Discovering Burundi after an interesting train ride

Umwana suwumwe (a child is not for one person)
I've known for a long time that the longer I stay within a single country, the stronger I become attached to it and it's people. That was the case for Iceland, Greenland, USA, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo and now also Tanzania. 
An Uber came to pick me at Morten and Charlottes house, where I had been living as a part of their family. On a side note Uber is very new to Tanzania and hardly present anywhere else than Dar Es Salaam. The driver brought me to the train station, where I had been the day before to purchase my ticket. I opted for the 1st class ticket which didn't end up being too expensive.
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Morten's wife Charlotte ran a half marathon and I did the 5k at a charity run the day I left Dar.
I constantly need to "whip" myself to get going. I believe that it would otherwise not be possible to visit the entire world as you world simply get stuck somewhere. There is much the Red Cross Red Crescent still has to learn about the Saga, but overall I'm very delighted to have them as a partner as I keep on keeping on. My loyalty should never be questioned although I do get frustrated at times. Who wouldn't get frustrated from time to time? The RC is a wonderful invention and it contains an abundance of wonderful and spirited people. I have met thousands of them and speak from experience. Oh well, got sidetracked, but it's important that I mention it once in a while ;)
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Smart clothes and cool shoes...but somebody had to push the caboose in order to connect it to the train.
I said farewell to the Uber driver and made my way through the chaos of the train station. Sort of organized chaos. A train that belongs in a museum was waiting for me. In the future it will be replaced by a modern train...I'm sure of this. And with president Magufuli the future is now! I boarded the relic from the past which I'm sure had as many stories to tell as it had cockroaches onboard. My cabin had 2 beds and a sink.
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To flick on the light I needed to cross to electrical wires on top of a switch which read: "on/on". No off option...but first a startled man who was taking a nap in my cabin got up and left while leaving a stench of someone who hadn't showered for a long time. Then the train left Dar Es Salaam and so did I. As the soothing rhythm of the sound an old train makes, began to dominate the conductor came to warn me about thieves who would run around on the rooftop and enter through the window? Furthermore just thieves in general onboard the train? Then Mathias came to say hello. Mathias is probably in his late 40s and said that he was sharing the cabin with me although he was currently sitting somewhere else? Over the 43 hour train ride I never came to share my cabin with anyone else, although I had company by plenty of cockroaches which one apparently can get used too. Mathias and I would however meet frequently on the hallway and talk about his more than 20 year career with the train line along with the many things we saw pass the windows outside.
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Do you see the log?
I began to notice short tree logs hanging horizontally from rope up in many of the trees we passed? Mathias could explain that those were in connection to the traditional way of making honey. The bees would take residence in the especially designed tree logs and villagers would in turn harvest honey. For more than a thousand kilometers I observed Tanzania change from dry to green and lush. And frequently I would spot the hanging tree logs.
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A German named Hubert was onboard the train in another wagon. We met and decided to have dinner together on my second night. But as we walked to the dinning compartment we learned that it had been disconnected at some point during the first half of our journey? Instead we were facing the wall of the caboose.
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So we ended up having some street food at a station where the train stopped for an hour. Hubert is an interesting man who has traveled a lot. He explained that the rail we were traveling on was constructed prior to First World War which began in 1914. Back in those days Tanzania was under German governance and the Germans wanted to bring a ship to lake Tanganyika. So the railway was created for the purpose. The ship has been modernized and still sails the lake today.
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Tanzania is wonderful to observe from a window as it passes by. It wasn't always beautiful but it was well worth while glazing across.
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Kigoma station, Tanzania.
After my second night onboard I was still in bed as we approached the station at Kigoma. Someone was knocking on my locked door while informing that we had reached our destination. As I left the train I noticed I was pretty much the last one to do so. That's also a way of beating the crowds :) Kigoma has such a pleasant ambiance and the architecture of many of the building made the trip well worth while. The landscape had turned into rolling hills and lake Tanganyika was such a beautiful sight. The air was fresh and cool and the surroundings where green.
A motorcycle taxi immediately got me to the main road. From there I quickly had a ride to the border from a driver commanding an overstuffed Toyota Corolla. I was on the backseat along with 3 others and the front seat was shared by 2. The driver had his own seat though. That changed as we reached immigration in Tanzania. I paid the driver and boarded yet another Toyota where I shared the back seat with 4 others!! The front seat was as per standard shared by 2, while this driver also shared his seat leaving 4 legs between the pedals. Not to speak of the insane amount of luggage we also were transporting. At Burundis immigration I had instant flashbacks to a few of my nightmares in Central Africa. It was most defiantly triggered by speaking French with immigration. I'm sure my heart rate went up, but on the outside I stayed cool. The immigration officer wasn't too tough on me though and I was soon on my way again inside the overstuffed Toyota - but now inside country number 117: Burundi! :)
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I was initially impressed by the very good road conditions as we entered Burundi. And looking outside the window, I was equally impressed about how clean the country was! Throughout the 43 great African nations I had been to, one often feels pain to observe how people treat Mother Earth as a wastebasket. Especially plastic becomes a huge environmental sinner and at times it is hard to observe. But then now and again I also reach nations which are far cleaner. Burundi seemed remarkably clean! The road conditions however deteriorated after 30 minutes and went to become far less impressive. But at this point we had reached lake Tanganyika which presented a spectacular view of blue stretching as far as an ocean.
I have grown really fond of Burundi and the enormous heart it possesses. And I never experienced anything remotely unpleasant. However it's a country undergoing instability and you should not fear to visit...but certainly be up to date with your travel advisory.
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You get a lot of time to think about things on a project like this.
About 40 minutes into Burundi I had to switch to a minibus in order to reach Bujumbura which is Burundis capital. Not long ago it would have been possible to sail from Kigoma in Tanzania to Bujumbura, but that is no longer the case. My way seemed much faster anyway as I reached Bujumbura before sunset. On arrival a young man named Beker approached me. Actually, I'm a little unsure if he might have been one of the 23 passengers inside the minibus? Beker wore a nice suit over a white shirt and his black shoes were well polished. He immediately offered his assistance to help me. I trusted this little "toothpick" and told him I needed a simcard. This was no problem and we walked off together. Beker confided in me that his dream was to leave the entire continent! "Africa is no good" he said. It's a shame when young people feel like that, but you cannot blame many to think so. Hollywood, music videos, magazines and much more promote a wonderful perfect world which doesn't exist for most. And certainly not for Beker from Burundi. He wanted to go to the USA, to Europe...and now Denmark. I have a better idea of what Africa is than most people I meet. And Africa isn't even close to being a failure. The middle class along with development, education and healthcare is blasting forward many places. But it is naturally a lot easier to move into "a painted room" than to "paint it" yourself. So let's all go to Hollywoods utopia.
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To get a simcard in Burundi you need to sign up and present ID. So I did and after a while, with Beker as my confidant, we raced off in a tuctuc towards a low price guesthouse. Beker and I exchanged numbers and I told him I would call him the next day. That night I had brochette at a nearby outdoor garden and I slept like a baby. 
The next morning I was meeting with the Burundian Red Cross which is in a class of its own!! But first I found Beker knocking on my door at 08:00am. Beker's English wasn't great, but it was far better than my Kirundi. And although Burundi was once a Belgian colony my French was better than Beker's. But then Beker also spoke fluent Swahili. Anyway, there he was. So I locked the door to my room and Beker joined me for breakfast. A very nice lady served me an omelette and Beker had some sort of banana stew. I managed to place my order along with provide some small talk in French. Central Africa knocked a solid portion of that language deep into me. And Burundi borders DR Congo so I didn't feel far away.
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About 150 volunteers were cleaning gutters before the rain comes. To prevent waterborne deceases.
After breakfast with Beker I was collected by the Burundian Red Cross who brought me to their HQ. An impressive place for an impressive national society. All in all my visit to Burundi became somewhat "Red Cross heavy" as my time was short. But I think it's a fair representation of Burundi and I'll tell you why. Burundi is a small country which you can cross in a day. It has somewhere around 12 million inhabitants and yet the Red Cross there has more than 500,000 VOLUNTEERS?!? What?!? Yes!!! In comparison the USA which boasts a population around 330 million people and a far more impressive economy has about the same amount of Red Cross volunteers. The Red Cross Red Crescent movement has about 17 million volunteers worldwide. So for such a small country in the Lake District of Africa to have so many volunteers sends a strong message: The country is fundamentally well organized and very compassionate!
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My friend Balthazar at Burundi Red Cross made sure I had Mukeke which is a local fish.
Some of you may already know that the Danish Red Cross tasked me with writing an "always present" story about each of the 190 national societies in the world. So I'll go into more depth there and those stories are currently available here:
My friend Andrew who I first met in Brazil and later on stayed at in Kinshasa (DR Congo) set me up with a contact of his in Bujumbura. Her name is Laureen and she works for the UNHCR Laureen found the Saga interesting and invited me to stay at her place for the remainder of my Burundian visit. So the next few nights I had company by her colleagues, friends and her boyfriend Hussein. Everyone were really nice to me and I was told to feel at home. Laureen is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the regions rather complicated history. It was great to listen to her and get a better understanding of the ins and outs of Burundi. Several people I have met mentioned that only a few years ago Burundi was a paradise. Not a paradise in the sense that all was perfect, but it was a lot less complicated to live there, and there is no debating the natural wonders of that green country with its friendly people and beautiful white sand beaches at the lake. 
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Hussein preparing a brilliant omelette for all of us.
Hussein turned out to be a journalist with some solid connections and he also took great interest in the Saga. So we worked a little on how he could use it. I spent some time with him in the kitchen while he was preparing an omelette. Hussein's English is really good and it turns out that it's mainly because of English clubs which students form to speak and practice English with each other. I can't say for sure, but I could hardly imagine language clubs to be a common thing in Denmark where I come from. But in Burundi it is quite ordinary. Imagine the passion it takes to learn a foreign language create or join clubs like that? Mind you that these are people who mostly already speak 3 other languages.
We also spoke about the compassionate network which culturally exists in Burundi. Hussein explain that in Burundi there is a Kirundi saying which is: Umwana suwumwe (a child is not for one person). It is already a part of the building blocks which form a society where someone in distress quickly receives support from strangers. Apparently Burundians while compassionate, friendly and curious also often have a tendency to bottle up emotions. And if you dwell into Burundis history you may find evidence that bottling up emotions isn't necessarily they right way to go about stress or anger.
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During my few days in Burundi I was always met with smiles and easy conversation. Smiles and curious eyes come before words with many I have met. It always has me wondering why such countries are not wealthy and well developed. However, I usually find my answers by looking into history. Burundi however is another country which is rich on natural resources and has a good location for international commerce. Is it enough to visit a country for only a few days to get to know it? No, not at all. But you do get an idea that is more than what you had before you entered. I managed to meet an abundance of people in Burundi stretching from public transportation to meetings among many places. It was always easy to strike up a conversation and laughter was never far away. I'm in my way home after 3 years in the world and for this project 3 nights became enough. I jumped on an early morning tuctuc and made my way to yet another Toyota Corolla. This time we were only 3 on the back seat and the front seat was not shared.
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I saw this many times in Burundis hills. A smart way to get up hill for a cyclist. Unless the truck makes a sudden stop.
After a somewhat hazardous trip up and down the rolling hills taking every hairpin turn a maximum G-force, we managed our way to the Rwandan border. The journey to get there was one of spectacular views of hillside fields and which were rather limited by the dramatic landscape. The houses we passed seemed in good shape and every stream or river we crossed look clean and pristine. The vast majority of every vehicle I saw could easily pass European standards although the population didn't look like wealthy to me. Smartphones and Facebook are limited to certain parts of the population and once again nothing is simple. But I guarantee that a mothers love towards her child cannot be measured in gold and that Burundians cry and cheer whenever their favorite sports teams win or loose. And finally I may add that no matter what you look like, what you believe in or what you stand for; you still taste like chicken to a bear.
Between the hills of Burundi and Rwanda I reached immigration and stamped my way out of one country and into the next. Knowing I was moving too fast, although I had to keep on keeping on...
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Travelers come in all sizes. Here at the border between Burundi/Rwanda. He even came to shake my hand :)
Rwanda is another small country with a population twice of that in Denmark. I'll tell you all about that adventure next Friday when I'll probably be in Uganda.
I'll end this by saying that I'm in no way feeling as sad as last week, but I am feeling emotional both for good and worse. This world we live in is unfairly represented and while we do not live on a perfect planet, I can guarantee you that it will surprise you as a much better place than you ever thought it could be. As such perceptions is reality and I've got a cold beer in that your perception is likely to be below actual reality ;)

Best regards

Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - 2 countries richer
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
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Leaving the truly great Tanzania - at last! Maybe;)

Tanzania is truly great! But it's more than time to leave.
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I hardly dare to count how much time I've spent in Tanzania? In first round my sister came to visit, while I was trying to locate a ship to Comoros. We had a great time together in Zanzibar and in total that period must amount to around 18 days. That also includes waiting for the train in Mbeya and being on the train as well.
Since I returned from the Indian Ocean, I have basically just been waiting for my Burundi visa. I've done a lot of stuff while waiting, but it was the waiting which grounded me here in Tanzania. So round 2 has now reached 27 days and counting. This is important, because if you were to spend 45 days in every country in the world then you would be traveling for more than 24 years!! And I do on some level want to go home already now.
I've been privileged though! Since the last blog and this one I have divided my time between staying at the Lighthouse Beach Lodge and with a great family of 4. Let's start with the Lighthouse.
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As you may remember I met Helene and Eivind Tungland from Norway. They have been living in Tanzania for many years and both their children were born here. They literally built the Lighthouse Beach Lodge on an empty plot near the ocean 2 hours from Dar Es Salaam. It was once their home, but now it's solely a lodge:
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I had to ask for half sized portions like this one ;)
Helene had been telling me to go there from the first time we started writing together. And with additional delays towards my Burundi visa, I suddenly had the opportunity. That's were I left you last week. I had just waisted more than an hour trying to get an Airtel simcard, and then I boarded the harbor ferry, and was on my way. The Lighthouse Beach Lodge is pure magic. It's such a pocket of tranquility, where you fall asleep listening to the soothing sounds of crickets and ocean waves. Every meal served was delicious and plentiful and the staff was like caring family. I loved the architecture, which invited for exploration of all the little details. It's not hard to imagine Helene and Eivind being happy there in their own personal tranquility. And now they shared it with me. I thoroughly needed it, but didn't realize it. At least not until I was there. The beach offers all you could ever need, and there is generally just something pleasing about being at the ocean without having to hear traffic. 
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I even found the energy to start running again. Back home (before the Saga) I was a keen runner. But recently in Zambia I found that I was struggling to run even 6km (3.7mi). Quite embarrassing for someone like me. I mean...I completed a full marathon in 3h 40min 2 weeks before the Saga! So I put on my trainers and did 5km (3.1mi) on the beach in the sand for 3 consecutive days. It felt really good!
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Helene and Eivind treated me to 4 nights at the lodge and that was just perfect! Can you believe I never met either of them until 4 weeks ago? It just goes to say that a stranger is a friend you've never met before.
For whatever reason I feel sad now. I cannot even describe why, because there is so much which is good. And it's certainly not my surroundings, because I was immediately invited back to stay with Charlotte and Morten. They are both from Denmark and have two daughters: Savannah and Summer. My relation to them began shortly after I reached Tanzania for round 2. Morten is the country manager at Maersk Line in Tanzania. And I have recently been on a number of Maersk ships within the Indian Ocean. So in short that lead to a lunch and later on Morten invited me out for dinner with his family. That lead to me house sitting for them, while they went for a weekend trip to Zanzibar. And after that I kind of just merged into the family routine until I went to the Lighthouse.
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This entire family!!! I feel like I have known them forever :)
This family is so amazing and they have taken really good care of me. While Morten has been at work, I have had lots of time with Charlotte and their 2 little rascals. If I wanted to be on my own, then I had the liberty to do that too. I have basically been living under the most optimal conditions lately and for a long while. But still I feel a sadness inside me? I wonder if it relates to my stolen bag? Or that I feel I'm spending too much time with not enough progress? Or the uncertainty of a few upcoming countries? Or something else completely?
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Now: draw lines between the stars.
There's is something I haven't told any of you. The Saga lost its financial sponsorship from Ross Offshore back in March 2016. Since than the Saga has been self funded and that is no long term solution. Ross Offshore is in a business which keeps them highly sensitive towards the oil prices, and in January 2016 I received an email stating: "Dear Thor, we regret to inform you..." In January I was already in trouble way over my head. That was right around when I gave up on the Saga and wanted to quit it all. Yes, that was when we were stuck in Central Africa with all its nasty bureaucracy which had a choke hold on the Saga. The email from Ross regretted their board room decision, but it had to be like that. It stated that  the Saga would be funded by them until the end of March 2016. With my head preoccupied by more serious matters than finances I quickly asked one of the Sagas other 4 sponsors to step up to the task of financial sponsorship. They were happy and exited to get deeper involved, but first had to have an approval from their head office. That approval never came...but it took several months before I learned that to be a fact. So in a sense I wasted a lot of time with that. I eventually fought my way out of Central Africa and entered the pleasant logistics of Southern Africa. Now I had more time for solving the financial question. And several things have been laid out on the table. Nothing, however, has borne any fruit. Then 3-4 months a very promising idea appeared and I have been working hard on bringing that idea to life ever since. That idea was the entire reason for why I desperately needed to reach Cape Town in South Africa. Unfortunately, the idea was shot down (twice) recently. But you know me: We keep on keeping on! So I'm not done with that idea and I'll keep it under the lid until it's time to reveal it. It's not just an's a MASTERPIECE! For them and for the Saga. I have had much support so far to reach amazing results, but as of yet it has not borne any fruit. Let's give it more time ;)
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Yup, this is how far we've come now ;)
So, yes...I'm a little sad. It's a sadness which I'm stuck with for now. But I have a remedy which might take some of it away. Because after 4 weeks of waiting I finally have the Burundi visa in my passport. Today I'm boarding a 48 hour train ride to Kigoma near Burundi. And from there we'll see if the way forward will be by boat or by bus. But country number 117: Here we come!
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Tinga Tinga. Look it up online :)
You know, don't worry about the finances of this project. It's not the lack of money that gets to me. It's the the lost opportunity which stings. I see great things which still have to come. But I see them as clear as my hand in front of me. Too many people just see their feet and it's overwhelmingly frustrating! I've been to a few countries, where it felt like missing opportunities was something endemic. The Saga counts over 20,000 online followers now and is steadily growing as more people discover it. If everyone paid $2 then the Saga would be set for its remaining duration of approximately 2 years and 3 months. So I'm not worried as I'm sure the money will come from somewhere. But it has always been my intention that those who wanted to take part in the Saga could do so for free. So I'm not really keen on crowdfunding the remaining adventure. But we'll see.
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I have been thinking something lately. And you're not going to like it. I've been thinking: "Maybe we've reached the end of the line. Maybe I should go home". But I won't go home...and I will not quit. The Saga is over when I reach the last country in the world! Because around here we: KEEP ON KEEPING ON! 
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Thanks for playing folks. Let's play another round ;)

Best regards

Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - round 2
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
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Bureaucracy and sand between my toes (Tanzania)

Eastern Africa is so far a delight
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(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!
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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 ;)
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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.

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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 ( 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!! :)

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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.
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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 
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My fellow vikings: Helene and Eivind.
Initially Helene offered that I could get some free R&R at their beach lodge called: the Lighthouse!
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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.
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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?
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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. 
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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.
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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:
Oh but 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 ;)
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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.
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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.
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Zawadi (reward). A monthly wage for a receptionist is around TZS 675,000 ($310). 
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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:
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! ;)

Best regards

Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - smiling
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga
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Once Upon a Saga
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