Tuesday, February 1, 2011

First taste of Tanzania

In Mbaya, Tanzania, the train was late due to a derailed train up the line somewhere, and I had about 5 hours to kill. I trudged around town for a while, seeing the sights and all that. Just another dirty town, that looks exactly like the one before it. They are all great, but there not being much of anything different to see I headed back to the station. When I got there, I was informed it would be even later, not getting there until around 2:30 am. I was about to nestle down an the nice hard station floor like the hundred other people, but then met some new friends that wanted to go have a drink down the road. Their names are Jason form London and Lee from Korea. Great dudes, and if they are reading this, they better say hi. We went to the hostel/bar/kitchen down the road and killed about 5 hours just bullshitting. I talked about photography and western Africa with Jason, and about Korea and war and politics with Lee. I played Bao (a popular African board game) with some local girls on my travel size board. Oh ya, Lee is the first Korean I've met in Africa.

We all had first class, because of only a $4 difference, and unlike the train in South Africa, we had assigned cabins; ones that where big enough to stay in, even when not sleeping. It was great this time just watching the made rush through the gates as people pushed and shoved and bulled there way through the small opening as soon as they opened it. We were part of the stampede in S.A. It sure felt...human, this time, just waiting for the beasts to get through, run to their cars at the front of the train, then we mosey through, and make our way to the rear cars. I don't know why, but when these Africans travel they bring everything they own. I helped an old lady lift a bag once, and to my dismay it was about 150 lbs. I looked down and she had about 5 more. Luckily the train workers showed up.

The train ride through Tanzania was awesome. Quite the opposite of the one in S.A. Not crowded, I slept on a bed when I wanted, I had a big open window next to my bed/seat. I played cards and bao with the locals (try explaining a card game's rules to someone that knows no English or vise verse). I can honestly say the ride provided some of the best scenery I've seen in Africa. Dense, untouched jungle, something out of the movie "Congo". nothing but Jungle going up to steep cliffs, sometimes with waterfalls, usually with a lite, scary looking fog or mist on the peaks. Pretty awesome.
One thing interesting that I noticed were these self proclaimed "business men" that came onto the train with nothing but empty burlap bags. But eventually I caught on. The train stopped very often, and most or all of the trek was through some of the most remote villages in Africa. I mean, there would be nothing but thick jungle for miles and miles, then all the sudden the train would stop at a "town", nothing but huts poking out of the grass and trees. At each one of these the guys would get off and buy what ever the locals offered. usually bananas. They bought them so dirt cheap, that you know they were going to sell them in the big city or somewhere. I seen one guy bring back a huge branch with about 50 green bananas that he bought for 5000 shilling (around $3). He also had a big bag of tomatoes he got for about 1000. It was like buying wholesale, directly from the source. Pretty neat little business. So all in all, the 26 hour train ride was eventful and fun.

1 comment:

  1. Love the pictures! It is so lush and green there. The monkeys are cute too.