Adventure no 2!

Trip Start Aug 10, 2006
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18
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Trip End Oct 16, 2006


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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Sunday, October 1, 2006

In 3 days I think I have done more since my Mum and Aunt arrived from England than I have in 8+ weeks! With only a week to visit me here we are squashing in everything that is a 'must do' in North East Tanzania. We went to the hospital and caused havoc by giving the children bouncy balls and soft footballs - but it was lovely to see them smile and playing, it gets very boring for the children on the wards sitting in their beds sometimes for weeks on end. The walls are plain with no pictures and the floors are grey - just mosquito nets hanging above the beds. The hospital is very dark and dingy, with few windows and long corridors ( a bit like home!! except here is cleaner!). They work so hard cleaning the hospital from top to bottom every day, even taking off the windows to scrub them and moving all the beds. The neonate unit here is such a contrast from home; the babies are nursed in wooden boxes - kept warm from a light placed underneath. Even the premature ones dont have access to incubators simply because there are none here - the babies can be so small - even the size of a hand, their wrists no thicker than your little finger. They are fed with a nasogastric tube which is passed through their nose and into their stomachs.

Visiting the Amani childrens home on Friday (www.amanikids.org), we went for lunch with the street children - which consisted of rice and beans to be eaten with your hands! A tricky thing to master but the children just shovel it in! They eat so much despite being so small and even finished off our platefuls for us! The ladies cook on big cauldrons in the courtyard - enough to feed 100 odd children. They grow vegetables themselves aswell as having pigs in a cage and hundreds of chickens!! It was great fun to attend classes with the children - in English and Swahili. The teachers do a good job teaching those who cannot attend the mainstream school because of having to drop out or never having attended due to financial constraints. It is supposed to be free in Tanzania to go to primary school - but that is forgetting the school uniform, books/ pens etc and lunch fees. Secondary school is $40 a year in tuition fees which is too much for many Tanzanians. At the childrens home the kids do all their own washing and take it in turn to do chores such as the washing up and sweeping the floor after a rather messy lunch (fight!). Counting pencils as children leave lessons is a novelty - to stop them selling them! Some even break one pencil up into many pieces and hand them in at school to get a new one pretending that its finished!

There is a 'helping hands' programme online where people can sponsor a child - they write to you and send you photos etc which is a brilliant and reliable way that Amani can count on being supported. Through this they are now in the process of buying land and building their own childrens centre - a much bigger one than they now rent, where the children will no longer have to sleep 3,4 or 5 to a bed but may have the luxury of their own! Their rooms are small, dark and crowded - and the nurse works out of a converted shower cubicle!! When it rains the home just turns to a quagmire with all the mud... but it is a safe place where the children can seek refuge from the cruelty of the streets or abusive families - no one is turned away as long as they can squash into a bed!

Moshi town is one of the main towns in North Tanzania. It has paved streets most of the time and is a hustling bustling town. Ladies sell fruit by the sides of the road and at the market - which is all piled up in pyramids - even the smallest of fruits and the fish! It is quite amusing to see shoes and socks - even bras sold by the side of the road (needless to say covered in dust!) with all the dalla dallas (sardine squashing human transportation vehicles!) racing by where the ancient taxis stand waiting for their customers. There are a couple of supermarkets here - one is Aleems grocery run by an arab. He ships in things from dubai and further abroad - you can even but Heinz baked beans! Mr Price lives up to its name - its pricey but you can get sausages there. We dont eat much meat here because of the power shortages and after seeing where it is sold covered in flies.... easy to be a vegetarian. The staple diet here is Ugali (stiff white porridge) which is made from maize. It is eaten with your hands - you pound it into a ball, then make a hole to scoop up the sauce which is normally beef stew. Most Tanzanians live on either ugali or rice and beans. The Masai (pastural nomad tribe of North Tanzania and Kenya) eat their cows/ goats and drink blood and milk - not many vegetables for them!

I have been very priveledged to go on safari not once but twice! For the last 2 days with my mother and aunt to Lake Manyara in the rift valley (which stretches from Jordan to Mozambique) and Ngorongoro crater. Typical luck though - it rained and was really foggy for some of the time!!! However it didnt stop us seeing the animals; elephants, water buffalo, giraffes, baboons, lions, wildebeest, zebras, warthogs etc and lots of birds - flamingos, pelicans, maribu storks and many others. We even saw vultures eating an elephant carcass which was very pungent but such a rarity to see!! The environment here in africa is so diverse - from rainforests to mountains and vast plains. Unlike how it is portrayed on the television!! It was even quite cold and rainy... not good for the tan! There are some rather colourful monkeys with red and blue private parts who were parading around in the trees dancing on show for us!

The highlight of our safari trip was visiting a Masai village near Mto Wa Mbu - what an amazing experience! The one village was just for one man and his 8 wives! It seems there is a shortage of men in Tanzania so each must take as many wives as there are spare! The Masai wear cloths (red for men and blue for women) and massive bead necklaces, the ladies earrings also are big. They performed several traditional dances for us as well as singing songs. The ladies make the huts where the people live out of cow dung, ashes and mud - a bit like the old wattle and daub tudor houses. Inside they are really dark - it was hard to see until our eyes adjusted. Their beds are made from leather stretched out on wooden sticks. The children were so adorable - all sat on a wooden bench playing.
One of the masai men wanted to marry me so I now have a Tanzanian husband....wonder how many cows I am worth!!
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