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Rungwe Tea Plantation

27th October 2010

In the afternoon we are driven to a plantation that provides Fairtrade tea for the UK market.

As we are leaving the hotel, an open van speeds past so tightly packed with chanting young men that there isn't even room for an extra sheet of paper.

I have no idea what they are upset about. It looks like they are heading for a demo where the fists might fly.

One thing is for sure: They don't like us.

One of them spits at our truck. Even though the episode lasts maybe lasts 30 seconds, I can still see his face, eyes bulging, spittle around his mouth.

We are clearly not the target of this mob, but it gives me a glimpse of the other side of Africa where rebel armies may enter a town.

None of the locals have paid any attention to the truck. Wonder whether it's normal to see vans full of shouting, angry men...

We spent 1 hour walking through the tea plantation. The path goes up and down, up and down, and the afternoon sun is still buring.

At first we don't see any workers, and I wonder whether tea is only picked early in the morning when it is still cool.

Tea can be picked all year round and only the young leaves are chosen. However, a bush that has just been picked needs to be left alone for a while (12 days?)

The teabushes were planted by the Germans in 1902, so must be pretty hardy and resilient.

We turn a corner and see women on the opposite slope, stooping down to cut the leaves, which fall into a plastic container which is then poured into a large wicker basket on their back. The basked can hold up to 15 kg of trees.

They work rapidly and the rhythmic snip-snip of the scirrors sounds like clapping.

They walk up and down those slopes from 8am in the morning to 5pm in the evening – and I cannot see a single man working on the slopes. I am beginning to wonder whether „Hakuna Matata“ is the men's slogan. It's easy for them to have no worries, as their women take care of everything...

When we come back I enjoy a read in the tent. It's a treat because the tent is cool for a change, and as we are further east, I have 1 hour extra reading light. (Part of me now wishes I'd walked into town with the other women, especially as the town doesn't seem to see a lot of tourists.)

Posted by TTraveller 01:16 Archived in Tanzania

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