A few days ago, Anna and I took off for two nights out of town. We went to the small town of Marangu on the lower slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, about a 3-hour drive from Arusha. There's a regional border between Arusha and Moshi where the police often pull drivers over for a routine check of insurance and license, and the officer in his white uniform was standing right in the middle of the road waving us over as we approached. (I think this was the same Maasai policeman that proposed marriage to me (joking only) when K2 and I passed this point on a jaunt back in April. You can read about that by clicking here. ) As I slowed, Anna said, "We'll charm them by speaking Swahili to them." I said, "No, everybody says pretend you don't know any Swahili and they'll let you go faster." Anna said, "No, when they're men, white girls speaking Swahili works better." So we pulled over, and as the policeman approached, I exchanged all the Swahili greetings I could think of, then said, "That's all my Swahili." He asked Anna if she spoke, too, and they had a friendly conversation through the window with several jokes. He took a perfunctory stroll around the front of the car, but barely even looked at the stickers, and did not ask for any money (which they sometimes do). He told Anna that I have a good head on my shoulders. Anna was right! He was very easily charmed, and then we went along our way.
We arrived in Marangu mid-afternoon. Although it was certainly African, it also had an alpine feel to it. It's odd to look at a stand of banana trees and think alpine, but that was the vibe. The little town was built on slopes and the buildings were not quite the same as down in Arusha. The air was cooler and there was much less dust and smoke to breathe. As we were walking, a Tanzanian man drove by, then pulled over and jumped out of his car smiling because he and Anna had worked together a few years ago at a lodge in the Kilimanjaro area. He also knew K2, whom he accurately described as "very talkative." It seems like a small world in Tanzania when even the foreigners run into people they know!