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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)

Easter Food Safari

Eating my way through Dodoma, Arusha and Moshi

Hope the Easter Bunny was generous. I managed to get a block of chocolate and finish it off for the usual Easter morning sickly feeling. Has been pretty exciting here in Tanzania…a little travel, a lot of food, another assault, Bacon Boy and plenty of drama and gossip.

I went away over the Easter break which came at the perfect time, really needed to get out of here for a bit. I arrived in Singida town on Saturday with M & we met J and his gf to take us just out of town to this huge weekly market I didn’t know about, but wish I had sooner. It is located overlooking the Rift Valley, lovely views but even better through the haze of endless meat and beer, courtesy of J. Within 15 minutes of arriving, while lining up for first drinks, J had slapped some guy on the mouth for saying something rude about wazungu (white people) and as he said, the bad words came from his mouth so that is where he had to slap him. Nice to know he had our back. So there are rows and rows of tables with any part of the animal you can imagine sprawled out, one table will have the stomach laid out, another the intestines, and you can choose which part you want and they wack it straight on the barbie for you. Tempting as it was, I went for a steak and it was so good! No crushed bones or anything! Tried a piece of cow heart but that was difficult to get down and keep down. The day turned into night and we again ended up on the dancefloor at the usual Karima bar with J carrying my handbag. E came with her boyfriend as she had just arrived back from over west and she has had to return to the UK. I think my visa is now sorted after being an illegal alien for about a week. Nothing like efficiency. (Have actually just received it and the start date was 2 months after the previous one ended.

Next day M and I went to Dodoma. This was the beginning of my food safari. The last stop before Dodoma most people jump out to buy live chickens and then the journey continues to the squawking of all of them. I just needed to binge on good food. First stop Chinese, then pizza at a proper restaurant owned by Italians….Plenty of meat, cheese and good wine and even a round of mini golf. We stayed with another PC volunteer in Dodoma for the night, to get to his house we only had to tell the taxi driver ‘you know the old Somalian man? Near his house” and he knew where to go – and this is the capital city! I was off the next morning at 5am for Moshi. Dodoma is too hot, my heat tolerance has reduced drastically and everyone is surprised since I am Australian.

I was nervous to arrive in Moshi as the guidebooks states “Welcome to Hell” and describes it as “Hell on Earth”. I took the Arusha Express bus and turns out the reason it is express is as it does not stop! Only to let people on and off, no food, no loo breaks for a 9 hour journey. I could not wait any longer and jumped off at one stop. When I came out from the toilets a man grabbed my hand as he saw my bus driving off and we had to chase it down to stop it. I jumped on saying “UMESAHAU MZUNGU”… “you forgot the white person!”. It’s a really beautiful drive, through boulder scattered Singida to the green & mountainous Katesh and then the dry flat Manyara region driving by the camp site I stayed at on my tour last year. As the scenery changes and the landscape, the houses and their colour change from Singidas red clay, then Katesh’s deep, rich brown, to Manyara areas sandy grey houses. I saw a bus with photos of Presidents and quite historically important people along the side – Mandela, Mother Theresa and then amongst all these photos was Lionel Richie. Switching buses in Arusha and then arriving at an unexpectedly calm bus stop in Moshi - no problems at all to my relief. If anyone starts to hassle you as soon as they know you understand Swahili they stop hasseling you and instead just want a chat. Only when E and I returned to buy tickets to leave and I found my leg bleeding did we have a problem. People rushed to fuss over my and one guy, I think innocently, lifted my skirt a bit to see where the blood was coming from so E hit the hat off his head, much to everyone’s amusement besides his own. We left pretty quickly. E & I had 3 days of binge eating Pizza, Indian, Burgers, Waffles, Ice Cream, Coffee, Milkshakes, Yoghurt. Anything but rice and beans (though to be honest beans was the first thing I wanted when I got back to Ilongero). I really like Moshi, the view of cloud covered Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, from the streets is always nice to see. Moshi in Swahili means smoke, so it is as if the mountain is always covered by smoke. Also very clean, unlike elsewhere in Tanzania where when you finish with something you just drop it on the ground or out the window (I still can’t) there are huge littering fines in Moshi, and bins! We did have difficulties crossing the busy roads and would ‘ghost’ an unsuspecting local to cross safely. Had a good view from the Indian/Italian restaurant (was loving the mixed cuisine restaurants) watching the world go by, women walking by with 2 free hands and just one shoe carried on the head, other travellers being annoyed by street touts, nice not to be yourself. When the clouds did clear from time to time, we ran like crazy to any tall building we could see to ask to go up top and get a good view. Finally someone let us up to the top just in time before the clouds covered the peak again. We were real tourists, pretty much not leaving the guidebook and shopping knowingly being ripped off at nicer shops rather than try barter at the market. I even got a couple of local beer logo t-shirts…I especially like the Kilimanjaro beer one ‘if you can’t climb it, drink it’…that I did. We had a night out and met some English boys so that was fun as they were on night one of their trip and had obviously not yet hit tight budget. The rain came down hard and in the end it was raining inside the club. Even in the toilets, I went in dry & came out drenched. Sometimes it feels like Bangkok in the streets as vendors lay out all of the pirated DVD’s. Movies such as ‘TheBodyguard’ but a Korean version seemed popular and tempting to buy.

E left and I headed back to Arusha just for one night. Arusha was ok, bigger city, bit dirtier, so I just wandered around the market – a street back from the main road but like being somewhere completely different – I left covered in mud. I continued my food quest and had meat and chicken pies (after spending 2 hours walking around looking for Steers, a South African burger chain which I came to love though must have sadly recently closed in Arusha) and for dinner a mix of Chinese and Ethiopian. My piki piki (motorbike) driver couldn’t find the restaurant and after we drove around for ages we finally started calling his friends, dropping in places he knew people, anything to ask where it was. I was determined. It was worth it, especially for the Heinz tomato sauce, the never-ending quest. Most tomato sauce is this pinky coloured watery version of sauce so I was very disappointed when during dinner my stomach bloated to the size of an 8 month pregnant woman, sulphur burps returned and I could literally eat no more. Had to unbutton my pants at the table. Always disappointing to leave chips and Heinz sauce unfinished on the plate. I had to take the labour position in my room for a while, those birthing classes have come in handy. My room in Arusha had no window, only an opening above the door covered in mesh – directly where the fluorescent hallway light was. At midnight when I couldn’t find the switch, any staff, or sleep I decided to check myself into a much nicer, darker room I had seen vacant and unlocked earlier in the day. Most lights in Tanzania are the fluorescent type. So no drama about still not having electricity at my house almost 5 months after wiring was completed.

I tried to attend the Rwandan genocide tribunal but they were off for holidays so will go back for that but all in all I returned to Singida feeling refreshed and ready to continue without going mental at someone. And managed to pick up 6 hotel soaps. Hurrah! I was disappointed to have missed the special performance in Ilongero by Bacon Boy, the local rapper. A shame to miss this, though I saw Bacon Boy the other day and he asked me to “give him some love”….he’s repulsive and sadly leaves me with bad thoughts of bacon.

I have been meeting up with a local lady who is going to do some freelance work with us for certain projects. First will be a week long Life Skills Seminar in the June school holidays so we are going to Singida this Friday to meet with organisations who can teach this. The hostel is still going over budget and none of the students returned from holidays with their next payment so M and I have been going around begging for favours to get food until we can pay back as G is still pretty out of touch and has not sent funds. Those days have been good for M and I to ‘re-bond’ as we had a falling out over the next incident at the site where the guard….yes the same guard who had previously beaten his wife and on chance number 3 – this time hit A the girl my age who lives up there with her young daughter and looks after the chickens. Surprise! He hit her with the handle of a machete. So anyway, no one saw that it was a problem that he was being locked up in the day but at night returning to the site for work where A was still staying. Anyone I told, M and eventually when she sent me to the police, them, simply said if he does something A can call and they will go. No thought to prevent the issue. So I had an argument with M, told G I was telling A to stay at my house which she said was ok, then when A didn’t turn up it was because M told her she had to stay. When I couldn’t get back in touch with A by phone M and I went up there to bring her back. Sadly his wife is still with him and chose to return home so I felt a bit awkward seeing her there with him, and sad for their kids. I armed myself with a stick, mostly in case of hyena’s, but once again the stick I chose oozes poisonous stuff so I ended up covered in that. Why is everything her dangerous? A couple of weeks ago I was playing with A daughter and pulled of some big leaves and stuck in my hair like elephant ears….turns out they were poisonous also. No more trees.

A bit of Ilongero gossip, yet to be confirmed and I am sure untrue. One of the ladies apparently tried to kill her husband by lacing his food with poison. Pretty sure untrue...she does seem sweet. Then a girl at the hostel was ill with headache, I noted down a couple of words I heard mentioned and when I later looked them up it was ‘genie’ and ‘spirit’ so apparently she has been possessed. Apparently some ship dropped an anchor on some sort of wiring system off the coast of Kenya which affects phone and internet connection in Tanzania and it has reduced it by 20%. Mama Shayo is as lovely as ever and has offered me the service of sending a child with my loaf of bread. Also we can call her before going for a banana beer and she will throw some in the fridge. My neighbours have been told to keep aside eggs for the white girl and Martha is always happy to go straight to the udder and get me some milk. Just some of the perks of being white girl alone. Also, everyone thinks our skin is just so different, so when you have a pimple people just tell you you need a mosquito net, and everyone is very concerned about me in the sun. I’ve been asked to sell my hair. Have to tie it up at one bar though as a guy that works there always strokes it as he walks by. creeeeepy, although I do love having my hair played with.

I had a great day in Singida a couple of weeks ago, being dragged around by M like when we first arrived but it was nice to do again. It was so hot, so we stopped at several friends of hers for free soft drinks on the way going between educational institutions to find out about ongoing education for one of the sponsored girls. I had a really good afternoon when M and I parted and I found out all I needed to know about courses and programs in Swahili. So for a day which started off with my dalladalla hitting a baby goat (leaves the score at Nicole 2 – Baby goats 0) it turned out well. I was sitting up front in the dalla so when I screamed and was left gap-mouthed for quite some time as the driver didn’t slow down before or after hitting it, everyone had quite a laugh. Then arriving in Singida went to the council office and met some people who ended up offering possible assistance for the hostel if I write a report (will be happy if I can just do this before leaving) and they bought me breakfast of goat soup which wasn’t all that appetising so soon after. Besides at the market, I tend to steer away from eating meat as when you do get a bit you think is nice and tender, it generally turns out to be an organ and by then it is too late. In the afternoon J picked me up and we cruised around to his ‘love song hits’, a staple in any true Tanzanian man’s collection. Amongst the hits by The Corrs, Westlife, Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias and Whitney Houston was the huge hit Sexual Healin by, as credited, Marving Guy. What a laugh. I may have been a Tanzanian man in another life, with a love of bad love songs (I am often sat down to watch film clips on a love song dvd), and soft toys (they will be all over the lounge room). We went down to Lake Singida for some food and drinks on the shore which was lovely as the sun was setting. From a distance the lake is looking such a bizarre milky blue colour at the moment. Saw someone being beaten, pushed to the ground and continually kicked on the street by several other men. This happens to thieves, rather than go to the police people will just beat them until they think it’s punishment enough.

Before leaving for Easter I went to the rocks for the day to read and get some good sunflower pics before they are all chopped for harvesting. I got up there, stripped down to my singlet and lay in the sun! Lovely. On the way I stopped in at the house where the people who owned the goat my dogs had killed live. I told the lady I wanted to pay for it by she told me “ACHA BASI!” “stop, enough’ and instead invited me to try milking her cow. Big fail.

The teachers at school seem to be on a beating rampage lately. They make the students go and find the sticks first. It’s funny from the view of M office, out one window is the teacher walking around with the stick, through the other window a bunch of students hiding behind a wall. Especially funny on the last day of school, as in all schools, kids literally run out of the classrooms. I was at the hostel kitchen and would see a group of students running by, then a minute later one of the teachers, stick in hand. Wait...that's not funny is it?

We met this old man the other day who gave M and I a pumpkin and then invited us into his yard. Something like entering the ‘secret garden’ with huge orange trees, papaya trees even grape trees. His house is ok from the front but when we went to his garden it had all collapsed and is open. But it seems he puts all his care into his yard, showed us his old photos from when he had a good job with the government and says now listening to the radio is his work.

I arrived back in Ilongero Easter Sunday, timing the journey quite well to miss any form of church. I had my gifts of 2 apples and packet of potato chips from my fiancé in town. Believe it or not apples are an exciting gift as at TSH800 a pop (about 50c) they are far too expensive. One of the teachers has been wooing me with boiled nuts and brandy, things you can’t get in Ilongero, so I always seem to have snacks in the house. I spent the afternoon with HM and their family for lunch which was lovely. Their kids are so nice and in the end were calling me ‘dada yangu’ ‘my sister’ or ‘dada Nicole’ only pronounced the usual Nicoleee. (Ellie now introduces herself as Helen). Then drinks with another teacher and his wife. Mama Willie got a bit tipsy, wishing someone a happy Christmas, but the highlight was HM asking about homosexuality. He explained he understood what men can do, but not women so I found myself explaining lesbian sex toys to him. This conversation was pre-beer! In Tanzania, the more lounges and seats you have in your living room the more important you appear to guests, as you obviously have many to need so many lounges. He has 6x2.5 seaters and 2x2 seaters. Whether they fit properly or are double parked in some cases does not matter. After drinks we returned to their house for dinner and I unfortunately as guest I had to finish off the meat…and ofal. Sat and watched more gospel music film clips and then they walked me home. The nice thing here is that no one will let you walk home alone.

The rains have stopped now. Had a final huge storm a couple of weeks ago. Funny how here the weather completely affects your plans as it was Saturday night and drinks were planned. By 8pm I had had enough, there was a river in the lounge room and I wanted a drink so when it looked to be dying down I got up to leave then it hit harder than before. The wiring out the front of the house was flaming so I put on my thongs and went to bed. Have some new visitors around the house. A welcomed one is a little hedgehog, which even though eats the garden (which never really grew after our unsuccessful attempt) is too cute to resist. Less welcome are the toads I find in the bathroom, having jumped out of the toilet bowl leave disgusting poo footsteps around. Also these armies of huge black ants, apparently if you get bitten by 15 or so you can die. One got me on the foot and these HURRRRRT, makes the entire foot pound with pain. I am reading a book ‘The State of Africa’. The neighbours son was looking through the photos and only knew the ‘villainous’ characters…Mugabe, Gadhafi, Amin etc. In an mgahawa here I noticed a calendar poster dedicated to Gadhafi as a hero. Funny how news obviously differs depending on where you are.

Posted by neerg_08 06:15 Archived in Tanzania Tagged arusha moshi dodoma singida Comments (0)

A Touch of Paradise: Tanzania - Malawi

Arusha, Lake Mayara, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Chitimba

I am just sitting looking out at Lake Malawi, which is so huge it just seems like the ocean. We have all found it hard to snap out of island mode after Zanzibar, as everyone is so laid back it is infectious. But before getting to that, I’ll start from the beginning…(lucky you, cancel your plans for the day)
Tanzania was been everything I imagined to see in Africa, compacted into one country. We crossed the border from Kenya Saturday (25th) and drove to Arusha. I love photos of the road as I think you see so much of a place by the sides of the roads. There were cow markets, Maasai walking down what seemed like an endless road, with nothing in site but red dirt and of course acacia trees. There must be some walking done over here! People are quite laid back about work, one roadwork area we passed a guy had a green and a red flag for stop and go, and he was waving them both and when we slowed down he was cacking himself that he had messed with us. Everything is “Poa” (Cool) and Hakuna Matata.
We arrived at Arusha at our camp, Snake Park. On Sunday we started our 3 day safari, first day at Lake Manyara national park. I had a really good group in my 4wd, and our driver Jovin was lovely. Lake Manyara was not the best safari we have done, but that is just being spoilt. It was pretty seeing the salt lake from a distance, but other than that the highlight was definitely having elephants come so close to our 4wds and cross the road in between the cars. I was sure one was about to charge as it had a baby with it, but Hakuna Matata. That night we arrived at camp at Karatu, a town seemingly dedicated to Hilary Clinton. There were at least 5 “Hilary Clinton” stalls and shops. Even a “Hilary Clington supermarket” with the g crossed out. Our guides had set up our tents and had cooked dinner ready for us, which was a real treat! There were also some dancers that performed at the site which was great and we got to join in dancing, which doesn’t take much for this group.

Next morning was another early start for Ngorongoro crater which was spectacular! (trying to mix up the describing words) It was so cold and misty driving down to the middle of the crater and once we got down there it was just open plains and more wildebeest, zebras and antelope than I have seen in such density anywhere else. The great migration stared early this year so I think they had already reached the northern part of the Serengeti by the time we were there. I won’t mention all the wildlife we saw again, I’ll save that for the Serengeti. The crater was formed by a volcano ???????????? years ago which erupted. The volcanic ash formed the Serengeti, and the volcano collapsed, forming the crater. After the crater we went to another Maasai village, which was optional but I thought it would be interesting to compare villages. I am glad I did because the location, singing and dancing was fantastic, though they were a bit pushy with their markets and there was a bit of pressure to buy from the person whose hut you went into. The Maasai have more than enough of my money!

We then continued on towards the Serengeti, with an afternoon game drive, which was really just driving towards the location of our camp in the middle of the Serengeti, no fence, no night guard (which luckily I didn’t know until the next day). We saw a leopard with a gazelle dragged up the tree, and a pair of lions on their honeymoon. Apparently when lions first “pair up” they go off for about a week and mate every hour. These 2 lions were on the side of the road and as our 4wd was parked there a few metres away, the female made some ‘sexy lion moves’ and they mated there right in front of us….for a whole 17 seconds! That was pretty cool to see. That night camping I could hear all sorts of noises; hyenas, wild dogs…. in between all the snoring from the nearby tents. Tuesday we woke up early to watch the sunrise over the plains. The safari was great, though I think anything compared to the Maasai Mara is going to come 2nd, as being able to drive off the actual road really made it. We were excited to see a cheetah lying on a rock in the distance, and then further down the road there was one actually sat on the road. They are usually so rare to find so this was lucky. All of our trucks were lined in front of it, and on the other side of the road was another cheetah and the one on the road made this crying noise as it couldn’t see its friend past all of us. Then the other walked over and they met on the road and walked off together. Very cute. After a few break downs and flat tyres we were back to Snake Park.

On Wednesday morning we had a walk around our campsite which, as you may know from the name, has a snake park. I held a baby croc, brown house snake and some other small snake….but big enough. Call me Bindi Irwin. We started the drive on towards Dar es Salaam. The sunset over the distant mountains was amazing as we drove along. I think I am using that word too much. Then we started to see more banana trees and the landscape turned more tropical, like we were back in Uganda. We stopped overnight and had some things stolen from a couple of peoples tents in the campsite, so instead of fixing the fence they sent out a guy with a rifle to stand by our tents all night.

Arriving in Dar es Salaam I was awoken from my long sleep to the sticky humidity. It is by far the most developed city we have been in, more so than Nairobi to my surprise. We got the ferry, as we were told by a guy sitting next to us, from the “good side of town” to the “bad side” and arrived at our campsite on the beach. It was really nice and camping on the beach a lot softer than dirt and rocks. The toilet doors all have signs on them “Inside camp=safe, Outside camp=not safe, Please this is not a joke” and there is about 100m of beach then on either side a big warning sign not to pass that point. But besides all that it really was beautiful and the water was SO warm. Even had hot outdoor salt water showers. Luxury! A dance/acrobatic group came to perform, which was great, drinks on the beach, then we hit the tents for a sticky night sleep.

We left early the next morning, back to the good side of town to get the ferry to ZANZIBAR! We checked into Safari Lodge in Stone Town then headed out to do whatever we wanted to do….FREEDOM! I think that was half the draw of Zanzibar, being able to do whatever with whoever and having no time limits, no cook group, and no packing up tents at 5am. I went shopping at Gizenga St markets which was fun, buying some scarves to cover my shoulders. I loved Stone Town and wish I had more time there. Through the dark winding alley ways dodging speeding motorbikes and street touts, lined by worn out crumbling buildings, all with absolutely beautiful huge wooden doors. We went to the Night Markets to sample the fresh seafood. Fisherman Johnson was very entertaining and described absolutely everything he had to offer, then went and found a beer for a couple of us from a bar and found us ‘V.I.P seating’ which he dusted off for us….we later noticed we were sitting next to prostitutes haha. The food was amazing and I had a fresh lobster skewer for $2, squid, barracuda, calamari…..so much. It was nice to take our minds off the humidity for a while. Also they have these pizzas but they make them with egg mixed in, they are like a pizza omelette and they are so good!!! It’s worth going to Zanzibar just for that. More drinks on the beach at Livingstone’s.

This brings me to last Saturday (only a week to go).
A big group of us did the Stone Town Spice & Slave tour. It was such a great day and only looking back I realise how much variety was packed in. We stopped at a few sites in Stone town, the Old Fort, House of Wonders and Dr Livinstone’s house from before he set off on his expedition (Livingstone is very highly respected in Zanzibar for his role in the abolishment of the slave trade), we drove by Freddie Mercury’s childhood house (he was born and lived in Stone Town until around 8y/o) and the went into the first Anglican cathedral in East Africa. The cathedral was built on the site of the old slave markets, with the alter built on the spot where the whipping post used to be. Here the slaved were whipped, and their sell price would depend on the amount they cried. We went down into the slave chambers and just 15 of us were cramped and stuffy, but 70 slaves would be left there for 2-3 days without food or water, thinking that any who died were too weak anyway.
Then we stopped at Darajani Markets….fishy, but fun wandering off down the side streets which are so full of character. We drove inland to the spice & fruit plantations and were taken around on the tour showing us which part of the plants the spices came from. The aroma around the place was lovely. Also got to try all of these fruits….have you tried Durian? It is FOUL! Apparently it tastes delicious but even if you don’t sniff when you put it in your mouth, the scent comes through and it is like bad foot mixed with any other bad smell you can think of and was with me for the rest of the day. It still makes me shudder thinking about it. We went to our guides friends’ house for lunch, all sat on the floor in a little concrete room in a little village of half ruined concrete homes. Then drove up the coast to our destination, Nungwi on the North Coast. I met some very interesting characters along the beach, Captain Dolphin and Captain Computer Error were just a few. “Captain Computer?” “No, Captain Computer Error”. A few of us headed a bit further down the coast to Kendwa for the big beach party which was a lot of fun. There were plenty of “Maasai” guys there which was funny seeing them try to pick up and see some girls swoon. The next day was torrential rain, which was a nice excuse to sleep off the cocktails and get a massage. Had the most delicious fresh king prawns on the beach for dinner watching the sunset.

On Monday Jess, Jayne and I got a taxi down to Matemwe on the east coast. The taxi ride was so funny and it was great to be able to have a laugh with the driver and his friend along the way, although they didn’t speak any English and we know just as much Swahili. They dropped us off at some beach bungalows on the beach (my big $16 splurge) which was the easiest bargaining of my life. “$60 for room” “”Can you do for $50?” “Ok Cool, Hakuna Matata”. Matemwe is a fishing village and the walking down the beach there was so much to see. To the left in the water and on the shores women picking and drying seaweed, and to the right men building fishing boats. We sat at the Bob Marley shrine of a bar for a drink and were wondering where everyone was, then noticed it was only 10am. After having our door kicked in for us when the key wouldn’t work by Bob Marleys biggest fan, we arranged to go out on a fishing boat when they finished for the day. We didn’t realise at the time but out room was right next to the fish markets. We sure noticed the next morning. The boat took us out snorkelling at Mnemba Atoll which was beautiful. So many fish, also a sea snake and massive bluey/purple jellyfish. It was worth the scary boat ride over as the water was pretty choppy the boat tipping so much that if our elbows were on the edge the would dip into the water. We were actually at the stage of discussing what to do if we flipped, but “Hakuna Matata”, sometimes I wish they WOULD worry. Something about me and boats in Africa always has me on edge! After some more amazing seafood for lunch and dinner we skipped the stoner bar and had a few quiet drinks in our room.
We watched the sunrise over the beach in the morning which was so pink and after Jess got a slight electrocution from out light switch we got a Dalladalla with the local ladies down to Stone Town. (since we splurged on accommodation we thought we’d save the $8 taxi ride and get this for $1.50). It was worth every cent haha. It was so funny, a dalladalla is like an open sided van, with a lower roof so you have to crouch, and at one stage we counted 27 people squashed in, plus the money man hanging on the back. It was priceless to see peoples’ faces as they got in, see Jayne first and do a double take at the Mzungu, then see me and Jess squished at the back and do another double take, then laugh. Arriving in Stone Town nice and sweaty we got the ferry back to Dar es Salaam.

Waking at 3:15 to pack up tents and leave at 4am was a real wake up call that we were back on the road. And a 15 hour drive day. We drove through Mikumi National Park on the way to Malawi and saw some more wildlife. Yesterday (Thursday) we crossed into Malawi and stopped at Chitimba Beach on the shores of Lake Malawi. What a gorgeous country and the reputation as the nicest people is well deserved. I know I am going to spend a lot of money here on woodwork as the carvings are just beautiful and most things can be personalised. I would come back just to buy more!
Ok so now you know literally everything, minute to minute of my last couple of weeks.

Posted by neerg_08 03:37 Archived in Malawi Tagged town lake safari zanzibar stone tanzania malawi crater es serengeti ngorongoro dar nungwi arusha kendwa salaam matemwe chitimba mayara Comments (0)

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