Saturday, June 14, 2008
Mtwara and the Return Home Sept 07
Wow, i can't believe this journey has truly come to an end. It feels like it has gone by so quickly and yet so slowly. When i think of what i have learned and done it seems like ages ago, but i am sad to see it over so soon. My last week in Tanzania was truly fantastic. Abdallah and i left for Mtwara on saturday morning and spent another lovely 10 hours seated on a bus. The drive was very beautiful. It followed the coast for a good chunk of the drive and most of the road was my favourite color of dust, richly tinted with red iron. When we finally arrived two of Abdallah's uncles were waiting for us and after we crossed the ocean to the peninsula where his family lives, there must have been another five uncles at least waiting with bicycles to deliver us to the village.
The ride to the village was a good 12 kilometers and unfortunately it was very dark, so i couldn't see much. But we did pass through a few very traditional villages. When we finally arrived in the village, Abdallah's mother and sisters were waiting for us with a steaming hot pot of ugali and some fish. We ate speedily as we were both ravenous and than tried to commence with conversation. But with my accent and their accents very little was understood with out the help of Abdallah and my part in the conversation quickly drifted. Fortunately it was quite late and we went to bed not to long after.
When i woke i finally got to see the true beauty of this amazing place i had arrived in. The buildings were all traditional mud buildings, some with thatch roofing and others with metal. The front room was usually white washed and used for guests with all the bedrooms in the back. The kitchen and toilet/shower were located in the back yard which was usually enclosed using palm leaves. Surrounding the village for as far as the eye can see were coconut and cashew trees, which provide the main source of industry to the people (other than fishing). Surounding all of this is the ocean which is the most beautiful colours of blue and green, changing with the depths of the water to make an incredible pattern in the ocean.
I got to explore most of this area going to Abdallah's mother's and uncle's farms; where Abdallah climbed the coconut tree in the most incredible manner trying to hunt down defu (young cocuonut) to drink the milk from. I also tried pepu, which is a delicious fruit that grows on cashew trees, which tastes something like plums, passion fruit and soursop all mixxed together. My explorations also lead into the ocean, which was the most pleasant temperature and incredibly salty.
Of course, i did not only wonder through the landscape, but met Abdallah's never-ending family. I have no idea of how many aunts, uncles, bibis (grandmothers) and babus (grandfathers) i met, it was truly astonishing. I do however know that i met four of Abdallah's six sisters and some of their children. Turns out Abdallah's grandfather who had recently died was the cheif of the village which helped explain the incredible number of family members in the village. His grandfather had been quite prosperous which a huge minazi (coconut) farm of at least 2000 trees and even had two wives. They were the most amusing women, one being older and much more serene and the younger women being very large and could not stop laughing. She thought i was the most amusiong thing ever and wanted my hair. So i took a picture of us and put my hair on top of her head (she would have made a great blond (picture to come)). Everyone treated me so nicely, though conversation was at a minimum. Luckily after a day or two Abdallah's sisters could understand my accent and i could converse with them relatively easily.
On top of visiting the village we went and checked out some of the surrounding areas. Msimbati, which was surrounded by a marine reserve that recently had gained a gas well and pipeline. Turns out the company that was incharge of the project was from alberta. Most people seemed relatively happy about the situation and there was no sense that anyone was worried about polluting the marine park. But then people have much larger worries and the gas was bringing jobs and electricity. We ended up hitching a ride back to Mtwara with an old man from alberta who was there training locals. It was quite a suprise to see another albertan and it was very nice to speak english again for an hour. We also went to Mkindani, which was used by the germans as an administrative site for southern Tanzania. There were many old ruins of colonial era buildings including the fourth Boma i saw during my trip. I could see why the germans had chose this spot, as it was directly on the water and was surrounded by coconut trees.
When we finally left Abdallah's sister was so sweet and insisted i needed a present. So i took a cute little woven basket that she offered me. Abdallah's mother insisted i write to her and his uncles all wanted my number in canada. It was a very cool experience.
We arrived back in Dar on friday night, with just enough time for me to arrange my stuff to leave on sunday. So i spent my last two days packing, giving away things and playing with the kiddies. The goodbye fortunately wasn't that bad as that day for some strange reason which i couldn't get out of anyone, there was a drag race through town which took everyone's attention away from us. Unfortunately, it wasn't all good excitement and a man ended up getting hit and killed by one of the cars. I saw my first dead body directly in front of me, as some men were carrying the body to the police station. It was very creepy and i felt rather sick afterwards. The strangest thing i found was that the race continued, no one stopped what they were doing except to try and get a peek at the body. Of course, it makes sense why would these people shut down everything for one dead man amongst 100's that died that day in other parts of the country. But i couldn't help thinking it seemed strange. And that was the end of my trip to Tanzania.
Our flights were all good and after 37 hours i found myself back in canada wishing i was still in Tanzania. How different and strange things are here. Everything is so sterile and devoid of life, without smells, sounds, or sights. Everything is so drab. Anyways canada is good, i have fast internet and a consistent power supply and hot showers.