We told our guides and porters that of all the 50 United States, the one where we come from (Mississippi) is known as The Hospitality State. But the Tanzanians we met and especially the people of Chief’s Tours taught us about a higher level of hospitality.
The Tanzanian sense of hospitality seems to be summarized by two Swahili phrases –
You know the phrase from The Lion King – means “No worries.” This seems to be almost a national motto of Tanzania. They really mean, “You shouldn’t worry about anything because we will take care of everything for you!” They seem to apply Hakuna Matata to every situation.
Arrived exhausted from the insane airline delays, layovers, and jetlag? Hakuna Matata! We’ll scoop you up at the airport and you’ll arrive at your lodge already checked in! We can hike after you feel better!
Airlines lost your luggage? Hakuna Matata! We’ll supply you with all the equipment you need on the mountain AND we’ll recover your luggage and hire a couple more porters to run it up the mountain to you!
Getting discouraged because you’re moving so slowly that you get to camp after dark every day? Hakuna Matata! Your guide will literally take you by the hand (if he needs to) and he will take every single step with you.
Pole Pole and solidarity
The other common tidbit of Swahili that all the hikers learn first is pole pole, which is said to mean “slowly, slowly.” The basic idea being that if you will pace yourself and go slowly enough then anyone can do this Kilimanjaro thing.
But I got the impression that there is a lot more to pole pole than just, “walk slowly.”
Pole pole seems to also carry connotations of solidarity and compassion. As if it is an abbreviation for something like, “Don’t feel bad that you are so slow and we are so much faster. You’re doing fine and we are here with you. You will be just fine because we are here for you!”
If you would like to plan a climb or a safari in Tanzania or southern Kenya, the Roaming Parkers heartily recommend contacting Adidas and Upendo at Chief’s Tours in Moshi town.
Everyone in the organization from the owners and guides to the porters and drivers represents a truly amazing combination of experience, knowledge, passion, and hospitality – and they would love to help you turn your dreams of the snows of Kilimanjaro or the plains of Serengeti or the beaches of Zanzibar into the vacation of a lifetime.
Chief’s Tours was truly a pleasure to work with, and we left Tanzania with a lot more friends than we had when we arrived – and a better understanding of what true hospitality looks like.