A Travellerspoint blog

Not liars us, we *are* coming home & invitation to join us

We've just booked some flights:

Ethiopia on 30th December
Dave is flying to London on the 31st January
Rachel is flying to London on the 14th February

That's Christmas in Jinja, My birthday in Kampala and new year in Addis Abiba then, blimey.

If anyone would like to join us in Ethiopia drop us a line. We're planning on a few treks and general bumbling around some history.

Posted by rachndave 06:05 Comments (0)

Goodbye Malawi, Hello Tanzania

Rachel - Malawi to Dar es Salaam

It’s been a very long time since I wrote, we’ve been off the beaten track a bit. When we have had access to internet it has been to sort out flights to ethiopia and home.

So where were we? Oh yes, we’d just said goodbye to the lake and were heading off with two young Australian sisters towards the Tanzanian border. We had a lot of distance to cover that day but all went smoothly apart from a moment on the bridge when unfortunately both sisters at once we robbed on the bridge while inadvisably trying to change money with the dodgy types on the (literal) bridge between the border posts. Once they realised they were being short changed in the transaction the men hopped over the bridge barriers and made off with what they had already handed over. Bad moment. But not really much anyone could do so we loaned them some cash to get over the border and the rest of the journey was uneventful.

I can’t help like borders though. You need to be on your guard all the time and be careful about any kind of helpful advice or assistance offered. I think that’s why I like them though, if you make it through it feels like you’ve passed a test. Things are rough of course, and I certainly wouldnt want to stay overnight in a border town but there’s a certain energy about them and when you hear the stamp in your passport it produces a special unique thrill of relief and anticipation.

My first impression of Tanzania compared to Malawi was how much noisier it was, and it’s obviously richer. The houses have tin rooves, there are more cars and motorcycles rather than bikes, people are wearing shirts and trousers with no holes, houses are multi story, water is sold to buses in bottles and not little lastic bags. And the landscape is hillier, the earth is brown and not red.

We had, by phone, reserved a place on the overnight train from the west coast of tanzania to the east coast and arrived at the station early to pick up our tickets and lucky we did because after a lengthy wrestle in the arse-to-crotch shoulder-to-ear squeezy-inny argy-bargy leany-over-wavy-papers queue we told that the booking couldnt be found and it took some hours to sort out a place but since we had a 6 hour wait for the delayed train it was no problem really and it meant we all got to experience the queue and hone that technique (I find shoulder placement is key). So we boarded with all our things and bags of extra provisions we picked up in the markets outside: mangoes, bananas, avacados, bread, sachets of booze...

It was dark when we boarded but when we woke the next day I made for the restaurant car, bought byself a beer to nurse (the liquid equivalent of a towel over the sunloungers), and stared greedily out the window for 4 hours solid. And I saw LOTS of green (but let me tell you now in hindsight that i thought *this* was green but Uganda actually blows Tanzania’s greenery out of the water because in Uganda you can’t even see through to the colour of the earth it’s that dense with vegetation): short grassy green, long grassy green, thin wavy green, lush flappy green , tall green , shimmery green, matt green, frondy green, bushy leaved green, wide leaved green... with the occasional red or yellow leaved tree to break it up :) But mostly it was small overlapping hills which would arrange themselves every now and again to make an open areas – and the odd dry riverbeds which, you may have guessed, were carpeted in green grasses. I only saw a few small groups of three or four huts so the main interest other than drinking in all that green were stations where people would parade past with large dried fish, plantain, mangoes, bread, cooked chicken, dried rice, bananas, water, beef kebabs on sticks, ricecakes, sugar cane, peanuts and occasionally random non edible goods in portable glass cabinets strangely. This all more evidence that Tanzania is better off, by Malawian standards of course.

The landscape eventually flattened out as we started to approach the national park and into more typical game park savanna land which was beautiful as the sun started to set. We had been delayed so much we only just entered the park in daylight so we only managed to see a few antelope and some picked cleaned remains of some prey of some kind ,but it was just enough of a taster for savanna for me.

After dark a big group of us took over the restaurant car for some poker which lasted well into the small hours when the train pulled into Dar es Salaam and our first proper city in months. Time to hit the (paved) streets!

Posted by rachndave 05:19 Archived in Tanzania Tagged landscapes trains borders Comments (0)

All is well by the lake

Just a quick note to let you know we're alive. we've not really stopped rushing or travelling for a few weeks. We're in Uganda now. We had a lovely few days in gorgeous Zanzibar (it does exist after all), been on a ferry to reach Uganda (it's soooo green here, and rather cold actually), been up a volcano, hiked 4 hours and 4 hours back to see Gorillas (yes we finally decided we couldnt really *not* do it) and now we're chilling out on an a lake island which has cheeeeeese, and aubergines, and goulash - and tonight we're watching an actual film...bliss. it's been so nice we've stayed an extra day but tomorow we're off to try and crack open the IN.PENETR.ABLE forest.

Thinking a lot about Christmas and home. I hear it's all a bit snowy over there. Jealous. We're thinking of hiking some mountains for 6 days and there's snow up the top apparently so i'll try chuck a snowball your way x x x

Hope you're all well. Rach.

Posted by rachndave 10:00 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

Quick update - in Tanzania

We're in Dar es Salaam at the moment, it's really nice to be in a big city again. Heading to Zanzibar tomorrow which frankly I thought was a made up place shared with Timbuktu and Outer Mongolia. Very excited!

Hoping the 4 wheel drivers might read this and be in Tanzania which was always a long shot would love to hear from you

being kicked out of the internet cafe now, excuse the brevity

Posted by rachndave 12:41 Archived in Tanzania Comments (1)

Redress the balance

Rachel

This experience is absolutely the best and biggest thing I’ve ever done but it would been unfair representation if I didn’t admit that it has its more wearing side. I certainly couldn’t do this forever. I’m not keen to get back just yet but I know when I do I’ll be happy to be home.

People suggest in emails from home that they are reluctant to tell me their news because it somehow wouldn’t be interesting in comparison. Let me assure you that the more you’re away from home the more you appreciate the deeper relationships you have at home – and part of that depth is knowing the details of your loved one’s lives. They were interesting before, why wouldn’t they be interesting now?

In some ways I miss the small details of my own life – I feel like I’m living in headlines statements at the moment and while that’s what I signed up for and am thoroughly enjoying it’s a strange thing at the same time.

So I thought I’d share with you some of the tiring things about travelling to balance the scales a little

  • Having the same conversations over and over again
  • Never having time to get to know people properly, or too much forced time with people you don’t really have anything in common with
  • Squeaky doors in dorms :)
  • Rarely having any privacy
  • Being a constant focus of attention immediately you step out the door
  • Constant communication misunderstandings and sometimes inexplicable struggles to understand and be understood
  • Battling for fair treatment in any kind of service or trade situation
  • Remembering to handwash every few days and finding some way to do that
  • Rarely having more than one nights in the same bed and having to stay packed
  • Rarely being able to eat what you fancy when you fancy
  • An awful lot all conversations with resident people end in, or indirectly contain, some kind of request or sales pitch which makes it difficult to know how far to enter into any kind of conversation and cheapens earlier getting-to-know-you chit chat
  • Never remembering where the lightswitch is
  • Always knowing you’ll have to get dressed and hike to the shared bathroom in the middle of the night if you wake up

None of these (or even the entire combination thereof) are reason for you not to do this sort of thing yourself or myself again in the future cos I’m loving it. And some of these things I knew would be the case in advance but the reality is of course in emotional 3D. The thing I’ve come to realise is that the reason I have a *home* is that the inherent life-shortcuts I create by surrounding myself by the ultra-familiar is that I can concentrate instead on the more important/interesting details of my life and the lives of others…and not knock into tables looking for the lightswitch.

Posted by rachndave 12:39 Archived in Malawi Tagged observations Comments (0)

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