Wednesday, May 30, 2007


We took a weekend trip to Kigoma, which is on the shore of Lake Tanyangika.

A gigantic, crystal clear lake which is between Tanzania and the Congo. The drive was 4 hours along a narrow red dirt road. I'd have to classify the drive as adventure travel. Our driver, whom Ann calls Mudi Andretti (Mudi short for Mohammud), hit speeds of up to 75 mph on this rutted track. It is barely wide enough to fit two cars, but because of all the ruts, huge holes, and streambeds cutting through it, there is rarely two lanes that are flat. Besides, on both sides of the road the are people walking and biking, carrying things. As we go screaming by, they are all vying for room in the ditches and surrounding brush. It's not nice.

Women carry 40kg loads on their head, children hauling logs, and the stuff they put on their bicycles is impossible. These heavy steel fixed wheels with iron racks on the back are their trucks. You see piles of firewood about 4 feet wide, 3 feet high, and maybe 3 feet deep. You see 8 foot wide bundles of sugarcane, which must weigh about 30-50kg. Those kinds of wide loads had a hard time getting out of the way as we drove by. I pointed out a kid, about ten, pushing a bike that had 3 50kg sacks of rice on the back. Thats 330lbs. I thought that was impossible until our friend Dr. Leul said he saw a full grown pig on the back of one of these bikes. Plus, sometimes you'll see a whole family on one. Pretty common to see a bike with two single mattresses strapped to it or fifteen or so chickens in a wicker cage.

Anyway, we made it after 4 hours with only one fatality, a chicken. The president of Tanzania, Mr. KiKwete, was there. Ann had met him and he had called her by name to say goodbye when he left Kibondo. So we were joking that maybe he could score us a decent pizza. Pizza is highly coveted by the people working in Kibondo, because the diet is pretty monotonous. The food seems OK to me, but it's kind of a universal gripe around here. I'm trying to get enough bricks to build a pizza oven, and we are starting to learn to cook over the little Hibatchi's you have to use. No electric ranges or gas stoves here.

But Kigoma was beautiful, and I put some pictures up before the server froze.

Ann was happy about the hot water:

It is the starting point if you want to take a boat ride to the GOmbe stream to see the chimps. We didn't make that ride, but maybe next time.

Our trip back was another adventure, trying to beat the rain on Sunday, because the roads become rivers when it comes down, and getting back would have been a definite maybe if we got caught behind the water. But we made it, again with only one fatality, one dove of a pair that dipped below the grill.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a grand story! I felt like I was riding in that crazy vehicle dodging humans and animals. Take care and be safe. Love, MOM