Eastern Africa is so far a delight
(Just another year in school - and you might avoid being a "quiter")
I first came to Eastern Africa 15 years ago. But that was up around the Horn of Africa and certainly not for tourism. Then I returned to Eastern Africa about 10 years ago, when Ann-Christina (my longtime friend and OUAS ally) wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. So we did that together and also had time for some Safari activity. We went to see the one and only Ngorongoro crater, which is an enormous volcanic crater full of exotic animals! You'd have to see it to believe it!! Back then I was there for tourism. Tanzania is really great for tourism. I would say that Tanzania is a good "soft start" for anyone who wants to visit an African country. I could easily recommend you at least 10-15 African countries for a "soft start", but being that I'm still in Tanzania then let's look into that for a moment. And before we move on, I'll just remind you that Africa is enormous and contains 54 countries which are all worth a visit!
What I mean by a "soft start" is that it's a peaceful country, many speak English, it's easy to get around and a large part of the countries economy caters directly to tourism. The official language is Swahili and if you've ever watched Disney's "the Lion King" then you already know: Hakuna matata (no worries), Simba (lion) and rafiki (friend). In my experience the Tanzanians really love it if you try to speak some Swahili. One taxi driver even went as far as to explain how EVERYONE should speak Swahili, because it's a mix of so many languages! I replied that English is a mix of around 20 different languages and now he has something more to think about ;)
In my opinion you should always try to learn a few words of any language you come across when you travel. I usually try to learn: Hello, sorry and thank you. Tanzania happens to have around 120 languages spoken across its 162 tribes and that all sounds very exotic. And I guess it is. But it's also mostly people with smartphones and Facebook, so don't start thinking blow-darts and spears just yet. Actually Tanzania has had a few interesting presidents in recent years. President Julius Nyerere is still loved by many today and he was the one to declare Swahili as the national language. You may note that most African countries have their former colonial language as the national language. Julius also abolished tribalization by declaring that Tanzania belongs to all Tanzanians, and as long as you don't break the law you can live anywhere. The peace among various tribes continues to flourish. Smart move. Today Tanzania is being governed by president John Magufuli. He is also known as "the bulldozer" and I like him. He has been hammering corruption ever since he came to office around a year ago. Especially the port in Dar Es Salaam and the Tanzanian police force has been tidied up. Obviously a lot of people oppose his ideas as they are now making less money. But I approve as within my experience corruption is the deadly cancer of a country. Unfortunately Magufuli also made shisha (waterpipe) illegal so he's not entirely on my good side ;) Just kidding, I think Tanzania has the right president for the right time and that they will surface as a much stronger nation.
Lots of love for these guys!!! Charlotte and Morten with Savannah and Summer (the youngest one).
I've been mingling a lot with Maersk employees lately for various reasons. Maersk (www.maerskline.com) is the worlds largest provider of containerized shipments and they have been very supportive towards the Saga throughout its existence. I've been playing "the global game" since I left Denmark and I have seen a Maersk container in every country I've been to. Simplified by a great deal that is how I came to meet Morten. Morten is from Denmark and lives in Dar Es Salaam with Charlotte and their two rascals: Savannah and Summer :) We became friends when I was invited for dinner before I went to Arusha. When I returned to Dar Es Salaam Morten invited me to housesit for them during a weekend when they went to Zanzibar. That was last weekend and after they returned I was told to stick around. This planet is full of good people and at times I wonder where journalist must go to find their worldview? Especially Charlotte has been chasing me around the house ensuring that I didn't skip breakfast!! :)
I'm basically still around as I'm waiting for my Burundi visa. We all know that I will visit Burundi no matter what, so at times it feels like a waste to wait for all the bureaucracy. It used to be easier obtaining a Burundi visa, but procedures have changed and I'm now looking at entering my 4th week of waiting. Meanwhile I have received an invitation letter for Burundi, which I have added to the visa application. The man in charge of affairs told me today that it's with immigration and that I'm looking at 4-5 days more before I can expect to hear anything.
My case number at the police (stolen bag).
While I REALLY want to get a move on things, the delay has presented me with some opportunity as well. Even before I reached Tanzania more than 3 months ago (prior to the Indian Ocean adventure), I had been writing with Helene. Helene and Eivind are Vikings from Norway and they are raising their 2 children in Tanzania, where both of them were born. Together Helene and Eivind run a successful all-round adventure business called www.pakaadventures.com
My fellow vikings: Helene and Eivind.
Swedish meatballs made by Norwegians in Tanzania.
Unfortunately I had to turn that down as I had already made other plans. Then Helene invited me to join them on an exiting safari almost free of charge. But that collided with when I was in Arusha. THEN Helene and Eivind invited me to join them for a nice night out at an Ethiopian restaurant. But I had to decline as I was still in Arusha. Needless to say Helene and Eivind had been outstandingly hospitable towards me and I kept turning them down!? Although that's not entirely true, as I did manage to meet with them one evening for a local dinner. But I didn't get a photo with them that night. So I wanted to get back in touch and grab a selfie. They were up for it!! And also for a beer, and another one...and one more. Then homemade pizza! And red wine...and then I couldn't get a ride back to the city and ended up sleeping in Tor Christians (their sons) bed for the night :) That included listening to monkeys on the roof.
So somehow we ended up around their table eating Italian pizza, Swedish meatballs, drinking South African wine and using Himalayan salt. I'm Danish and they are Norwegian and who knows where our clothes were made?
Both Helene and Eivind insisted that I would take them up on their offer to visit the Lighthouse. They build it with their own hands and it sure sounded good to me. With the new delay regarding my Burundi visa it became a case of: "Sure, why not?". First I had to make my way to the Kigamboni ferry. That ferry costs a little less than $0.50 and takes you across the harbor. But first I needed to get a new Airtel SIM card. Anyone who's been traveling extensively knows that in certain countries 1 SIM card just isn't enough. So I have 4 SIM cards in Tanzania alone?! My Airtel never worked though. I bought it on the train when I entered Tanzania and it has been nothing but trouble. Then I have VodaCom which I discovered I have had since I first entered Tanzania before heading to the Indian Ocean. And a street salesman convinced me that ZanTel is THE BEST for internet data so I got that too. Before getting on the ferry I wanted to take 5 minutes to get a new Airtel card because that's what supposedly works at the Lighthouse. And a SIM card only costs $1. No problem said the sweet lady at the small roadside desk under the umbrella. She entered my details from my passport and activated my new Airtel card. Then I asked her to top it up with TZS 15,000 ($7) airtime which I could convert to 3GB data. No problem she said with a smile.
1 hour later the sun had set and we were still trying to work out what to do about the TZS 50,000 airtime she had added to my account?!? She was genuinely sorry and was calling a lot of people to find a solution. Eventually a new customer needed a TZS 5,000 top up and she was able to transfer it from my phone to him. I took that as a token of good will that she really wasn't trying to cheat me. It was also getting seriously late and I was wondering what my time was worth. So I paid her the balance and left with PLENTY of Airtel airtime. I wrote all of that just to say that quite often around these parts, something really simple ends up taking a lot of time. And that goes for a number of simple things every day.
With all my online airtime and network data I posted above photo to Facebook and asked people to guess where I was going? Just 2 days before that I had made a post with a lot of lucrative pictures from the Lighthouse, which I had received from Helene and Eivind. In spite of that people guessed I was in my way to Zanzibar?! Has everyone already forgotten that I went to Zanzibar in June with my sister? I was there looking for a connection to Comoros while visiting Give Volunteers: http://www.onceuponasaga.dk/blog/146-is-zanzibar-tanzania-and-dolphins
Oh but alas...so much has happened since then including a 24,000km round trip and "hitchhiking" with 3 containership's - I can hardly keep up myself. So I forgive you all ;)
I have had lots of Skype conversations lately. It's great for catching up! Here little Ellia Jane from Melbourne, Australia, has now made it to the blog ;)
A while back I was nearly giving up while in Central Africa. Back then I was working every minute of the day and I stated to a Danish journalist that I didn't know anyone who was working as hard as me! The journalist made a headline out of that: "Nobody works as hard as me!" Not quite what I said but the article was actually really good.
These days I'm nowhere near as much pressure as back then. My workload comes in periods and I still get late nights and long days. But Eastern Africa along with Southern Africa has been easy on me. And once I managed to come up with "THE GREAT PLAN" even the Indian Ocean turned out great. Loosing my backpack has added to my workload and I recently put up posters at Tropical Hotel. Keep the "SIM card" story in mind and you'll have some idea about how much time it took to get that done.
Zawadi (reward). A monthly wage for a receptionist is around TZS 675,000 ($310).
Generally I feel that the Saga is running really well. It's a well oiled project which hums along as we keep on keeping on. There are still many who would believe that I'm on a 5 year vacation, but I figure that those of you who follow the blog know that I didn't just "stumble" into the first 116 countries. For reasons unknown to me I have been banned from Reddit section called r/IAmA? But I can still interact with all the other subreddits and we recently had a really great one here at r/AMA: https://www.reddit.com/r/AMA/comments/55gxm5/hi_im_travelling_to_every_single_country_in_the/?st=ITTQCU01&sh=d5a625fa
Have a read though the questions and answers of that session if you have a few minutes. I'll be back with a new blog next week and meanwhile I'd just like to say thank you for all your support. It means the world to me! ;)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - smiling
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga