Sunday, April 6, 2008

Africa!!!

Hey Everyone.

Africa!!! We've been here maybe 10 days now and settling in so very rapidly! I could write screeds on our experiences thus far - most good, some bad...

Let's ignore the flights, the taxis and dubai airport and skip to Dar es Salaam. It felt wierd to be landing there (esp. after dubai) where the trees were the tallest things and the international terminal was smaller than a supermarket. After an hour of sweaty customs forms we were met by a random who drove us through the streets to the man who was looking after us. Mr Mgoba was delightful and certainly helped us cope with our first tastes of Africa. He made it seem such an easy place and had us on a bus with ease.

We snaked north out of Dar on this reasonably crusty bus but were amazed by the greenery and the mud huts everywhere. It was an awesome feeling. Anyways, about 10 mins later i feel tiny hands running through my hair. I turn around to find a couple of 4 year old lads very fascinated. They even called out "simba simba" a couple of times...

Later that day (after surviving the horrid tanga bus station) we made it to Pangani. We were hoisted off the bus in the dark (no street lights) and pointed towards a house. Admittedly at this point we were v. tired and I was totally unable to see myself or kate surviving here.

Anyways, we are now 10 days into our time and things have changed. We've learnt to cope to some degree and are now having real fun.

For instance, we are doing rather well at learning Swahili. I can follow quite a few conversations suprisingly and count etc etc. Makes life easier.

The weather was initially hot (30 degrees day and night) but it's been more like 25 degrees since then. It varies between comfortable and uncomfortable but hey! it's meant to warm up soon after the rains (which pour for a couple of hours each day)

One problem we're having though is food. Pangani is very poor - most people earn approx 1000tsh a day (or $1nzd - don't laugh!) and so you can imagine what sort of things they eat. This lack of variety is tough to deal with. A typical day is a chapati for breakfast with a cup of tea. A couple of scrabble tile sized bits of beef for lunch with some cassava (root vege like spuds) and then maybe beans and rice for tea. We also drink heaps of soda. This fibre free, high fat diet is possibly not ideal but hey we'll make it through!

Volunteering has been admiteddly quite stalled as well thus far. My work is extremely slow due to difficult travel conditions, non-attendance of meetings and the nature of tanzanian business. Kate's is much slower still as she only starts next week! Still, we hope this aspect of our trip improves greatly over the next few months...

The best story we have is of the tournament we held here last week. We were discussing holding it towards the end of our stay but decided to have it early before Mary (the other volunteer here) left. This was just brilliant. They played soccer and netball. The netball was kates domain. Picture her blowing her whistle like crazy trying to control 2 teams and 300 African school girls who don't want a bar of it. Everytime there was goal there was a pitch invasion and absolute mayhem. Brilliant. The first 2 matches went quite well to be honest. There were rules and a general sense of calm prevailed. Then in the final the tension and excitement simply got too much and amusingly enough the two teams broke out in fist fights. Kate dealt to that by simply calling off the entire affair and declaring the match a draw (as you do) This lead to the local girls forming a victory parade around the school grounds for a good 30 mins. The soccer was possibly even more frenetic. The games were played on the quintessial african pitch complete with goats, cows and bicyclists everywhere. The final was a draw. We thus decided to have a penalty shootout. I found myself in the middle of a circle of African kids aged 5-17 blowing the whistle and hoping nothing would happen. THe shootout ended 2-2 and after much haranged consultation with the other Mzungu we called it a draw as well! you had to be there (or see the photos)

Then this morning we abandoned Pangani to get some western style luxury/recovery time.
We jumped onto a daladala (clapped out old minivan) with 19 other people and a goat and and headed to Peponi's - an idealesque (is that a word?) beach resort. They have toasted cheese sammies and steak. So very happy! we even got to see our wedding photos for the first time. They are superb.

Anyways. Hi to everyone and thanks for the texts and emails. We do have a cellphone here but can't think of the number - will post it soon!

Oh, finally, saw a dude walking down the street last night with a fridge on his head. I'm not even making that up.

Take care of yourselves and i'll take care of the steak i am having in an hour or so.

Jeff

3 comments:

Mike said...

Mate,

Great to hear Africa is going well and you are all still alive and having fun etc. More photos!!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds awesome and love what you've done with your garden :) Can't wait to see more pics and hear more stories. Hope the steak went down a treat!!! missing you guys xxx Loz xxx

Frances said...

Just caught up with all your news! Sounds like you are having a great time and a really amazing experience! Best wishes to you and Kate. Look forward to hearing more of your stories :)
From Francie and Pete