Friday, 12 October 2012

Street Wise

Friday October 12th

As I rode on the back of Denis’ motorbike to Pangani in time for the 7:00 am Tanga ‘basi’, I wondered what I could put on the blog today because by now you must be sick of hearing about the Tanga run.  But no day is ever boring on this trip.  Well for me, anyway, so I hope not for you.

I caught the bus and found myself sitting next to a gentleman called Joseph, who spoke excellent English.  He lives in a thatched house near the Boza turn off but informs me that the big pile of bricks and corrugated tin I pass every morning, just as I leave the field and go onto THE HILL, is his, and he has bought a plot on the junction to construct a new house.  He was on his way to another boarding school in Tanga itself to hopefully enrol his 13 year old daughter for the new Form I starting in January.  Once again I was so impressed with the commitment they seem to have to the education of their children and that this is worthy of an investment of hard earned cash.  I realise that I know many people in the UK with the same commitment but I think I have been soured by my experiences before retirement, working for so long with just the opposite.

I’ve never mentioned before that on the occasions I have caught this early bus we are overrun for the first ten minutes by miniature Norwich City fans.  This is what it looks like anyway as about twenty five youngsters of primary school age board the bus looking a picture in their bright green skirts or shorts and their canary yellow shirts.  They get off the bus about five minutes past Nkoma Bay and Joseph informed me that his second child, a boy, is one of the travellers who make this journey every day, because their school is the best in the area.  The badge has English in the roundel and he informed me that it is run by an English lady.  I met the lady in question at the turtle hatching and I’ll have to investigate as it sound like this is one place where we are getting it right.

I have mentioned before, the torrential rain that falls early some mornings.  It seems to be a pattern for black heavy rain clouds to come off the ocean but as soon as the sun rises they burn away and the rest of the day is beautiful.  Today was much more British.  Dull, grey, eight eighths cloud cover and constant rain from about 7:30 until well into the afternoon.  I wish I had had my camera ready as we entered Tanga as first two cyclists and then a motorcyclist road past with umbrellas held high.  Luckily I have a coat folded ready in the front of my rucksack, so with this and the trusty baseball cap I could cope with whatever the elements threw at me.

I got off the bus in the bus station and realised that I am finding it increasingly easier to deal with the crowds of hawkers that want to sell you things or the helpers that want to put you on a bus to Arusha.  I past the hoards and wended my way to the row of Bajajes (is that the plural?) and for the first time this trip had a conversation with a stranger that involved no English at all.  I won’t bore you with the Swahili but the conversation basically went –

I go to Barclays.  How much?
3 000 shillingi
No. 2 000
2 500
No 2 000
Thank you

Good eh?  Not Shakespeare, but Neil Armstrong didn’t say that much more when he landed on the moon.  What made it better was that when we got to Barclays he claimed to have no change for a 5000 note and then tried to palm me off with two 1000 notes and two coins (200 each).  The conversation continued, with palm held out –

600 shillingi
Another coin appears.
400 shillingi
Two more coins appeared.
Muzungu, I grinned and he grinned back.

The usual shopping trip followed, when I even managed to find a pair of goggles for Deo, and then back to the bus station for the journey home.  No big bus in sight only two ‘dala dalas’ and a short wheelbase bus.  I passed on the minibuses, climbed on the bus and waited the 45 minutes until it was full and we could go.  I soon realised that I should not have packed up my coat and stowed it away so quickly.  The constant rattling and shaking kept opening the sliding window next to me for the rain to drive in, and when I was able to hold this closed (buttons and handles long since gone) the water was still dripping down on me.  I was slightly better than the gentleman three seats in front where there was a constant dripping from the middle of the parcel shelf above his head.  Thankfully he had a hat on.  The road itself was very bad as well.  Light brown rivers down either side often met in the middle and covered the road completely, forcing the driver to slow right down in case deep potholes would ground the bus. Added to this, the conductor forgot I had asked for Mkoma Bay and a stentorian bellow of ‘shusha’  (drop off) was needed before the bus eventually stopped, leaving me to traipse through the mud back to our road. 

Back home, the sky started clearing and as I sat with a mug of coffee contemplating my outing as a latter day “Officer Crabtree”, the world looked good.

Please don't miss my 'Boza Printer Appeal' below.


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