On security...armed with a candle

Trip Start Jul 24, 2012
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Trip End Aug 19, 2012


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Where I stayed
A simple lodge

Flag of Tanzania  , Kagera,
Sunday, August 12, 2012

We woke very early for a proper long day on the road. Wake up time was 4:30 and after a few bananas for breakfast we boarded the truck, turned the lights off and most people drifted off to sleep almost immediately. I unfortunately don't have the luxury of being a great bus sleeper so just had to sit in the dark being bounced around the bus (not in a good way anyone with a dirty mind!). We lost Robyn in Kigale so the first loss of a passenger on the trip other than the temporary absence of Priscilla. A few more hours driving later and we were saying goodbye to the land of a thousand hills and after 3 great days we had learnt a lot, seen a lot and had loved our rather brief stay in Rwanda. Not much to report really, the crossing out of Rwanda was fairly painless and we stopped for lunch in no-man’s land while Kanyo collected all the passports for a group handover rather than queuing individually. Our bread was again stale, our meat frozen and stale crisp butties were quite frankly overly boring and very tiresome, I never thought you would spice up your life by opening a can of beans and eating cold out of a can, wow it seemed a special treat.

The money changers on the boarder were offering pretty poor rates of exchange and opted for the group approach of circling you while they all shouted at each other waving about big wads of cash. We instead opted for the bank of Ariel with a small loan to tide us over for a day or two (well we got 4 worth which in reality didn’t even cover today’s bar tab!).

On route we stopped for charcoal on the road side and a group of children quickly appeared at the side of the truck.  We gave them the bread that we had left and they clung to it - their mother appearing and squealing with joy.

We finally arrived at 'camp’ at about 17:30 so it was indeed a long, long, day. We arrived with the bus being chased by about 30 kids, the offer of an upgrade for $10 was there so we threw our hats in the ring and demand appeared to meet supply. We were shown to our luxury accommodation facing the main road over a small wall. Oddly there seemed to be about 5 guys sat opposite staring at us as the door was unlocked and we were shown into our luxury room carrying all our bags. As soon as the door shut my travelling paranoia had kicked in from the last trip and Erica was told to make sure we could empty the whole room before dinner so we had absolutely nothing of value in there. The room had no electricity but did have some ice cold running water, the toilet was of the old bucket flushing method. The standard rooms at least appeared to have electricity.  This actually resulted in Simon and Renee actually opting for a standard room instead – you can’t beat a bit of light now and then – saying that we did have a candle.

Erica unloaded all the bags and I gave them a shake out of all the dust, to be met by the same guys still staring at me. I shouted ‘jambo’ and their faces did not even smile back never mind respond. "Right I want a public show of the fact our whole bags are not in this bloody room" I told Erica.

Off to the bar to try a Tanzanian beer, Kili was added to our list of beers and as I got back one of the guys had walked over to the wall looking up and down the road in a suspicious way. By this time the bags were loaded so I walked up and down outside to make sure I had been seen loaded up with both big bags. The guys just stared at me.

I got back from the truck and still the guys loitered. I was getting even more paranoid so got every item loaded into our day packs and dragged Erica round to the truck, the room completely empty we sat down with Kanyo then everyone else appeared from a walk through the village followed by about 70 kids and the local drunk who just seemed to want to fight.  The owners of the lodge had to manhandle him out of the grounds.  He briefly spoke to Erica and the only word she could decipher was ‘nickelodeon’ so god knows what he was trying to tell her.

Darkness fell and we had a great dinner of goat, spicy rice, beans, spinach and pickled cabbage type stuff (the lodge owners had kindly cooked for us). The night sky was amazing full of bright different  coloured stars and plenty of shooting stars.  We decided to take the option of the early night and got back to our empty dark room. Forgetting we had no electricity, we did manage to find a candle to give us a little light (Erica edit:  maybe we could singe the attackers?) We drifted off to sleep with the sounds of the African night starting to hit my paranoia bone. I could hear voices it must be the guys from earlier. I continued to peer out of the windows for the next two hours having already planned where I would be when they kicked the door in to ensure I could get the first hit in. With no head torch I couldn’t see beyond the wall outside which meant my mind played tricks to see silhouettes etc. in the end I woke Erica and told her the plan had changed as I would now have to finally try and get some sleep, I slept next to the door with my money belt with about 15 dollars in it, new plan, not worth fighting (imaginary) men who would at least be armed with machetes over $15 we might as well be ready to hand it over. I drifted off into sleep mode.
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