Arusha, Tanzania

Sept. 1, 2010

“I have the best paintings and the best prices, look here look here!”

Arusha seemed a bit more approachable than Nairobi. One of our camp managers at Elephant Pepper Camp was from Arusha so she gave us some recommendations on where to go and when to go there. She did advise us not to walk around at night and to watch out for fake taxis.

We stayed at the African Tulip Hotel near the clock tower. It was about a 10 minute walk into town. The African Tulip was a pretty hotel, set on a smaller plot that our Nairobi hotel. It has restaurants, a pool and a bar. Our room was spacious with a huge bathroom. Our stay included continental breakfast.

We arrived at the Tulip and ventured into town for lunch. On the corner we met Raymond.  Raymond decided to “befriend” us and escort us into town, Mr. K and I didn’t really seem to have a choice in the matter. Raymond happily chatted beside us telling us tales of his summit to Kili, while Mr. K and I suspiciously glanced around trying to figure out if this was some sort of pig pocket scheme.  We kept on walking and he kept on talking right along with us, we couldn’t figure out how to get rid of him! Having lived in NYC for 6+years I am used to my fair amount of street hockers, cat calls from construction workers and creepy men in general. Never once have I encountered a Raymond, a happy go lucky street person, not selling anything, not stealing anything, just happy to chat. Quite frankly he scared me much more than any NYC street rat ever did! The street people of NYC respect your space and don’t follow you down the side walk. Finally, we were able to give him a somewhat rude goodbye and ditch him. Which was both a good and a bad thing. Good because we no longer had this strange man following our every move. Bad because once Raymond left we were attacked by packs of young men selling rolled up paintings. We had little idea of where this restaurant was and everywhere we stepped was an aggressive painting seller! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

After about 15 minutes of wandering we found the restaurant. By this point we were both grumpy, agitated and hungry. We sat down, I opened the menu and noticed that they did not take credit cards. Us being scared tourists did not venture out with much cash. We had to leave our comfy booth and head back out and battle our way back to our hotel.

Side note: I’m still not quite sure what Raymond wanted from us, but we think his job was to hustle tourists and guide them to his brother’s shops for souvenirs.

January 13, 2011. Tags: , , . Travel. Leave a comment.