It never rains…

(Northern Tanzania, lot’s of Sisal..)

It never rains, it pours. Suddenly, I’m aware of the meaning of the expression, a gray blanket of clouds almost tangible to the tips of my fingers. Days and days of up-the-hill, down-the-hill.
Tractor loves mud, mud everywhere: on mudguards, tent, inches thick in the profiles of the tyres and my shoes, in my hair.
Spotted 5 freshly toppled trucks by the side of the road. Tried some towing at first, but after my cable had snapped twice and my wheels still barely hadn’t found any grip, the final score was:
One landrover ‘rescued’, a small truck a few yard away still out in the rain.

Now, while camping in my tent, rain is dripping on my shoulders. Doggie seeking shelter at my feet. Still in a rain suit.
Yes, I’m in Africa allright!
I’m heading for Dar Es Salaam in high spirits! Aiaijaaa!

Left: pushing cars in Dar es Salaam
Right: Kosovo finds friend to stay and play with..

One more night of camping in the wild and making for a huge city! What a bustle! Oops, let’s try and steer this thing and ask for directions!!
Dancing, laughing people on trucks by the side of the street. Let’s join them!

Tanga – Korogwe..

It’s late in the afternoon and I’m looking for a suitable place to set up camp. The next turn-off is mine, I decide. I spot a sandy path, and take it. A brief glance of a sign for an Aid-organisation called “World Vision”…
I’m sheer out of luck today. Shamba’s (fully planted fields) to the left and right, followed by village after village stretched along the road. The aid-orgenisation sign sticks in my mind.
And what I see is like the most tragic ‘adverts for poverty aid in Africa’ one sees: run down shacks, children wearing ragged clothing. People stare at me ?although in a friendly way, they smile. I feel pity.

A woman calls out: ‘Asante mama’ (thank you mama), what is that all about? The ride past all these dusty little houses, with all these people in front of them, takes almost an hour and a half.
It leaves a deep impression, though it also leaves me with an awkward feeling. This Africa I’m seeing is totally different than the one I was used to up until now. Poor folks… why am I thinking that thought? Maybe the Aid-sign got me carried away?

There’s just barely some dusk left when I finally find myself a quiet site, a little patch surrounded by trees, on top of a hill.
I keep getting back to those faces, thinking about those “poor African kids and adults”… I took a good look around me, and do it again, though i don’t really know why. The gardens surrounding the villages have been cultivated by the local people (they aren’t owned by a “white company”, that’s pretty obvious) but they clearly look well-organised, better than ever, and they are fully covered! Casave plants, corn, orange trees in full flowering state, coconut, cashew trees, mango, papaya, banana.
Where did I get this idea that these people are poor?

Next morning, It’s my turn to say “asante” (thank you) to people.
Thanks for letting me stay here, thanks for the peaceful night in the proximity of your homes. Everyone smiles, everyone steps outside to take a look. Women, men carrying children. And I seem to have regained some control over my thoughts.
I’m seeing small shops behind houses, a medical station, a bar, a school full of kids, I’m being invited to attend breakfast…

Traveling africa can be a deceptive thing. What looks like poverty could very well be an abundance, when viewed by a trained eye.
The ragged clothes of the children. Any mother with a brain would dress her kids in rags when they go out to play, and have the toddlers run around naked until they are properly toilet trained the natural way… “Oy, what’s this stuff running down my legs? Why is everybody laughing at me?”
This morning has altered my view on these people and their standard of life, I see houses plastered with cement, some built from stone. Beautiful green fields blossoming with anything ones heart desires. So what would “World Vision” be looking for here, I can’t help but wonder. These people seem to be doing perfectly peachy! Or maybe this is their doing, I’ve never seen gardens like this before.

Shortly after, I’m passing an office of ‘World Vision’, situated along the main road, and I decide to go in. My suspicions were true. For more than twenty years they have been working with the locals, ameliorating their way of life. World Vision helped with the application of new farming methods, creating a transport network for (for example) the thousands of oranges decorating the trees right now. It tries to unify the local farmers in order to fetch better prices for them. They teach people to think beyond local markets and their own family, and that’s a long, slow process. But I truelly like what I’m seeing.

And that takes me back to Ethiopia. Being en route to an area plagued by famine, but driving through miles and miles of green and planted fields all marked by signs saying ‘World Vision’. Then and there, it made me feel powerless. Thinking: “why don’t you move 300 kilometers, move to where people REALLY need it”. Now i find myself wondering whether those green fields were only there because of them? That would certainly boost my confidence in the world of aid programs.
I’m learning how to use my own eyes now, Africa and its daily life becomes less and less unfamiliar, details are standing out more and more. And I will keep going, asking questions, looking…

Kos and I are having a good time. Nothing to grumble about, being happy together. He races in front of the tractor when roads are getting too rough (so basically, all the time). An extrovert little character chasing every butterfly, scaring the willies out of every unsuspecting bird. The dog that still thinks there’s a possibility of befriending every goat and cow he encounters along the way!
Yippee, life is beautiful!!! The people, the animals, things…
The world!

Tractor tows!

Yippee, today was the first time I had to tow a matatu-van in Tanzania! The two of us were heading for an enourmous mass of blue-black of thunder clouds. To our right were the Usambra mountains above which appeared beams of magic sun light from time to time. For the first time in 18 months of Africa I spotted the a zebra crossing, in a tiny village with little red clay huts.
No, not a place where zebra’s cross the road, just ordinary plain white stripes painted on the road. A tremendously weird sight in the jungle and I wanted to take a picture of it, but alas. Vans to tow…