A Travellerspoint blog

An evening out in Mto

go the blues!

Football is very popular here in Tanzania. Everyone supports a team, and usually its a UK Premiership team, like Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and there's even a few Manchester City fans now! With this in mind, we are keen to find a place to watch the Champions League final after having followed Chelsea's progress lately in Zanzibar. We speak to William, the youth coordinator of the project, who says that we should meet an hour before kick-off opposite the post office and he'll take us to a bar to watch it. The bar is packed to the rafters already with guys in organised rows of seats. We take our places on a bench at the back of the room. Several screens are fixed to the walls. The main wall is also adorned with Man U collages and a huge Bob Marley poster. We order a cold Serengeti beer,and a lady/waitress walking round with the bottle opener kindly obliges. We seem to be surrounded by Bayern Munchen fans, including Johannes, who at least is German. Otherwise, the Bayern Munchen fans consist of all the Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City fans, basically anyone who doesn't support Chelsea. The game progresses to its dramatic conclusion with the penalty shoot-out bringing the energetic crowd to its feet. It's a sweet victory for E amongst the few other Chelsea followers!

Posted by bumble_bee 06:31 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Posting comments

for dummies

Hi y'all,

We received some questions about how to comment on our blogs. Very simple: below the message you'll see Comments (0) or Comments (1). Just click on it, sign in and comment! Hope to hear from you soon..

xx e&c

Posted by bumble_bee 08:07 Comments (0)

Karibu to Mto Wa Mbu! (Welcome to the River of Mosquitoes!)

We have now been at TWIGA for one week, and are finding our feet. Our day from Monday to Saturday begins with breakfast at 07:30 in the main house. The compound houses 3 bandas which sleep 2 people each, an office building that also contins 2 living quaters for the permenant co-ordinators, the guards' sleeping quaters, a small football area, a library, the main house, tool shed for tools and bike storage, solar powered water tower, outdoor eating area and fire, childeren's banda and playgound.

Breakfast may consist of the previous evenings left overs, but usually there is bread and (sweet) condiments and fruit with tea and instant coffee. The Mamas arrive about this time. They are local women who take care of lunch and dinner (hot meals) and the cleaning and washing of clothes (although we wash our own underwear and socks). There is the lively meeting and greeting between the Mamas and volunteers in English and Swahili. About 08:00, the nursery children arrive. If you are on toy duty, you need to have placed some toys for them out on the veranda, including things for their "shop".

The day is filled as is needed. E & C teach English to the guards. They are Masai and live on the compound semi-permenantly. The guards are split between day and night watches. Their English is of varying levels. We use course books in the library, but mainly make things up during the lessons.
We are also translating many of the official TWIGA documents from Dutch to English (C) and from crooked English to perfect English (E). Additionally E is giving guitar lessons to one of the staff, and assisting with laptop issues.

Lunch is a hot meal of maize or beans usually with rice or ugali, which needs pili-pili (hot chilli) sauce and salt to jazz it up. We sit with the Mamas in the sunshine.
After lunch it is more of the same, and there is the possibility also of undertaking handyman jobs as required.

The other volunteers are: Ger (tasks: various including decorating and teaching, from NL), Cornelius (tasks: handyman, from NL), An and Sharon (interns from BE -tasks: teaching the nursery kids maths and English) and Johannes (tasks: medical help - from DE). Sander is Dutch and is the project coordinator.

Later in the afternoon, we often take a walk 10 minutes from the compund through the woods where monkeys run and play, to the open savanah. Here we watch the wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and flamingo, pelican and stork through binoculers. Out in the vast open space of the savanah we narroughly avoided a shower of stork excremends. That's a close encounter of nature. It is stunning. Huge baobab trees are dotted around. Lake Manyara is in sight, but not reached by us yet since the mud on the savanah was too thick for our antique Chinese bikes. Apparently there are hippo's and elephants, so we'll make sure to go there one Sunday. There are so many brightly coloured birds.

Dinner is at 19:30 in the main house which has been prepared by the Mamas, after which we wash up. Bedtime is after 21:30. There is no electricity onsite, all power is solar generated, and the water is solar heated. We use portable solar lamps in the evenings to light the banda's. Showers are taken late afternoon, when the water has heated.

Saturday is different. This is an open day when kids have no school. It begins with a welcome meeting where we were formally introduced to all the staff and kids. There are round 40 kindergarten and older kids at the project, which makes it the busiest day of the week. The morning starts with an official opening of the week, which is also the time to welcome or say goodbye to volunteers. E gave computer lessons to the older kids last Saturday (writing their names in MsWord, and then an introduction to MsPaint), which they greatly enjoyed.

Early Saturday morning about 06:00, we took a walk out on the savanah with Massi (one of the guards) and Cornelis to the baobab trees and on to a Massai village where a baby gazelle is also in residence. It attached itself to one of the herds of goats owned by the village. We passed huge termite mounds, and many wild flowers that have popped up since the rains have come.

Sunday is a relaxing day. We cycled out onto the savanah, but there had been quite some rain the day before, and we soon became bogged down in the mud! Other pass times were reading and lazing, catching up on some swahili, and watching a DVD on a laptop.

The town of Mto is a 15 minute cycle ride away, but it should only be attempted in daylight, as the road is unpaved and full of dips and holes, and after dark it is not necessarily safe.
Internet and shops are available in town. So far we have not needed to go that often, only to change some money and purchase a Tanzanian SIM card. Our contact number is +255(0)687713920

Last night, after a game of night football with the guards, we went out in the bajaj for a meal at "Pizza Point" as 3 of the volunteers left today. The restaurant seemed to be closed, but we helped bring the tables out and before long the pizza oven was fired up, and a cold bottle of Kilimanjaro beer in our hands.
Back at the project we started up a campfire, where E accompanied the crackling fire sounds with swinging guitar play.

Today over lunch the Mamas covered C's toenails with a tapenade like mulch, which has died them orange - just a week late for Queen's day!

So after our first week, we are finding the pace of life most agreeable, the mosquitos bearable and the time most fulfilling.

Posted by bumble_bee 07:20 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Dar Expressions

It’s an early exit from Dar es Salaam: get up at 05.40, taxi at 06:00, Dar Express bus at 06.45.
The centre of the city is quiet, with only the odd solitary vehicle making its way in the darkness. But it’s a different story as we head out of town; the traffic builds around us into a swerving caterpillar of headlamps and screeching horns. Our driver seems to suddenly awake from his slumber. We criss-cross an intersection, and BANG! we hit a huge rock lying in the middle of the road, as if it had just fallen out of the sky. This isn’t what brings us to a halt, that’s the battery failure. Crippled in the maelstrom, the caterpillar of dallas-dallas, trucks and cars breaks up and swarms either side of us; we are an island. The driver jumps out and begins pushing the vehicle off the road and onto the forecourt of a petrol station. We are unable to help, as the child-lock is activated on the passenger doors.
We don’t know what is happening, or what will happen to our pre-payment of the fare, but we stay put, even though our bus departs in 20 mins. Luckily, the driver finds another taxi, and moves us, our luggage and himself in to it. The four of us set off for the bus station, and the first taxi driver pays the second one. All’s well that ends well!

We find our bus, and take our seats. At 06:00 we set off. Before long we are leaving the city limits and the traffic jams behind us. After halfway the scenery changes to very green with banana trees all over. We see the base of Mt Meru, the second highest mountain in Tanzania at some 5000m, its peak is shrouded in mist. The journey is fairly uneventful, and before we know it, it is 15:30 and we reach Arusha where we stop for 1.5 hrs, just waiting for the bus to fill up with new passengers. Arusha bus station is a crazy place: busses squeezed in togetherin tight berths, intermingled with street sellers and purveyors of all kinds of goods from fruit to sunglasses to kids toys, all carefully exhibited on wooden boards held aloft so that they are level with the windows of the bus. On we go again, and arrive at Mto wa Mbu at 19.30. A Motorbike driver immediately approaches us and asks if we are waiting to meet Sander (the project co-ordinator). Yes! We follow him, wait a moment next to his moter bike (piki-piki) and voila, within 15 seconds Sander appears on the back of another pikipiki.
Together we take a bajaj (tuk-tuk) for 10 mins and arrive at the project compound where we meet the other volunteers, and the Massai guards. After a dinner of chapattis with everyone, we wearily make our way to our banda (circular hut with straw roof) and flop to the sounds of the crickets and bugs, greatful for the cooler temperatures!

Posted by bumble_bee 07:16 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Coffee with Jaws, Snuff with a Masaai

What is there to do in Stonetown when the monsoon starts? We found out.

In the torrential rain, with our friendly Dutch local we waded through the narrow streets of the old centre. First stop: Jaws Corner. Here we are introduced to locals drinking coffee and chat about life, marriage and premiership football. Second: a wander through the markets..Meat (cows' heads incl flies), veggie, Fish (barracuda etc) and also the lively fish auction. Third: A sachet of local gin (mind you, it was still early morning). Fourth: Detour to pass the shop again that sells the gin, hence, another sachet. Fifth: sampling some snuff from a Masaai warrior. (Masaai are employed as security guards all along the east coast.)

After this intriguing morning, we make our way to the mini airport to catch our mini plane, but at check-in, strangely our flight does not exist... After some careful administration by the Precision Air team and the odd phone call, we are on a later flight, and are given a boarding pass for a flight that has already left. This does not seem to matter. It is only a minor issue, as some passengers have been enduring 24hr delays. We guess this makes us lucky.

30 minutes later...

The taxi ride into Dar is exciting: the traffic goes every which way, with sellers wandering between the stop/start traffic. We check-in and seek out somewhere to have a cold beer. This is not easy in a mainly Islamic country, and also there is not much of a cafe/bar scene in Dar. We do find our haven in the end, at the Harbour View hotel, where we have a panorama of the bay and the cargo ships. Not too bad at all.

The streets are a cacophany of horns and street hawkers. The heat and humidity are stifling. There is not so much to do here, especially as it is a national holiday and much is shut, but it has its charm.

Departing tomorrow to Mto Wa Mbu, near Arusha, on the 05:45 bus which should get us to the project for 17:30. We shall see!

Posted by bumble_bee 06:35 Archived in Tanzania Comments (1)

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