Sunday, November 8, 2009

I Stayed At A Farm in Africa

After the tropical heat of the islands, we were ready to escape to the cool air of the Usambara Mountains in northern Tanzania. We packed into a bus which traversed curvy mountain roads to drop us in Soni, a small dusty intersection with a few shops and people drifting about.

Maweni Farm is two kilometers outside of town at the base of a large rock face. When we arrived, we knew we'd found the perfect mountain getaway. In colonial times the farm was a coffee plantation run by a German family but now it is solely a lodge. The main house where our quaint room was, sat on a small hill next to a lovely pond, home to many yellow weavers. Next to the pond was a huge boulder and some lovely jacaranda and acacia trees. The first night we shared the dining room with two other couples but after that we had the place to ourselves. We had private picnics in the thick grass next to the pond and went for walks along the main road past villagers busily working the farmland or walking from the market.

The day we left, Msheba, the friendly manager of Maweni Farm, offered to drive us the 45 minutes to Lusotho which is a bigger, though still tiny, town higher up in the mountains. He took us all the way to our next destination, Irente Farm, curious to see the accommodation for himself. Unlike Maweni, Irente was still an operating farm producing cheese, bread, juice and jam. The farm belongs to the Luther Church which also runs a neighboring school for the blind, a center for kids with mental disabilities and an orphanage.

The manager, Peter, has gotten the farm certified as a biodiversity reserve and has begun to protect the native plant species in the area. He gave us a tour of the operation, taking us through the farm pointing out native and invasive species before walking us down to the Irente Farm Children's Home. Here we were greeted by a gregarious Swedish woman who gave us a tour and told us a few of childern's stories. We met the young Tanzanian women who volunteer here for two years in order to help pay for future education. The children were precious. We got to feed them lunch before their naps.

Later we walked to the Irente Viewpoint which offers amazing views of the Masaai Steppe. We met a local and watched the sunset with him. Then he invited us to his house which was a small hut right behind the lookout. We met his son and wife, then her sisters. We had a nice visit before heading back to the farm.


Addie said...

WOW!! I am amazed with all of it! It is so beautiful!!! Great pic of Temple during "beauty hour"! I love the kids and the door. Yall have uncovered yet another worldly treasure!!

foster said...

I too love the babies!