It started out like any ordinary day on the tractor. I woke up at a campsite in the bush, a quarry located near a cluster of shacks. I played around with the dog, packed the tent on top of my travel case and floored the pedal…
Halfway through the day, I’m taking a short break. I’m sitting on the ‘nose’ of the tractor and I’m making some alterations to the huge flower-patterned blouse that Mama Lati offered me as a present.
From the moment that I’ve been wearing that blouse, people have begun reacting more direct and extrovert. ‘Look here, it’s a girl! On a tractor!’ Now and then I get the occasional surprised finger pointing upward from an old lady, probably meaning something like ‘how unladylike’. But again and again, the finger is replaced by a great smile! A meaningful smile. A waving arm, a thumbs-up. And I reply every time, or smile back. There’s nothing more contagious than spontaneity and smiles.
So I’m peacefully sitting on my tractor with a needle and thread. I’m waiting. A bus pulls to a halt in front of me, and I look up.
Dozens of people are getting off it. I’m looking them over, but I don’t recognize any of ‘m. People walk off into the bushes, or visit the toilet. The bus driver approaches me. Asks me what I’m doing, where I’m from. He laughs. His stopover was a purely impulsive action. He wanted to know why there was a girls sitting on a tractor. I’m surrounded by people, smiling and asking questions. The bus takes off again, people waving through the windows.
So it’s back to sitting next to the dog, on the hood of the tractor, surrounded by never-ending nature, with my sewing kit.
Half an hour goes by, and perfectly timed: the blouse is done and another bus stops by. Twenty metres in front of me, a person somehow manages to eject himself from it, dragging along a backpack. This month I’ll be traveling with a fellow theatre maker, who’ll be assisting me with my film project.
The bus honks and waves, the dog freaks and the tractor has another passenger. The coming month, the right mud guard will be occupied too, and I’ll be sitting in the middle.
It’s strange to realize: Daan got up out of bed yesterday morning in Holland, and took off for the airport. 24 hours later, he gets off a bus in the middle of Tanzania! Together with the other passengers, he’s been looking out of the windows for hours, trying to spot a green tractor.
We’re moving, I decide to try and find a good spot to set up camp, we’re leaving the road and into the trees we go.
‘Daan, you better get used to the bumping and bouncing!’
We make camp under a tree on the plane. A tree that just now supported a mega-huge african eagle, a beautiful creature.
A good start.