Day 301, Wednesday 31 October 2012 – Farmhouse camp, Tanzania
It was nice to sleep in a double bed for a change, it has been a while. I got to starfish in the middle and sprawl; it was a pretty good sleep. Even better was the fact we had breakfast in the cafe at 8:00, so no morning chores – and no tent dropping. I made the most of the space and had another hot shower, cut finger nails emptied my pack and repacked and got damp clothes dry – all while listening to music out loud. I miss those mornings!
Breakfast was a bit Faulty Towers, the people of Tanzania do not speak English like those in southern Africa (Tanzania is East Africa) so most of the staff had limited ability to communicate. I was the only person at our table of four who actually got what was expected for breakfast, two got slightly different things and one got nothing at all, and was still waiting to be served when I came back to the table twenty five minutes are leaving. I rang both my sons before we left this morning, I haven’t spoken to them in ages, no reception in Malawi when it was my youngest 19th birthday. It was great to chat to them and I will do it again soon.
We did not make the 9:00 am departure time, probably the first time we haven’t on the whole trip.
Our one and only visit today is a tea plantation tour just outside Tukuyu. The highlands of Tanzania are extremely fertile and are the breadbasket for the nation. Tea is grown all over and is the prime cash crop. We visited Kyimbila Estate, one of the larger private tea estates in the region, there are 15,000 tea growers – the majority of which are small family plots of one or a few hectares.
The visit was a tad boring, I am glad I did not do the tea plantation tour in Malaysia! The highlight was a small invasion by the tea pickers kids, there is a pre-school on the plantation as well as accomodation for the workers.
The scenery was good, but it is quite hazy in the hills – a mix of smoke and dust, so photos were not stunning.
We left the plantation after a couple of hours and drove for an hour or so before stopping for lunch on the roadside. Will and Brett changed one of the front wheels as the tyre had quite a deep gash and they did not want a repeat of the tyre blowing incident from a couple of days back. We were back on the road for 1:15 on the long drive towards our stop for the night.
Once out of the hills the scenery change back to dry and arid flat(ish) lands, and the people look noticeably poorer than the hill folk. Like Malawi there are a lot of half built and half derelict houses all along the road side.
Tanzania has a large muslim population so we passed many small mosques on the journey.
There is also a road upgrade project on, well that is what I am assuming anyway. Along virtually the whole length of the road stand houses with red and green X’s painted on them. Red are closer to the road than green and some of the green have 30m on the side, which I am assuming marks a line thirty metres from the edge of the current road. I guess someday they will be flattened.
We have been advised to not take photos of people out of the truck as it can upset some of the locals, so most of my shots are empty of people, but I assure you there are a lot about. Some are friendly and wave, the kids on the way to and from school particularly so. Most of the photos are taken through the window so loads of reflections – too lazy to drop the window!
This road is apparently littered with crashed trucks, we saw a couple today.
As mid-afternoon came around and we were still three of four hours away from the campsite for the night we arrived in one of the bigger towns looking for a gas station, there were plenty but none seem to have diesel, apparently there is a massive shortage – we didn’t realise the guys had been looking for a while. The government forced the oil companies to lower the cost of fuel so they just stopped delivering it…. we pulled into a deserted forecourt (that had loos !) and using air from the compressor pushed the last of the fuel from the secondary into the primary tank and with fingers crossed carried on.
Yay – tuk tuks !
Eventually we found a gas station that had diesel, we were there for a while as we waited for the local black marketeers to fill jerry can loads of diesel they can sell to stranded trucks and cars on the way. I think we were lucky, we did get two full tanks – about $600USD worth. Hallelujah !
Will had wanted to get to the campsite in daylight as driving on the roads are stressful as it is. However, it was dark soon after leaving the gas station and it started to get cold and rainy, luckily the rain stopped before we reached camp. The farm house campsite was really nice, great hot showers and clean non-smelly long drop loos. The added bonus was a lovely amurula hot chocolate they make in the bar, I had one for dessert. Up at 4:30 tomorrow, so an early night.