A Travellerspoint blog

Coasting Tanzania

the final days


Spending my last week in Tanzania getting my tan on…..guess where? ZANZIBAR! Which is where I think I left off with the last email a month ago. We had a night at the Jahazi Jazz Festival in Stone Town which was really nice at the bar on the sand, chilled out music, especially a band from Mali were great. We were introduced to 'Michael-Jackson-from-Stone-Town' ahead of his performance the next night at the Full Moon party – which we were late for but requested a special performance – though was funny a couple of hours before the festival was due to start thinking to have some pre-drinks and seeing that the bar was not even finished being built and the place was full of workmen. Talk about last minute, plus no one seemed to know WHAT was going on, drinks available? “yes”. “no” “yes” “no”. entrance fee? “yes” “no” “yes”…..but all went well. Then back up to Nungwi (still with the brits at this stage) where one night we managed to lose one of the guys and were searching the beaches for him but turned out he had dragged himself back to the room to bed, another night another one tried to swim home from another beach at high tide, the other guy (previously lost one) took off his clothes to swim out and stop him (the ‘rescuer’ cant swim well….all drunk of course) so they had left another guy on the beach who took the guys clothes not knowing what to do so when the other 2 got to the shore of another beach they had to wait in the reception of a beautiful resort in no clothes. Never a dull moment.

I went to a local disco one night and began to think the reason they have ladies night twice a week is to support the local prostitute trade. When all the others had left I went to Pongwe on the East Coast, had it all to myself besides a Masai watchman, got extremely burnt and had serious difficulties getting comfortable on the night ferry back to Dar es Salaam, even though it was quite luxury with leather lounges and air con! Check me out! Arrived at 6am in Dar and got the bus to Bagamoyo, the old capital of German East Africa. A nice seaside town, on one side of the street crumbling old buildings, the other side lovely new hotels and resorts. Went for a walk to the Holy Ghost Catholic Mission, where Livingstone’s body was laid before being taking back to the UK….i think this concludes my Livingstone trail. Had some student photos to pose for then on my way. Was ok with my room, even with a condom wrapper on the floor, until I lay down at night and spotted the actual condom under a chair. Don’t think I have moved so quickly in a long time as I did to get those sheets off me.

Another day went just out of town to the Kaole Ruins, remains of some 13th-15th mosques and tombs, some of the oldest in East Africa. They are situated amongst mangroves and were quite interesting, so hot though so had the afternoon napping in the shade on the beach. In the afternoon the shore fills with hundreds of fishing boats and makes an interesting walk. The next day was one of those travel days which just does not go to plan, in part because of another person just telling you what they think you want to hear, or wanting to help so bad that they will just make stuff up so they can appear to be of assistance. Planned to get the bus from Bagamoyo to Mlandizi then a passing bus to Tanga then another from Tanga to Pangani to retrieve my suitcase from Rasta Ally. I got to Mlandizi ok but then waited there in the stinking hot sun - its just a roadside truckstop type town - literally no shelter around the stand – as all the buses from Dar simply passed by all full, and the odd one that did come through maybe had room for one person and I was just being pushed all over the place. I've clearly lost some pushing and shoving skills since Ilongero days. So after 3 hours of waiting I decided I would just get a bus to Dar, then from Dar a bus to Tanga, so that went ok and I ended up passing by Mlandizi at 4pm, 8 hours after I had first been there in the morning. Talk about backtracking.

Back with my luggage – #1 regret of my life – and had a few days in Dar es Salaam which is not as big and scary as I had somehow had it built up. Instead of being mugged by my taxi driver, I was hugged. Has great street food, went to a few markets, a night out watching some live jazz and another at a bar with some great performers including another Michael Jackson who actually was really good and looked like him say early 90’s. met a bunch of people all stuck in Dar for some reason, one cycling through Africa stuck here for a month with visa issues, another constantly stoned german guy stuck here trying to sell his combi after driving it up from South Africa, an interesting mix. I read about an area with lots of textile shops and had to have a look…well I went a little crazy in a couple as they were the only shops I saw, then turned the corner and the are loads of shops with Kangas and Kitenge pouring out the doors. I had to run through, touching the materials and when people offered me to enter I could only pull a frightened face and say “no, I cant, no I cant” and run off. I really can’t fit another thing in my suitcase. But oh I love the, I had one traveller ask me “may I as why you DO have such a large bag? I have never seen a traveller with one like this before”.

Next was Mafia Island, south of Dar es Salaam where you board the boat at Nyamisati village. The bus guy was calling me his fiancé, so to get him to lower my fare for my suitcase, I shamelessly asked if I married him would it be cheaper, or free even. This worked and I got a good price as well as a bus full of friends - Noone seems to like the bus guys. I did send a bit of a casual ‘im boarding a boat’ message to Mum & Dad as it was not……attractive. The roof was caving in etc and where the driver stood to steer it at the back there was no direct view in front of the boat but thankfully there were no waves and we made it safely to Mafia. Only after lining up for hours to try to get a ticket in a very tightly packed crowd to be told repeatedly that they are just waiting for the ticket book. Turns out that was a lie – surprise – and I don’t really understand the problem but a few hours later I was fighting my way aboard the ladder to get on, not afraid to throw an elbow here and there. I'm BACK! When you arrive its absolute mayhem as everyone tries to get the luggage from below the boat and board the smaller boat – a little like a titanic scene – to get to the shore. I was caught up in the craziness of this even though everyone is going to get off anyway so why the rush? Madness but you look back and laugh.

I spent a couple of days in the port village of Kilindoni, I know ive said this a lot but… STARS!!! Had a funny moment when a lady showed me where a guesthouse was and told me to visit her at her market stall the next day. She was fully covered in her buibui except her eyes so laughingly she lifted her gown to show me her shoes so I could recognize her. Walking down the beach in Kilindoni is interested as all fishermen are at work on their boats and fishing lines and the shore is lined with dagaa – interesting yet stinky. I got invited to help some people lift some logs of wood which they were happy to see I was able, then the beach becomes deserted besides a german guy I ran into who looked something like Tom Hanks at the end of Castaway. I understand why everyone in Singida told me if I went to Mafia I’d be eating lots of coconuts….LOTS of coconut trees. Everyone is very excited to try their English, which can be funny when I am exciting to use my Swahili so sometimes just get told “speak English”.

I didn’t see any other tourists until going to a lodge for sunset views one evening and being invited to dine with a Yemeni man and the Tanzanian guys he was taking around as his guides, which was fine until they left the table and it was just the 2 of us, he was tryng a bit of wooing, then after a couple of beers he seemed to be quite racist so while he was arguing about his bill I slipped on out of there. Also spent a couple of days on the East Coast where the Chole Bay Marine Park is. Stayed at a lovely lodge just out of the marine park and to get to the beach you usually have to pay $20 park fee so the lodge owner hid me under the seat in his car to get me there then wrote me some things to say if any rangers ask what im doing, which was to say 'I am volunteering with Utende Frontier and searching for this tree which is used in herbal medicine'. Thank god no one asked. Went snorkeling, to save $$ just told the beachboys to take off the motor and paddle so no fuel necessary, plus you get longer on the water and I more enjoy the boat ride.

The water was stunning, especially once out on it. I was in a little wooden sail boat (dhow) and all was fine as one of the guys buckets out the water every now and then – a standard on most boats here – until just as we started to head back, a hole they had obviously repaired with glue in the past came open and the water started gushing in. I plugged that one with my toe and 2 or 3 more popped open. I was a little nervous, mainly about my camera, the water wasn’t too deep, but the guys were like no worries its fine 'hakuna matata'– I could tell they were a little nervous though, then one ended up in just his undies as he had to use all his clothes to plug the holes. When we got back to shore I was like “you WERE worried hey?” and he was like “Oh YES! haha”. Also funny talking to the Maasai working at the resorts when I ask if they swim “no Masai are scared of the water” “how about all the seafood? You enjoy?” “No masai hate eating fish”. Wrong place to be!

I decided against all advice (typical) to hire a bike and ride back to the West coast and about 1/3 up the island to Ras Mbisi. What a mistake, after passing 'Fakh Stationary' (mwahaha) 7 hours in, grazed bottom from the bike seat, absolutely drenched in sweat and muscles spasming as the roads soon end and it is all sand, which is impossible to ride on, and a nice helpful guy shows me a shortcut to get to the beach which is not a shortcut and then I get there and have 15 minutes before I have to return so I can get back to Utende before sunset. So painful but would I admit it? No. I had my kanga over my head and have to laugh as often happens when I’m pretty well wrapped in Tanzanian fabric and get called common Tanzanian names such as Hadija or Mwajumaa by people I pass. Tanzanians have a great sense of humour.

After setting up our dinner for 2, the lodge owner offered me to try ride his quad bike which was fun until you realize he may like you. It is quite an awkward position to be in, doubling up on a bike, while realizing this so it was encouragement to up the speed. Dinner was by candle and for 2 the next night as well, where he just came out and told me he wants a white wife so he can have a diverse family. When I told him I have a boyfriend at home, he told me to take a photo of him and show my family. I have to say, he did have the most amazing passionfruits (I don't know why this is sounding rude and dirty) but they sweetest most delicious fresh passionfruit juice I have ever had!

Unlike the mountain areas where all the kids know “HULLOOO” on the coast it is all “BYE BYE…BYE BYE BYE BYE”. Very cute.

Once back to mainland I headed back up to Dar, then back again further down the coast to Kilwa Masoko as a base to visit some ruins. The beach there was nice once you pass the rubbish, and the ruins on the nearby island Kilwa Kisiwani really interesting once the drama of getting there passed as they tried to tell me white people aren’t allowed on the local boat to get there, of course so you hire your own boat. So I went on about racism and how it is no different to getting on a dalla dalla and if that happened in Australia they would be called racist.....and they eventually gave in. woohoooo. I had no Plan B. Pretty amazing setting as the backdrop to the ruins - scattered all over the island so prepare for some scorching sun and not much shelter - is the beautiful water which by the end of the day, sweaty and red as a lobster I was dying to jump into.

Other than that, more beaches in Dar, the most amazing chocolate brownie I have ever had, several meatball subways and steers burgers, and I somehow found myself back on Zanzibar last week for the 4th time, just to kill some time before heading home next week. Once again enjoyed Stone Town, sitting on a step on a Friday, the Muslim holiday...or holy day (still unsure what to say), watching as the lady at the corner shop hands out lollies to passing kids....and me. Getting a whiff of the towns gutters after the rain. Putting fresh papaya onto my foot full of sea urchin barbs, passing by Ben Bella secondary school (was he not an Algerian dictator?), being offered the biggest bag of weed I’ve ever seen (of course the first ive ever seen) to go with my bangle at the markets, getting greeted by maasai in italian and responding to them in swahili who then respond to me in english, watching a scary trend sweeping some country in europe of white speedos. So, it seems, this will be my last blog from Africa (don’t plan on doing much off the sand this coming week). Thanks for reading (if I’ve still got you) .


Posted by neerg_08 05:52 Archived in Tanzania Tagged zanzibar stone_town nungwi kendwa dar_es_salaam mafia_island chole_bay kilondoni kilwa kilwa_kisiwani kilwa_masoko ras_mbisi bagamoyo kaole_ruins Comments (0)

Vegimite. Coming to a Masai village near you‏

Up the mountains, down to the coast and return to Zanzibar...AGAIN

Back in Stone Town, Zanzibar! Still absolutely in love with this place. As much as I try to visit other areas and get inland etc, can’t help but come back to the coast. Where was i…..

Arusha turned out not to be AS full on as I’d feared (big town anxiety) and I think especially the area I was staying was definitely not the nice area so people probably just assumed I was not worth bothering. I hadn’t noticed my last time here in April, or the first couple of days this time due to the rain but one day it cleared up and looming over town is the very impressive Mount Meru. It looks especially stunning in the late afternoon as the sun sets and just the tip glows gold. I did some shopping, found ice cream. For my last safari in Africa I joined another group and went to Tarangire National Park. The drive there is really great, alongside Meru and then through dry plains farmed by Masai. Alongside the road are teenage Masai dressed in all black with their faces painted white (as in Ace ventura, I was half expecting Jim Carey to jump out) as this is the traditional dress they wear during the healing period after circumcision, though I would assume these guys would be there just to get photo money. The park is beautiful, dotted with baobabs and perfect ‘umbrella’ acacia’s and with a vary of landscapeds from hilly scrublands to sprawling golden grassy plains. We saw elephants while waiting in the carpark to enter and loads more once inside. Some lovely bird life which usually doesn’t interest me but there are some very pretty colours, also plenty of ostriches, wildebeest, zebras, and a few distant lions. A lot of the time we couldn’t stop for long as we would get swarmed by ‘sleeping flies’ which REALLY hurt when they bite and can carry sleeping sickness. The safari itself was great though and we had all been promised a lot longer (double the time) in the park by the boss.

NOTE to anyone planning to come do a safari in TZ – DO NOT USE AFRICAN SMART SAFARIS!!!

Long story short – you know I’m good at this – we ended up in a huge fight with him and pretty much all the staff, then they all turned on me and said I am the bad person trying to guide the 3 German people also complaining in the wrong direction and I brainwashed them to think they didn’t enjoy it. I was “a very bad girl’, ‘colonial days are over’, we still got to see the animals, whats the problem? “Yes, you had 6 hours, 12:30 – 4:30”…hah this, guy used to be a lawyer yet he can’t count? But my favourite was when I pointed out their contract stating a full day safari recommends AT LEAST 7 hours, and everyone tried to convince me that ‘at least’ means ‘less than 7 hours’. I was having a real laugh. Actually, even better than that was when the boss, in his ridiculous shiny cream pinstripe suit, jumped up and ordered “CALL THE EMBASSY”. Hahah again in hysterics. I was ready to start cursing Arusha, but then as usual after a bad experience someone was able to turn it around and when I went back to my guest house I had a really funny evening with the Masai who run the place, in particularly one woman who I had a real laugh with about marrying her brother as he stood there very nervously laughing. The people working there come from a Masai village a couple of hours away, arriving in Arusha in groups to run the guest house for a couple of months and do various other business such as selling jewellery before returning. She was dressed in her beautiful blue and red shukas, fabulous jewelery, and just kept brushing my hair back and saying “nakupenda sana” “ I like you a lot”. We discussed the details of the marriage and worked out I could go home and study then come back here for work. I had to tell her I would not be able to carry buckets of water etc as I am a lot weaker than Masai women, and told her I have tried before to carry a bag on my head and failed (I did try once and I think i shrunk a couple of cm’s. apparently something you have to do from a child). Then with a goodnight hug she walked me to my room….then entered with me and shut the door behind which had me a little confused as we sat there awkwardly on my bed. Until she presented me with a gold bracelet, and came back a little later with a necklace also. In return I gave her a tube of vegemite, telling her most other nationalities don’t like it but maybe Masai will. She at least pretended to be grateful. She even called me the next morning to make sure I got on the bus safely. We passed Mount Kilimanjaro in Moshi and it would have been the perfect day to stop in Moshi and snap some photo's of it as it was sooo clear...ahhh next time.

Next stop - Mtae. Head up the Usambara Mountains to Mtae, a tiny village perched on the ridge of a mountain, without electricity apart from a few generators, no cars or even motorbikes, just bicycles, and the only way out are the 3 daily buses from 4-5am. A few skipped heartbeats along the way, winding along the bumpy, narrow road on the edge of the steep mountains, and certainly not the ideal place for the driver to get out and let a couple of the younger guys working on the bus have a practice. My room at the guesthouse was just big enough for my bag, but to open it I had to take it out into the corridor (outside, next to the huge pot of water constantly heating over a charcoal fire for our warm buckets of shower water). The first morning that I started my hike with Rogeros (?), my guide, was very foggy and COLD and we couldn’t see much so first we climbed down the mountain to see some caves where a traditional healer – still commonly used in the Usambara region – stays, one for living, another for work. Then we climbed back up heading to Mambo view point . I am so unfit, I thought I was going to have to be helicoptered out. It was worth it in the end, as the fog cleared and down below you can see where the gold, green and red Tsavo plains – stretching all the way up to Kenya – are met by the mountains. Passing through villages along the way I came to think it must be the fresh mountain air but people in the mountainous areas seem to be sooooooo nice! Even kids, who don’t ask for anything but for a picture so they can look at themselves. All day I heard “HAAALLLOOOOOO” from all around, even when I could not see anyone, or “UPIGE PICHA” (take a picture). So gorgeous as some really young ones get so excited screaming “HULO” and waving big with both arms up while running to get a closer look they almost lose balance and fall. The houses all have 2 tiny windows and a teeny door – no big mama’s here, life is tough in Mtae – and most are painted a pink-peach colour by mixing water with the earth of the area. I think Mtae is in the lovely phase of just starting to get visitors, but not many and knowing that the few who do come to the area generally go to Lushoto, the nearest town about 3 hours away. Everyone is amazingly welcoming and the kids haven’t been handed out enough money or lollies or pens to start associating these gifts with foreigners. The only not so friendly person was a young kid who I saw throwing around a chameleon on a stick. I told him its not a toy and put it in the bush, and then he ran alongside me for a while angrily chasing me with a stick. Fair enough, it was his toy.

I even met an Australian at the sunset view point which was beautiful (the viewpoint, not him) and his group invited me for dinner. After a tough day hiking, my first question was whether there’d be beer which was funny as he was the only Aussie in the group and apparently the only one who had asked that earlier on as well. I had a another day of hiking, through more mountain top villages, steep farms, fertile green valleys and to the peak of one mountain with the hut and fences of a chief of the area a long time ago “how long Rogeros? How many years ago?”…”many years”, a characteristically well informed guide. Up there I was serenaded with ‘Happy Besssday” by a group of kids and had a quick photoshoot. I couldn't recommend paying this beautiful place a visit more strongly. I felt so at home and the man running the guest house was just the sweetest and treated me like a daughter, as well as the attached mgahawa where the man whips up some great meals (beans comparable to Ilongero, and VEGGIES!) I stayed at Mtitu wa Ndei Guesthouse I here, basic, but all part of the experience and they'll bend over backwards for you.

After Mtae, back to Lushoto, a small town in a fertile valley. I decided to go for a walk around town but after 5-10 minues that’s it. All the hikes are ‘expensive’ as they are ‘cultural tourism’ organizations so they support the community but by this stage I really just wanted to say can’t you just take out the community support fee, I just want cheap cheap? So I just did a day hike through the lovely Magamba Rainforest, but my feet were by then starting to reject this exercise and fall apart so I was happy to get back to town and into my thongs. Good excuse to put the hiking shoes at the bottom of the case and throw the grotty clothes away.

Next stop, Tanga, Tanzania’s 3rd largest town which had me pretty unmotivated. It was actually really laid back. Once you get away from the bus stand, no one really hassles you, the seafront area is nice, and its quite enjoyable. I stayed at a pretty nice place, one of the older men there is Mnyaturu (the tribe from Singida) so Bula was back. Not much to do in Tanga on a rainy day, especially a Sunday. The days are pretty hot and steamy but the evenings so mild and beautiful it’s impossible to stay inside. Ramadan ended while I was here, and being back in the largely Muslim coastal area was nice as there are 3 days for celebration for Eid, especially in the night as everyone goes out for fancy food, the ice cream shops suddenly appear from nowhere bursting with kids and there was such a nice atmosphere. I went for a bite and sat with 2 old ‘spinsters’ who bought me dinner of fried potato slices and delicious coconut chutney (which is also served at the front step of my guest house here in Stone Town). One of those nights I know I'll look back on and feel all warm and fuzzy. When people take you in, when everyone appears happy, it is all about family and love...really kicks those crappy moments and crappy things people do in the world out and replaces them with hope for humanity when you see the core of what life is about and human nature. Ahhhh.

Anyway, I took a bus to a village about an hour away on the waterfront to see the Tongoni ruins, the remains of a mosque and tombs from the 14th/15th century. Really atmospheric as it is set amongst bush and baobabs near the mangroves and tiny fishing village. The buildings were built from coral reef brought from Persia and some still grow coral. On the way back the driver of the car worried that there would be police up ahead and the car was over-filled, so he made one of the guys put a kitenge on the front of the car “put the flowery one” and told us all to start singing if we see the police as it was still Eid and he hoped they would just let us off. That was funny, another moment when laughter and smiles erase unite EVERYONE.

After Tanga I headed down the coast to Pangani at the mouth of the Pangani river. The beaches aren’t amazing but are lined with coconuts and the odd cow leg. I hired a bike for a couple of days and crossed the river on the ferry to ride to some other beaches and villages. I actually really enjoyed riding around, much nicer than walking and I only fell off once. The only thing is along the main road when trucks or buses pass, they obviously see my stiffness and just as they pass honk the horn and then turn around to look out the window and laugh at my reaction. Mzungu are funny aren't we? The few streets around the river have buildings and doors similar to Zanzibar so that was nice too, little did I know I’d be there/here in a few days.

I was here for the 3rd and final day of Eid and as usual everyone was out and about, the women and girls looking especially fabulous in amazing clothes, makeup and beautiful henna painted up their arms. I was adopted by a couple of young rasta guys who have a tourism office but ended up just helping me as a sister “dada Nicole”. Maybe we bonded because of the state of my hair after the beach, the humidity and wearing a hat which had created a dreadlock appearance. I met a group of brits and have been travelling with them since, getting a boat over to Nungwi - one of the northern beaches of Zanzibar - and although we all thought we were going to die at some point during the trip, arriving on the turquoise waters at the beach made it worth it. I got

to leave my big bags at Rasta Ally’s office in Pangani, and use his tent he left at his rasta friends lodge in Nungwi. We stayed here, and you can imagine a lodge run by a bunch of rastas is quite and experience. The beach here is beeeeeeeeautiful, lots of Masai, lots of Italians and LOTS of white speedo's. A night out at Kendwa Rocks, the beach party, had similar consequences to when I went there on my tour, but was just as fun. Came to Stone Town this week and by chance there is a jazz festival on so a few of us are staying to see that and then head back up to the northern beaches. Yesterday we did a day trip to Changuu Island (Prison Island) where there is a sanctuary for endangered giant tortoises. Also did some snorkelling and wandered around the island. Of course each night I have been at the Forodhani night markets , getting in as many REAL Zanzibar pizzas – as well as learning to cook them - (the copies on the mainland are no good) and as much seafood as possible, and we have found a bar with sunset views and happy hour at the same time so have been there 6 times so far in 3 days. Last night we went to Livingstone’s, a bar on the beach here in Stone Town for the opening night of the festival with some jazz bands which was great and today heading back up to the beaches for Kendwa Rocks again, tonight featuring Michael Jackson! We met him last night, he must’ve had more surgery.

As always, amazing getting lost in the alleyways, admiring the beautiful doors and architecture…I really don’t think I could ever tire of this.

Happy Fathers Day all you Baba’s.

Posted by neerg_08 05:47 Archived in Tanzania Tagged safari zanzibar tanga stone_town nungwi arusha forodhani tarangire_national_park mtae lushoto pangani tongoni_ruins Comments (0)

Kwa Heri Ilongero, hello Southern Highlands and Lake Nyasa‏

Byebye village life, helloooo adventure

Ilongero seems like a longtime ago already.

It was a bit sad say saying goodbye, especially to Maria - my Tanzanian Mama - some of the teachers, Baba Horota and the people at the mission…and the dogs. I didn’t even get a chance to see Mama Shayo or principal M as I had to rush home to be there for when the bus passed the house to get me! It was funny at the mission as one of the new kids, when I was up in front of the class to say bye, just said “haya” ("ok then") and carried on with his work so everyone laughed at that. He couldn't have cared less...love the honesty. One of the girls wouldn’t shake my hand as she said I have to stay. I'll miss them. Lydia and I got a bit teary and of course at the police station I said farewell to Oni, and we held hands as he walked me out. He is very disappointed that there are no more mzungu girls remaining to call his fiancé.

I went to the hostel the night before leaving to see all the girls, that was actually quite sad as they all said “usiendi!” (don’t go!) then we all got photos together which was fun. Again, hands patting my head, strands of hair being pulled here and there. I was told I must return for chai the next morning before leaving so I went Friday morning and had some photos with Sara (the matron) and again we were both on the verge of tears. It was good to have at least one thing happen before leaving though (the life skills seminar) and also a Tanzanian girl came has come for a few weeks to see if she will stay and work for the org. G sprung this upon us a few days before so I only had one day with her before leaving. She has studied development and was very sweet and I think it will be a good thing to have a person from Tanzania there running things, and she seems quite strong so GIRL POWER to her.

One night during the week S and I were meant to go to the principal M's for dinner but there was a misunderstanding as we thought it was more of a ‘more details to come to confirm’ type thing but turns out it was confirmed and they slaughtered one of their chickens for us for dinner and waited for hours. Noone worries about making you feel guilty either, especially as we rescheduled and another chicken was served up and S reminded them she doesn’t eat meat (bloody vego’s...was I that annoying when I was one?) and Mama Willie put on such a guilt trip, I would’ve just eaten it! Well, of course I did....but even if I was a vego. I did have to wait until noone was looking and chuck the offal back in the serving dish.
Not quite there yet.

I didn’t want a leaving party but I did go to the duka for bread one night, bump into Mfinanga, the police chief and other regulars – and it is rude to refuse a drink – 3 hours later managed to escape, pretty jolly, and head home. I love those moments. One of my last trips to town was also as exciting as usual, 27 people in the car, a boot full of fish, a couple of break downs and standing in a Tanzanian sandwich, so tangled I didn’t know which leg was which when I could feel pain and wanted to move it. When you are sure there is no space, a few more people get in, except one when they pulled over for a larger lady and then decided against it and yelled out “not you, you're too big”. Not really offensive here. When I was trying on clothes my fundi mama made me, everyone in the shop commented how lovely the clothes were but “she has no belly though” like it's a bad thing. I'll take that though, after all the ugali, pasta, chapati, beans, rice etc I have been devouring. I just know I won't find maharage & ugali like the mama's in Ilongero cook again :(

In the bus, a lady tried to pass her baby to me and it took one look and SCREAMED in sheer terror and wouldn’t stop, they had to pass it to the back of the bus away from me. Which reminds me, in Kigoma walking through the market, a lady held a toddler up to me and said “take the child”.

So, since leaving Ilongero, I met up with J in Singida and had him offer the services of some cousin or brother or uncle or some kind of relative in most places I am going, but sometimes can be hard to relax in someone elses home. Maybe I will take him up on this in Dar es Salaam at the home of the ex vice president. Sounds interesting. Got lots of clothes made by fundi mama using my vitenge and kangas, though of course as usual – even though she writes down what you want as well as me giving her a drawing – she just goes with what she feels like at the time and instead of a shirt I may get a dress, instead of a flowy kaftan I get a tight dress with shoulders that look padded – pretty in fashion here. Then passed Baba Shayo and got given a bunch of biscuti for the road. I really love it here, all the complaining aside. I will look back on it all and laugh.

I had one night in Dodoma, and boy don’t I know Ramadan has started! The guesthouse was opposite a mosque and there are even more blaring prayers and speeches over the megafone than usual. It was worse in Iringa, again close to a mosque with some guy making speeches from 8-10pm and then 5-6am. I’m all for you having a religion but I do love my sleep...this and the 5:30am repairs to a metal gate at the hostel. No one is too big on respecting others' peace and quiet. So have had some pretty painful nights, with the flu as well as more stomach trouble, rotten burps and pregnant belly again. I found myself sitting trying to decide which smelt worse, my farts or my burps (which smelt like farts so samesame really...too much info?). The burps won, poor man sitting next to me on the stinking hot bus to Iringa. Roads have all been sealed, (hooray!) but with that comes crazy speeds and we passed several overturned trucks on the way, a few still lying across the road and scarily a lot were petrol trucks. On the way to Iringa in the Southern Highlands, as on my tour last year, the bus passes Mikumi National Park for about 45mins and we saw zebras, giraffes, buffalo, baboons and impala crossing the road. Then Baobab valley, which I was so disappointed to have slept through last year. WOW! Especially for someone who loves Baobabs. The road goes through the valley following a river and either side the slopes of the hills are covered with thousands of Baobabs! All it needs is darkness and mist and would be the perfect setting for a ‘haunted woods’ scene in a cartoon. I was so tired when I got to Iringa that when I went to have a shower and the electricity – and with it the hot water – cut off I cried. A real baby moment. Iringa was nice, not as cold as I expected. A medium sized town set amongst rocky hills, of the Southern Highlands, it is nice and laid back and I barely heard “mzungu” or got bothered. I went for a hike to Gangilonga Rock, just out of town, where Chief Mkwawa – a legendary figure in Tanzanian history and chief of the local Hehe tribe in the late 1800’s – often meditated and where he learned that the Germans were after him. After leading his army to defeat the German troops on several occasions, they eventually succeeded and legend has it Mkwawa committed suicide rather than surrender. His head was cut off and the skull sent to Germany (it was returned in 1954). It was a nice walk up there and from the rocks are views over town and surrounding hills. I wouldn’t have meditated in silence as there were a few young guys up there screaming out loud a Westlife song. In the afternoon, while a little lost looking for a particular craft shop – Iringa has lots of good souvenir shops – I ran into one of the teachers from Ilongero so the next day we went to the Isimila Stone Age Site together – right up his alley as a history teacher. The ‘guide’ wasn’t great. We walked a bit then came to the edge of a valley and just stopped and waited in silence for a while just looking down until I had to ask what it was we were looking at. And a lot of questions he would just wait for you to give some options as answers and he’d just say yes. I used this trick waitressing when someone would ask about a dish, I knew what he was doing. We were at the ‘Natural Pillars” which was a surprise of the tour I didn’t know anything about and better than the stone age site itself. You descend into a steep valley and walk along a dry river bed where erosion has left really tall sandstone pillars, some with a striking resemblance to a certain male body part. Was pretty cool (the pillars, not that they looked like willies. well, maybe a bit).The stone age site is where in the 1950's archaeologists uncovered some of the most significant stone age finds ever identified, mostly tools such as hammer stones, spear heads and knives from rocks estimated to be 60,000-100,000 years old. They're just left under a small thatch roof shelter and the museum is pretty boring but I tried to look excited looking at photos of what we had just seen. There's another past chief buried in a nearby cemetry where powerlines were built across but spookily the electricity would not pass this spot so people thought to dig up the cemetry but apparently many people involved died in freak accidents or mysterious ways so eventually they left it and just made a huge detour for the lines. For lunch one day was a hot chocolate, chocolate cake and chocolate brownie - no amount of stomach upset, pain and swelling will get in the way of my 'western food' splurge. The staff are all hearing impaired at this place so the menu teaches you to order etc in sign language, that was great I thought.

After Iringa I planned to stay in Mbeya but passing through on the bus just looked like another big dusty town so hopped on another bus to Tukuyu. Loved it there. The drive there is so beautiful, very green, rolling hiils, distant mountains and lots of banana, tea and coffee plantations. I have managed to find a guest house where i can not hear any calls to prayer though I didn't ask if there was water as usually this is a pretty standard inclusion. There is not. But as a bonus during the day a portable ATM sets up right in front of my window so I have an armed guard with AK47 watching over my room while I am not there. Lucky as the lock is pretty dodgy. Tukuyu is a very small town on the rise of a hill, surrounded by mountains, tea farms and with views of the cloud covered Mt Rungwe, the 2960m dormant volcano. One day I did a hike with a guide and a few uni students to Ngozi Peak and Crater Lake a 2920m volcanic peak, the subject of local legends. The local tribe believe the lake used to be located closer to Mt Rungwe but the peoples' cows would go there to drink and disappear. They heated a huge stone and put it in the water to dry it up and then it appeared where is is now located. Apparently where it used to be is ALWAYS damp even when everywhere else is dry. They believe in special uses of the water but you must bring a gift in return for the spirits or bad things will happen. The hike was beautiful. An easy walk for about 8km then a steep climb using tree roots as ladders. The fog was so thick it was like rain, so cold I couldn't feel my face and unfortunately due to the fog we couldn't see the lake but it probably set a better atmosphere for the walk. The boys all laughed at me when I took the bread they offered me and I automatically reached for my water to have with my food, which Tanzanians think is so strange. Ok to have tea with EVERYTHING but water...bit weird I am learning. I tried to have breakfast (this meal is called 'chai' which is also the word for tea so i suppose it makes sense) without tea one day and the girl wouldn't accept it, she just laughed and brought me tea. It is always soooooo sweet too (like the pasta....sugar in pasta hmmm tghat's new to me) I had an extra day in Tukuyu to walk around town and down the main road for several hours - i clearly like the place as i very rarely walk around towns - must be the cool climate, it even rained! Stopped for a chat and lunch with the traffic police and met lots of nice people along the way who thought it was a bit weird I was just walking with no destination. Lots of hugs and only here could I feel not feel threatened talking to a man with a machete with noone else around. I tried to fit in as many meals of pineapple as possible as theyre so cheap and sweet and delicious there. Also in Iringa and Tukuyu there are lots of 'Libralies' as in certain areas people prounounce L's as R's and R's as L's, such as "Habali" instead of "habari". The other day I saw a Che Guevara sticker on a truck window with "Peace and Rove" underneath ahah. not sure he stood for peace anyway but definitely 'rove'.

After Tukuyu I took a few buses following the Livingstone Mountain range down to Matema, a quiet lakeside village on Lake Nyasa. Changing buses in Kyela the sealed roads end and the vehicles are ancient. There was so much stuff on top of the roof you could see it caving in. This is usually a bit of a worry especially when the bus guys keep coming in to check on it with each bag or sack they load on top. With a push start from a few guys we were on our bumpy way, thinking this one would take me all the way as the sign on the bus said Matema, but apparently that just means its going in that general direction so then had to wait in some village for a couple of hours for the next bus. Sometimes it is easier to climb out the bus window than try to make your way to the door. It was worth it! After a couple of sweaty and tiring hours dragging my luggage around with my new friend from the bus Moses (no taxis, the main transport is bike) everywhere was booked out except a litte way out of the village some very nice bamboo bungalows, outdoor tree shower, on a private area of the beach, even more private as I was the only guest. beautiful. Had a day on the beach getting my legs and shoulders out all over the place! Scandal! Talkng to an older German man about the issue of accommodation he kindly offered me the spare bed in his room if I couldnt find anything else but also warned me he hadn't seen his wfe in 4 months Haha. Gotta love people.

Next day I moved up the beach to a cheaper place for the next few nights as I decided to stay and wait for the weekly ferry to Mbamba bay. The beach is pebbly, with the backdrop of the mountains, sometimes it seems like a nudist beach as people use the lake for bathing and washing clothes. in the afternoon the fishermen head out on the canoes - the 2nd most common form of transport. The village is one main dirt road, with paths to the houses surrounded by tall palm trees and cocoa and cassava plantations. You can aways tell there is cassava around when you smell the strong cheesy smell it puts out when drying. mmm cheese. what? Oh, where was i?...The area is known for the clay pots women make, I got myself a special chipsi mayaii clay frying pan later in the week from a nearby village the ferry passed. Moses turned out to be the watchman of one of the resorts and when i freaked out at the cost of meals at the first place he even offered to bring me ugali and beans from his home. He then became my guide and one day we went to a nearby watyerfall, which for some reason I expected to get there by canoe and just look at it but it turned out to be a 'walk' and we were literally rock climbing sometimes. Not ideal to wear swimmers and thongs. I was screaming and in the end reverted to English so hopefully he doesn't understand swear words. There was a lot of crab crawling by me when I just couldnt bring myself to stand. The waterfall was ok, but i think i've seen enough and unless the next one is like Niagra Falls, i'm not hiking to see it.

Another morning I did a hike up one of the mountains to see the lake and village from above. People actualy have to farm on the steep slopes of the hill! the path was so narrow and steep i was again crab crawling as women gracefully passed with huge sacks of potatoes or charcoal or stacks of firewood on their heads, without a care in the word. The afternoons I had on the beach sunbaking, walking down to the village to try put my name down for the ferry several times to be told to come back the next day (never succeeded but was always joined on my mission by a couple of old men - who ended up arranging to meet me as I departed on the ferry to say goodbye...they waited with me for hours in the sun on the beach for it to arrive, how sweet) and studying some swahili, which sometimes turned into a bit of a class as primary school kids whose teachers were not teaching came to hang out. Met a very sweet girl who left and came back with a very pink headband as a gift for me. Lots of people ask for things here though, starting with money, then footballs then anything they see with you. One old lady with an injured leg came and sat with me asking for money and even after I declined and tried to say why, she sat there staring me in the eye. Way to make me feel evil. AIt never gets easier really. Another day I went out on a dugout canoe to see the "fishies, there are bluey fishies, greenie fishies, pinkie fishies, whitey fishies, blackie fishies" (how could I say no!?) i mainly went for the ride which was lovely. passed lakeside villages where more people were washing on the beach, bending over to wash their feet without a thought of the view we were getting. Had a sunset photo session on the beach with a bunch of Tanzanian guys visiting for the day, had to pose as requested, then for the last night I was invited by a german volunteer and the old german man with the spare bed (he is building a boat for a nearby village to transport the clay pots as boat is the only way to reach there) to dinner with the village chief and his wife which was nice followed by a few much craved COLD beers.

After 5 very relaxing days and with feet back to normal colour with the dirt well and truly cleaned off, I waited to board the ferry to Mbamba Bay, on the south east side of the lake. Arriving at the beach at 11 as told, the 2 old men that had joined my several missions joined me to wait. I was assured by everyone it was the big ferry, straight to Mbamba Bay, I would get a room with bed, meals etc. Then on the horizon appeared the small ferry, but still i was assured meals and a good seat, even when I asked if I should run on to get one and "no, not necessary". By the time I got on, had an argument when I was told it does not go to Mbamba Bay but stops a couple of hours out of the bay, and told the ferry staff I hate Tanzania today because everyone lies (really people just tell you what they think you want to hear), "do you understand Bulls*#t? This is bulls*#t!"...there were no 'seats' (wooden benches) not even space to stand up! I sat out the back on the ledge for a bit to cool down then unknowingly climbed the ladder into the captains cabin where i was welcomed and it ended up being an awesome journey, for the whole 29 hours! Very much the boys club, the older men treated me as a daughter and the younger guys as a sister. A couple in particular made sure the cook prepared me nice meals, and when we got to Liuli - the village the trip ends - paid for a couple of guys to carry my luggage to the guest house, paid for my room and gave me their phone numbers when they returned to work on the boat in case I had any problems. They even requested a room where I would not get upupu (my new favourite word meaning a 'rash') from the sheets as they had all experienced the last time, and one woke at 5am to help me get on the bus to Mbamba Bay! Princess treatment! On the ferry I felt bad every now and then enjoying my comfortable padded seat and meals, constant supply of coffee and hot chocolate if I would look down the ladder to the passenger area and meet someone elses eyes, but then I remembered how when I was looking for somewhere to sit or stand and no one so much as shoved a centimetre and away went the guilt. The conversation turned to one of their work trips to Europe and amazement at the 'adult shops' and that there are blow up dolls! which, fyi, now come as plug in and light up and vibrate. They were amazed at how when wazungu marry it means just you want that one person, and baffled how men can be on the beach with girls wearing bikinis and not be 'affected' as when Tanzanian men see thighs they "can not help it because the thighs are a sligtly different colour skin" so the girls must cover up. It is nice being referred to as dada (sister), not mzungu even when they don't know I am listening.

As the sun set I found a couple of sacks of cassava flour (which smells sooooo nice, not the cheesy smell...almost like a mild cocnut scent) to use as a bed near the railing out on the cargo deck. Got under my shuka and slept - a little - under the very bright moon. a 30 hour boat trip was more pleasant than even a 5 hour bus trip, well, with the mzungu upgrade at least. Thank you pastey skin and blonde hair, you really help me sometimes. As we pulled into Liulu the next night the captain called ahead to make sure the beach was clear of crocodiles so we could leave safely...with a slightly nervous jog from me and not before a few Crocodile Dundee jokes...the captain is a fan. The mlinzi at the guest house was a tiny man who would have been at least 80, and we had to shake him to wake him up so we could get in haha. very secure. Then the early bus to Mbamba, which wasn't too bad until the lady next to me started spewing into a plastic bag. At first I felt sorry for her until we arrived and she threw it on the floor of the bus and i ended up with her vomit on my foot. Luckily by now I barely flinch when things like that happen.

From Mbamba Bay town, got a pikipiki - with much difficulty getting all my luggage AND me on, i was very cosy up against the driver (3 people on a pikipiki is called mishikaki (kebab) and you often get guys drive by offering you mishikaki?). arriving at Bio camp at the village of Mbegele on a private beach away from the pests of town i was given a good discount by the manager, Bernardo, who is always LITERALLY running around and when you request something he giggles, "ok ok" then RUNS off to get it i.e. salt, which I have become addicted to and as I had luggage I got to use one of the bungalows instead of a tent, though it was just a matress and my mosquito net put up I had my own bathroom and felt quite lucky. The staff at places in the south are very hospitable, not like 'fat lazy' in Singida (as nicknamed by us volunteers when the man introducing us simply stated 'FAT...LAZY' as she walked away in her usual 'i am telling you I am going to get your towels/key/change etc but I will not return' attitude) and the other people who make you feel like you are very inconvenient for making them work and even try to talk you out of staying there. There was no electricity there so it was nice at night when they set up a beach bonfire to sit around under the amazingly clear sky and watch the glittering lights of many fishermen on the horizon. I didn't do this the 2 nights i was the only guest as what could be lonlier than sitting around a bonfire by yourself? I barely moved off the beach, it is soooooo calm and silent in the morning! One day I thought I should move at least (you know you're being lazy when you get up to walk 10m to your meal on the sand, as they all were, and return to your towel after eating in need of a nap) and went for a 'walk' to the rocks with a young guy and older gassy german man which turned out to be very difficult and a lot higher than they looked from the beach and of course i took my camera so i couldnt swim back with them as I had planned to get to the hill and walk back but the boulders are in the water and it was impossible to get there. They had obvioulsy noticed my struggle on the way there, when at stages i had to be carried on both of their shoulders haha like my slaves - so on the way back i could hear them calling out my name and eventually one came to help me back, just in time as I was close to tears, imagining some '127 hours' type of situation. Enough of rock climbing for a while. Had a walk down the beach to the village area, where "village kids" can be without one of the staff chasing them with stick - is it bad I have become so used to this scene it makes me laugh now? On the sand/pebbes are pots of soaking cassava, sheets with cassava drying, canoes, huge hand made fishing nets. Lots going on. Also did manage to climb half way up the nearby hill for views over the area, once again overtaken by the local women with ease as I am on all fours. Thank god for my love of taking photos or I'd never do anything. Everyone wants a photo and the kids get excited to try their English "this........is.......give" or "my.....name......money!" they have the important words.

After 4 lovely nights in Mbegele, I got to the bus stand for 6am for the once a day bus which can pass any time from 6 until 9. Passed through the town 'Mafinga' (hehehe) then to Songea and Dodoma for 2 long bus days. Songea is Kanga and Kitenge heeeeaaaavvveeeennn oh gosh all the amazing Nigerian wax kitenge especially wow if I had a huge budget, even bigger bag and some sort of sewing skills I would have LOADED UP! At Morogoro stand I was so sick of being annoyed through the window to buy chips or drinks or biscuits or kebabs or ... anything i just put my kitenge over my head. Even the Tanzanian women yell at the bus guys here so I didn't feel too rude. Several bus trips I shared nearby men in handcuffs being taken to jail. another 5am arrival at a bus stand I decided to pass on going to kolo kondoa to see the rock art - seen plenty of rocks - and came straight to Arusha where I arrived at my guesthouse, where it is just me and a bunch of Masai so I feel I need to up my game on the jewellery - and had a big fight with my taxi driver who gave me a ridiculous price i laughed in his face then went on to call him a thief etc and all the guests came out to watch. Didn't realise I was at the window of the resturant too. It's just tiring especially travel days fighting not to be ripped off as the buses and taxis are the main ones who try. The young guy working at the hostel was the one who whispered what it should have actually cost me so i just said i'd sit in his taxi until he gave me the fair price. Me...Stubborn? no.

See the itinerary of this trip, and details about each destination.

Booked my safari to Tarangire National Park for tomorrow so today just have in town maybe some shopping. It's raining here as it was last time and the roads are so muddy and smelly I look forward to moving on to the coast!

Posted by neerg_08 04:14 Archived in Tanzania Tagged arusha mikumi dodoma iringa mbamba_bay mbegele bio_camp matema songea tukuyu isimila_stone_age baobab_valley southern_highlands gangilonga_rock Comments (0)

Apes, Lakes & Livingstone

Apparently a fan of the explorers now

I have heard that a fair few times the past couple of weeks. The people in Ilongero are ANGELS compared to where I have been! Obviously just because they knew me there so I wasn't hassled but my gawwwwd it get's tiring elsewhere. I know how celebrities feel - minus the luxury.
Have had a fantastic time seeing some new places, but it was still nice to get back to the calm of the village in time for yesterday as it was the big monthly market day. I am here until next Friday, then more travelling until mid-August…not looking forward to doing it all with my big suitcase! Well planned Nicole... "I'm staying put when I go back so I don't need my backpack". hmmm.

I started off by heading to Tabora, ‘the gateway to the west’. The start of the bus trip from Singida was fine, we picked up some items a traffic cop wanted delivered somewhere along the way including a goat which was thrown in the luggage compartment under the bus. Ever heard a goat scream? They sound like children. Lucky for me – not so much the goat – the road was a bit bumpy and the bus rattly so I couldn’t hear. When I changed bus at Nzega 3 hours in that was the end of the road and it was dirt track from there on. Nzega bus stand is pretty hecsatic, though I got given a cob of maize by a young guy (I didn’t really know what to do with it as it was uncooked) with a proposal to be his 2nd wife, and on the way back through Nzega on the return trip there were plenty of people coming up to my window and stroking my arm when I wasn’t watching. Bit weird. Once again a seat at the back wasn’t ideal but the man next to me was really nice and helped me find a cheap place in Tabora, and along with the taxi driver they would inspect that everything in the room worked and it was secure. We got several flat tyres, about 3 in one go at one point though there was only 1 spare so they just had to switch the tyres around to ‘less important’ places. 15km to Tabora and another flat. Not sure if you’ve ever experienced a really bumpy road that shakes your body so much you start itching, especially your butt. I was FILTHY from the dust, looked like a bad spray tan, when I arrived after the “2 ½ hour” turned 5 hour trip from Nzega but got to see lots of Baobab trees which I always appreciate. My room at the guesthouse had a huge framed poster of Chelsea football club to watch over me. The man working there was like “oh your brothers” about the white ones so I told him my brothers names. I had a day in Tabora, a big, scruffy town where it is difficult to cross the road so I latch onto someone who looks like they know what they’re doing and cross with them. (this was the same in Mwanza, different from dodging donkeys and steers in the village). I think it’s like Asia where you are advised just to cross and walk at an even pace, except here the cars are less likely to go around you. I woke in the morning to the sweet old man from the hostel at my door “sister, sister Nicole” with a bucket of hot water to wash. Very exciting. The place was nice besides being opposite a mosque, though that helped with the early morning wake up for the bus, and when I flushed the toilet the toilet water came up through the bath haha, grose. I tried to arrange for a train to Kigoma but the only one was an overnighter with benches, no seats. No thanks.And not going the day I needed it. But I met a nice girl there who was also getting a ticket and her friend who worked at the station took us ahead of the hundred or so long queue straight into the office. Mzungu express, just the way I like it. She spent the morning showing me around, holding my hand along the way. Then I took a pikipiki to Livingstone’s Tembe, the ‘main attraction of Tabora’. This is where Livingstone stayed in 1872 after being found by Stanley in Ujiji. He also stayed before then and stopped the house being used as a place to keep slaves along the slave trade route to the ocean. One of the men sent to find Livingstone, John William Shaw, came down with Malaria here and remained as Standley went on to Ujiji. When he didn’t recover, he shot himself and there is a cross painted in the corner he did this. Glad I managed to get the guide down to half price by telling him I’m a Tanzanian for now, as there wasn’t much there, a lock of Livinstone’s hair, some letters, certificates of freedom given to slaves and some items similar to what people at the time ‘may have used’…but the trip out was nice and good to get out of the town. And there were some of the beautiful Indian style doors I fell in love with on Zanzibar. I think the main thing going for Tabora is this bakery I stumbled across and supplied me with most of my meals there. I got into an argument with an old man over dinner as all I wanted was peace and quiet. He was so drunk and kept pestering me even after I moved tables 3 times and yelled “I WANT SILENCE, I’M TRYING TO WATCH TV”. Then I heard him tell the waitress I would cover his bill….was not having that! He kept trying to talk to me from a few tables away so I had to yell “YOU'RE TALKING TO YOURSELF NOW” and eventually the owner came over and was like “What the F*%#, what the F is wrong with you” and dragged him away haha. He reappeared later on and again the owner just yelled “F*%#” haha and dragged him out again. Obviously a regular pest. Other than that, Tabora has a fair few hotels, restaurants etc named after South African cities, has lots of lovely mango trees left over from the slave trade days, Sun City ‘casino’ (a bar with a poker machine), and a shop selling delicious frozen strawberry yoghurt.

After 2 nights there I got the ‘Super Vuvuzela Victorian Express’ bus to Kigoma, which was neither super nor express. The seat I had booked had no window at all in the frame and when the conductor told me oh well I told him I’d have his seat instead if it was no big deal. My new seat wasn’t all that much better with the seat top detached from the legs so every bump – and there were many – me and the 2 other people would fly in the air with the seat and land falling down the back of the seat. Not only was it itchy bum again, it was sore! There was no road the entire way (14 hours) sooooo much dust that eventually a man laughed that I am become a black person and the rest of the bus were becoming white people. Same with the previous bus, it rattled so loudly that even at full volume I couldn’t hear my ipod. The man next to me was quite large so it was nice to cosy up to him in the cool morning (for a country with so many big people, they sure make seats and isles NARROW!), but the day got HOT and as the isle piled with people and I had a big butt sticking into my other side it was not so good. When my row would fly in the air over some especially big bumps the whole back of the bus would laugh and I just burst into laughter because it was sooooo bad. I love those moments that cross all language and cultural barriers and everyone is just laughing together. I have figured out a ‘6 steps of acceptance’ program of travelling here. #1 (hours 0-2) – this is not too bad, quite pleasant. #2 (hours 2-4) this is crap, but hey, yeeeehhhh check me out travelling and roughing it #3 (hours 4-6) starting to hurt, bit uncomfortable. This sucks but hey, it’s just how things are #4 (hours 6-10) FML! This is ssssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh*****ttttttttttttttt!! #5 (hours 10-12) when you just start laughing because it is so bad, and just can do nothing but literally laugh out loud and talk outloud to yourself about how bad it is #6 (hours 12-14) Not laughing anymore. This is not funny. Almost there. Really hurting. Close to tears. Face stiff with dirt. Hot. Sweaty. I know 10 days of bucket showers will not have me clean.

Somehow a lady managed to breastfeed through all this, I was scared she was going to lose a nipple!

What a small world though, S was coming from Mwanza up north the same day, we knew we’d be in Kigoma the same day but didn’t know when, and at a stop about 2 hours from Kigoma a bus pulled in and she got out. All the people on her bus had overthrown the driver saying he was driving too slow so were going to have to wait there for 2 hours for a new driver to come from Kigoma so she just got out to look for a new bus. I had my hand waving to her out the window, and she later said she didn’t even see a white hand because it was so dirty. Worked out well as we couldn’t have communicated anyway as she got mugged in Mwanza and had her phone stolen. Talk about adding insult to injury, as the guy grabbed her bag he said “mzungu” then pushed her and she fell into a gutter (and they are about 1m deep here). We haven’t heard so many pointless “mzungu” before. Noone can just say “Hi’, it’s “mzungu, hi”. We’ve had quite a laugh about how ridiculous it is. If I thought I was dirty in Tabora, I had a dirt beard and moustache, filthy hands, dirty clothes, dirty hair, dirty bag, even dirty bra somehow. 2 washes later and was still rubbing off dirt. The guest house in Kigoma was cheeeaaappp it was awesome, about $2.50 each a night for a huge room with 2 double beds and a fan! We were like a family with the people working there by the time we left they were so sweet. Kigoma itself is quite nice, the area is pretty and green and on Lake Tanganyika. It is really just one main road, easier to get around than Tabora and less overwhelming, except with having people ask for things got a little crazy. I think this is because there have been so many aid agencies working in the area for so many years with refugees coming from Rwanda, DRC and Burundi. A bit overwhelming at times as there are a fair few street beggars which there aren’t many in Singida. The villages before entering Kigoma seemed a lot less developed than anywhere else as well, so as frustrating as it can be at the time when people ask for things or as rude as I seem, have tried to keep some compassion in my mind, but it’s exhausting.

We spent half the first day trying to arrange to go to see the chipanzees at either Mahale Mountains national Park or Gombe Stream national Park. This was not easy! No one really knew anything. We ended up at the lakeshore village Kibirizi twice, 1st being told by several people that the booking office is there (it wasn’t) and then returning to try to get on the 2pm boat to Gombe Stream (which doesn’t exist, only a midday one). We thought we were about to get into a police chase when our taxi driver crapped himself when he saw the traffic police up ahead as he hadn’t updated his registration and we couldn’t unlock our doors when we pulled over and he didn’t turn the car off or get out for ages (not nervous travellers at all). The main National Park office told us a boat to Mahale Mountains is $1500, hahahahaha funny. And to Gombe Stream at least $400 so we ended up asking people if they know anyone with a boat but that was still going to be $300. Finally found out we could get a water taxi to Gombe Stream for $2.50 the next day. The Mahale Mountains boat trip would be an overnight 19 hour journey….maybe I’ll return when I can fly in, it’s meant to be an incredible place. In the afternoon we took a dalladalla to Mwamahunga (Jakobsen’s) Beach, though had to walk about 45minutes through a village first and honestly thought we were going to be robbed by children. Ilongero kids are angels in comparison, they ask for money or something then carry on but these ones followed us up the hill and were touching our bags and everything. Kids scare me a little. It was worth it though, the beach is a small cove with several little gazebos and we had it all to ourselves, besides a few monkeys who when I awoke from my nap had stolen my pineapple. The water is crystal clear, looks like an ocean more than a lake, and it was just sooooo nice to be in water and feel like I was at a place of luxury. On the way back we stopped for drinks at a really plush hotel on the lake, feeling a little scrappy rolling in after the beach, and had a few drinks watching the sun set over the lake and the distant Congo Mountains.


Then I went to a disco and had a huge night which did nothing to help my cold and woke up with no voice, a godawful hangover and had to get straight on the boat in the midday sun to Gombe Stream. Wouldn’t usually mind the no voice thing but as chimps share 98% of our DNA the rangers aren’t supposed to let you enter the park if you have even a sniffle or cough as they are so susceptible to our diseases. I definitely couldn’t hide this, so thankfully this is Tanzania and rules are pretty relaxed. The boat trip………oh my god I thought I was going to faint it was soooooo hot, we started off with lots of space around us sitting up the front of the wooden boat with the motto “we trust in….(someone)” painted on the wood below. We leant against a sideways table being transported, to be comfortable. Oh how I would come to hate this table as it blocked any air getting to us. The boat was soon piled with people and goods, it was friggen H.O.T, I had about 10 peoples legs under me as I stood up one time to get a breath and in swooped the feet to stretch out, and I have never sweat so much in my life. I wasn’t sure if I’d wee’d my pants or just sweat. A lot of people in Kigoma speak different languages from each other so will try to communicate in French or English, so I overheard a couple of young guys talking about how dangerous the sun is for the white people and albinos. “have you ever seen a burnt one? It’s very bad”. And discussing there is this special cream for the heat (sunscreen). I wish it was for the heat. Most of the boats are called something religious and have messages such as “we trust in God’ on them, which I was hoping had nothing to do with the journey ahead.

The trip was about 3 hours and I was happy they stayed pretty close to the shore. Arriving at Gombe Stream we headed straight for the beautiful pebble beach to cool down. When we found out the price of meals (only one place to get food there - $10 breakfast and $15 dinner!) us 2 and 2 Japanese girls we did the trek with were stockpiling food like biscuits and bread to store for lunch. At breakfast the next morning a baboon walked up the stairs inside the hotel to the dining area so we all had to jump up and act like monkeys to scare it away. We later heard things being thrown around downstairs in the corridor outside our rooms and they had thrown rubbish everywhere, that or an angry housekeeper. Again thanks to the work permit got a bargain price! The forests of Gombe are beautiful and green and we only walked for about 30mins to find the first chimp a tracker had spotted. He was Titan, up high in one of the palms. We stayed there for a while hoping he would come down, and then Zeusi walked past about 3m from us so we raced through the forest to follow him, who also went up a tree. After a while we moved on and found several chimps lower in the trees, with young ones swinging on branches and vines and playing. I got hit on the back with fruit we had to try to dodge as the chimps through them from high up in the trees. Coming up to the area they were and hearing their screams they sound quite frightening, but not as big as gorillas so although apparently 3 times stronger than people, I wasn’t as scared. The guide did tell us not to look them in the eye, and if one walks up to you and seems threatening he will tell you to find a tree to hug to show your acceptance of the chimpz dominance. We also saw some baboons, red colobus, blue monkeys and red tailed monkey. Lotsa monkeys. Some facts, when a grown up chimp dies, the group will stay with its body for 3 days before moving on. If a baby dies, its Mum will carry its body around until it starts to smell. When on heat, the females know to go to fig trees – or possibly during this time they prefer to eat figs….English explanations were a little dodgy – so that the males know if they don’t want to reproduce yet e.g if too soon after another baby, they ejaculate outside her. Hope they know this is not 100% effective, but good to see they do practice family planning. hmmm what else did I learn…. Oh the chimps like to grab peoples clothes and try to drag them off, or at least suck on them to get the salt from their sweat to taste. You are only supposed to have 45minutes with the chimpanzees for the day, but as we trekked on we came across another part of the group (there are 3 main groups in Gombe Stream) on the ground this time so were allowed to stay and watch them tumbling about doing rolly pollies, eating fruits (very messy eaters) and grooming for almost an extra hour. We stayed here crouched among vines and bush watching them go about their day only a few metres away. At one stage, 2 adults were grooming each other then one of the youngsters came over and tried to join in grooming the adult as well.

They are all so human like, especially how they move their arms. A mum was lying down with a teeny baby clinging to her chest. The kids play. The oldest ones sit there above all the nonsense. One of the young ones came up and curiously touched the leg of the girl next to me, 10cm away. I honestly almost wet my pants with excitement. They are indeed smart things, the forest grows the fruit used to make Amerulo (the delicious creamy alcoholic bev not sure if we have it in oz) and the chimps eat the seed to get a little tipsy. They eventually walked away so we continued our trek through ‘python way’, an area popular with pythons, then an area home to many Black Mamba’s, the only snake I am petrified of as you really don’t stand much of a chance of living….I stuck pretty close to the guide. We passed the feeding station Jane Goodall used to feed the chimps and climbed the steep track to ‘Jane’s Point’ where she would go to hear where the chimps were. We could hear them all screaming out from the forest below, and our guide could call out to them in a really great chimp voice and they would respond. Nice view from up here of Lake Tanganyika too. So Gombe Stream in Tanzania’s smallest National Park, you can only get to by boat, and the site of the longest running study of any wild animal population in the world. Jane Goodall arrived in 1960 to begin her study and stayed 20 years or something. I thought she had died so I got laughed at when I asked who names the chimps now, as it is still her. I got over 500 photos, many of which are blurry – they move more than gorillas..plenty of perfectly focused leaves and blurry monkeys in the background - it was incredible and S and I couldn’t stop looking at each other and exclaiming “THIS IS AWWESOME!”. We went to the beach again in the afternoon, and after walking around a while we came back to near the hotel and the chimps were eating in the scrubby bsuhes along the beach! There were no tress to hug so we got a little nervous and moved on. Amazing place. Got the boat back to Kiberizi the next morning, much more pleasant before the sun is up, and my seat, a plank going across the centre of the boat, was much more open to air. The only thing about this trip was I was sure I was going to be thrown overboard after refusing to share my water and when we thought someone had helped themselves to S’s bottle on her bag, I snapped “ask first”. Then I could hear all the ladies around us saying how we wouldn’t give our water for the children so I snapped it’s not our job, they should have brought some, we need to drink too. The daggers I felt every sip I took oh dear. When she said again how I wouldn’t give it to the kids, I told her I have the flu, does the kid want the flu? No! She whispered to her friends I was scared of getting HIV. Ridiculous. Bullies. S gave in and gave hers to a kid, didn’t even get a thank you from the Mum. Then a man asked me for money for food as he’s hungry. I said sorry, me too and if tomorrow there is no mzungu on the boat what will he do? I feel rude but it’s true, I can give him money for food today but that won’t help him tomorrow and when you just say no they just think you’re selfish. When I left the boat I heard one of the women say “still, she has her water” as I hadn’t finished it. I was ready to fly off the handle! I'm going to blame the heat and seasickness for my rudeness here...is that ok? Boat toilet – bottom of the boat as we saw some kid do. Another whitey on the boat had someone ask him for his mp3 player. Happy to get back to mainland and to our nice little family at the guesthouse.

We got a dalla to Ujiji, not really knowing where we were to go just that we could ask people for “Livingstone” and they would point us the way. Ujiji is one of Africa’s oldest market villages as it had been a main boat port. You will all think I am suddenly a fan of Livingstone but we went to the Livingstone Museum as this is the place where Henry Morton Stanley famously said “Dr Livingstone, I presume.” These places just offer something to do other than walk around another town for the day. But again I thought kids were going to mug us walking down the cobblestone road to get there. Ladies were even asking for S’s kitenge she was wearing. I had to ask them what will she wear? Jeez, they’d literally take the clothes off your back. The guide was really enthusiastic and especially so as I told him what big fans of Livingstone we are. The museum was boring so thank God I got them down from TSH20,000 to TSH2,000 by telling them my book said it’s free so that’s all we brought. Originally the lady working there called the guide to ask what better price he could do and she put me on the phone, but she heard me try to tell him we are Tanzanians to find out the real price and snatched the phone back to tell him we are wazungu. Worth a try. Got a photo in the big mango tree that shaded Livingstone and Stanley’s encounter. Well not THE tree, but when it died in the 1920’s part of it was replanted and that is the tree that is there now. Wow. Haha.

Next destination – Mwanza. Or so I thought. Got on our 5am bus, the ‘Adventure Line’. Buses are enough of an adventure without that being their name so we were a little worried. Once again, no road. Apparently the trip should take about 10 hours to Mwanza, after a few of the usual break downs and flats it was 8:30pm and we were still about 3-4 hours from Mwanza including a ferry trip S freaked out at one stop and just jumped off. To be fair Mum and Dad you would probably have been pleased if this was my decision, as our bus had an armed guard with a massive gun and I have never seen so many huge guns and bullet proof vests as one bus stand along the way had. I later read that as the road is along the Burundi border, it has the odd outburst of banditry. This and that the driver was really flooring it and the bus was on some pretty unnatural feeling sideways angles at some points added to her panic so fair enough, though to have come 15 hours and so close to the end give up seemed a waste. So we got a room at Geita, a nothing town with nothing to offer but as we realised the next day, thousands of bicycles! The room seemed nice but the tv had no channels and the bathroom no water. When waiting to get a bus along the road, I looked down to get something from my bag and when I looked up we were surrounded by 5 or 6 bikes offering to take us to the bus stand on their little padded cushion at the back. Never seen so many bikes as were peddling along this road. We got a bus easily, a nice one, and the trip was really pleasant, crossed part of Lake Victoria by ferry and arrived in Mwanza. Had a walk around town, got a pizza, chinese for dinner (PRAWNS!) and a glass of wine at a nice restaurant on Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake and 2nd largest fresh water in the world. A table of American men had to leave early for a flight so they gave us one of their dishes they didn’t get to (from the expensive part of the menu) so that was even better! Freebies! On the Lake is Bismark Rock, a pile of boulders in the water and a major local landmark but I think we’ve got better rocks in Singida. Got a picture anyway though. Mwanza is Tanzania’s 2nd largest city and was a bit overwhelming as it is so busy. Was really hot too, even at night – more so than Kigoma even. We got a bit lost and ended up at the same place a few times and I heard a lady shocked at how many wazungu were about, cos we all look the same and it was actually just us doing laps. I’m sure I could have gone out of my way to see more or go for a boat trip or something but I was happy with the one day and night there and then back to Singida the next day, without even a breakdown. Though my legs and feet had had enough of the long drive days and were so sore and swollen, if that’s anything like pregnancy feet than no thanks! Nice to be back in the colder weather and get some Ilongero beans which I was unable to find just the way I like them anywhere else. Plenty to do this week before leaving, I think G has forgotten as she is talking about things we can do next month.

Hope everyone is well, braving the cold. Too bad about state of origin for NSW, again, oh and Tom and Katie’s separation. Shock.

Lots of love,

Posted by neerg_08 04:01 Archived in Tanzania Tagged tanzania mwanza lake_victoria tabora lake_tanganyika chimpanzee gombe_stream kigoma ujiji jane_goodall mwamahunga_beach jakobsens_beach Comments (0)

In bed with the new Mr and Mrs Abubakir‏

Feeling lifted with the successful Life Skills Seminar, a wedding and appreciating people

Salaam Aleikum?

I’m coming off a very good several days so thought I should write and make up for the last email which may have seemed a bit of a downer. Plus I am going away for a couple of weeks tomorrow so no doubt that email will be long. Very excited to see more of Tanzania though.

So we had the Life Skills seminar this week, all with 2 days notice as it was originally supposed to be on Monday so I stayed at the school all Monday waiting for students to arrive to tell them we could move it to Thursday – Saturday if they could come, then had to tell them it wasn’t definite as we needed at least 30 to go ahead with it. About 25 came so Monday night I spent phoning any parents of Form 4 girls we had the phone number of….cold calling in a different language – difficult. But managed to get 30 yes’s and although I was so worried no one would show up almost 40 did! And on time! – the students at least, the facilitators were about 3 hours late, as was G and for the same day we had a meeting with all of the parents of the girls staying at the hostel to work out a new budget and go over any issues and G was about 2 hours late for that (luckily the parents were about 1 hour late) so I was shoved into the role of conducting the meeting. That went ok though, all issues sorted and the Life Skills seminar was soooo great! The trainers were really good with the students, even though I thought both of them being men would be difficult for the girls to feel comfortable, I think it was even better than if women had taught as they could at least say “we were once young guys, we know what they want”. From the start to the end of the first day the girls had already become so much more open, as its pretty common here for when a girl stands up in class to speak or ask a question to look down or in the opposite direction so day one they dealt with communication. Day 2 they even spoke about ‘raha’ – orgasms and that they have the right to say what they like and don’t, why pretend? Lots of giggling, even from us as the trainers do some great impressions of girls and boys behaviours, as well as gestures that cross the language barrier with regards to … erections and orgasms haha. It was a good laugh and no one was shy in the end to ask any question. As last minute as always, mid way through the 3rd day the trainer asked if anyone wanted to be tested for HIV so off to the medical centre to arrange that as most of them were keen and so the doctor came and tested them and taught a bit further in detail about HIV also. A few 12+ hour days was a shock to the system after doing nothing for so long but has really lifted my spirits going into my last few weeks here in Ilongero (2 of which I won’t technically be here anyway).

TToday I went to an Islamic wedding, which started on Friday with the ‘Send off' where the gifts are discussed. We could hear the music last night coming from 2 houses at opposite ends of the village, one for the women with the bride to be (Bibi Arusi) and the other house for the men and groom to be (Bwana Arusi). So S and I got dolled up in our shiniest outfits, even some mascara and went to the womens celebration starting early afternoon. We of course were ushered into the room where Bibi Arusi and her 2 sisters were sat on the bed under a sheet, all painted beautifully with henna up their arms. The photo session started there, then we were inside with mostly just family singing and dancing in a circle, trying to pretend we could. Lots more “LILILILILI’ing” which I haven’t done for a while but always boosts the mood. The Wanyaturu do this amazing throaty sound in one of the traditional songs, almost like a growling but at the same time can sing normally. After eating (the first meal), Bwana Arusi and all the men came from their house and a couple of older men went to the room to ask Bibi how many cows etc she requests and if she accepts her husband and then they exit together behind gifts of big bags of flour, matresses etc and all of us danced all the way up the main road in a big group singing and the dance to this song was every few steps to backtrack with your butt and bump the people behind you kind of like a competition (this was done inside the house also and with some of these booties, I didn’t stand a chance) but luckily I was at the very front in the centre so it was only up to me to butt the girls behind me. With this flat thing I think I did as best as I could. By now it was just me as S had left so there are some great photos of this dancing scene as the camera man had taken my camera for the day as he liked it better than his, but good cos it was kind of like having a personal photographer as I spent a lot of the day being pulled around at peoples request for photos with me, when I wasn’t spending my time attempting to dance, much to everyones amusement. I tell you, you really feel like you’re a rubbish dancer when its 60+ year old ladies laughing at you. So where were we, oh yes, dancing up the road, through the town centre and then to the house of the groom's family. After dancing in circles a little more (think conga line style)and being told “CHEZA!!!” (DANCE!) when I really thought I was, I was invited into the ‘inner sanctum’ where even the bui bui’s (the full covering black outfits covering everything but the eyes) can come off. Then photo time with the Bibi and Bwana in their room for the night before they leave for his home in Mbeya tomorrow. So there we were: me, bride and groom getting photos sitting on the ‘special bed’. Then with the mother of the bride. Then the best man. Then all of us. Then in different postions around me. Then one at a time with me. Then another group shot. We ate some more, then I was invited to come back for the Parti – party – later on so had a quick rest at home then returned at night. It was all outdoors excepts for a section done up like a gazebo with draping fabrics all over and inside lounges and coffee tables for the wedding party to sit. Outside this are a few rows of chairs for about 40 ‘special guests’ to sit facing the wedding party. Then behind us – me front row of course – the rest of the guests can just stand or find bricks or whatever to sit on. Then behind them, kids from the village sitting on top of the brick fence and about 30 heads peering over. The entertainment was any guy who wanted to get up in front of us and dance, and these guys can MOVED THEIR HIPS! ‘Unfortunately’ being front row, I didn’t know where to look! They even tend to pull their shirt up and dance like that. When a few 10-12 year olds came up to dance I actually really didn’t know where to look, very uncomfortable but it’s just the normal dancing here, thrusting and booty shaking. A man who must be in his 60’s even came and gave me a special performance which involved a somersault until he got escorted out…a few too many pombes I think. And when we talk wedding songs here, it was literally 3 songs played over and over, sometime not even alternating! I did like them…..After more food and my 6th meal of meat for the week (!!!!!a special week indeed) there was a bit more dancing, a few thank you’s, announcement of who has offered how many cows (as far as I could hear she received 5 cows for her family and a grandma gave the couple a goat)and then inside the special gazebo for more dancing to say goodbye which was where I was thrust into the centre to dance for the wedding party and be laughed at. Luckily I have no shame anymore as I am so used to being laughed at as everything I do seems to be so strange but it’s all in good fun anyway so I don’t care. Lots of fun.

Another sweet thing this week was as I was walking by the house of one of my neighbours, a very sweet old man with LOTS of little kids as a few of his own have passed away so he has his grandkids there. He likes to try to speak English, as a lot of people in his age group seem to – I am trying to work out what time that would have been when there was obviously a big focus on learning English as then the next generation down don’t seem to know it at all – so he called me in to his ‘courtyard’ (the section of the homes that are built in surrounding an open middle area where they put their cows and goats etc) where I had to sit and have some of his pombe – home brew….still don’t like this. He kept telling me how much they love me, then he made me take his phone number and said “don’t forget me. When you go home, you must call and say “are you dead or still alive?” because I am so old!” he laughed…. And I was sent on my way to him calling out “we love you so much”. Moments like this really make up life's top memories.

Off to town tomorrow then to Tabora, Kigoma and Mwanza.

P.S – S is still yet to sweep the house, over 5 weeks into her stay. Lucky I don't have high standards of cleanliness and my stubborness has meant I am letting the dust and dirt build up to see how long she can bare it...I'm wearing thongs around the house let's put it that way.

Posted by neerg_08 03:46 Archived in Tanzania Tagged wedding tanzania singida ilongero Comments (0)

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