Though having arrived here only several days ago, three to be exact, and having had only two full days of time to explore this amazing place, I had become incredibly fond of it along with our hosts, Enock and Amina, who had made my visit such a memorable one. Knowing that I would be back to visit again one day certainly made it easier to leave, but having worn nothing but shorts, a T-shirt and sandals, or sometimes not, while here would certainly be greatly missed. Having had absolutely no idea of where we were heading on Saturday had made it even that much more special than it already was and I would always recall these days as some of the finest I had experienced.
It was our last morning here and we had planned to leave shortly after an early breakfast so as not to get home too late for it would be another long drive to Moshi and then to Arusha. We enjoyed another meal in our little restaurant with plenty of coffee and fresh fruit along with some incredibly delicious French toast that they made for us special that morning. It couldn’t have been more special. We did have to settle up our bill, of course, and made sure to count up all of the beers we had consumed over the previous days along with our room and board. The cost for the four of us had been ridiculously inexpensive considering what we had gotten and I made sure to pass on a very nice tip to them for their wonderful hospitality.
After breakfast, we packed our bags and put everything in the Land Rover including the large cooler full of fresh fish save for the ice that we would find in Pangani on our way out. We departed just after 9:00 am, having said our goodbyes to everyone at the Ushongo Beach Bandas that had made our stay so memorable. As we left, we along the little path through which we had entered, hardly wide enough for our vehicle to fit, and needing several bicycles and a motorbike to move before we make it entirely out. This is a region of the coast that still remains mostly undiscovered and the lives of these villagers continue to be untouched by outsiders for the most part. It is extremely remote and difficult to access for anyone other than those who know the area, such as the few ex-pats from Arusha who maintain the few vacation homes here, or those such as me, who are lucky enough to have friends that introduce it to them.
We crossed back over the ferry and went in search of ice in the town of Pangani. It didn’t take long at for them to find it, though, and after completely unpacking the fairly bloody wrapped fish and then repacking it again with the ice, we were on our way, taking the shortcut again over the hills to get back to the main road on our way back to Moshi to pick up Turtle where we had left her at the Keys Hotel for safe keeping. We passed the Usambara mountains once again, as well as the North and South Pare, stopping briefly to get our lunch at the same service stop where we had been on Saturday. We pulled into Moshi as the sun was just barely still in the sky and began our drive home to Arusha in the two vehicles. There were fires that had erupted on Mt. Kilimanjaro and, as the sun began to set, the sky turned a brilliant golden orange from the smoke and particulate matter that filled the air.
We arrived home to Arusha, exhausted from the long day of travel, shortly after sunset, and all had dinner together after unloading the vehicles and dividing up the fish for everyone. I was leaving tomorrow night fairly late and had planned to have lunch with some friends, so wanted to head to bed early enough as I would need to repack my bags in the morning and ready everything for the flights home. It had been a truly remarkable visit for the month and, given the uncertainties of the pandemic, I had managed to work with several incredible clinicians who will go on during their careers to appreciate neurology that much more and we had seen many patients whose lives would be changed forever by the care that they received from their Tanzanian caregivers along with my assistance. I had managed to share some very meaningful experiences with my Tanzanian colleagues that had included our goat roast with Kitashu and our safari to Tarangire. I had spent time with my true friend, Daniel Tewa and his family, and had even done a house call with Daniel to visit a friend of his who had suffered a stroke. And finally, my short visit to the coast and the Ushongo Beach Bandas with my good friends had capped off this trip in a fashion that I have come accustomed to when visiting this country that I have come to regard as another home.