Leaving for Mbeya: 26 Aug 2006

7 09 2006

(From the journal)

I am writing this on the train to Mbeya.  We boarded yesterday (Fri, 25 Aug) at about 3 PM and should arrive in Mbeya today (Sat) at 2PM.  More on that later, but first….

….I have to tell about Fri morning.  Kagu and Halidi met us at Luther House at 8AM and drove us past government buildings (white house, congressional buildings, ministry buildings) to a FERRY.  The ferry was packed with cars, trucks, bikes, people walking and it was VERY old.  We went across the bay to Kigamboni Peninsula, where there were many items for sale and a lot of activity.  It struck me as one of the poorer areas I had seen so far…with palm trees everywhere.  From the peninsula, we drove to Mjimwema beach and the Sunrise Beach Resort.

Here’s the setting: We drive along this very poor dry area with mud huts, boats carved out of logs, no water/electricity, kids in dirty, old tattered cloths and turn into Sunrise Beach Resort – a posh, Indian-run resort with beach-side huts, swimming pool, recliners, 2 bars, open restaurant, TV’s/fridge in each room, even a bouncey castle for the kids and an absolutely beautiful, clean, open and empty beach!  The contrast was so blatent!

We hung out on the beach all morning – walking, playing in sand and exploring the beach.  Andy had his swim trunks & Halidi stripped to underwear, so they both played in the water-finding waves to “body-surf”.  Afterward, we had lunch under a veranda on the beach.  The waiter asked Kagu if I knew how to eat the ugali that I had ordered.  He said: “Ndio (yes).” (Thanks again, Mandi!!)

After the refreshing beach and a delicious lunch, we headed back to the ferry and then on to Dar.  (The ONLY bad thing about the morning is that my camera batteries died.  Really a bummer because I found a few shots afterward that would have been nice.)

Once in Dar, the guys took us to the Tazara Train Station.  We waited in the main area for awhile & I noticed that whenever a Mzungu (white person) arrived, they woulkd go into this one room and stay there.  Andy checked it out and, of course, it was the first class waiting lounge.  The train has 1st class (4 people to a room, each person gets a bed, 2nd class (6 people to a room, each person gets a bed, and 3rd class (a bunch of seat, like bus seats, everyone packed together, good-luck).

When we came out of the 1st class room to board, the 2nd and 3rd class passengers were lined up in 3 lines on each side of the station & exiting through 2 doors.  It was packed with people & stuff and crazy in an orderly sort of way.  We found our room: a longbed/bench on each side with an upper bed hanging from the wall on each side.  After some confusion about tickets, we ended up sharing the room with Swedish and French girls.  Their friend, a Swedish guy, spent a lot of time in our room, also.  The trip so far has been fun!  We keep the window open most of the time and wave at the kids along the way.  Andy bought an orange through the window from a vendor at one of the stops.  We gave candy and paper to kids at different places through the window, also.  The Swedish girl gave a bunch of pens to one group of kids.  She said afterward that she had heard that you shouldn’t give stuff to kids if they beg, because it sets them up to be beggers and reinforces that lifestyle.  I see the point-and, also, you can’t give to every child.  I’m not sure what is the best perspective on this, but we will give away the things we brought and then be done.  It makes them so happy and gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling, also.  (NOTE: Later someone said not to give to kids, especially during the day, because it encourages them to skip school so they can get free stuff.  And also, it encourages then to get to close to trains and cars and that can be very dangerous.)

The train is such a great way to see and travel Africa.  The landscape we’ve seen is what yuou’d expect of Africa: dry, some areas with a lot of vegetation and some areas very sparse, mostly mud or bricks huts with stick or grass roofs.

Oh yeah, the toilet is gross!  It stinks and does not have a seat.  Also, the waste goes directly onto the tracks!  Really!  I’m trying to avoid pooping until we get to Mbeya-I’d rather squat in the bush!

The tracks sing their own song:
Sometimes in rhythm,
Sometimes just a randon percussion section.

NEWS: Andy just pooped on the train track!  A “piece” of him is forever a part of the Tanzanian rail system.

So, using my Tanzanian cell phone, Celtel, I was able to call ahead to the hotel we wanted in Mbeya & book a room.  Now I know we won’t be homeless for the night.  :o)  (Thanks, Lucy, for the cell phone info-it was an excellent suggestion!)

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