The Adventure: day-to-day
Journal: Day 85 - 100, December 24 - January 7
It is hard to catch up with the online journals when you are on the road. The past weeks we have been traveling intensively to make it to the city where we are today, Cape Town. The writing became pretty much of a burden that was hard to fight with without internet and computers. Here I am today, in a News Cafe from where I can see the skyline of the city where we were heading to the past three months. We have seen 17 countries spread over 2 continents and did over 25000 kilometers. What a trip, what an adventure.
The past two weeks were very adventurous. I left you guys behind in Livingstone, the touristy city bordering Zambezi National Park. I asked if David Livingstone, the explorer, would have the ability to update his Facebook status. We had a hard time updating ours, in the remaining days of 2012. Let's give you a rollercoaster ride to the highlights we have encountered on our final legs of Thumbs Up Africa. We were bungee jumping of the Zambezi Bridge, the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. A mind-blowing experience that we will never forget. Just as we won't forget the Anti Poaching unit we have visited in a private reserve right outside of Victoria Falls. Rhinos that get poached because of their ivory. A dreadful deed that is being solved by courageous men who devote their life to the existence of animals that are in danger of being poached.
In Botswana we were in a hurry. We wanted to make it to Windhoek as soon as possible. However, we found out that hitchhiking is very common. The only difference is that people pay for their fares. We have seen the same in Ethiopia, but the amounts of hitch-hikers we met in Botswana was indescribable. We would stand there with fifty others on the side of the road. It took us some time, but we reached Windhoek in time. Hitch-hiking eventually always gets you there.
Journal: Day 84 - December 23
David Livingstone. What a man. In the 19th century he was strolling through the bush as a missionary and reporter. Finding new cultures, mapping the undiscovered parts of Southern Africa and finding the start of the Nile. What a task. Here we are in Livingstone, the city that was named after David Livingstone. Today this is a city where you can find Spar and Shoprite. There are tourists, many tourists. How was the back in the days when Livingstone was walking unto the Vicotria Falls, not knowing what to expect. Did he update his Facebook status? Probably not, no.
Journal: Day 80 - December 19
Off to the villages close to Montse, South of the country. The place where we are staying at the moment is slightly different from the one we were camping yesterday. From the Lusaka Backpackers to a cotton village. Unlike the other day, here we were received by singing and dancing villagers who really were looking forward to our stay. We put camp right behind the huts and had a nice night with stories, nshima and vegetables.
Here we are invited by CAZ, the Cotton Association of Zambia. Together with Solidarad Southern Africa they want to get a better price for the cotton that is produced in the small villages.
The other day we were awaited in another villages, a hundred kilometers further down South. The same joy, but of course a little different story. Here too the farmers have a hard time getting a good price for their cotton, but fortunately there is CAZ, standing them by for support. The farmers are being taught by professionals from the cotton branch. It brings a lot of positive change. Tomorrow it is high time for us to hitch-hike to Livingstone. Soon we will be in Zimbabwe. Time flies.
Journal: Day 78 - December 17
We saw lion cobs today! Meow! In a game farm just outside of Lusaka we were invited to see the little cats doing their first things. Too cute.
Journal: Day 77 - December 16
From our lodge in Kabwe we took a walk to Lusaka Road. With the capital in our minds we got a ride from the first car passing by. It was the shortest wait so far. Now we are in the capital staying with the guy who gave us a ride from Chinsale to Kabwe. We are making good friends, had a nice diner in the mall and will be seeing our friends of the support crew tomorrow. Unfortunately we couldn't make to the copperbelt anymore, which means that we will not be able to give the outreach I promised a few days ago. A pity, but in a few days from now we will be seeing what the Zambian cotton production is all about.
Journal: Day 72 - December 11 - Day 76 - December 15
The advantage of hitchhiking is that you are almost always traveling together with people who know the dangers of the road. They may speed, but when they do so, they do it on a stretch they know. We were doing 140kmh on a narrow rainy road. The trucks sometimes had a hard time avoiding collision. But the big Toyota Hilux could stand the weather conditions and the driver obviously did this stretch many times. Unlike our support crew. Right before midnight we received a call from Roy, the founder of Thumbs Up Africa. The Land Rover had made a roll over. Soon we realize this could be the end of our travels, or at least the end of the production. Everybody was okay, but a seriously damaged car may cost quite a bit.
We took a few days off in Kabwe, where we waited for the support team to recover and the Land Rover to get fixed. All turned out well in the end. The Camel is driving again and the team is up and going for the final thousands of kilometers of our journey. In Lusaka, tomorrow, the car will get another fix. Yes, we will make it to Cape Town. Yes we will!
Journal: Day 71 - December 10
What a place to put our tents. Right next to the first waterfalls we see here in Zambia. Zambia has even more falls than it has languages and 72 languages is already quite a lot. Today we had a ride from Patrick. It was his birthday, so we took him out for chipati and soda. That was pretty much every thing which was available in a roadshop in Chinsali. We are in Zambia. Here we will focus on entrepreneurship and the sustainability of it. We will be seeing the copperbelt in the North West of the country. We already saw lot of trucks heading for Dar Es Salaam. Copper, lots of copper, destination China. How is this being found?
Journal: Day 70 - December 9
Mbeya or straight to the border with Zambia? We made it to the border and that is quite surprising. Travelling doesn't go that fast down here, but we just got a ride from a cartrader. He gets imported Japanese cars from the Dar Es Salaam port and takes them anywhere in Eastern or Southern Africa. From Mbeya on I proposed to drive the final kilometers to his destination, Zambia. The second hand Toyota, right-hand driver, did well! Until… We were out of gasoline. In a quiet village we got new gasoline alongside the road. Just enough to make it to Tunduma, the bordertown. There our new friends looked for the cheapest guesthouse in town. Here we are, we just washed ourselves and we are going to bed now. Zambia calling!
Journal: Day 69 - December 8
Hitchhiking day. The long way down will bring us to Zambia soon. Before we will be there, we first have to hitchhike a few hundreds of kilometers. This morning we hitched our way to Iringa. It reminded us of the mud roads of Northern Kenya. Bumpy, unpaved and stunningly beautiful. We joined up with two other hitchhikers, a father and his son, and together we did the entire stretch. We hitched a Tanzanian road workers who took us to the start of their working day. In the middle of nowhere, no traffic, a preachers took us to the next town. There we hitched a ride with a truck to Iringa. Here we are now, staying in a 4 euro guesthouse. Accommodation is very affordable in Tanzania, that's good. We are running out of hitchhiking budget, big time.
Journal: Day 68 - December 7
Well, we still did not celebrate Sinterklaas. He must be on his way to Madrid, and then of course he will proceed his way to Tanzania. We are much looking forward.
Today we visited Ufundiko, a local NGO that works together with Simavi. Ufundiko is focusing on water supply and sanitation in the Kongra region. We joined a construction team and helped building latrines in a village in the region. Ufundiko is making sure that a village is not dependant on just one latrine, but that three families can have their own. Quite a revolution. The villagers are a little distant when it comes to greeting a new latrine. They've always done it with just one. Understandable. Later, however, the people understand the need of good sanitation and they bring together the needed funds themselves. Also they bring money together to fix the latrines when needed. A pretty neat NGO that is aiming for sustainability in the near future. Thumbs up.
Journal: Day 67 - December 6
Benedict is our friend, Benedict is our hero. This afternoon he suddenly showed up at the guesthouse he arranged for us yesterday night. He wanted to pay the bill, but we couldn't let him. The man already did enough for us. So, he paid for our food. Resistance was futile. Next he got the traffic police to arrange us a bus to Dodoma. "You had a lot of problems in Morogoro. These problems were solved, but that doesn't prevent us from arranging a free bus ride to Dodoma. This too is lifting, my friends." Benedict manages to let us smile for the rest of the day. Unforgettable. Now we just arrived in the capital of Tanzania, Dodoma. Let us see what tomorrow will bring us.
Journal: Day 66 - December 5
I am writing this update on a laptop that was stolen this morning. The laptop is mine and thanks to the job of Assistant Inspector Benedict Mambya Nyamagatara of the Criminal Investigation Department of Morogoro the laptop was returned to me.
In the middle of the night Christiaan Triebert was bitten by mosquitos while he was sleeping. He realized that the tent was open and that his bag was gone. All his belongings were lost and the burglar managed to find my wallet and laptop aswell.
It was not the GPS tracker that made it possibly to trace the stolen items. No, it was a classic Hollywood story with informants and a utterly clever inspector. About 14 hours later the bag was returned. Not much later Benedict told his informants that our travels were useless without he laptop. 'Without the memories on the computer, they did not travel at all.' And so the thieves returned all items except for Tsh 40.000 and the wallet. My 'Bad Motherfucker' wallet is now in the hands of a bad motherfucker that was tricked by a Tanzanian investigator. He can have him.
Journal: Day 65 - December 4
Back to Dar es Salaam, back to the port where we caught a ferry to the city. There we found our way to the Airtel office to fix our internet. A lot of time later everything was fixed and we could finally share some content with the internets. Western problems? No, everybody has Facebook here and everyone walks with a mobile phone in hand.
On the highway West we got a ride from Dennis all the way to Morogoro, halfway Dodoma. Dennis is the son of the former ambassador of Tanzania in Sweden, he speaks six languages and currently he is active as a businessman. He gave us a lot of insight in his own country. Economic perspectives, cultural differences, history, the man knew everything. Next he helped us to find a place to camp in the town of Morogoro. A few gardens later we decided to camp on the other side of the street of Morogoro Hotel. Just now I finished writing my Sinterklaas gedicht. Most likely Sinterklaas will visit Tanzania in one of the next days. Will he have time?
Journal:Day 64 - December 3
Palmtrees, snowwhite sand and a crystal blue ocean. This morning we woke up in paradise. Sunrise Beach Resort is our habitat for two nights and we are staying here for... FREE! The manager turns out to be a big fan of Thumbs Up Africa and to pay the bill he wants us to make a few pictures of his facilities. At fb.com/pages/Sunrise-Beach-Resort you see us posing like concept models. An odd experience, but then again we still found ourselves in a picturesque surrounding. We drank out of a coconut and we even did the waterskies. Very touristy, but right next to the resort we found a well on which a village of about 200 people were dependant for fresh water supply. The water level in the well is determined by the Indian Ocean. The sand purifies the water and thus the community is never out of water. A nice experience and an amazing paradox, because right next to our tent we had access to... tapwater.
Journal: Day 63 - December 2
"80% of the Tanzanians don't have acces to water. When they buy water, this water often contains salt." Say again? So the water that is being sold here contains small but significant amounts of salt because 80%(!) of the Tanzanians do not have acces to a basic need called water. This is being told by a beautiful woman called Happy. When she came to Dar es Salaam for the first time she was surprised by the lack of water that the people are suffering here. "The thing is that more and more people keep moving to Dar." That indeed must be a problem. Not too easy to solve. We overthink the conversations we had today on South Beach, where we get a free campsite from the manager of Sunrise Beach Resort. Billions and trillions of liters water in front of us, the Indian Ocean, only a little of clean water on the shore. We are amazed.
Journal: Day 62 - December 1
Travelling down to Cape Town like everybody else and not seeing the Indian Ocean is the same as travelling to The Netherlands and not try cheese. So this morning we set off for a two day hitchhiking journey to Dar es Salaam. So here we are, sitting in the canteen of a YWCA hostel in downtown Dar. We did it one day and wow, what a day. This place was recommended by a manager of a hugely exclusive hotel not far from the European embassies. And that place was recommended by our driver today, who is connected to these embassies. We are not really allowed to tell you what this is all about, but I will share the next: He is the driver of the ambassador of a very important European country that is spending a lot of money on Tanzanian aid. He and his brother took us all the way from outside Arusha to Dar es Salaam, that is 600+ kilometers indeed. In the car we found ourselves reading pretty secret documents. I tell you this: All is not going well in Uganda when it comes to spending aid money the right away. Good night!
Journal: Day 61 - November 30
Arusha started his history as a garison city of German colonists. Nowadays it is a multicultural city that is the base camp for many tourists who want to visit Serengeti National Park or climb Mount Kilimanjaro. This mount gave name to the Kilimanjaro Film Institute, KFI in short. Today we paid the eager students of KFI a visit to see their work and talk about their vision on making documentaries. On a neat compound in the suburbs of Arusha they work together and manage to document human interest stories in the local society. A very interesting stop on our journey, especially because we too are working on a documentary. Soon we will start a crowdfunding project on Cinecrowd to get obtain a little funds for the documentary of our hitchhike adventure. For now I will rest my pen stripes, because the joyful children of Robert want to play another game of Pro Evolution Soccer. PlayStation calling.
Journal: Day 60 - November 29
"The problem on this side of Kenya is water management. People don't have water or they simply don't know how to use it. I have my own construction company focused on water management", said Ken, one of our rides this morning. An American resident with Kenyan roots, going back to Kenya to help his people. "Obama should do the same thing", Ken laughed. He gave us a good introduction on the problem we would be facing here in Tanzania. We reached Arusha a short while ago because of the great help of Robert, a Kenyan businessman who is doing business in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. He invited us for drinks and soon after we found ourselves on his beautiful compound having diner with his family. Four rides today and the fourth went platinum. We have a place to stay for two nights.
Journal: Day 59 - November 28
Kenya was colonized by the British. At some places you can see clearly that there is a link between the architecture of the Brits and the Kenyans. Today this went hand in hand with the weather Britain is famous for. Wet and cold. Go to Africa they said, it will be hot and dry they said. So we decided to spend one more night with our lovely hosts Asha and Sanau. Tomorrow we will kick the early morning and head for Tanzania. We promise!
Journal: Day 57 - November 26
Today it was high time to prepare for the road again. Tomorrow we will set off to Tanzania. Kenya is already one big safari park, you see members of the big five in many ways. Matchbox and beer are just two of them, respectively a rhino and an elephant. We had a day of coming and going today. Roy came back out of the hospital and Jerry had to take a plane back to Amsterdam. It was greating working together with you Jerry. We can't wait to see you again in The Netherlands. There were more good byes today. Sanau, Asha, all the other girls. We will miss you all. Now we will get one more short rest. Tomorrow it is hammertime again.
Journal: Day 52/53/54/55/56 - November 21/22/23/24/25
Nairobi Diaries. Sanau introduced us to all of her friends. A few lively girls who bravely living their own lives in Buruburu, a proud suburb of Nairobi. Friendship was made very easily and the first days we were going out every night. Karaoke, barbecue, more karaoke and we even watched the last part of The Twilight Saga in the IMAX Theatre. No, not the best movie at all, but the IMAX experience is pretty cool. So we found our way through Nairobi, were chilling out a lot and shared a lot of stories and music with Kezia, Shanel, Massi and all the others. We met so many cool girls that we can't even keep up with the names. Nairobi is a thrill. The Buruburu pimped buses that lead us to town are to cool to describe. Loud music, a lot of neon lights, a festive way of public transport. And Nairobbery? No problems for us! The reason why we stay so long in Nairobi is because of our good friend Roy. The secretary and founder of the Thumbs Up Foundation is struck by malaria. Currently he is still in the Nairobi Hospital to get fixed up. We have good faith that we will all be back on the road on Wednesday. Until that time we just keep having fun with our new best friends.
Journal: Day 51 - November 20
In Kiambu we focus on agriculture and environmental issues. One of the topics we ran into today is fair trade coffee. The Ndumberi Coffee Co-Operative supported by Progreso, was more than willing to show us process of drying coffeebeans. The manager explained us that there is more benefit from the Fair Trade certificate than from the UTZ certification. Interesting explanations that made our thoughts spin round about the concept of Fair Trade. After seeing the process we were invited to see how a local farmer is doing his running his business. A few Frisian cows, some chicks, banana trees and a lot of coffee. Now we are on the look-out for more clever information about Fair Trade. You tell us: How Fair Trade is Fair Trade?
Later today we hitchhiked to Nairobi. Only 20 kilometers left to the capital. There we were awaited by the lovely Sanau. She is going to host us the next days. Nairobi Calling! We just went out for a few beers and some karaoke. What's next? :)