Monday 10 July
We tucked into a big breakfast to prepare for our first ride. The bus took us to the outskirts of the town on a new tarmac dual highway. Our ride through Arusha National Park began after that, on the dirt road, rocky and gravelly, a challenging start. We were thrilled to see giraffe with babies, a herd of zebra, a monkey and an antelope dashing across in front of Jen and Leigh. Leigh fell off soon after. There were two more falls that day, Adriana hurt her hands and knees and Hilary tumbled down the gravelly bank of the road tangled in her bike and scraped herself all over. We all took extra care now.
At Tengeru we visited a local coffee plantation where we saw the whole process from coffee beans to drinking. We took part in de-husking the raw beans, pounding in a tall wooden bowl with 2 club-ended sticks. The beans were roasted over a methane gas ring in a ceramic pot until they smelled delicious. Back into the deep wooden container again, this time to grind the beans. Two people pound in turn and sing a song to keep the rhythm. Finally, some of the coffee was put into the ceramic pot of water and heated to make our drink. The whole plantation was built for sustainability. Methane from the cows was stored in a type of septic system and piped to cooking rings. Cows and goats ate chopped down banana plants. Papyrus grasses were being used to weave basket style sofas and chairs for sale. We were lucky to be there for lunch. Huge bowls were laid out, fragrant lentils, meat, soya beans, potatoes and greens, with a kind of nan bread.
It was almost dark when we arrived at Mkuru Training camp, down an extra rocky pathway off the road. Our head torches were the first things to be unpacked. We slept deeply that night, upgraded from dorm to permanent tents because Justaz was so pleased with us. The caretakers even heated gallons of water for hot showers. Juma produced another satisfying meal, we were very hungry.