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My suitcase and hand luggage are ready. Let me put it on the scale one more timeÂ… suitcase 23kg and hand luggage 6kg on the dot. It is filled with all kinds of craft stuff. My destination is Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and then a three hour trip to Morogoro. Wait, wait, I have to make sure if my malaria tablets, the sun screen and mozzie repellent are in. Yes. They are almost as important as my passport and ticket.

I am a bit nervous – a bit of a fear of the unknown … will I like the food (this is a big one) Will I be able to swallow what is put before me? Will it be too hot? I don’t even want to think of all the creepy crawlies!!

Upon my arrival I was taken shopping. To my surprise, we went to Shoprite. Yes, Shoprite, as Shoprite in South Africa. I couldn’t believe my eyes – shelf upon shelf packed with South African goodies: Tennis biscuits, Liqui fruit juice, Ceres fruit juice, dried fruit, rusks, etc. I only discovered the boerewors on my way back to England.

Driving to Morogoro reminded me of Kwa Zulu Natal. Maybe it was the Shoprite impression still fresh in my mind. I have never experienced so many speed traps or police on the road as during this three hour trip. Like in South Africa, they hide behind the bushes, but I donÂ’t think they are making any money. The motorists are so loyal to each other and miles before we see them we were warned by the flicker of a right indicator.

My arrival at my destination was quite a ceremony! There was a quick cell phone conversation as we got close to the gate, and the next moment a group of women with branches with flowers and other plants came out the gate dancing and singing and shouting. Quite overwhelming! They all grabbed me and hugged me and welcomed me warmly.

To my great relief, I was taken to my own little place – bedroom, bathroom and a small stoep. I had many happy hours sitting there, watching the stars at night, seeing the reflection of the sunset on the buildings which made me get out quickly to see yet another beautiful sunset.

My first week was spent by leading a Christian Hospitality seminar. Some people travelled far distances to attend, and others even paid for the seminar with a kilo of rice. One girl came from Rwanda – I had so much respect for her. She lost most of her family during the genocide, yet she stayed gracious and gentle.

I have to tell you that everyone has a cell phone. There are hundreds of little corrugated iron shacks that sell them. I met a Masai man and as I admired his jewellery, when he reached inside his robe and pulled out a cell phone. All the bells, whistles and lights were going off. It was just so funny – I had to control myself for all I was worth not to laugh.

One highlight was a trip into the bush to visit the Masai. The Masai people are not popular in town. They are verbally abused, are spat on and rejected. The people I visited are helping the Masai to learn the Swahili language , and how to read and write. They teach them to sew and how to work with leather The Masai moves around a lot, and the men have many wives. I was told that a fifty year old man can have up to twenty wives. Jealousy amongst the wives is not tolerated – they are sent home to their parents.

Another highlight was a trip to the Game Park. We saw loads of animals: impala’s, elands, giraffes, wildbeasts, buffaloes, rietbokke, crocodiles, hippopotamus, and lions! The vultures were an ugly picture – about thirty of them were waiting for the lions to leave. We had two close encounters with some elephants and I thought one was doing a bit of low flying as she was running across the road to protect her young! Wow, that was awesome to see!

Even though the clouds were dark I was told it wouldn’t rain. All of a sudden big drops landed on the dust – oh, the smell! Not something you get to smell in England where it is always – or rather most of the time – raining!

I guess you are wondering I coped with the food. Well… I ate rice and beans every day! A few times we had rice and lentils. The only thing I couldn’t eat was the little dried fish.. :eek: The fruit was fantastic – watermelon, papajas, naartjies, sweet oranges, sweet little banana’s and sweet granadillas. No creepy crawlies. My breakfast was brought in the morning and left outside on the stoep. The last morning I opened the margarine to find hundreds of tiny, tiny ants in the tub! What a farewell present – it was almost as if they wanted to tell me they were around!

I left Dar es Salaam realising with a new appreciation in my heart for GodÂ’s creation and that the map of Africa is definitely in my heart. I am planning to Morogoro in 2007.
I am almost envious to think or even picture you sitting outside at night watching the sky and the stars...I think God has given Africa a special gift in the night sky... I have always loved the darkness of Africa and the beauty of the stars.
Your article has certainly touched me very deeply.
It is amasing that they all have cell phones. my brothter told me it is just som much cheaper and easier for them to have a cell phone because they don't need to put up all the lines. It was a great experience for you.
Thank you Joan and Thistle.... it was a wonderful time.
What an amazing continent!!! You're article has given me another reason to be grateful to be here again. It is very very easy to loose perspective.
Thanks for sharing your trip with us :blom:. Really enjoyed reading your article :hartlik: :hug:
What a wonderful experience! Thanks for sharing it with us.
Thanks everyone! I will post some photo's soon.