I added pictures to the posts this evening! Just scroll down through the posts.
Remember what I said about our connections being good at the various airports? Well, all the connections were great but thanks to a severe thunderstorm in Toronto we couldn’t land there and had to go on to Hamilton. At first the plan was for us to go thru Customs here then be bussed to the TO airport. However, a series of events has caused us to spend, at latest count 5.5 hours, sitting on the tarmac. I am writing this from the plane. The series of events include…the storm moving to Hamilton so we couldn’t deplane until it passed, then Customs would not allow us to deplane without our stowed luggage, then the baggage handlers went off shift, then we were going to fly back to Toronto but the law does not allow crew to exceed x-number of hours so now we are waiting for another crew to fly us back.
It’s about 2am Toronto time now but for us it’s about 9am (Malawi time) and we have literally had only a couple of hours of sleep on planes during the whole travel time. Wishing now we’d had that nap in Lilongwe. We are so exhausted.
Oh good, they just announced that the new crew has arrived so hopefully we are on our way shortly.
Later in the day August 10th…
We are home now. The wait and travel time back from Hamilton to TO airport ended up being 7 hours total. Arrived at our place just before 5am, unpacked and didn’t feel sleepy (even though we have only had a few hours total since leaving Lilongwe on Saturday night) so went out for some breakfast around 7am. We will try and nap at some point today and then go to bed early tonight.
But I shouldn’t dwell on the delays, because as I said, the rest of the trip home went perfectly and we saw some interesting stuff. For example, on the flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam, we were in the row behind 2 Masai women and 4 men dressed in traditional robes with tons of beads (earrings, bracelets, necklaces belts) and chains of shiny silver metal coins. The women had those large round beaded collars…they looked so beautiful. I was sneaking peaks at one sitting across the aisle in the row in front. And she was sneaking peaks at me…I’m sure thinking “Look at that poor plain girl; taupe shirt, black pants, grey sweater. She needs some colour.” If there is an African version of ‘What Not To Wear’, she may be submitting me as a candidate right now As we were getting off the plane we smiled at each other.
I have to organize my pictures over the next day or two and will post some of my faves.
Well this is it, our last day in Malawi…our last day in Africa.
When we woke up this morning it was cloudy and the wind was really whipping around. It sure looked like rain but it isn’t rainy season so the clouds just went away and the sun came out within a couple of hours.
(Above) Sunrise over Lake Malawi
After breakfast, we hit the road, headed back to Lilongwe. About 10 mins. into our trip we saw the CPAR Chinteche vehicle coming towards us and they flashed their lights for us to stop. Turns out the “Water Mechanics”, on their way to drill or fix a borehole, had an accident just up the road and Laban had been called to the scene. He asked Joseph if we could stop and take a few pictures when we came upon it. When we arrived at the scene, we saw their transport truck was overturned down the embankment. Amazingly only one of the crew sustained injuries, a fractured leg. Thank goodness it wasn’t worse…from the looks of the truck, it certainly could have been.
There were tons of people on the road today…it makes the highway scene so colourful. I had my eyes peeled for boys who sell sticks of mice on them by the side of the road so I could take a picture. We had seen a bunch of them along the route on the way up. Apparently mice are a nice snack in these parts. We came across some after a little while and at first I was a bit hesitant about taking their picture because we weren’t buying anything, but they didn’t seem to mind and became very animated when they saw the camera.
(Above) Mmmmmm mice
Later, we came upon a large group of people slowly walking along the side of the highway and in the middle of the procession was a bride in a white gown and groom in a dark suit. I had my camera in my hand and people motioned for me to take the couple’s picture so I did.
(Above) The happy couple
We made one tourist stop along the way at a pottery place we’d been to on our last trip. It seemed way more expensive this time than last so we just bought a couple of things.
Near celebrity sighting…We saw Lucious Banda’s tour bus on the road between Salima and Lilongwe!! He had done a show in Salima on Friday night and had two coming up in Lilongwe on the Saturday and Sunday.
We arrived in Lilongwe around 3pm, checked into our hotel, then headed out to the craft market on the street. We had some things in mind that we wanted to buy to give to folks who come out to our CD Launch in September. That took awhile…vendors surround you and all work hard at getting you to come to see their merchandise and it’s a bit difficult to move through quickly. After browsing, we walked away and decided exactly what we wanted and what we were willing to pay…best price and second best price. We went back and started negotiating. This time we held to our price…okay, our second best price…had to cause we were running out of Kwachas. The deal was done and we were quite pleased. We left with just enough money to have dinner…until we ran into one guy who we had seen earlier selling bracelets “made by street kids” and, well…
We went back to the room and had showers and changed, then went for dinner at a restaurant right beside the hotel. Low on Kwachas, luckily the restaurant took USD so we had separate bills and I paid for mine with my remaining Kwachas and Dwight used American money for his. We had hoped to have a nap sometime before being picked up for our 2am flight, but just weren’t tired enough.
It’s now 11pm and I’m writing this at the Lilongwe airport. Our first flight is to Nairobi, then from Nairobi to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Toronto. The waiting times at each airport are just a couple of hours so it should be good.
Random Observations of Malawi…
- While Tanzanians uses the term Mzungu to refer to white people, it’s just Zungu in Malawi
- Lots of people kids and adults wave and greet you, when you pass by!
- Driving on Malawi highways is much less assertive than in Uganda; vehicles slow down when passing pedestrians and cyclists or when driving through trading centre; worst driver we encountered was a Zungu in an SUV
- The highways in Malawi are in great condition however, their bridges all file down to single lanes
- The currency is Kwachas…I like saying that…Kwacha, Kwacha
- Malawi has a tropical feel to it, especially up north along the coastal highway
- You know how we worry if we leave meat on the counter for more than half an hour? In Malawi (and actually all three countries we visited), the meat at butcher shops (stalls) is hanging on a hook outside with no refrigeration…do we worry too much?
- Malawi is known as ‘The Warm Heart Of Africa’
- There are a lot of people with the surname ‘Banda’; must be the ‘Smith’ of Malawi
Today was amazing. First, let me give you some background as briefly as I can…
When we were here in March 2007 we met a woman by the name of Judith who, along with some other women in the community, had started feeding breakfast to orphans. Many people in the area had died as a result of AIDS so there were a lot of children left behind. The program expanded to include dinner as well as caring for seniors. The women were raising funds through a variety of means…gathering and selling sticks for firewood, selling paraffin etc. CPAR got involved with them thru a government AIDS initiative. CPAR had been chosen to implement it because of their track record working in Malawi. I still remember Judith’s words, when asked why she was going to all this effort. She said she wanted to help those less fortunate than her. That really struck me because it’s not like she is all that well off herself.
In addition to a young son of her own (Biggers) still at home, she was raising three of her deceased daughter’s children, which included toddler twins. We met that day under a thatched roof held up by sticks. Her son Biggers handed me a note on which he’d written “Will you be my friend?” and I was instantly smitten. I have kept in touch with Judith and Biggers on occasion since that meeting. And, Biggers is mentioned in the song I wrote called ‘Little Child Big World’.
Fast forward to August 2009. We arrive at the Tawonga (Chitumbuka word meaning ‘we are grateful’ CBO (Community Based Organization, a government sanctioned org.) and instead of the thatched roof structure there is a beautiful new large brick one. Chairs are set up for us visitors so we go in and sit down while folks are assembling. While chatting with Allan I look over his shoulder and see a young boy shyly looking at me, and I say “Is that you Biggers?” and he smiles that beautiful smile of his and comes running over to hug me. I could barely hold it together. He’s 13 now and in Form 1 at school and an excellent student. Still cute as ever. Apparently he wants to be a lawyer. By now a bunch of other kids had arrived and he led the others in some songs for us. Judith arrived and there were more hugs and more songs! Dwight got some of the songs on video and I am anxious to watch them again. There’s one that’s stuck in my head…”Do what I do, walk like I do, walk like I do. Do what I do, dance like I do, dance like I do. Do what I do, clap like I do, clap like I do.” and so on. It was so adorable to see the little nursery school kids following along doing all the motions.
(Above) Me and Biggers
So, the group is now a full fledged successful CBO and has made incredible gains in a few short years. In addition to the 76 orphans and 41 seniors relying on them for care, they provide home based care for the infirmed, and counselling for people living with AIDS. In addition to feeding the orphans, they pay school fees for the older ones. They grow their own crops…we went to see the crops, which involved a long walk through some rather rugged lowlands in the hot sun. But I can’t complain because these folks make that trek every Tuesday to work the fields, and while we drove part of the way today, they normally walk all of the way.
(Above) Me and Judith
This group is a great example of how community members, working together can achieve so much. We spent the whole day with them. The morning was overviews of the various programs they have, complete with testimonials from beneficiaries. For example, Lydia an 80 woman, proudly got up and demonstrated, on the blackboard, how she could write her name. Then she told us how she used to have to rely on other people when she went to the post office to sign for her but now she does it on her own and she no longer gets cheated out of money because she knows how to count. She was such a sweetie. Another woman, Melafi, 49 years old, told how she became very sick in 2007 and the group encouraged her to go for HIV testing. She did and found out she was positive. The group then provided her with support, counselling, and access to ARV drugs, the combination of which she says saved her life and helped her realized her diagnosis wasn’t the end of the world. We also heard from a young man (17 years old) named Issac who is an orphan and for the past 3 years has been receiving assistance from the group to pay his school fees. He is in his final year of school (Form 4) and hopes to someday be a doctor. We were blown away by what we saw that morning. The afternoon was spent visiting their fields and a recipient of home care services.
(Above) The gang at Tawonga
When we broke for lunch we, along with Joseph and Allabi, headed over to Mum’s again. What a great little place. We had about 15 minutes to spare before heading back to Towanga so we took a stroll of the main street of the business area. A young man approached us asking if we’d like to look at (i.e. buy) some of his paintings. He was so charming we agreed and sat down on the step of a store to look through what he had. One of his paintings caught my eye immediately…a man playing a guitar-like instrument and a woman singing. A Malawian Sue and Dwight! Had to have it and a few others. Being the expert negotiators we are, we most certainly overpaid. Two hints…1) Jim, the artist, threw in another one for free, and 2) he couldn’t thank us enough, saying this would really help him and his family to eat.
(Above) Dwight and Jim
Then it was back to the CPAR office for a debrief and to say our goodbyes to another great bunch of people. At the end of the day, on our way back to the hotel we drove past that repaired borehole well that I wrote about yesterday…and were excited to see people using it. So Dwight hopped out of the car and took some pictures. I waited in the car on the highway and a bunch of kids came running over. Some who were there yesterday were doing a strumming motion with their hands like they were playing guitar, when they saw me. So sweet.
Another beautiful sunset and traditional fare dinner and we sat there, as the waves on Lake Malawi crashed against the shore, lamenting the fact that tomorrow we start heading for home.
I must say, my favourite times on this trip are when we visit projects. Today was great. Even though we were still tired from yesterday’s big drive, the day was invigorating.
First, an update on the view at Nkhatabay…yes, it was beautiful.
(Above) The view at Nkhatabay
The guys picked us up and we went directly to the CPAR office in Chinteche. It was great to see the familiar faces from our 2007 visit (Allan, Jericho) and to meet the new folks (Laban, James, and Venge). After a debrief of the current projects, Allan and Laban took us to Chilala School where CPAR has built new latrines, handwash stations, and drilled a borehole well. It was a beautiful little school. Although the kids are on holidays right now, they all came to be there for our visit. While Dwight was interviewing the Headmaster, village elders, a few students, and touring the new facilities, I was chatting with one of the teachers Boyce Mhone (not sure of spelling) over where the kids were sitting. He told me the new facilities have really improved conditions at the school and for the whole community because others are benefitting from the borehole well too. He said school attendance is up, and everyone is happier and healthier. He’s such a nice man. And the kids were fun too.
Keeping in mind the noise incident from a few days ago, I resisted taking my camera out until I got the all clear that filming was completed. In the meantime, with Boyce’s help translating, I asked if the kids had any questions for me. They were pretty shy but managed to ask some about where I am from, my name, etc. Kids are the same everywhere…The little ones were all up front, excited to participate. The older girls were sitting a little off to the side, interested but not as animated as the kids. Then, there were the teenage boys sitting way at the back looking cool. When Dwight was finished with the formal business he came over and joined us and sent the kids into a frenzy by filming them. Ha ha! It was time to go so we sang a song for them and then said goodbye. I’m loving, playing music for these folks.
(Above) Boyce and the kids at Chilala
After a delicious lunch of stews and nsema at a little place in town called Mum’s, we headed to our next project visit…a community borehole. The people greeted us in song, which was really nice, and then we met with the Water Point Committee under a big tree. They are a well organized group and gave a great report of the work they do.
The next stop was a really interesting one. It was to a borehole well where the pump had stopped functioning. Today though, CPAR had an Area Mechanic working to restore it. It looked like hard work and it was pretty hot out in the open sun, but the guys finally got it going. A bunch of people had gathered around while the work was underway and there was lots of cheering and excitement when water poured from the pump. I was a few feet away in the back of the truck entertaining a bunch of little kids and felt quite emotional when I saw how happy everyone was. We take for granted that we can just turn on the tap in our house for clean water and here people are so grateful to have water within easy walking distance to their home. The country goal is to have water stations available every 500 metres. That’s considered good…yikes, can you imagine if we had to walk that far for water?
(Above) My view from the “mainstage” at the borehole.
It occurred to me today that I almost feel like I am getting used to seeing very poor people and it kind of scares me. It’s a bit hard to describe what I mean…I don’t want to feel complacent about it because it is so wrong. I believe there is enough money in the world so no one has to live in poverty but the distribution of it is the problem.
We checked into our hotel around 5 or 5:30pm. We are now staying at the same place as we did in 2007. It’s right on the lake and we love it here. We went for a walk along the beach and then for a drink before dinner, where from the porch, we watched an incredible full moon start off with an orange glow that turned to silver, casting the most beautiful carpet of glitter on the lake. The dining room is in a thatched roofed, open-sided structure overlooking the lake. This lodge caters to Malawians so the food is traditional fare. I had chicken, nsema, and greens, while Dwight had chambo (fish), rice, and greens.
Not sure if I mentioned yet that the weather here is similar to what we had in Tanzania…warm during the day but chilly in the morning and at night. I’m not minding these cool evenings one bit…there are definitely fewer insects than when it is warmer! We did have a cute little gecko in our room when we first got there but he scurried out pretty quickly.
What a day! Things started out pretty good…breakfast in the courtyard was nice, we were able to access the Internet. Allabi was there promptly at 9am to pick us up, but unfortunately we weren’t quite ready to go yet…after days without email access, Dwight had to do some work correspondence and unfortunately we kept Allabi waiting about 20 mins. We had to make a stop to change some USD into Kwachas for the trip up north, but when we arrived we found the Forex Bureau closed…apparently yesterday, all of them were closed down by the banks because of some alignment agreement that wasn’t fulfilled. Near the Forex Bureau is a CD store that Dwight’s been trying to go to since we got here but their hours are limited and we keep missing it. So while I ran in to get some bottled water at the grocery store, he went into the CD store to see if he could find the coveted ‘Freedom’ CD by Lucious Banda. Yay, they had it but it took a little longer than Dwight had hoped. Traffic was insane in Lilongwe this morning…seriously, and it took ages to get to the office. We finally arrived there around 10:15am. So you see where things are going here.
For some reason we thought the ride up north to Nhkatabay was about three hours so when we learned it was more like five hours, I started to get antsy, knowing it gets dark so early here. And I knew we still had to stop to exchange money (at a bank) and get a SIM CARD for the cell phone. Meetings at the office, busy bank, difficulty getting a Zain SIM card due to system issues, more traffic, yada yada yada…we didn’t get on the road til 2pm. Gets dark at 6pm. 2pm plus 5 hours equals DARK!
Let me preface this by saying the ride was beautiful…Malawi is very picturesque…until the sun went down, then it was kind of scary…and dark. The same people I enjoyed seeing walking along the highway during the day, made me nervous at night because it was dark and I worried they may step into the road. And there were lots of big trucks. Allabi is a cautious, experienced driver so I knew we were in good hands, but because it was dark, and the roads are windy, I couldn’t help but worry. Did I mention it was dark?
We had a funny experience when we made a stop for some juice along the way at Nkhotakota. While the guys were inside the store, I stepped out front. Coming toward the store was an inebriated older man with a loud booming voice. I couldn’t make out what he was saying but people around were kind of laughing so I figured he probably wasn’t dangerous. Then he spotted me and starting calling out to me that I was welcome in Malawi. When Dwight came out and the man spotted him he started apologizing, I guess for taking to me, and Dwight assured him there was no offence taken. He asked where we were from and when we told him Canada, he said “Ah Canada, I love Canada, they are all Christians there…welcome, welcome.” Ha ha.
As it turns out we were booked to stay at a hotel in Nkhatabay quite a bit beyond (almost an hour) the projects we’ll be visiting around Chinteche. The view appears to be spectacular…we’ll know in the morning…yet the rate is reasonable, so I think that combo is why we were booked there. However, we’ve already decided to spend the next two nights closer in and forego the view because the extra drive is too much. And, the last few kilometres to the hotel, which is right by the water are crazy bumpy. Allabi and Joseph, who are travelling with us, are staying at a different place right in Nkhatabay tonight. We felt bad that they had to drive that bumpy road again tonight and back again in the morning to get us. I think moving to Chinteche will be good for all of us.
We didn’t get into our room til about 8:30pm…totally pooped and hungry. Fortunately they still offered us dinner, which by the way, was excellent. Finally, traditional Malawian fare…chicken stew with some kind of greens and nsema (which is like the posho we had in Uganda). On the way to the dining room, we met one of the “night watchmen”, and older gent named Samuel, Who assured us “Do not be scared. I’m here all night.” I wasn’t til he said that!! Samuel was stationed in a chair on the deck one hut over from ours. Yes, the rooms were round huts with thatched roofs and are situated on the side of a hill overlooking Lake Malawi. The place has a really an interesting layout. We asked Samuel how many other guests there were tonight and I think he said there were only one or two others.
Back to dinner…It looked like it was just going to be us at dinner but then a young man walked in around the same time. After exchanging hellos and some chit chat we invited him to join us. Turns out he is a new doctor in the clinic Nkathabay, stationed there for a year. He’s from Blantyre in southern Malawi…really nice guy. His name is Kumbo (not sure of the spelling). He had gotten in late because he had gone out to a village today to investigate a cluster of five deaths from an undetermined cause. He didn’t find the answer today…more time is needed.
So, now we are back in our room…or rather our hut, and as I write this, I am hearing a lot of howling in the near distance…dogs? wolves? I’m pretty pooped and we have an early start tomorrow.
Darn, woke up with my first mosquito bite…odd, because the nets here are really good ones and I don’t remember being bitten earlier while in the lounge area. I’m taking anti-malarial pills so it should be okay, although I (of course) read all the accompanying prescription information and know that it’s not 100% effective.
Today, Steve, Joseph, John, and Allabi took us to visit some CPAR farm projects. To get there we drove for two hours on a very bumpy road off the highway. We had visited the same area on our last trip but at that time of year the road was wet and some areas of it washed out so I guess dry and bumpy is better!
I was feeling tired today and most of the stops were in pretty sunny areas so I stayed in the truck at all but the first one. But we left the back doors open so I could visit with people, mostly kids, there. It was fun. At a couple of the stops I pulled out the guitar and sang some songs for them, which they responded very positively to. But the real hit was the camera. At one of the stops, they went wild with excitement when I took their picture and completely out of control when I showed it to them on the preview screen. Poor Dwight had to come over and ask me to keep the noise down cause he was trying the conduct an interview. Oops.
(Above) My view of the kids from the back of the truck
Two hours back to the highway on the same bumpy road we came in on and we were back at our hotel around 5:15pm.
We had about an hour to get cleaned up and change, and then John picked us up for dinner with some of the folks from the office. We went for a nice Indian meal with Towera, William, Victor, Tchaka, John, and Joseph. It was fun, and so nice to get to know them better.
It’s 9:30pm now but feels much later. I don’t think I can stay up much longer. Tomorrow we are starting an hour later than we have been, so we can hopefully sleep in a little bit.
I had forgotten how nice breakfast is in this hotel. It’s served in a lovely courtyard and you get a big bowl of fresh fruit salad with your eggs and toast. I think we have had eggs everyday on this trip. I was getting a bit egged out at first but now am used to it. Most days I remember to ask for just one egg cause the fare usually includes two.
John picked us up at 8 this morning and took us to the CPAR office here in Lilongwe. After introductions and renewed acquaintance with folks we’d met on our last visit, they presented a great overview of the projects they are working on.
After lunch, we headed out with Joseph, Patricia, Dennis, and Vincent to visit an educational one about child survival near Lilongwe…a CPAR/Unicef partnership. On the way we picked up Lucy and Frank, who work for the government youth services. This year, there have been many deaths from Cholera in Malawi, so in emergency response, prevention information has been added to the project. Thirty Volunteers (men and women) from the community were given training, and then went door to door to share the knowledge. Today, we met some of the volunteers. While Dwight was talking to them about their work, I was having some fun with a bunch of kids who had come to see what was going on. They LOVED getting their pictures taken, especially getting to see themselves on the preview screen. Is there such a thing as a portable battery…or even better, solar powered photo printer? If yes, I wish I had one of those with me. It would be so fun to print out pictures and give them to the kids on the spot.
(Above) Some fun pics from the project visit
We got back to the hotel around 5pm and decided to go over to Shoprite to look around. It’s fun seeing all the different brands of products. There’s a restaurant close to it that serves Portuguese style chicken so we picked up a couple of wraps to take back to the hotel and ate them in the courtyard where we eat breakfast. It gets dark early here and there aren’t many lights on the street so we didn’t want to be out too long…there are lots of potholes/uneven surfaces on the sidewalks so walking can be tricky. It actually was already pretty dark as we were coming home.
I’m not sure what traditional Malawian food is like but it doesn’t seem easy to find here in Lilongwe. That’s too bad…some of the best dinners we have had on the trip are the traditional ones.
The hotel has wireless connection but I haven’t been able to log into it for more than a minute or two at a time. I wasted a lot of time trying tonight. Hopefully I will be able to use the service at the office tomorrow.
Somehow all that lay-over time (12 hours) in Nairobi ended up passing by. We each got about two hours of sleep at the airport and maybe another hour each on the plane to Malawi. Thank goodness they had free wireless connection so we could while away the time on the laptop. We were on a non-direct flight that made a stop in Lusake, Zambia before Lilongwe. So that added an extra hour or so to the trip. We couldn’t deplane so it felt a bit long.
I talked to a really nice woman from Lilongwe at the airport and then coincidentally she was in the seat next to me on the plane. She used to be a secretary then decided to open her own store (ladies fashions) and travels around the world, buying. Her store is quite successful and she is raising, I think she said five, young orphaned nephews. One is already in University and one will enter next year. We’ve seen lots of evidence of the extended family support on this trip.
Arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi on time and I held my breath til the bags reappeared on the baggage belt. Given the lengthy layover, I was preparing myself for a luggage problem but it all came through. Yay, Kenya Airways! We stopped at the Forex Change Bureau in the airport just to get a bit of cash to get us started. Kids, stay in school, learn your math…you really do need it This is the third currency we’ve had to wrap our heads around and it can be confusing. In all cases we end up with huge wads of cash that looks like a lot of money but in our dollars isn’t really.
I find it a bit scary going through Customs in foreign countries because you never know what to expect. After seeing many people opening their bags and the agents poking thru them, I thought we might be there for awhile but we were fortunate…they just waved us thru. Then John from CPAR was waiting for us out front so everything went smoothly. He dropped us off at our hotel, which is the same place we stayed last trip. We really like it…it’s right in town so we can easily walk places. I was excited about going to Shoprite, which is a big S. African supermarket that has lots of cool stuff. But unfortunately today is Sunday and it was closed
So we walked over to the outdoor market, by the river, we had visited last time. It was later in the day so there wasn’t too much happening…mostly just used clothes, and some electronics booths were open. We walked back to our hotel and then went down to dinner at the restaurant attached to the hotel. We ate on the patio…it was a beautiful night. A little chilly, but hey, it is Winter! I had a glass of wine with dinner, which was a real treat…only the second of the whole trip. The only problem is that I was soooo tired because we’d had so little sleep and it totally knocked me out. I couldn’t get into bed fast enough when we got to our room and was out like a light well before 9pm!
I think this will be a short post today. Not sure how much I can write about waiting around airports, that’s of interest anyway!
We left Karatu at noon for the trip to the Kilimanjaro Airport. Well, it was actually about 12:20 cause Dwight had to stop and get a couple more Shukas. One never knows when one might need a Masai robe, so best to have several on hand
The drive was great…lots of beautiful scenery in Tanzania. We really enjoyed the time we spent here and the people we met.
(Above) Beautiful Tanzania
(Above) In Arusha the “taxis” all have different names. I tried to get a picture of one called ‘Led Zeppelin’ but missed it.
Since I started it with Uganda, I’m going to do a list of Random Observations for Tanzania as well…
- The most common language spoken is Swahili
- People are very friendly and polite
- When you stop in to see someone, you call out “Hodi” (or “Hodi Hodi” in more casual situations) and then wait for them to respond “Karibu”, which means Welcome; if they don’t respond then it means they don’t want to see you, so go away!
- The word “Shtuka” means shocked….”Nime Shtuka” means I am shocked. Ha ha, I love the sound of that. I think I will be shocked a lot when I get home, at least I will say I am!
- The Masai make the best security guards because everyone is afraid of them, they are known to be such fierce warriors
- The Acacia tree is abundant and has VERY pointy spikes on it; I got poked by a few when out in the field but luckily they didn’t break the skin
- When there has been a traffic accident on the highway, branches are placed on the road about 100ft in both directions to alert oncoming traffic; they do this in Uganda as well
- Tanzania gets two rainy seasons a year…the Long Rains in March thru May and the Short Rains in October and November; last year the Long Rains weren’t plentiful enough, which is why they are experiencing draught conditions now
- There are lots of tourists going on Safaris and the contrast between the luxurious lodges and real life for the many Tanzanians living in poverty is a bit difficult to reconcile
- It’s difficult to eat vegetarian…Tanzanians like their meat!
We had a 4 hour wait at the Kilimanjaro Airport but it actually went quite quickly. As I write this, we are at hour 5 of a 12 hour layover at the Nairobi Airport. It’s pretty quiet here right now. Oh, but earlier we had a celebrity sighting…Anthony Edwards (Dr. Green from ER) and his family were sitting at the table beside us! Dwight is snoozing and when he wakes up I will try to catch some zzzzzzzzzz’s.
Carrying a guitar in an airport is a great conversation starter. During the first few hours of strolling around the shops here, I got asked about it several times.
We haven’t seen TV or a newspaper in a week. To be honest, I can’t say I miss it. Hope all is well in the rest of the world. After I post this, perhaps I will Google a bit and see what’s happening.
P.S. I thought of a few more Random Observations of Northern Uganda so I’m going to update the list at the bottom of my July 25th post with them.