A Travellerspoint blog

Rock and Rollin`

In Kondoa we find our New Planet Guesthouse and set about finding a guide for visiting the rock pantings in nearby Kolo. we engage the help of the guesthouse owner but we are unsure what we get for our money so contact a different guide listed in our guidebook. We decide to go with the latter - later we discover that we have caused a minor hiccup in the Kondoan business world as the locals battle for business. Our chosen guide called Juma is from the Irangi tribe. He offers to show us around Kondoa as he is training up a new apprentice. We accept, and wander through to the edge of town where we are welcomed by an Irangi tribe Mama and sample the local brew: Choya - made from flowers, sugar and millet. It's sweet and good. The cup is shared around the table just as with the banana beer in the Maasai market in Mto Wa Mbu.
Next day E&C have a cacking breakfast of chai and chapatti street side, using our newly learn Irangi phrases, the Mamas welcome us!
We depart in a 4WD Toyota for Kolo. The rock paintings vary in age from 7000 years to more recent 200 years old, and depict animals and local tribesfolk. Many are becoming washed away with time. Our park guide Pascali points out the more faded images in red colour made from ochre and fig. It's a real treat to see this ancient culture.

Onwards from Kondoa we travel by bus to the capital Dodoma. We stay at the Tanzanian Christian Centre which is a compouond of budget priced blocks of basic rooms. We visit Julius Nyere park and then stop for ice creams in the Aladdin's Cave. It is more cosmopolitan here than we have seen for ages, and even people wearing sunglasses. We buy our onward ticket to Mwanza up on the shores of Lake Victoria, leaving on Monday at the bustling bus station. We are getting better at this with our basic Kiswahilli. we decide to go by bus rather than take the train as everyone we have spoken too tells us the train is very unreliable - when the locals say this over and over again, it's probably a sign (Ace of Base are singing in our ears). Later we take a look in a Chinese restaurant in a big hotel, but decide we are more comfortable sitting in a cheap local restaurant. Sundown beers outside a little bar by the rail tracks with the to-ing and fro-ing of life in the advancing dusk is gorgeous. There's a toot, and a freight train crawls by towards the setting sun.
Breakfast at the Tanzanian Christian Centre is basic, and we share it with a blaring T.V showing an enthusiastic evangelist healing people on stage.
Next day a 10 hour bus trip beckons as we leave the TCC compound at 5am and walk to the bus station. The bus leaves on time and is full, or so we think. Heading north west from Dodoma we pass through a waking landscape of green brush and trees strewn with mounds of iregular boulders of varying sizes. As we make the first of many stops, the aisle of the bus fills with people and bags and suitcases. The sellers at the bus stations hawk their wares at the windows of the bus and a pasenger behind us decides it is a good price for a live chicken and makes his purchase. We hear the occassional squawk from the new purchase throughout the journey (later we hear the sound of a bleeting sheep, but this turns out to be a ring tone. slightly dissappointed, neither of us would have been surprised if it wasn't). C now has a Mama perched 9leaning right across) on the armrest of her aisle seatfor several hours. As passengers get off, we finally get window seats in a seat of 3, only for E to have the seat next to him (and half of his seat) occupied by a large Mama with babe. The babe is changed and breast fed throughout the next few hours.

Posted by bumble_bee 02:19 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

It's all Peaks & Troughs

Our first day of departure from the project and life on the road beckons. We are excited and a little curious and sad to be leaving our home for the last two months. Over breakfast E calls a bajaj ('sasa hari' = now) and Chris, one of 'our' drivers, is on his way. At 7 am, we bid farewell to Sander, Masi and Leeso (with a 'see you later, alligator') and we're off!
In Mto we pick up a dalla-dalla (minibus) straight away. It's a 30-minute ride to the main north/south junction at Makuyuni. Leaving Mto we see two of the primary kids going to school: Esther and Menasse. They both see us, which we are amazed at; 2 wazungu in a speeding dalla-dalla is apparently not too difficult to spot.. We are 19 and a baby squeezed in a minibus. Picture that.
At Makuyuni we are sold tickets for a direct bus to Katesh and are helped on board: it's standing room only as we zoom south to Babati. The bus stops frequently to pick up passengers and pay off police checkpoints. After Babati we find seats and enjoy the remaining hour or so to Katesh. At 10 am we arrive and make our way to the Colt guesthouse. It's a hassle-free town for the newly arrived wazungu. At the guesthouse, the mama calls a local guide for the mountain. We take a wander round the market and buy some bananas and oranges (bananas from Mto!).
Guide Thomas arrives and introduces us to the local brew: honey beer (honey + aloe vera + water), which tastes strangely enough like banana beer, but with honey flavour. E takes a swig, chews something and spits something out. It's a bee (or actually, half a bee). How's that for organic beer! <Doeke, take note. This could be a new product line for the Dutch market!> We chat to Thomas and decide to take a 2-day hike with camping on the Mount Hanang. We purchase provisions and book a porter to carry our water supplies.
After breakfast the next day -of delicious chai + chapatti in a tiny local place equipped with blaring TV of evangelical music choirs- we meet our porter Sebastian. We have emptied E's backpack and filled it with water bottles. It's a clear cool morning as we head out of town on foot to the base of Mt Hanang. Thomas and Sebastian are ahead. It turns out they have both climbed the mountain more than 200 times each and Sebastian is a semi-professional marathon runner (2h15 for the marathon) from a family from marathon runners (a famous brother, now deceased, won e.g. the Berlin marathon in the early 90's). The climb takes us through small villages of mud, brick huts and dusty kids asking for 'chupa' - empty water bottles they can use to fill at the water pump. The ascent begins and some sections are very steep and there are loose stones on the path. We lunch in the shade of a tree in the long grain, gratefully feasting on -the for us well known Simba- jam sandwiches and tomato sandwiches with salt. After 6 hrs we reach the campsite. We pay Sebastian; he is off running (!) back down the mountain, iridescent in his bright pink shellsuit. Thomas, E and C make camp and prepare dinner. The kerosene stove needs shelter, so Thomas cooks in his tent, but looks unwell from the fumes. The smell from the tent is overpowering, even for us sitting at a distance and outside. Nevertheless, delicious pasta dinner, above the plains and salt lake, with a deep red setting sun in front and bright rising moon behind. The temperature drops; we are glad for all the clothing we lugged up the mountain. Early to bed, since it's too cold to stay outside. It is freezing inside too, on a single camping mattress (the 2nd mattress had been forgotten by the guide) with an icy wind blowing.
With broken sleep we make it through to morning and clamber out of our tent before sunrise. (Ice had formed on the inside of our tent!) We begin our ascent to the highest peak of the rim of the collapsed volcano. Sun rises as we follow the path up and down along the saddle of the rim. Above a sea of clouds to the east it's a stunning vista. The birds and insects begin swooping around and by 9 am we are at the summit, where we lay down and stare at the deck of clouds below us. The return to camp is quicker and we break camp and descend, reaching Katesh by 6 pm. The steep descend for many hours is very hard on our -adjusted to Dutch flat surface- legs, especially since we carry all our stuff ourselves with no porter. The last part C hobbles down the mount, as her toes are becoming more and more squashed in her boots and her legs are begging for mercy. All this applies to E in the next coming days.
Time for a beer and chipsi mayai (omelette with chips cooked in a pan on a coal burning stove) for tea. Thomas has been an excellent guide and for cheaper than those listed in the guide books. He helps us get a ticket for the bus to Kondoa leaving at 6am next morning. E and C retire for a hot shower and deep sleep.
It's either the call to prayer or blind luck that E wakes at 5:50 am. We have slept through our alarm and the bus leaves in 10 minutes! We leap from bed throwing aside our deep slumber with the bed sheets. In 5 minutes we are out of the guesthouse and quickstepping to the bus station. In the dark we hear a bus horn; there is the bus pulling out! We wave frantically at it and C breaks into a run to chase after it. It's our bus! It stops! We jump in, grab our quickly vacated front row seats, say 'pole sana' (meaning 'very sorry', a phrase we frequently hear people saying, even when passing on a bike) and we're off! Hurtling along the road, we take a corner and ahead is a donkey and cart coming towards us. The driver swings to the left in full speed and clips something! We stop for a few minutes while the driver helps fix whatever it was he hit. The road to Kondoa is unsealed; in parts it looks like you need a 4WD! Our bus happily bounces onwards.

Posted by bumble_bee 01:57 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Thank you and goodbye Sarakasi ya Vijana

Our final weeks at Sarakasi are busy: E is now teaching up to 4 hrs computer classes each morning now that there are about 20 or so secondary kids coming each day. The teaching is great fun, but hard work! We are mainly using the locally installed Wikipedia to answer all manner of questions and present them in different products like Word, Powerpoint, Scratch (a free programming package for kids) and also making shopping lists in Excel. They love it.
C's time is divided between English lessons for staff and the guards and translating project documents from Dutch to English. The afternoons are Drama classes. We begin working on a story they know called 'The Magic Garden'. We continue to go and support the Dutch & English football teams till they go out. (Which also far away from the homeland causes a lot of frustration.)
At the end of our last week we go on a trip to the waterfall with the secondary kids, to 'celebrate' the end of their holiday and the end of our stay at Sarakasi. E, C and Sander meet 25 kids in the centre of Mto about 8.30 am. We rent bikes for the kids and begin our 45 minute ride to the falls, located North of Mto. The kids are zooming around on the mountain bikes, bilt for these dirty roads with 21 gears, while we are bouncing around on the local Chinese bikes with 1 gear! It's hot already. We reach the falls and make the hike up over boulders to the luxuriously cool spray. Already the first kids have scaled the cliff walls and are looking down at us with huge smiles. 11-ses is a picnic of pancakes prepared by the mamas the day before. On our return to Mto, we visit William -the youth worker at Sarakasi- at his home before taking the kids from our first class -Baraka, Mweli, Hamza, Awadia, Samweli and Jona- to the internet cafe for the first time: it's sooo slow! Well, they will have to get used to that in Africa!
The final couple of weeks at the project we go to the savannah as much as we can, to enjoy the fact that we live right next to it, at the edge of the Lake Manyara National Park. One day we get up at 6 am to see the sunrise again. Not too animals are awake yet, but we manage to spot 2 black-backed jackals + the tail of a bushbaby high up in the tree!
Our final Saturday flies by and we enjoy our time. A Dutch couple who are sponsors of one of the children arrive from Kenya where they have been volunteering, and so we are able to show them our final play, which we perform in front of the primary and nbursery kids: The Magic Garden. It's not as slick as Cinderella, but it's great fun again and involves a lot more kids. Our final meals prepared by the mamas are Chapatti and sambusa! We have a very fond farewell with mamas Flora, Baraka and Goody.
Our last weekend, on Saturday, E and C wander to the savannah and.. there in the distance is a Twiga (giraffe)! Finally! And on our way back we see a (whole) bush baby in the tree! First and probably last time for us, since they are very shy and can only be seen in the dark. C is an amazing spotter!
On Sunday we ask Masi to accompany us on a bike tour on the savannah to the hippo pool, just at the edge of the national park (but inside of the park). We hear that it's difficult to get there, because of park guards that send people away and because you can't get too close to hippos. So we have no expectations whatsoever. It's a treat, as we see herds of wildebeest, gazelle, zebra, even buffalos popping out of the high grass, a whole baboon family in an open field in the dense bush and of course hippos (7!), who are lazing in the sun so we can see their enormous proportions. All manner of birds too: pelican, marabou stork, ground hornbill, heron, crane, stork with yellow/red saddle on its beak. We are spoilt, especially because we are just outside of the park, being able to witness everything from so close, for free! Which makes it an even bigger accomplishment. It feels like a farewell gift from the savannah, to its loyal visitors.
We reflect on a wonderful 2 months where we have worked hard but gained so much from it.

Posted by bumble_bee 01:49 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Pictures from Mt Hanang and Lake Victoria


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