On our day off prior to our climb, our head guide took us to visit several local Chagga villages. Chagga is the name of one of several major tribes around the base of Kilimanjaro. Everyone knew Calvin, he was like the mayor. Every once in a while, he would hang a few bills to mothers or grandmothers that looked like they were in need.
At one stop, a family allowed us to enter a hut where the grandmother lives (known as “Mama Africa”). There was a fire inside with little to no ventilation. We learned that pregnant women will stay in these huts prior to giving birth. We had concerns that this wasn’t a healthy practice, but we didn’t mention anything. Walking through the villages was eye opening.
Everyone was very nice and children often ran after us as we walked by. Some started calling us “Mzungu”, which was a blast from Adam’s past when he lived in Malawi in college where ALL the children called him by the name meaning ‘white man.’ We are very far from any major cities. Most families we met subsisted off farming their own land. We also made a quick pit stop at the local Yatsiye Waterfall, which required the equivalent of about 70 flights of stairs – a good warm up for Kilimanjaro.