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Make coffee, not war

Moshi is the smallest municipality in the Kilimanjaro Region and it is principally inhabited by the Chagga and Pare ethnic groups. This part of the world is still untouched by technology and prides itself for conserving its biodiversity. I was drawn by the solace of nature, the slow pace of life of the place, the peaceful cohabitation between human and animals and the aromatic scent of ground coffee escaping from the countless coffee processing plants.

I had the immense privilege to visit an organic coffee processing plant – Arisi Coffee. Lying in the heart of an undisturbed forest, Arisi Coffee is a small and eco-friendly coffee processing plant run by the locals who hold the candid interest of promoting their local coffee to the world through tourism.

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The people who worked there were full of life. Their cheerful faces showed how much they were in love with their jobs. The lush green surroundings were to die for and the fresh oxygen of the place made me feel even more alive.

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I walked in with an open mind to learn the coffee-making steps – from freshly plucked coffee beans to a hot cup of black coffee.  I was told that the coffee is grown in the volcanic soil around the Kilimanjaro region and as such, the resulting cup of coffee is always incredibly delicious. After harvesting the cherries, the coffee beans are sun-dried.

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Step 1: Harvesting the cherries and sun-drying the beans

The dried beans are then inserted in a wooden pulping machine to roughly separate the parchment layer (endocarp) from the beans. A second round of sorting is then manually performed for a finer result.

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Step 2: The dried beans are crushed to separate the beans from the parchment layer (endocarp).

The beans are inserted in a big wooden mortar and are crushed. While crushing the coffee beans, the persons there clap loudly and sing melodiously until the process is completed. I was told that good music uplifts the soul and fills the body with energy to crush the beans, which is a laborious process. I participated in the process too as, beside learning, I knew I was preparing my own good cup of coffee.

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Step 3: The beans are crushed until they turn into the size of black pepper.

The coffee beans are placed in a recipient over fire and stirred around for a couple of minutes until they turn dark roasted.

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Step 4: The coffee beans are then roasted for some minutes

The scent of the roasted coffee beans proved to be addictive as it dispersed into the air.

One of the fellows explained to me the lightness or darkness of the roasted coffee beans describes the degree and duration of the roasting. The color of the roasted coffee beans also determines, to some extent, the level of caffeine present in them. I smiled when I saw the roasted beans being taken out of the recipient as they turned quite dark; meaning that the coffee would be irresistibly strong.

The coffee beans is then ground thoroughly in the wooden mortar until they turn into powder. As usual, this process was accompanied by some uplifting music.

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Step 5: The beans are crushed into powder

The powder is then filtered for a finer result. I was told that some coffee lovers do prefer the rough coffee powder but to prepare their coffee with it, they have to boil it a little longer compared to the finer powder.

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Step 6: The powder is then filtered for a finer result

Finally, after these six steps, the coffee was made and it was the best coffee I ever tasted so far. In Moshi, we believe in one thing: “Make coffee, not war

If you have decided to explore the lengths and breadths of Tanzania one day, you should certainly not miss one good cup of coffee at Arisi Coffee, in Moshi.

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The beginning of everything – from a new look to a new book

India is a home away from home and I felt the call of home again this year. Without pondering too much upon whether I should embark on another expedition or not in this country of colors and contrasts, I walked out resolutely to the nearest travel agency and purchased my ticket to Mumbai. Whatever it was at that moment in time, it was a beautiful feeling.

I started preparing for my voyage and needless to say, I kept counting days until the time came to depart from Mauritius to Mumbai.

Here are the main things that I stored in my backpack:

  • First-aid kit
  • NIKON D7000, lenses, memory cards and camera cleaning kit
  • Travel journal, sketch pad, eraser, pen and colored pencils
  • Map of India
  • Passport and travel documents
  • Galaxy Note 10.1
  • Flute
  • A treasurable memento
  • Debit, credit cards and cash

I dressed quite differently this time compared to my normal dress code when I am in Mauritius. There’s a reason behind this. A lot has been going on in my life before this travel. I thought I was in a battle with the world but gradually understood that I was at war with my innermost being. I felt I deserved this voyage and I wanted to renew myself – my lifestyle and my vision. And so, I did it.

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I was silently persuaded that my problems were nothing when compared to those of homeless people wandering on the streets of India, in quest of few morsels of food to satiate their hunger; at least for a night. This instilled in me a stronger purpose to commence my tour. I completely disconnected from who I was before and felt ready to fly high above the sky to reach the land of my ancestors – the incredible India.

Whenever I travel, my family always drive me to the airport. This time was no different. They all came and bid me goodbye; knowing that this travel would mean a lot to me.

Once in the airplane, I took out my tablet and jotted down my emotions in my virtual diary. It is something I often do whenever I feel overwhelmed with emotions. The plane took off at around 16:15.  It took me approximately six hours to reach Dubai where I transited for four hours before departing for Mumbai. The Dubai International Airport is so immense and businesses invade the place to such an extent that there’s no way of getting bored there.

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But, I had to find ways of spending the four hours in Dubai well. I walked for nearly an hour inside, looking at the little things around me and talking to strangers. It was fulfilling. To spend the second hour, I ordered a hot cup of coffee at Starbucks Coffee – something that requires no introduction.

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While having coffee, I seized the opportunity to write in my travel journal about so many things – from unrevealed intricacies of my heart to the untamed desire of travelling. Like so many other travelers, I had a meal voucher offered by Emirates too. I hence proceeded to a restaurant, where the voucher could be used, to have a light dinner. I had to opt for a light dinner as it was quite late in the night and I had another plane to catch in the next hours. I loved the dinner – vegetable soup, salads and bread, sandwiches, fruit, coffee and water.

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The remaining one hour at the airport passed in the blink of an eye as I had to undergo the boarding procedures to catch the connecting flight to Mumbai.

I wore a smile on my face throughout the boarding procedures, knowing that time has come to step into the plane that would bring me to the land of wonders. I reached Mumbai at the dimmest hours of the morning and from there, my first road trip to Lonavla began. It was the start of a three weeks’ unforgettable and meaningful adventure. Road trips never lie; they teach and I become.

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There’s a lot to say about the road trip from Mumbai to Lonavla. I will write a post specifically for this in the near future. If there’s something I’d like convey at this point in time, to let you know what India did to me through this voyage, it’s simply that it did everything that I needed mostly at this stage of my life.