Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Backpacking off the beaten track in Tanzania - on the way to Amani Forest!

I left Lushoto on the 26th of June. My next destination was the Amani Nature Reserve, which stands as one of the primary reasons for me picking this country as a destination. I learned about Amani, its beauty and importance, out of Rainforest Conservation Fund, which has established one of its international project, here. This has happened in the begging of the last year, when I started researching the organization (the next, dedicated to the Amani Project post, will include info about RCF and our cooperation).
It was then when I discovered this natural monument, and since then visiting the area has been a dream to me!
I had informed RCF about my intention to visit, and I was contacted by Mr Cordeiro, from the USA, but also by Mr Dangalasi, who could not join me to Amani, because of the final examinations of the University of Dar Es Salaam (he is teaching there). On our last communication, he told me that a local priest, named father Barutti, who has been working with RCF, would be my guide when I was to arrive there, and he would also host me to his place. And so was it.
A dala-dala took me to Muheza after almost five hours of travelling literally one on another. But you need to witness this in order to get the picture. The way they fill these small, ancient and badly maintained vans with passengers is equally impressive with the way they drive… Especially for him who will experience this for the first time, I guess it will look to be completely insane to him.
When arrived in the bus station of Muheza, I headed to a local restaurant, got myself a “tsai” (tea), and called father Barutti. He told me he would come and pick me up with his 4X4. Amani is some 35Km away from this city, and this should normally take one hour and a half. One hour later, he called me again and said his track was stack in the mud, as it has been heavily raining this morning. I said I could take a local transport, but Mr Barutti said that the taxis and the public bus did not make schedules because of the bad condition of the road. There was the possibility of the bike-taxis, but I didn’t have to do that, because he would come and pick me up, next morning. I got the idea that this kind of special treatment had to do with my co-operation with the organization, that it was a fruit of it, which proved to be far away from truth, as proven in the next few days.
After hanging up, I lifted the backpack and started searching for a guest house. I ended up in the Ambasador guest House, where I got a double room, and the worst -by far- night for this trip. When darkness fell, the room filled up with mosquitoes, so I sprayed around and went away. I could not trust my valuables in that place so I decided to carry them, which made me feel quite uncomfortable when I had to walk the dark streets –there is almost not at all public lightning in Muheza- of the city, being the only Muzungu around. I walked around to find a friendly place to spend some time and chill a bit –I needed that after  the hardship of this day. I found one which could fit my purposes, but the mosquitoes over there had been quite aggressive, also. Or this is what I thought it to be. Lately I have turned to be a bit paranoid with the malaria thing. It definitively has to do with the fact I have encountered people having it in the last few days; these two guys, that one from Glasgow and his friend, who both got it, and were staying in the very next room of mine in the YWCA in Dar, and that Israeli girl who got the decease in Mozambique, while taking the pills… I don’t know, I have been thinking about it a lot, lately. Maybe I should start the prophylaxis. But, I have to take the test, first. Maybe, I already have the parasite. It can be in the blood without any symptoms at all, for quite a long time. Anyway, what I did was I went back to the guest house. I didn’t even eat. I went to the room, took a shower –by the way, there was no running water, but a bucket with water and a big plastic cup- fixed super-properly the mosquito net around the bed, and got into it. The spray had done a good job, I could hardly see one or two insects around, but It was certain that they would fill the room just a few hours later.
I lied on the bed, safely surrounded by the net, and started to read a book; this time, I brought out of the backpack a collection of Oscar Wild’s poems. I had been reading for just a few minutes when the power was cut. Absolute darkness! It was still early, maybe earlier than 21pm. I could not read, I could not go out, I could not stay out of the net. I felt trapped! The fan stopped working, the room started to get hot. I passed the night, lied on the bed, sweating and reading an Ebook on my computer –thankfully, the battery was almost full.
Sometimes the trip drives you to a weird location, in order to bring you in an uncomfortable situation and…speak to you..!
The Ebook I chose to read that night was a collection of lyrics of this greek group named “Trypes” (“Holes”) and of interviews of its members.
And out of a sudden, I came upon a song I didn’t know before. It could be translated like:
The Road

No subsides, there it goes the fire in my heart
Consumes me and throws me out of Eden to nowhere
The centuries are asking for how long shall I stand
To shamble out there barefoot, alone
And I whisper my own is the joy
My own the blood, my own the terror

I am not alone, I am not alone
Everything is road
The fire,  the feast, the loss, the suffering
Every small death and the big, infinite world

Everything is road…

by Dimitris Mamakos
more about Dimitris, here 
connect with Dimitris on facebook, here 

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