When I was recently looking for something on English version of my blog I’ve realized that I haven’t translated my entry from Kaunas, which ends my Lithuanian saga. Well, the time has come then. Continue reading
Despite the unexpected attack of winter in Europe it’s impossible to hide the fact that the spring is approaching with big steps. I will end the winter period with blog entry. During the first weekend of March Sweden hosted an annual 90-kilometre Vase Race (Swedish: Vasaloppet) in Sweden. This race takes place in the Dalarna county which symbol is the so-called Dalarna Horse (Swedish: Dalahäst) and is part of the so-called Winter Week, when different length races take place. Two years ago in February I spent a few days there, let me then describe my experiences.
I have already described my adventures in Africa so now it’s time for some “Polish traces”. As for Polish explorers and travellers in Africa they most often went to North Africa. In East Africa there were only a few of them but their exploits are worth the description. Continue reading
So we got to Nairobi. The city has more than three million inhabitants and its name comes from a water hole called in Maasai Enkare Nairobi – a place of cool water. The city was founded relatively recently in 1899 and it was a rail station between Mombasa and Kampala. As early as 1905 it became the capital of the British protectorate and a tourist destination as people used it as a starting point for safari and hunting. After gaining independence Nairobi began to grow rapidly and is now a city of contrasts, besides the enclosed neighbourhoods like Karen we also find the second largest city slum in Africa – Kibera. But we didn’t have time to get to know the city well. We were picked up from the airport by a driver named Kwach who took us to my friend Gosia who worked in Nairobi for InterHealth, an international charity. We were taken to the charity event that was ending soon but they still served food and I never say no to free food 😉
So we landed at the hotel on Diani Beach. The hotel was actually a few large cottages where the ground floor and the first floor were separate rooms with kitchenettes, the lower one being like a small apartment. The whole estate is surrounded by a wall and between the houses there’s a lot of greenery – bushes with flowers and palm trees. We were warned to close all windows because monkeys like to go into the cottages. We also had a baboon that ate our chocolate and shamelessly used our floor as a toilet.
Not every conquest is successful – read about my attempt! Continue reading
The final point of the program before returning to Arusha was the closing ceremony of the project. Unfortunately on the same day a funeral happened with a large number of people attending but a lot of people came to our “party” anyway, including the Elders and the local politician. The ceremony was held near a tree thought by the Maasai as sacred. This is a fig variety (ficus natalensis), called locally mutuba (interesting fact for those who read Tomek’s books – from this tree bark is obtained, from which fabric (bark cloth) is made, traditionally worn by members of the Baganda tribe and often featuring King of Buganda – kabaka. Tomek Wilmowski with friends visited kabaka Dausi Chwa II. I couldn’t help myself 😉)
I already described a visit to Tengeru and our safari. A lot had happened during those two days in Africa… After returning from safari we had a dinner with ladies from Sweden, with whom we were going to spend the next five days and we had to plan the next day. We started the next day with a quick breakfast and then our two Land Rovers arrived. We loaded our luggage and went shopping. We had to buy stuff for the whole week. When shopping, first in the supermarket and later at the local market, I felt a bit like an explorer preparing for the expedition in the nineteenth century. I know I exaggerate a little, but if we ran out of water, someone would have to run to the well in the morning and then boil the water. Being the only man in the group it’s easy to guess who would be responsible for this task 😉 Thats’s why it was important to buy everything from the list.
Perhaps the most emotional moment in Africa for me was a visit to the Polish Cemetery in Tengeru. Tengeru lies near Arusha, about 20 minute drive (a little longer now with all the road works). From Arusha we took a matatu, a local means of transport which are small vans, richly decorated (often in the colours of the English football clubs) packed to the fullest. The system is simple but effective. Vans operate according to more or less specific routes. The crew consists of a driver and a “tout” who shouts the final destination, gets people in and takes the money. There are no specific stops, if you need to get off the matatu stops 🙂
The pleasure of taking matatu will cost you 500 Tanzanian shillings per person which is about £0.18. From the junction with the main road we took a taxi for 10,000 shillings (less than £4) which was not an excessive price because the driver drove us to the cemetery, waited for us to see everything and drove us back to the intersection where again we boarded the matatu. We were a small attraction, being the only white people in the matatu.
The basis of the economy is agriculture but tourism revenues are an important source of income for the people and Government of Tanzania. Kenya is a role model when it comes to tourism. The infrastructure there is more developed almost everyone speaks English and Kenyans are proud to say that they are way ahead of Tanzania. And although the United Republic of Tanzania (the creation of Tanzania was the merger of the British colonies of Tanganika and Zanzibar, hence the name) is younger than Kenya only by one year (if anyone’s interested in the process of creating independent states in Africa, please refer to Ryszard Kapuscinski – it’s worth it!) Difference in progress between two countries is easily noticable.