Travelling through a foreign country is nice, even if it’s only for the scenery. The most important aspect of going abroad is to meet new people, though, people with their different stories, backgrounds, wishes and goals. It is those encounters that shape my view of a country and make the journey worthwhile. Here you will find some people from a school in Tanzania that I work with in a partnership. That remote village in Tanzania is well-connected, though, because of the huge amount of work done by the Lutheran Church and partnerships in Germany. Asking the students about their dreams and wishes, you learn that they are all yearning for playing their part in society: doctors, lawyers, policemen, teachers.
Along the way you meet the guest-house owners, volunteers and the wonderful chefs. Great people from all over the world.
In other parts you find street-vendors, young and old, doing business, but their wishes and dreams? I do not know yet, though I have some ideas. In the lodges you and the driver can find some rest and the owners will fascinate you with their heritage between Europe and Africa, a rich and uneasy past, at times.
I cannot tell all the stories here, but maybe the faces spark your imagination.
This blog post is different from others in that it explicitly promotes the school partnership between Blankenese, Germany and Lupila, Tansania. The images hopefully give some impressions of our partnership and maybe if you have either time or money (or both), you might consider volunteering, be it at church, at school or by donating to one of the more respectable agencies.
Our school partnership has a long tradition. Having started in 1990 I have participated only in the last six years but I already feel like I am part of a community. This year I was there on my fourth trip which was all about finding a new direction of how our two schools should work together. In the process, though, we could witness how donation money was well-spent on an assembly- and dining-hall and how large NGOs like UNIDO help less-developed regions gain a lot of independence by building a large hydroelectric power-plant. Some of these efforts and successes came about by church and school partnerships, but mainly by the villagers of Lupila, who are characterized by determined teachers, pastors, accountants and a populace which supports ideas and projects with a lot of volunteer work.
Being on the road in Tanzania is actually not fundamentally different from being on the road in Germany. That being said, the differences are sometimes harsh. In the last blog I talked about rubble roads and their abundance in rural parts of Tanzania is striking, to say the least. Here I am more concerned with visual differences. The kinds of motorcars, the bustling street life, the amazing colours fuelled by the ocre-dust, the clothing and the general openness of public life in the towns and cities. The blog-post picture shows a bajaji, a three-wheeled motorcycle used as a car. These nimble things come from India but have grown to immense popularity in Tanzania. The streets are teeming with them – at least in parts where a middle-class is forming. Having such a vehicle means huge popularity and mobility as you are instantly able to transport people or goods from one town or village to the next, which is still problematic as the images from the rural areas show:
it’s more rustic. Almost no one has a car or jeep. Some go on motorcycles (more to come) or bikes. Transportation by hauling stuff on your head abounds and is a balancing feat I struggle to understand.
Many of these images were shot from our trusty Toyota Cruiser (Asante, Malik) others were shot candidly on the streets and pathways. I hope these images help portray one aspect of being on the road for two weeks: diversity.
Going to Ruaha-National-Park is an adventure in itself. Shortly after Iringa you leave the tarmac and go on a rubble-road for 55 miles. Mean speed drops to a crawl of 15 mph max and the whole journey takes three to five hours, depending on the vehicle. Once you enter the camp, which is close to the gate of the park, bliss awaits. Tandala tented camp is centered on two communal areas, one on poles with a thatched roof and luxurious South-African leather sofas and one under the open sky. The tents (after all, it’s called tented camp) each sit on a platform on stilts and are of the rough’n’lush kind. They keep all of the uncomfortableness of the rough nature outside and let fresh earthy air and beautiful sunlight inside. Massai watch over you day and night and the chef caters to almost all whims the European palate may come up with.
These amenities are complemented by an artificial waterhole which is frequented by elephants, kudos, impalas, baboons, warthogs, birds and sometimes even lions. The lodge belongs to Dionysia and Yanni, both coming out of families with a long history in Tansania. We’ve spent quite some time talking, laughing and exchanging ideas with each other. Their hospitality is enormous and they made me feel at home right away. Thank you for that!
From the camp you can enter the car either with your own jeep, a rental with a driver or by bus. I never managed to be in the park either in dusk or early dawn, so most animals are tucked away in the shadow of trees. That doesn’t lessen the experience (though the resulting photographs).
The Ruaha National-Park is located in the western regions of Tansania on a highland plateau of roughly 900m. Since 2008 it has been the largest national-park in Tanzania. Surrounded by mountains it receives twelve hours of continuous sunlight during the dry season with temperatures rising to up to 35C. At night falling winds blow mightily across the plains. These pictures were mainly taken around noon when temperatures are at their hottest and most animals seek shelter under a tree. No one but tourists would go out at that time of day.