We stopped off in historical Bagamoyo, which translated into Swahili means “Lay down my heart”. Long ago slaves where brought here before being shipped off, which is perhaps where they gave up hope (and so the reason for this Swahili name.) However it could also be interpreted as a place to lay ones heavy load because porters, carrying heavy cargo on their backs, would also rest here before moving on to the great lakes…
The tiny fishing town has a few old crumbling colonial German and British buildings, but the most interesting by far are the Kaole Ruins. Remnants of two mosques, and some tombs that date back to the 13th century, are still visited by locals today. The reason the locals visit is because it’s believed that a visit to the ruins heals ailments and brings wealth. We drank heavily from the ancient well with its “mystical” fresh water (perhaps the mystery lay in the fresh water’s close proximity to the sea). We also filled one of our water tanks in the hope that it would heal us for good. Beautiful, intricate carvings in the coral stone are still visible on some of the tombs. A clump of Mangrove trees now replaces the old port where Stanley landed to track down Livingstone. Large ships couldn’t be accommodated in Bagamoyo’s small port, and so the trading epicentre moved South to Dar es Salaam, leaving Bagamoyo behind.
We then stayed in the small town of Pangani in a great sea facing campsites called Peponi. It was heaven: cheap beers, wi-fi, hot showers and we had the place pretty much to ourselves.
We spent our time riding through the sisal plantations on our tiny bikes – much to the delight of the locals. We also got to host some ‘dinner parties’ at our campsite. We befriended a Dutch and Australian couple on similar adventures to ours, and had a fish ‘barbie’ with a little too much Jagermeister…
After a blissful week at Peponi, we arrived at Irente; a Lutheran-run, working farm. The farm was nestled in the Usambara Mountains, which border a rain forest. The chilly mountain air made a welcome change after a week of sea, sun and sand. Apparently the Tanzanian president has one of his summer residences here to escape the heat. We met up with our fellow Dutch travellers from Amsterdam and they suggested a hike through the rainforest up to a viewpoint. I quickly said yes, although mostly just to show Patrick up (he was feeling lousy after we hosted that ‘dinner party’ at our campsite where he’d been overly generous with the Jagermeister shots.)
Venturing off with the Dutch travellers and a couple who were making their way down to Jozi from the UK, I felt a little nervous as I would be responsible for taking all the photos. The hike started steeply and I quickly turned into a Forest Grump. I had to carry my own water and food, which felt very heavy. The local children screeched with laughter when they saw our friend’s daughter on her dad’s back in a child carrier backpack. Our guide informed us that local children are told to be careful of foreigners (mzungus) as they would put you into their backpacks and carry you away! This was total affirmation that the myth was true. Mzungus really did carry children away in their backpacks!
I barely managed the hike and 17 kilometers later I collapsed back at camp and demanded a foot massage. However I was soon complaining bitterly because it felt like my toenails may fall out.