THURSDAY 14 NOVEMBER – LUSHOTO We were rudely awakened at 7AM by the owner wanting his money. But once we were awake, we decided to make the most of the cool part of the day and get up. We had a bit of a wash in a bucket of water and ate some bread with marmalade for breakfast.
I walked up the hill to the Kilimani Hotel to see about a room and they had one free so we packed up our stuff and walked back up and checked in. There was a small boy outside pestering us to let him show us the way to the “viewpoint”…3 miles out of town, but we decided to just wander around by ourselves. We walked up the dirt track to the ridge above town then turned left and walked at random along the many tracks zig-zagging across the ridge. The views were nice, with every available piece of land on the hillsides planted with bananas, maize and vegetables. There were many eucalyptus trees growing among the conifers and macrocarpas, and interspersed amongst these were stands of Jacaranda, their purple flowers adding a dramatic splash of colour to the shades of green.
We walked in a loop around the ridge encircling the eastern side of town, then dropped down a track through the houses to the main road leading up into town. The post office was at the far end of town, across the road from a large Lutheran Church, which looked terribly out of place amongst the Jacaranda trees and banana patches. God, it seems, has a large team of helpers converting the native heathens to the way of the gospel, and the bells of the many churches could be heard ringing out all day as they called the savages in for their daily dose of dogma, hypocrisy, and mind control.
At the Post Office we bought some stamps and talked to a Swiss couple who were very friendly and talkative, but obviously obviously God botherers as well. We lunched on curry and rice at the Green Valley Restaurant then made our way back up to the Kilimani for a rest.
At 1:30 I set off to walk out to the fabled viewpoint, which the book [Lonely Planet East Africa] described as having “incredible views” and “a 45 minute walk from town.” It turned out to be a bit longer than that, but it was worth it. From the ridge above town a track led around the hill through dense stands of banana trees, then dropped steeply down into a valley, the sides of which were cultivated from top to bottom. On the sloping valley floor, a Same tractor was contour plowing the reddish earth next to a church, and further up the hill on the other side of the valley, the track led through several more church-oriented farms and settlements. The last settlement comprised several large buildings with pieces of agricultural machinery in various states of repair and disrepair, lying about and amongst a stand of pine trees, a pit saw.
The track continued to follow the contours around the base of a towering forested bluff, through more stands of banana in amongst which grazed goats and cattle, and finally emerged onto a ridge running east West, covered with gum trees. At the far left edge of the ridge, the viewpoint was a huge slab of rock jutting out from the sheer escarpment above the Masai Steppe.
What a view! To the right, a huge slab of black rock rose 700 meters above the escarpment, cleft at its midst by a huge crack in which grew a profusion of trees and shrubs. It was a 200 metre sheer drop below the slab where I stood to a steep ridge running out onto the plain, with a collection of huts about halfway down its length. Off to the left, the escarpment stretched sheer and unbroken to the east, gradually being lost amongst the jumble of steep, rounded hills.
Along the base of the cliff that anger, Moxi Road was a straight brown line with the sisal fields on both sides, and beyond these, the great plain of the Masai Steppe stretched away into the haze.
I sat up there for more than an hour, accompanied by a scraggy assortment of kids, and watching birds sailing on the updraft which was sending a cool pleasant breeze up over the clifftop. It took about an hour to walk back to the village and I stopped for a cold coke at a little kiosk on the ridge above town.
Back at the Kilimani Hotel, we snoozed for a while, then went down to the Green Valley Restaurant for dinner.