Saturday, June 28, 2008

No Mans Land

A vacation needed, and adventure gotten! I have just returned from one of the world'nt forgotten paradises. Kigoma, the hardest to get to city in TZ on the coast of one of the largest lakes in the world-the longest in the world and the one with the most volume(as I'm told)-Lake Tanganyika....may be one of the nicest towns I've been to. Set among the rolling hills, next to a lake that keeps the temperature down with breeze, we were privledged to gorgeous sunsets, good company and an adventreu I can't wait to share! AFter a seminar held in Dar, my 2 friends, my fiance and I all started our adventure by baording the train to Kigoma. We brought a lot of water, some PB&J fixings, some cereal and posdered mild, candies books and a sense of adventure. We had heard horror stories and stories that weren't so bad about the train, so we decided to go for it. Unlucky for us, a theif stole 2 of our 4 train tickets before we got on the train-and Geoff and I had to spend the morning we were leaving in the police station making a report-we had NO desire to have to spend another $50 for EACH ticket...on our meager salaries that was a painful thought. However, luck stayed with us, and when we showed the police report to the conductor, he said no problem, and we all boarded the train hassle free-not having to spend that extra $100:) We took first class, having heard that third class was a bit of a nightmare-like a daladala(think 20 seats, 80 people, sweat, stink, elbow in the face, no sleeping, thirst, big butts, theives....)-there were 2 small compartments connected by a door-a top and bottom bunk/seat in each compartment as well as a small sink with water actually in it! The windows open with a breeze coming in, it wasn't bad at all! It may be because the train was so novel to me, but it was my favorite way to travel long distances in this country-we were comfortable, bedding was provided, great views of large land expanses...the ability to buy just about anything out of the train friend even brought a portable DVD player, so in the evening we watched a movie on the train! The only time I felt the most nervous(which wasn't a lot) was a night-we were told that thieves like to slip through the windows from the top of the train and steal stuff..the conductor told us to leave our door open to the hallway and shut our windows...I thought to myself-there is NO WAY I will do that. I would't be able to sleep knowing that all those people passing on the aisles were able to look at me sleeping...but if we shut the windows, we would suffer the stuffy small space and feel totally clausterphobic. so we left the door locked, and the window opn and had absolutely no problems. It took us 43 hours total to get to Kigoma from Dar and the second day many of the thrid class passangers and travellers from villages in teh middle fo nowhere had boarded our train car and were blocking the hallway completley. You have to think that thrid class was bad-if those passengers were coming to the first class car to stand 5 people in the toilet ...which looked as though someone had a rectal explosion all over the floor. It took courage to leave our compartment of peace to enter the crammed hallway to work your way to the bathroom, ask all the people in the bathroom to scoot over all the sleeping bodies ont he floor so you could pee....however, our compartment was great. We arrived into town at about 12 in the afternoon and went directly to buy tickets out of igoma and back to Dar. To our shock and dismay, the only tickets that were available were third class tickets...and not until the end of July! So that left 2 options...a killer bus ride home or selling our soul and first born child and buying the most ridiculously expensive plane tickets home. We chose the plane-$250 per person for a 2.5 hour trip back home. ouch. So, off to buy the plane tickets then to find a place tos tay. our taxi driver droe us to a hotel, but stopped onthe road first and talked to a man, Brother Dirk who is from Belgium working at the brothers of Charity in Kigoma. He directed us to a safe and quiet little guesti and then told us he'd meet us later. What a great man! We met up with him that night at the pub and he told us he'd help us get into Gombe National Park-in fact, this great guy helped us get a lifti with Tacare(pronounced Ta-car-eh) for free AND told us Jane Goodall was in Kigoma the same day. He took us under his wing and if he ever reads this-here is a shout out to him-THANK YOU!!! We ended up MEETING the world famous Jane goodall-classy and kind would be the first words that come to mind. I got to shake her hand, but my dear friend Cynthia, in her attempt to be cool, attcked this woman with a HUGE HUG! we got a few pics, and then got on her boat and headed into the national park. We satyed in a little rest house on the lake(recommendation-stay at the second house, not the first set of houses...more isolated and nice), enjoying PB&J sammy's watching the sunset after a crazy and refreshing swim in the lake. Bright and early the next morning, we boated over to the entrance gate, near to the first set of rest houses and started our jungle adventure. We hiked with our guide about 2 hours before we stumbled upon a family of 5 chimpanzees..the 'F' family. Every family of monkeys has a letter designated to them-and every child of the mother is given a name by Jane starting with the same letter. The mother was carrying a 7 month old baby with the cutest face I've ever seen...almost looking plastic! There were two older kids and then a male named Titan(not in the same family) Titan is apparently the most aggresive of the chimps and likes to throw rocks at the humans. We all got to sit about 10 feet away and watch the chinmps for about 2 hours. They are so human like its weird-they groomed eachother, tickeled eachother-do you know that chimps can laugh?!-sneezed, and my favorite was the little baby would peek over the little mound of dirt and stare right back at us, try his hardest to come closer, then his mom would grab him by the arm and pull him back to her, trying to make him take a nap. but the little guy wouldn't have any of that napping, he jsut kept tring to get closer to us ovr and over again...Titan however, was the guy we talked about the most. Apparetnly, chimps don't like to have their pics taken when they are tired...when they put their hands over their face of turn their back, it means that they don't want pics taken...and Geoff DID take a picture. Titanl first threw a stone at Geoff and then charged him....THEN, after sunbathing on the path, he comes rushing at our little group of 6! The guides were great and told us just to stand and be calm...Titan just was trying to scare us. He successfully made us all nervous. Titan-with that perfect name for him- headed deeper into the jungle. After our period of time wathcing these beautiful creatures, we headed to a waterfall where we had a little bit of a snack, then headed back to camp. Had a good swim in the lake, ate some tuna salad for dinner, then called it a night. We took the water ferry back to the camp-which was fun for public transport minus the whiffs of vomit you would get ever 3 seconds. We applied layers and layers of bug spray to our hands and every time a whiff of puke was carried our way, we woudl start sniffing our hands-not a great soltion, but better bug spray than me puking over the side due to the nasty smell. the ferry took about 3 hours to get back to we spent our afternoon relaxing, eating ice cream and fruit and reading. OUr last day in Kigoma, we went to an NGO/orphanage near to town to check out the work they are doing-brother Dirk took us there- and then to the small village of Ujiji to see Dr David Livingstone's memorial-which is just a rock falling apart a little. It was under 2 giant mango trees which were said to be the offspring of the original mango tree...this is the place where DL and Mr Stanly had the famous lines "Dr Linginstone I presume?". It was ok-but there wasn't much to the memorial-and we didn't even go in the museum because it was $3(which if I was REALLY into history I would have seen...)we visited the lake, then packed up our bags and spent the rest of the day at the beach. We finished out evening at the same pub we met Bro Dirk and celbrated G's birthday with some cake and ice cream. It was a great ending to a great trip. I'm excited to go back to the village and to get working again. this vacation has relaxed me, helped my mental health and prepared me for my last semester teaching. I'll put up pictures when I can of our great chimp adventure! Love J


Blogger Laura said...

Hi Jenny! Sounds like a great trip! I love reading your posts - they are a window into another world.

4:17 AM  
Blogger Mom Knight said...

Jenny -- great story with so much detail. I can envision the whole trip! You guys are too much with your wild African adventures, which of course is evolving quite solidly into a LIFE! Wish you were coming home in sept with geoff!!

7:42 PM  

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