Lost and wondering...

Moshi Travel Blog

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hours and hours of walking across places like this in the burning sun

Near misses

I arrived back at the house after my project one afternoon and decided my beard was getting too long and too ginger, so I would have a shave. The little battery powered electric razor I had brought with me was fresh out of its packaging for the first time. Within barely 5 minutes it was in the bin. Instead of trimming, it seemed to pull clumps of hair out of my face before becoming blocked, so I decided to wet shave with the travel razor kit I brought with me. A matter of seconds later it snapped and I was left sore, angry and looking pretty stupid. So I announced I was going to look for the local supermarket (20 minutes away, just go left, right, left, right, left then right and you are there).

relaxing at the pub with some of the other volunteers
Anya, one of the other volunteers wanted to come too, so we set off. We followed the instructions we were given to the letter, and after an hour or so, we stumbled across it. We loaded up on big heavy bottles of water and then set off back, laughing off the idea of getting a taxi thinking it would be much easier to find our way back. Another hour later we were lost. Boiling hot, knackered in in the sun and in pain from walking in flip-flops across rocky, sandy tracks, I stopped to pick a stone out of my foot. At that point Anya turned around, looked up and screamed. I looked up, expecting to see a bee or something, and saw a herd of bulls charging straight at us. We leapt out of the way and watched the herd sprint past, being goaded on by two Masaii hitting them with big sticks. Terrified, we stopped to gather ourselves to see the Masaii laughing uncontrollably, and a car pulled up, wound down his window and pointed and laughed at us. Stupid Mzungus.



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Today we were all to start our projects. We set off in groups and waked out into the ‘resedential’ areas. They are kind of suburbs, with slums. Buildings made of all sorts of things – some concrete and bricks, some corrugated steel, some made with ramshackle bits of wood and some mud huts. Very real poverty is strewn across the place, people have so little, living in conditions that simply don’t exist in the wester world. We saw the people going about their lives, doing everything ouside – cooking, washing clothes, sewing, carving etc. Often simply sitting and staring, watching the world go by. We walked for miles in the burning heat, smiling and waving, children everywhere. When we arrived at the first of the projects, a primary school, we were swamped by a crowd of beautiful, smiling children in pink and blue uniforms. Aged from about 2 to 6ish, they were just so happy to see us and grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go. They danced and cheered when they had their photo’s taken and were completely overjoyed to see themselves on the little digital screen. It was so difficult to tear ourselves away from them, but we had other projects to get to. We dropped people off at more schools with loads of wonderful kids just as excited to see us as the first. Others went to womens groups, where they were to show ways of making a living for them. The women were all so grateful we were there and the warm feeling continued to build in me. After 3 exhausting hours of walking around the slums of Moshi, we finally reached my project. It kind of appeared like an allotment in the UK, but with much more colour and life to it. We met the ‘head’ of our project, Mr Oreo and his family. He explained to us their aims and the history of his society and made us (a canadian guy called Nick who is on my project for 3 months and me) feel very welcome. He explained that the land was part of his home and that the project was run by him and his family plus a few friends. After the introduction and a chat, we left to meet up with the other volunteers. We all talked about our projects, how we were fitting into African life etc. That evening we went to the pub. With beers just 1000 Tsh (about 40p or just under $1) I can see his being a regular thing. That and the fact that it is literally at the end of the garden.


Okay, because I am falling behinf and I knw you wont want to read about everything that I get up to, from nw on you will be getting the highlights.

The Hostel

From the outside it looked very secure, almost fort-like. The massive sheet steel gates were opened by Zak, one of the Masaii watchmen. The security here is provided by a number of Masaii warriors, complete with traditional robes and giant machete. I found it quite astounding that I had been in the country less than 45 minutes and I had already seen my first machete. TIA as they say. Luckily I arrived at dinner time and introduced myself to a few of the other volunteers. Everyone seemed friendly and it turned out there was to be quite a large number of volunteers starting that weekend. Dinner consisted of rice, green, some cabbage thing and some reddy-brown. I am afraid I can’t describe it better than that. After dinner I had a quick (but very necessary) shower then went to the local pub with some of the others. I had a few beers, shared a few stories and experiences, then headed back and clambered under my mosquito net into bed and fell fast asleep.

The next morning I woke to the sound of a roosters call. I discovered that they kept chickens in the compound next door. It was early, so I decided to get up while it was quiet and have a look around. I wondered upstairs and out onto the balcony and looked out. I actually did a real double take and had to pinch myself, as the view that faced me was stunning. There stood Kilimanjaro in all its glory. From the plane it looked awesome, but like you would see it on tv, sort of 2D, but from here it was utterly mesmerising. A few photos and lots of contented staring later, I head downstairs for breakfast. Peanut butter on toast for me, as I couldn’t eat the local super-fresh banana they laid on (I have an allergy to bananas. Crazy, I know, but one that seems to have been handed down generations in my family). Later we had our orientation – A quick run-down of  how to act, do’s and don’ts, some some info on projects, visas and work permits and a chance to meet the other volunteers. It turns out there are loads of us (about 16) and all but a handful have just arrived. We took a stroll into town (Moshi) and that is where my ‘real’ life in Africa started. I expected people to stare, I expected the heat, I expected the mental driving, crazy busses and harassment by street sellers. I did not expect the welcome we got. To say people were friendly would not begin to describe it. Everyone smiled, shouted hello (or more frequently Jambo, habari, mambo and other Swahili greetings) waved and really made us feel welcome. Children (and this is the truth without exagerration or embellishment) ran up to us to hold our hands, ‘high 5’ or merely walk with us. It was such a wonderful feeling, instantly making me so glad I came.  The rest of the day we wondered around, chatted, went for a meal and then to the pub. Dinner that night was a selection of more brown and green, one which had some form of meat in it (nominally chicken, but who really knows?). The rest of the evening was spent at the pub. After a few ‘Tusker’s, ‘Kilimanjaro’s and ‘Safari’s I called it a day.

sunshinegetsmehigh says:
Did you go as part of a group or organization? I can't remember.
Posted on: Jan 16, 2008
hours and hours of walking across …
hours and hours of walking across…
relaxing at the pub with some of t…
relaxing at the pub with some of …
photo by: joseph98