A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about dodoma

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)

Time to UNPACK!

Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Singida, Ilongero

I can’t believe I am finally here. I think this is how my first email in Africa started off.
It is such a nice feeling to have unpacked, set up my room and know I am settled here for the next 5 months.
In Dar es Salaam I met the other 2 volunteers and the founder of the organisation at the immigration office to sort our work permits which was surprisingly unpainful, and later on met her and another volunteer who lives in Dar, for dinner.
The founder is a teacher as well as running the org. We dropped her off at school and as we drove in the car was surrounded by the students and their smiling faces all peering in the windows. We got out to say hi and as we got back in had hands reaching in all the windows to shake hands. Then driving out had several running alongside the car down the street.

She helped us on to the bus to Dodoma in the morning, thank god as the big bus stations are so hectic we would for sure have been ushered on a bus to Kenya or something. It is funny seeing the smaller city buses all named after European league football players. The trip was 6 hours and the roads good. The coach was comfortable besides the blaring music nearly the entire trip!
We had a night in Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania. A ‘city’ of huge contrast. Firstly, it is stuck in the middle of nowhere, sprawling semi arid land. And the streets are a mixture of sealed (but very dusty) main roads and dirt side streets. The buildings are just as mixed also. It was really nice to walk around in the morning though in a place I wasn’t hassled to buy anything and felt completely safe. And our hostel was guarded by a man with a pretty serious looking rifle! Then on the bus to Singida. Everyone at the bus station remembered us from the day before and knew where we were going so as soon as we arrived it was “SINGIDA, HERE HERE SINGIDA MZUNGU”. The Dar volunteer had arranged for us to get on his bus as he came though from Dar. It was great sitting at the bus station watching as buses came in all the people selling things throw their buckets or other goods on their heads and run up to the windows. You could buy anything from walking sticks, grapes, sunglasses, shoes, baskets, watches or cooking utensils. As we took all of our luggage onto this coach with us, I got a little stuck trying to get in the door and had to be shoved in from behind (therefore why I am so happy to be settled). I JUST made it down the aisle!

It only took a few hours to Singida, also on a good road. I expected 6-7 hours as my travel guide states but obviously a lot of work has been done in the last couple of years. He took us on a bit of an orientation of Singida town, the main town of the Singida region, the poorest in the country. It is pretty small but has all we would need by the looks of it. We were introduced to all the right people, from the post office owners, hostel owners, a youth project RWDA volunteers sometimes help out, and of course the internet café owners.

After one marriage proposal from an older man at the shops I have told B I may claim to be his wife from time to time. He has already been given the thumbs up from a group of guys who then hand signalled that they thought J and I were both his wives. B also constantly has guys yelling out soccer stars names they think he looks like, I don’t know if my Swahili lessons are as important as learning about football. We went on a bit of a mission for a bottle of wine but all we could find was fortified church wine. The mission continues….

At the turn off the main road towards Ilongero, the sealed road cuts off and the African bum massage sets in. It only took about 30mins though, so is going to be easier to get to and from town than expected.The trip to Singida today took a little longer as we were in the open tray of a truck so it was going a little slower than thr dallas. The only good thing about gender inequality is that women are more likely to be let on to sit first. Ilongero is a large village/small town. There are little shops scattered about, my favourite is Mama Shayos. She is sweet and has the greatest laugh!

Another thing I have been pleasantly surprised by is the volunteer house. It has 3 bedrooms, an office, a lounge room and dining area and INDOOR bathroom. We have no electricity or running water, but are lucky enough to have a tap in the backyard (with treated water) so it is easy to fill up our washing buckets. The toilet is a squat loo though, so I am thinking about making one of those chairs I saw in An Idiot Abroad and just cut a hole in the seat as first thing in the mornings it’s a bit of an effort on the thighs. We have outside loo’s as well which I’m sure will go unused as they are foul, maybe for guests haha. The roof has recently been boarded up so bats are no longer a problem, though on night 2 we did have a ‘situation’ where I felt like I was in the movie Arachnophobia as I think after the house being unoccupied for so long our bug spray awoke all the spiders and cockroaches and they came to visit us. I was a mess and trapped in the bathroom by a giant cockroach, I forgot how scared of them I am. B and J are just as scared of spiders as I am of roaches so between the 3 of us we were a pretty pathetic sight. We have a plantation of Moringa Tree seedlings in the yard, which is looked after by a local lady. The Moringa Trees are one of the latest projects here, they are considered an African Miracle Tree as they grow in semi arid areas such as Ilongero where most crops cannot and are used in many medicines and other uses. They will soon be moved to a large plot of land (which we have a view of from our yard) and new seeds planted. Also looking forward to giving our banana and lemon trees some TLC to get them going. I am in love with the calf next door, who has a bit of a personality like a dog, and we are getting to know the chickens who wander through the yard regularly. There is Bill (Clinton) who loves the ladies, Burlesconi is further down the road and was an absolute FIEND and most of his ladies have bare backs from his advances, Julia (Gillard) is the ranga hen, Hilary (Clinton) also stops by with the kids, as do the Spice Girls. We have to find one to call Obama as Tanzania is Obama crazy. Today we found Obama Magic lollies.

The house is solid cement so pretty easy to keep clean, any spillages just sink in really and tin roof which sounds nice when it has rained at night. It was pretty overcast the first couple of days, but the past couple very sunny. The sun is strong on my mzungu skin but there is usually a nice breeze, especially in our yard in the afternoon.

Mornings here usually start with a cold bucket shower, then sweeping the dust out of the house and filling up the bathroom and kitchen buckets. Then the scent of kerosene fills the house from our ‘kitchen’ and its time for tea and coffee and brekky. It has been frustrating at times how long everything takes. Every task seems such a big ordeal so we have been trying to get away to do things by ourselves more. For instance, J and I wanted a bottle of water from the shop, by the time we all got going that was half an hour, then walking at village pace (literally makes my legs ache walking so slow), meeting people, stopping to see this or that, etc etc it took about 2 hours for what could have taken 20mins. Not to sound unappreciative though as it is great being shown around.

We have been having Swahili lessons out in the yard which is going really well and being so immersed is really helping. Maria, a lady who lives in Ilongero with her 18 year old son, has looked after us so well. She lives very close by. She doesn’t speak much English but has been with us most of the days and night and is feeding us very well. I know you all expected me to come back from Africa skinny but I am afraid with all the carbs I am eating, and the quantities we are firmly encouraged to eat I may be massive. Benedict calls us ‘Sister Nicole’ and ‘Sister Jessica’ and speaks some English so that helps also. On Saturday Maria asked if we would like to see her ice a cake. Local people pay her a couple of dollars to make cakes for special occasions, this one being a graduation….i thought we might just see how she makes the icing, but over 3 hours later at 10pm she was finished the intricate icing and we could start dinner! My heart broke for her after all the effort when there wasn’t enough room for ‘Congratulations’ so it ended up being ‘CONGRATULAT’. Benedict invited us to attend the Catholic church with him and Maria on Sunday. I can’t think of the last time I went to church that wasn’t for a wedding or on a city tour. The singing and dancing was fantastic and if I could have busted out dancing I would have been less fidgety throughout the rest of the service. Every now and then a lady would bust out a high pitched “AIYAIYAIYAIYAIY” which was great! It was great to see this kid we met at the disabled centre having a great time dancing along. I think it was appreciated that we attended and the older people were very quick to come meet us afterwards. We thought we had the greetings down, but now there is the local dialect thrown in as well and at this stage we can’t tell what is this and what is Swahili. A lot of smiling and nodding and “Sielewi Kiswahili pole”.

At night we can sometimes hear hyenas, and at 5 each morning the dogs go crazy with the call to prayer so that wakes me for about half an hour. I am happy its cool at night though, a very nice change from Zanzibar. The area is very dry but I have been told to take loads of photos now as when the wet season starts shortly, it will be near unrecognisable as everything becomes green.

Sunday night we had a beer and introduced a few people to Marshmallows. It was a mixed response. Yesterday we did the official meet and greet of the town. First was the Ilongero Executive Committee who were lovely. Then the head warden at his office and then on to the police station. They all wanted group photos which was great. We then saw the Sunflower factory where sunflower oil is produced as well as other products made from the seeds (again, excuse lack of agricultural knowledge). We then spent a couple of hours at the secondary school, meeting with one of the teachers and then the headmaster. We are meeting again tomorrow after they have had a meeting with the other teachers about where we can help.
We looked at some form 2 test results. ½ boys passed compared to only 1/5 girls! Anyway I will save the rant for my diary 
I have been having fun wearing some kangas I bought in Zanzibar, though yesterday I had a slight issue when I was talking to a lady and it came undone…..managed to grab it just in time before flashing all of Ilongero. Apparently you wear pants or a skirt underneath.
Today we are here to pick up a few bits & pieces in town then resume ‘class’ this afternoon. Tomorrow we will go to the main community centre at the organisations site to see whats going on there.
Hope everyone is going great.
I hear the kiwis beat us!

Posted by neerg_08 07:03 Archived in Tanzania Tagged es dar salaam dodoma singida ilongero Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]