Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Arusha, Moshi and Tanga Oh My

O.K. back on line two locations from when I last posted.

First a small mea-culpa. Charla, I was so busy in Arusha that I didn't have a chance to get any photos of the clock tower or anything. And, the &%#$ Moshi club wasted so much of our single full day that any time I could have had going into town, finding your old house etc... was spent hanging out at the Honey Badger Lodge and Cultural Centre (where I was staying) for an entire morning. However, I did meet a woman who thinks she may know your mom! Remind me when I get home and I'll tell you the story.

For the rest of you... where to pick up.

Arusha is a pretty cool place. The host clubs were amazing to the point where a recent arrival to Arusha from South Africa - Wayne - basically appointed himself as our driver for three days and insisted upon taking as many of us as possible to as many places as possible.

The highlights were the Mezerani Snake Farm & Masai Cultural Centre in Mezerani. And, yes that is one location. The snake farm is basically a cheesey zooish, interpretive centre for some incredibly venomous snakes, crocodiles and incredibly, a raptor rehabilitation centre! There was an amazing grey Goshawk being rehabbed there for a broken wing and they have full intention of releasing it if at all possible. For me, holding baby crocodiles and a Rufous Beaked Snake were pretty cool.

However, one of the coolest things so far was when we got a chance to see history in the making (or in the wrapping up depending on how you look at it). We spent an entire morning at the ICTR, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. This is the UN backed tribunal that has been investigating, indicting and trying the architechts and participants of 800,000 Tutsi at the hands of the Hutuu in 1994. We got about 2 hours with one of the lead prosecutors - a Canadian from Ottawa - and then got to sit in the gallery of the trial for the former Rwandan Minister of Health. Pretty sobering place. Everywhere you walk in the building, which is huge, there are reminders ofwhy the ICTR exists and what they are hoping to achieve.

As many of you know I'm a pretty laid-back person. Not much bothers me. My Swahili at this point has progressed to the "greeting, order cold beer, where's the bathroom" stage. However, we went to this little market. I've named it "The Gauntlet Market". They sell mass-produced handi-crafts of all shape and size. However once you go through three or four stalls you realize that everybody is selling the same thing. In the rain & mud, this activity - for me anyways - got old really fast. So I'm walking along down the rows of mud & trinkets with a couple of people in each stall calling out "Brother brother come see my shop". And I'm not really interested but I'm a pretty polite person so I'm saying "Pole" (sorry), "Hapana" (no), Pole, Hapana... for about 45 minutes. I should mention that this was a group activity and I'm not a shopper at the best of times and at this point I'm now just basically waiting for the others to finish. In the rain. And the mud. And the noise. And at point point a guy reaches out of a stall grabs my arm and pulls me towards the entrance. My response was a very loud "back off", which he didn't understand and kept pulling me toward the entrance of the shop. My next response was "Toka!". At which point he dropped my arm and retreated to the dryness of the stall. Toka means essentially piss-off.

So, yeah, nobody gets anything from Arusha. Sorry.

Where to next? Oh yeah Moshi. Moshi could have been cool if someone there, who shall remain nameless, had pulled his head out of the orifice it was stuck in and actually done his job instead of stranding Bill and I at our hosts house for 1/2 a day.

Our hosts in Moshi were lovely. Dr. Peter is a retired translator. He's a Phd in Psychology and a Phd in Theology. His wife is Mama Lucy. Together they run the Honey Badger Lodge and Campground. Now, the really great part is that they use the profits from Honey Badger to run their own school called the Second Chance Academy. It's a school that gives children who've failed their Standard 7 exams another chance to move on. In Tanzania if you fail your standard 7's, the government is officially done with you. Imagine having your education cut out from under you at 12 years old!. Anyways, they treated us like royalty, insisted we eat in their home and toured us through the school. I gave Mama 200 pencils for the kids, for which I was blessed, hugged, kissed on the both cheeks by all 300lbs of her.

The afternoon we did get to spend out was up at the trailhead of the Marangu route for Kilimanjar. This was kinda bittersweet for me. I loved being on the base of the mountain but really really wanted to be amongst the people heading up. Something to plan for in the future. We did walk down to the Marangu waterfall which was very cool. Of course, if there's a fast flowing river with the potential for a semi-dry crossing I'm going to take that chance. So, I deftly hopped across the first 2/3 of the stones, doing quite well, when of course I missed one and ended up somewhere between my ankles and knees in the Marangu river. That combined with the wind and spray coming off the falls meant that my ride back to Moshi was wet and cold. Great photos though!

Good bye Moshi. Good bye un-named jackass. Hello Tanga. Acutally, hello over-crowded, hot, smelly 4 hour bus ride to Segera. In Segera I was the first of the five of us off the bus, jumped down into a screaming crowd of people all of whom either wanted to sell me a bag of oranges or steal my backpack. Let me tell ya, when you're in that situation and a perfect stranger calls your full name, you follow them! The name shouter was the President of the Tanga Rotary Club who had done his homework and memorized our names and faces. Getting the bags from the bus to their trucks was an exercise is hand to hand combat. In the space of 8 feet we had to push, shove & shoulder block just to hang on to our bags. And that was with the Rotarians helping.

Tanga was very cool! Our hosts had actually read our profiles and so split us up for vocational visits. We got to spend time with people we were interested in and had things in common with. For me that meant about three hours with at group called SEMMA (Sustainable Environmental Management through Mariculture Activities). They word with women and men to set them up in business that are environmentally sound, profitable and easily managed. Their two big projects are kelp cultivation for the pharmaceutical industry and Mud Crab fattening. Very impressed with them.

The rest of our stay in Tanga was spent touring old German ruins and buildings. They have an active historical preservation society called Urithi that is attempting to stave off building demolition and redevelopment in favour of reclaiming old buildings and making them suitable for modern use.

Kaden and Ainsley also got pen pals out of Tanga. My hosts have three little girls that were thrilled with the idea of trading letters with a couple of Canadian kids.

And finally, today we flew to Zanzibar. Also known as the best place in the world. I may just tell Shan to sell the house, cars, furniture etc... bring the kids and move here. Flying into Zanzibar from Tanga was um interesting. We flew a 12 seat, single propeller, Cesna 280 which seemed to jump around with every tiny breath of a crosswind. Dana called her pre-departure photos her "Tell my mom I love her" shots.

But here we are. The girls are staying in the burbs of Stone Town while Bill and I are right in the heart of Stone Town. We're in a two-floor, three story walkup that's been around since the early 1800's. My "room" is actually the covered, open terrace above the courtyard. Stone Town is so immensley tight that you can barely get one car down the inside streets. We walked around the old town tonight, had a drink on the beach at the edge of the Indian ocean and then back up through the winding alleys and coral sand walls.

Th th that's all folks. At least for now. We're in Stone Town for two nights and then across Zanzibar to Jambiani for four days of sun and ver few official responsibilities. Can't imagine what we might get up to.

1 comment:

Sparroweye said...

I would love to see a Goshawk.
Did it look like this one on Tasmania. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nuytsia_pix/453583847/