Sunday, 30 September 2012

My first shark!

Sunday September 30

When I first thought of this journey and the fact that I would be away from family and friends for three months, I must admit that up there with the major sacrifices was the knowledge that I would miss seeing Featherstone Rovers play in their third consecutive Grand Final.  After the reports of today’s game possibly the sacrifice was worth it but it still hurts to see the result.

A quite day for me here so time to gather my wits and philosophise.  All my life one of my favourite singer/song writers has been a folk singer from my youth called Tom Paxton.  When I have a guitar to play, I usually turn to one of his pieces first to loosen my fingers and focus my mind.  I have no guitar here, and can’t find anyone else with one, so I have no opportunity to practice the pieces but this morning a verse from one of his songs came to mind.  It is from a love song called “My Lady’s a Wild Flying Dove’ and the words of one verse go –

She tells me she's learning 
Just how full her cup can be 
she asks me to help her 
But I know, she's teaching me.

No, I haven’t found a lady friend, Chez, I’ve got the best already, why look?  It just illustrates how I feel at the moment about my trip to Tanzania, the she in the verse.  I supposedly came as the ‘ticha’ to use what skills I possess to help in the local school and yes, I feel I am doing that; but I feel I am learning far more than I am imparting. Seeing a different lifestyle, not better, not worse, just different, with different values and expectations. I haven’t been here for even three weeks yet so it is far too early to be able to comment deeply on what I see around me, but certainly I feel that I made the right decision to come here and learn.

That’s enough thinking for one day.  I’m getting a headache.

To clear the headache I decided that, as the tide was well out, I would try to walk round the headland to the north into the bay where the turtles were. When I had gone with Denis we had clambered up onto the top and cut across on dry land but I decided to see how I would go.  It was during this attempt that I had my second ‘Tom Hanks’ moment of the trip.  The sand soon changed to sea-pitted limestone and in flip-flops the going was hard.  It was then that I realised that no-one was anywhere around and a sprained ankle as the tide returned could be tricky for a castaway.  Unusually sensible for me but I retraced my steps.

As I returned to the sand I found that a local fishing Dhow had beached in my absence and the fisherman was more than willing to show me that part of his catch was a small shark.  I hope that is as big as they come and mother isn’t around somewhere looking for her offspring.  He said the shark would fetch him Tsh 500 when he sold it so I was more than willing to double his profit by giving him the same amount for a picture.

I walked back past a strange wood of trees that at high tide have their trunks and lower branches covered with water but are able to survive in such a salty environment.  I also saw scores of crabs.  Not edible ones but tiny ones the size of a house spider that sprint away rapidly as you approach.  They are perfectly camouflaged and really scoot across, faster than any spider, and must reach speeds of 3m/sec, which is very quick when you are moving sideways.  They disappear down vertical holes in the sand and as some of these in places were 3cm across, I was glad it was only the little ones that came out to play

The wood in the sea

Spider Crab

The day ended with goodbyes as Rose, Denis’ wife, is returning to Uganda on Monday morning after her first ever visit to Tanzania, and Vicky, who cooks most of my food, is going to visit her children in Moshi for fifteen days.  The old place will be empty.

I wish them safari njema. 

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