaro hike.

They helped Justin make dinner for us!

Dinner is served!

We didn't get to bed until after 11:00pm, and I'm sure we were out when our heads hit the pillow!

Today, Justin is taking us to the nearby city of Moshi (pop 200,000) to rent our trekking gear. We have our own hiking boots, raincoats, hats and gloves), but that's about it! We need sleeping bags, duffle bags, down coats for summit day, and probably a few other things. Should be an interesting day!

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And in Canada...


  1. We are SO EXCITED for you!!!!
    B&C 💕

    1. Thank you Connie and Barry, we are pretty excited too. :-)

  2. I thought you guys hate the cold !

    1. Lol, we do but for a short time like this we can deal with it, other than the summit night/day it won't be bad, then we will be back into tropical temperatures.

  3. I was curious what you'd do for the Cold Temperatures but it looks like you have it figured out.
    Be Safe and Enjoy the climbs.

    It's about time.

    1. Yes, it is all figured out but it also comes with a price!

  4. So what was for dinner? I can see her peeling some green bananas (or plantains?)but don't recognize anything else. Btw, green bananas are good for you - they are high in fiber and don't cause spikes in blood sugar like ripe bananas.

    1. We had fried plantains/bananas and fried potatoes and then a sort of stir fry of onions, peppers, carrots and spinach (or some kind of leafy vegetable) with pork and a little bit of a tomato sauce and all mixed up. And a spicy tomato salsa that you could dip or drizzle over everything. It was quite tasty.

  5. Sounds all very exciting. Get lots of rest I am sure you will need it.

    1. Thank you, we will try our best at getting some good sleeps in over the next few days because up on the mountain I am sure we won't have great sleeps.

  6. Wow, don't drive in Tanzania! Prices are very high! I've been complaining so much about the price of milk in Mexico that I quit drinking it for two years. It's .82 USD per liter in tetra. Leche de vaca (straight from the cow) is so much more flavorful.

    1. Lol, the driving actually isn't all that bad. That one truck tipped ove,r looked like it had been there for a while, it was still there when we drove by yesterday too, I think people now use it as shade to eat their lunches and snacks. The other truck was being repaired, it wasn't there when we drove by again yesterday.

      We are actually surprised by the prices of the food, we didn't figure that they would be this high. Local fruits and vegetables seem to be better priced, we will have a better idea today when we go out to buy some.

  7. You 2 are very adventures soul's! I've already to been us there,done through that! Take care, Rawn Stone

    1. We certainly think we are adventurous people, we enjoy doing and seeing things that most people would never think of doing or going to. We just love to explore and learn about new cultures, and this trip is definitely going to be one of our most adventurous!

  8. A very interesting first day so far! Learning Swahili should be fun! Your hosts seem quite friendly and helpful too! I hope you get rested enough before your first hike. Sure is strange to see people without masks. Lol. Mask wearing is starting to feel normal around here. Safe travels.

    1. Yes, it was a very full day indeed.

      It is fun learning Swahili. We actually thought that there would be more English spoken here than there is so it is nice to learn some of the basics that will hopefully get us by, that and lots of hand gestures and smiles.

      It is odd to see life going on as normal, especially after being in Turkey where you had to wear a mask as soon as you stepped out of your "house".


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