Week Two in Tanzania

THURSDAY July 21, 2005

Today turned out to be quite a long day and I got quite a bit of windburn on my face. We set off a bit later than we had expected but we still saw many animals. We saw giraffe, impala, buffalo, elephants, warthogs, zebras, baboons, plovers, and a few birds I can't identify. We also saw a lion and a hyena, but they were at such a far distance that even a camera with a giant zoom could barely see them. We have been told that the lions are the most difficult to view because they are so hard to find. They tend to hang out in the tall brush and lie around most of the day, blending into their environment. Maybe we'll get lucky tomorrow and see one. Nevertheless, I got a zillion photographs today and now I have to go and sort through them all. After dinner tonight, we also caught a bit of the news and the explosions in London. We wanted to watch more but tomorrow is an early day again so we had to run off to bed or else we'll all be cranky tomorrow.

FRIDAY July 22, 2005

No lions today. It seems they don't like us much so we haven't gotten any photos. We did see a bunch more animals and got quite a few more photos. I'll just have to go to the Bronx Zoo if I want to see a lion.

6:30pm - I am sitting alone, in near darkness, at Salma's parent's house. Paul, Hendrik, Meinderd and Hanna have gone off to the internet cafe. I am not feeling too well, making my day quite crappy. It was 93F/35C in the back of the safari van on the way back to Dar from Mikumi. That meant five and half hours in an enclosed area with no water and no air conditioning. On top of all that, I had to go to the bathroom for the last four hours of the trip and there was nowhere to go. By the time we got to Dar, I was about to pass out from a heat stroke. Meinderd made mention of the fact that I looked completely white but, now that it's cooler inside (80F/27C) I feel a lot better and have a bit of color back in my face. I'm still hot and want to go back to our rental house, turn on the a/c and just go to bed.

9:30pm - Finally home and getting ready for bed. The a/c is cranked all the way up and it's going to be nice and freezing in our room the rest of the night.

SATURDAY July 23, 2005

Today was absolutely boring and I debated on even writing down anything. Watching paint dry would have been more exciting, and probably more productive too. Paul went for a swim in the pool today for a couple of hours while we all waited for Hendrik to return from picking up his wedding ring. He left at 11:30am and said he'd be back at 2pm. At 5pm, Annau shows up with our driver and asks, "Where's Hendrik?" We didn't have a clue where he was. Around 2pm we were all hungry so we had a few snacks that were lying around the house. Nothing that could be considered a meal though.

By 8:30pm, when dinner was served, we were all cranky and starving. Anyway, Annau ended up taking us to the Mwenge Carver's Market to look around and see if there was anything we might want later. Paul and I couldn't buy anything because Hendrik had gone off with our dollars to change into shillings so we just browsed. I also got my clothes for the Kitchen Party tomorrow. It's okay but a little itchy. I'm not looking forward to wearing it for a long time tomorrow.

SUNDAY July 24, 2005

10:30am - Well, breakfast is here. An hour and a half late, but it's here. We also ran out of water this morning. Hendrik and I got showers before it ran out but mine was cold because no one remembered to plug the hot water back in last night. Paul spent about 90 minutes in the pool while one of the maintanence guys crawled, literally, into the sewer tank and pulled out a bunch of gunk and sludge. Then we waited for the water to trickle into the water tank again. Paul managed a half-assed shower as there was no water pressure and you can't flush the toilet. You can slightly do one or the other, but not both. Hopefully, the water tank will fill up soon so we can have pressure again.

10pm - Kitchen Party is done. Basically, to me, it's just a big dance party with breaks inbetween to tell you what marriage is all about, how men really are, and how to treat your husband. The short version goes like this: Welcome, now dance a bit in a circle. Oh, here comes Salma's mom. Welcome her. Now dance a bit more in a circle. Ah, here's Salma. She dances in. Then you all dance again. Then some talking. Then, dance up as you give Salma her gifts. Some talking again. Dance some more. Eat. Dance on your way up to get your food. Dance some more after eating. You get the point. It was kind of cool to experience but I would have rather liked it if the men were allowed to participate. Again, I'm not a fan of all this segregation between men and women. I have since found out that Hendrik took Paul and Meinderd to the Yacht Club and then ate at Barbeque Village.

MONDAY July 25, 2005

Today was another craptacular day. We had to go get sandals that the men have to wear with their dress thingies at the wedding. This was supposed to take ten minutes but took 45. The women, again, had to sit in a hot car. Paul wasn't too happy when he got back in the car and has said he'll tell me later why. After that, we went back to the Mwenge Carver's Market and got some stuff. Hendrik helped us haggle a bit and I got some tingatinga paintings while Paul got some Maasai statues and a mask. Then we went to Best Bite for lunch and I also got some vanilla ice cream. After lunch, we headed back to Salma's parent's house and, faced with the prospect of sitting for hours, Paul, Meinderd, Hanna and I decided to go to the internet cafe nearby. It was good that I checked things because some of the sites I go to had changed addresses or were pruning accounts and I had to log in and do some stuff. Hopefully, I won't lose my accounts but if I do, oh well. Not much I can do from Tanzania.

TUESDAY July 26, 2005

11am - Things got started late again today. It was so late, in fact, that we thought it was a good idea to run across the street to the small shack that was selling stuff and buy a loaf of bread. I really feel that we should be buying our own food instead of making Salma's mom prepare our food and then bring it to us. Anyway, it was not a good idea to buy bread from here instead of from the supermarket. I was about to put some peanut butter on my bread when I saw several little critters crawling on my bread. We quickly tossed the loaf and then waited until Leylah showed up with some good bread. This, too, turned into an aggravation because we were completely rushed through our already shortened breakfast by Hendrik's parents. This is because today we are going to Bagamoyo, which is closer to us than to where his parents are staying, so they arrived with Leylah. Now, I got so aggravated because I'm very hungry and had to wait for food to be delivered to us. Then, the food is late because they went off to buy food for lunch (which is crap that I would rather not eat for lunch, like cake and bread with cheese in it) without telling us or consulting us on what we wanted. So, I basically am rushed all day, given craptacular food, which isn't filling at all.

Bagamoyo itself is really interesting and I wished that we had had more time to see and do stuff. One day just doesn't cut it. Still, what we saw was interesting. Bagamoyo used to be an important city in the slave trade. Most all the slaves from East Africa passed through here on their way to Zanzibar and other places later on. Bagamoyo was also the terminus of the trade caravans from Lake Tanganyika where copra, salt and ivory were taken before being sent beyond its borders. We also had time to see some of the local fisherman and their dhows and strolled around a bit.

Famous explorers like Livingstone, Stanley and Burton also came through here and some french missionaries set up a village called Freedom Village for slaves that had been ransomed. In the late 1800s, Bagamoyo was an important missionary station and then the Germans took it over until the Abushiri revolt in 1888. After that the capital was moved to Dar and most people forgot all about Bagamoyo. Several years ago, however, a paved road was made and tourists starting coming again.

Now, however, it's declining again because of 9/11. All the locals say that 9/11 killed most of the tourism in the town. I still liked it though. It's quieter and has a bit of old world charm that Dar is sorely lacking. We did get to see the remains of the German Boma, which was a fortified compound, the Liku House, the German Customs House and the Catholic Mission and its museum. There is a chapel here where Livingstone's body was laid for a while before being taken to Zanzibar and then back to England.

5pm - Well, we're back in Dar. Our van got a puncture on the way back and blew out its right back tire. It took about half an hour to fix because the jack in the van was stripped and didn't work well. Fortunately, someone stopped to help and five minutes later we were on our way. The best part of the day is that we are back at our rental house relaxing and dinner is being brought to us later. I have finished up my postcards. I also have to get some sort of medicine for the giant welts on my legs. I'm highly allergic to sand fleas, dust mites and mosquitos and they all seem to be attacking me at once! I look all diseased.

WEDNESDAY July 27, 2005

9pm - What a nightmare of a day! We were told yesterday to be ready at 9am because the Henna Party (another party just for women) was from 10am-2pm. So, 9am comes and goes. I expected the driver to be late as this seems to be normal around here. At first, it was funny; now it's downright aggravating. One can never get anything done because one never knows if or when your driver will appear. So, our driver shows up at 1pm. By now, everyone except for Hendrik is highly agitated and this is a bad way to start our day. One the ride into town, we are informed that we still have to pick up Hendrik's parents. We are also told that the reason the driver was late today is because Leylah took the van into town to do some more last minute wedding shopping and, of course, got stuck in the giant mess that passes as traffic here.

We finally get to Salma's parent's house at 1:45pm and have more sitting around to do. At some point, I was dragged into Salma's room, then back out again for lunch. About 2:45pm I get lunch, which consisted of carrot and cucumber slices and two small potato balls. In the meantime, Hendrik had left everyone high and dry and buggered off to the internet cafe. I had suggested to Paul and Meinderd that they should just take Annau and the van and go get their errands done. Otherwise, if they waited for Hendrik, nothing would be done today. Thankfully, they listened to me and left about an hour later.

When they were finished, they went home with Hendrik because none of them were allowed to see Salma and then they sent the van back for the women. So, while errands were being done I was busy being yanked into Salma's room to watch her being painted with Henna. I had some done on my hands and I must admit I don't really care for it, but at least I tried it once to see what it was like. After I had been painted, I got yanked out of the room again so others could get themselves painted. Then, I was yanked back in when the paint dried so that I could wash off all oil residue that was left.

The Henna Party itself began about thirty minutes after this. Salma danced out into the room and sat in front of everyone. We all had to dance in front of Salma at least once, and once was all I did. After this, we were given a donut, one potato ball and a small slice of cake. Then, people danced some more. Some of it was really racy and quite a bit embarrassing to me.

Finally, at 8pm, I was told we were going to leave but first some dinner needed to be made to take home. I thought, "Great, I'm starving" but I was quickly informed that this food was for the men. I didn't think much of this until I got to the van and Leylah asked me if I could watch the food for the men so that it didn't spill off the seats. Apparently, this food isn't meant for me and, after not having a decent amount of food in over 24 hours, I'm highly cranky and slightly pissed.

So, now I'm aggravated and just want to leave but I had to wait another fifteen minutes for Hanna to come out to the car. I'm told that she knows what's happening tomorrow. So, I ask what is happening but she is busy saying something in Dutch to her mother-in-law. So, I ask Leylah what's happening and she tells me that Hanna has all the information, waves, and closes the door. Now, I'm highly agitated. I'm trying to be patient, go with the flow and not create any problems but, adding everything that has happened in the past two weeks, I'm slowly losing my patience. I also couldn't ask anything else because on the way to take Hendrik's mother home all I hear is more bantering in Dutch.

Okay, I admit it. I'm really pissed now. Hanna spends part of the ride back to the rental house talking to Annau, but in a very hushed tone. So I don't know if I'm supposed to be hearing it or not. What I do hear is that Leylah is coming out tomorrow to look at our outfits from home and to see if she approves of them. I'm so far beyond pissed now that it's a good thing no one is near me. I went out specially and bought this stuff for the wedding, which was okayed by Salma a week ago but now it might not be good. If you are reading this now, be thankful you weren't in the van with me. At this point, I don't even want to attend the wedding tomorrow.

We get home and I head straight upstairs. Paul follows me as it's quite evident by the look on my face that I'm ready to kill someone. I explain to Paul what has happened and that he just needs to go eat and leave me alone. I'm so pissed that, even though Paul said I should eat anyway, I have no appetite left and just want to be left alone. So, Paul tells me that Hendrik is also pissed. Apparently, he has just gotten off the phone with Salma and he doesn't even know what's going on tomorrow. He doesn't even know what time he's supposed to show up for his own wedding! So, now, everyone is in bed and no one has a clue about tomorrow.


Copyright © 1996-2011