July 09, 2012/Oscar Njau’s Coffee Farm in Marangu
I dragged my sore body out of bed. The pain was a reminder of the emotional roller coaster we had just experienced: excitement, disappointment, relief, and finally pride. We had descended Mt. Meru just yesterday. The van pulled up onto the hotel driveway. I hopelessly imagined our guides stepping out of the white commercial van, which had taken us to the trek four days ago. Dismissing the sheer disappointment of failing to summit, I gratefully accepted that my stomach was feeling much better. Ciproflaxin worked. Now it was time for coffee!
A young man in a black shirt with bright yellow “Tanzania” ran out of the van apologizing for his tardiness. I couldn’t help but notice that there was something familiar about him. Maybe it was his wide smile, his American influenced English, or his jokes. We were heading to his family’s coffee farm for the coffee tour. Sometimes when you travel, you let go of all control.
The rain trickled. I looked down at my feet with blistered ankles and bandaged toes. I guess Birkenstocks will have to do. I couldn’t bear putting those hiking shoes on again. The van slipped and skidded as it struggled to scale the muddy hill. Men and women stopped their morning routine and stared at us as we passed only just as quickly returned to their task. It seemed like they were used to strangers coming to their village but each time wondering why they were here. After Oscar failed to push the car out of the deep ditch carved by the van. The driver gave up and we walked on foot.
The mud was sticky and it caked underneath our shoes. I made sure that my foot touched the ground at the same time trying to get as much grip as I could. After couple near falls, I heard a thump and Hannah had fallen. We were so close! Laughing it off as she attempted to brush off the mud, we continued along up the hill past coffee plants.
UNCLE UNCLE Itchy yelled not in Swahili but in English for Oscar. You could tell that Oscar had learned English and was teaching his nephew. Oscar had taught himself. Tourism had introduced him to English and his determination to learn made him better.
Oscar grows organic coffee plants, which, unlike the ones sprayed with pesticides, use banana trees to provide shade and cover from the rain. Like most families with coffee farms, Oscar inherited the farm from his father since he was the youngest son. The idea behind this tradition seems logical: so that they able to maximize the time they get to work on the farm.
The coffee growers sell their crops to the Tanzanian Coffee board.