Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nature at its Finest: Cow Dung and Coffee Beans

One of  the trips that our group took together was to the Tenguru Village and Lake Diluti. The scenery provides for an incredible hike and a great time. The hike also included a tour of the village, which was very interesting. The Tenguru village is self-sustained; they produce their own biogas, grow crops, and serve as a tourist attraction. The biogas was nasty (both in the literal and slang definitions). Three cows were kept in a tiny 8’ x 8’ compound. All the cows had to do was eat, eat again, eat some more, and then provide large amounts of waste, they lived a pretty luxurious lifestyle. The waste was then collected, treated and used as gas to power lights and stoves. Once you got over the general stink, their method of energy is actually quite marvelous.

The next attraction on the trip was a long hike through the plantations. Bananas, avocados, and other fruits that I did not even know existed grew, beautifully through the lush plantation. Surprisingly, they also grew large amounts of coffee. On the tour, we were able to pick the coffee beans that were ripe, then shell them, roast them and crush them. Once that process was complete we sipped on the fresh coffee that had been created by the beans we picked. It was delicious and ridiculously pure.

Finally, we hiked through caves and visited a historic lake. The caves were used for prayers and the lake was used for baptisms. All throughout the hike, the local children that saw us would get really excited and shout “mzungu” (Swahili for white person). They would come down and hold our hands and walk with us. Holding of hands is a sign of welcoming or friendship that is very common in Tanzania. The only downside of the gorgeous hike was that it was a near death experience. The terrain was straight out of an Indiana Jones film, narrow walkways, rope bridges, easily dislodged rocks, steep cliffs, and dangerous plants. There were several times when a shriek would be heard as someone in the group lost their footing. Luckily, I survived and had an awesome look at Tanzanian village culture and the natural beauties that are seemingly hidden across the country. 

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