A Travellerspoint blog

Journey to Kenyan border

7th November 2010

We are on the road again – for the last time...

We leave at 6am, and I am glad to get away from the campsite – too many women vying for 3 toilets, 2 showers and 1 washing-basin... Finding toilet paper became a treasure hunt...

I thought it would be really noisy during the night and feared a repeat of Kande beach when I found a woman in the bathroom shaving her legs and putting on her make-up for an expected party, but it remained relatively quiet – as quiet as it can be when there is a bar and about 100 people...

We drive back through Arusha and then through the Mount Mehu foothills, where the landscape reminds me of the Scottish highlands. We even end up in the fog!

The only thing that destroys the illusion is yet another bumpydibum road that seems to go on forever – actually it only ends at the Kenyan border.

I am sure one day the journey between Tanzania and Kenya will run really smoothly...

Posted by TTraveller 07:11 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Buying drinks the Massai way

6th November 2010

AH is in saving mode, so we go to a local bar to get him a beer. He is doing quite well with his Swaheli, but then gets stuck when the girl behind the bar doesn’t give him the expected 500 Shillings change.

There is a lot of wild gesturing during this impassee. A young Massai girl and I watch in fascination. We can’t help laughing, even though neither of us has really a clue what is going on.

A former barman from the Snake Park has to come to our rescue. He explains that AH will only get his change when he brings back the bottle.

The beer was meant for tomorrow, but AH now decides to drink it on the spot. He can now have the satisfaction that he saved... about 30 cents (20 pence)! Men!

Posted by TTraveller 07:09 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Snake taming

6th November 2010

While I am writing my notes, I keep thinking about the snakes and my initial goal to come back from the journey a more courageous and bold traveller.

Doesn’t this call for a high note? Like me handling that harmless snake?

When I go back to the section where the snakes are kept, there are lots of school children mingling about, but no snake or carer in sight.

I feel a mixture of relief and disappointment, but AH tracks down the carer who brings the snake specifically out for me. It had already been put away for the night.

So no pressure then, especially with my audience of school kids who seem to like snakes as little as I.

The handler guides my hands and instructs me to hold the snake just below the head before he lets go. The snake does not move. It is muscular and quite heavy.

I am happy to hand the snake back, moving or not moving, but then I am told to put the snake around my neck...

Now I definitely did not ask for this! A snake in my face – ok, close to my face! Yet once again I agree to take it one step further.

The handler drapes the snake like a necklace around my neck and once again instruct me where to hold the head. Once again the snake stays completely still. I think the story would have been different if I had let go of the head, but sorry, folks, this really is for braver people!

Posted by TTraveller 05:12 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Massai Village Walk

6th November 2010

A very different experience from 2 days ago!

First, there is an impressive little museum, show-casing how the Massai live.

I find their culture extremely challenging. There is the issue of polygamy. The chief in the village we visit has 9 wives and 63 kids. The husband has to be able to afford to keep each wife and her kids in their own house. Otherwise he can marry as many wives as he fancies.

Then there is male circumcision, with the boy being cast out from his society forever should he blink, let alone shed a tear, during the procedure which is done without anaesthetic. (If I understand it correctly, the procedure is now contributing to the spread of Aids, as the same knife is used on all the boys...)

I think back of some of the Massai I saw in Zanzibar and wonder whether they were „cast-offs.“ One fellow traveller tells me she was propositioned three times by pretty Massai boys while walking around alone...

Then there is the issue of female circumcision, which is officially outlawed, yet our guy almost casually mentions that it is still practiced.

I take a deep breath and ask why men and women are circumcised: „The man, for health, the woman, to make sure she stays with her man.“

I find it really hard not to comment on the notion that circumcision will keep a woman faithful, but I know I won’t have a chance to properly engage in dialogue with someone from a culture that is so alien to my own.

I am glad we are not offered cows milk mixed with cow’s blood, a real speciality! (The cow isn’t killed in the process, but loses about 3 litres of blood.)

The village is only a short distance away – this time it really is only a 10 minutes‘ walk! – but the walk is still pretty exhausting. It’s hot, despite the clouds hanging overhead, and the sand underneath my feet keeps slowing me down.

We pass women building a traditional house. The frame is made from branches and sticks, but the mortar is made of mulch, water and cowdung. Maybe there are other ingredients, but the cowdung settled it for me. I’m not going to go near that stuff! (One of my fellow travellers later helps out briefly and says the mixture has quite a grassy, fresh smell for poo. For her efforts, she is told that a man would have to pay 30 rather than 10 cows...)

As soon as we get near the village, we are surrounded by kids. Dirty hands grab our hands and want to be swung. Others are fascinated by our watches and love to press the buttons on our camera.

I end up giving away by plastic watch to a woman who has just given birth to a daughter who she apparently named Louisiana or another very American name. (Big step for me, by the way, to rely on someone else’s sense of time for the rest of the hols!).

There would have been too much fighting going on if I had given the watch directly to the kids.

On the way back, two school girls are practicing their English: „Good afternoon, mother.“ That’s the only words they seem to know, but one of them seems to need a pair of shoes.

Just what I happen to have brought in my plastic bag!

She keeps giggling and laughing as I had her the beige shoes. She has probably never worn closed lightweight shoes before...

I am also keen to support the Massai women selling goods in their huts, but the items feel touristy and mass-produced, and there is nothing I really like.

However, when I go into the museum shop I find a modern, „arty“ bead necklace. It’s quite pricey at US$25, but it supports both the hospital and the disabled people who are making it, so I am happy to pay western prices.

Posted by TTraveller 05:12 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)


6th November 2010

We are confronted with every snake that is found in Tanzania and a very enthusiastic carer, who loves all snakes.

Let’s just say that I don’t share his enthusiasm, especially when I read some of the descriptions: A security guy who fell asleep was swallowed whole by a python. (Our security guard in Kande beach clearly never heard that story...) Then there are all the poisonous snakes that cause nerve damage at best and instant death at worst.

Ok, some snakes are completely harmless and are useful for pest control. And many snakes have a really pretty, intricate pattern, but nothing will encourage me to like one of those creatures!

All I am prepared to do is briefly touch a harmless grass (?) snake. It feels like leather that has warmed up in the sun, rather than cold and slimy as I expected.

I still decline the invitation to pick it up, whereas AH is more than happy to play with the snake.

Yes, I admit it. Even after 3 weeks in Africa, I am still a control freak, and I don’t like the idea of the snake slithering wherever it pleases.

I am so grateful that I never saw a snake out in the wild...

Posted by TTraveller 05:10 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

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