. We also visited a refugee camp which was host to thousands of Burundian citizen’s who fled their home land and have been displaced here for more than 25 years due to internal wars. It was an enjoyable time and one made even more so with the company of new friends. We left relaxed a little more educated and strangely confident about reaching Kigoma without any further problems on the dirt track. We left early knowing that we once again needed to beat the sun. It wasn’t long until our newly acquired confidence was shoved back into the cupboard under the stairs and locked away. The dirt had turned into mud and our bikes struggled to push through. It was going to take 4 days and 100% determination to finish this stretch and to be honest after recent events I don’t think neither of us were prepared or willing to contribute 50% determination let alone 100%. We cycled, we stopped, we laughed, we sat silent, we ate sitting in mud, we really couldn’t imagine things getting worse until we cycled into the middle of a rain forest skirting the edge of Western Tanzania. So now not only were we hungry, tired, unsociable and dreaming of a warm bed back home, we were also soaked through and watched our already water drench road turn into a complete sludge pit and river. It was lunchtime on this particular day in the rain forest and so we had no other option than to sit it out with rain continually pouring. Our blue tarpaulin sheet gave us enough shelter from the rain to clear the mist above our heads and eat our lunch together in silence because neither of us knew what to say to each other
. The cycle was becoming a solo mission as the mental aspect of the trip took over. We really needed to focus and not think too much about what if’s and luxuries that no longer existed. We needed to think of 10km here and 10km there so that we were not surprised when nothing arrived apart from more mud and more sludge. Lunch was only short lived as we were desperate to find a place to rest and knew that if we didn’t leave quickly the roads would become completely impassable and we would have to sit it out until the Tanzania Sun dried up road. I found myself cycling into deep mud I knew was almost impossible to cycle through only because I knew that if I couldn’t cycle through it I would have to push my bike through it. I inevitably got stuck a few times and had to put a foot down to balance myself resulting in slime rushing into my trainers and my bike slipping further into the mess. I can only describe it as a waterlogged farmer’s field and you’re stuck in the middle of it without wellingtons in the rain. You try to walk through slowly knowing that it is inevitable you will soak your shoes and drench your trousers but you begin optimistic. Then once you are completely soaked and your shoes ruined you become numb to the feeling of sludge between your toes and a shirt sticking to your back so you carelessly trudge forward in a straight line to the nearest sign of the end. This was the stage Tom and I were at towards the end of the day. I slowly approached around a bend to see Tom stopped a little way up the track. I continued towards him and noticed a large puddle covering the entire span of the road. Being at the latter stage of the waterlogged field scenario I carelessly pushed on deep into mud and quickly found myself between a bullet and a target. Basically I was in bad shape either way you look at it. I dropped a foot into the deep watery dirt and considered my options. A) Push forward through the mud and then into the puddle which I was relying on being shallow as this was my shortest distance? Or B) Turn back and push my bike out towards shallower mud the way I had came in? I had become so fixated on just going straight through that I hadn’t become aware of the ledge that ran along the side of the track
. It wasn’t until Tom shouted 'Pete! Use the ledge on the side of the road. You won’t get through I have already tried!’ that I noticed another option. C) Push my bike out of the muddy road and cycle past the huge puddle on the ledge? It was getting late now and so a safe place to rest was needed. Tom appeared to be collecting a souvenir of mud in his shoes for back home and was almost out of water too so we needed a water supply. Luckily we saw a mobile phone mast just ahead which in previous experience has provided us with a latrine, shelter and hopefully now water. We were in Luck as the guard who lives in the hut to protect the running of the generators here had plenty of spare water for Tom to filter and re-fill. 3 telecom engineers were also around and they handed us a handful of mangos each. We thanked them for their help and cycled a little further up the road in search of place to sleep. A piece of flat land just of the road and risen enough so that it couldn’t flood if the rains continued was located and we pitched our tent. Conversation was short that night but neither of us spoke much about the terrible day we had just had. We continued in the same fashion the next day but were happy to find some of the road had hardened during the morning sun. A lunch break was had under a tree on the dry dirt but had to be aborted due to Bees threatening to sting us. We were just shy of Uvinza our next stop and so pushed on with a fresh amount of sun cream. We got a room with a bed and had a bucket bath with warm water to sooth our muddy and achy bodies
. The next day saw us reach Kasulu with minor problems again but with fear of the Burundian border bandits who had recently been targeting buses moving on this particular road and were not afraid to use weapons. We luckily didn’t bump into any but instead were surrounded by a mix of extremely friendly Tanzanian and Burundian’s alike. We only had one more day left now until Kigoma and so we got going. We struggled over the last few hills and then saw the most magnificent thing we had ever seen in our lives. A tarmac road! It was beautiful and was the indicator that we had now finished the last of the 800km of dirt and mud and now would continue on solid ground connecting us all the way to Kenya. We celebrated with a soda and spoke out about the past few weeks for the first time. We glided all the way into Kigoma our ending to Tanzania and a beautiful one as it is situated on Lake Tanganyika the world’s longest and second deepest fresh water lake in the world. With Tanzania now complete we smiled for the first time since encountering the muddy road and soaked up the beautiful surroundings of Kigoma before our next challenge, the mountain regions and recent Genocide troubled countries of Burundi and Rwanda.
Tom and I stayed in Mpanda for a little longer than expected due to 2 final year student Doctors called Sarah and Kevin arriving at our hotel one evening. Sarah explained about their work in the local district hospital and offered to show us around. It was a nice sized hospital for Mpanda but small for a complete district hospital. It is the only hospital in the entire district of Mpanda which covers a huge area. Naturally the hospital is over run and the staff battle to keep up with good patient care. It has however seen some donations from wealthy European visitors over the years which appeared to be slightly useless. The donated medical machines were far to advanced for the staff here to operate including many expensive surgical machines that take years of specialist training in the UK and so were left untouched, covered under sheets to prevent dust building up. Sarah couldn't understand why this was considered an appropriate way to spend thousands of pounds when the hospital could really do with upgrades from the bottom up