The Road Trip...
I think it is something you’d expect, because you read or hear about it so many times – that Africa is a continent full of contrasts, especially in the sense of poverty. But still it is something different and oppressive when you really are confronted with it directly. The reason why I mention it as a contrast is that it happens in the middle of what for my European eyes is normality (i.e. for African standards probably luxury….). What I mean is that Patrick told us about a family in our neighbourhood that in his words was “suffering”, and that they would be desperate for help. So we agreed to visit them to be able to talk to them in order to be able to find a way how to support them. The room they are living in is only 50 meters away from our home. So we only had to pass by our neighbour’s villa on an estimated 2500 square meters plot, on to the plot next to him. Behind a dried out piece of grass and dirt, we were welcomed by a woman and her 3 children in their home, a 3 x 3 meters room. Half of the room is taken by an old bed, the rest of the room by a fridge and some pans and plates. Above the bed a mosquito net that would not even be fit to go fishing, for its holes were too big. The mother explained us that her husband died 3 years ago, and that she would have problems raising money to feed her children. On our question on how she has been able to survive so far, she said that she would fill up empty water bottles she finds and try to sell them on the street. All during our visit, her 3 children were standing next to her, listening to what she was explaining to us. I can only imagine how a 6 year old must feel hearing his mother saying things like that… But I can assure you it’s kind of a mixed feeling you have, being part of such a discussion in the afternoon, and having a nice dinner on the beach, with 3 beers for 20’000 TSh (approx 13 CHF), knowing that for this family this would last for at least a week…
On Tuesday we started for our little road trip to Moshi up north, just on the foot of Kilimanjaro. The reason for the trip was on one hand to visit a baby-home Chris knew. They have a lot of orphans that are just left behind on their doorstep, and which they foster until they reach the age of 3, but then need to find another place for these kids. But also apart from the work part, the trip was very interesting. The distance from Dar Es Salaam to Moshi is around 650KM but it took us only about 50KM to be stopped by the first policeman, trying to get some pocket money by going through their usual checklist (1. Driver’s license, 2. Fire extinguisher, 3. Warning triangle 4. Insurance badge) in order to find something to fine us. Luckily for us, this time their imagination of “required” items stopped after that, so we were allowed to drive on. After around 200KM the landscape starts to change from what we were used in the Dar area, and it becomes hillier and actually as I would expect it from my memories of “Im Reich der wilden Tiere” from 30 years ago… The red soil, the bushes, and the endless plains on the west and the mountainous landscape of the Mkomazi Reserve on the east, running along the Kenyan border. Unfortunately we arrived after darkness, so Mount Kilimanjaro was not visible, and it wouldn’t be until the evening of our second day that we were able to have a glance at it through a small hole in the clouds. We were invited to stay at Glory’s family’s place for these two nights, which we gladly accepted. For dinner on that second day, Bibi (grandmother in Swahili, and because she immediately adopted us as her grandchildren, of course we were allowed to call her Bibi) who was visiting her son (Glory’s father) made us a very nice Ugali which we ate with pleasure. The biggest laugh of the evening however was on Gift’s side (Glory’s 11-year old sister) who just couldn’t stop laughing at the two Mzungus eating Ugali by their hands… probably a sight she has not seen before. That same evening, after I explained my disappointment about Mt. Kili’s behaviour, Glory’s father promised me that if I drank a Kilimanjaro beer (famous Tanzanian brand), the clouds would disappear so that Mt. Kili would be fully visible. I fought my strong aversion to beer, and took one for the team. As promised, next day there was not a single cloud on the sky, and we were able to fill the memory cards of our photo cameras with nice shots of Kili (I mean pictures, not shot’s of Kili-beer) just out of the backyard of Glory’s house.
One other remarkable episode happened to us (or I should maybe say me) on our driving about in Moshi. I wanted to park the car sideways (ok, now it’s going to get embarrassing, I don’t even know why I publish this) and doing that, I bumped into the car that was parked in front of me, which happened to be a taxi. Bumped is probably the wrong word, for it was hardly a touch, and no one in that car would have been able to know if it was my car bumping into his, or a fly landing on it (on top of it, the cars in Tanzania all look as if the regular way of parking a car is by hearing…) The taxi driver who was waiting in his car got out, and after having seen that it was a Mzungu (white man) that slightly touched his car, he started to act as if he was deadly hurt and started to cover me with a waterfall of Swahili (swearing?). All my assertions that no damage whatsoever could be seen on his car, and that it hardly touched were fruitless. However, after 3 minutes, the discussion (which Glory was leading from our side) turned into another direction, and he told her (still very angry though) that he is very hungry and that he had neither money nor food. So the only way of getting out of the discussion for us (besides the possibility of just driving away) was to give him a dollar with which he was happy again.
More next week – so long.