Tag Archives: Africa

Week 54: Mwaka Kogwa Festival

Week 54: Mwaka Kogwa Festival

This week was really nice, it started out with the Aston exchange trip arriving in Makunduchi. My daily routine remained pretty much the same, although I spent quite a few evenings visiting the Aston group. They get much better food than Mohammed has been getting and it makes a change from the food I cook for myself. I took a couple of the Zanzigap teachers down to meet the Aston group too, so that they could mingle with the wazungu.

Africa Trip

The main event of the week was the Mwaka Kogwa festival. I missed this when I lived here before because I arrived in late July and left in early July the following year. The festival is based around the rivalry between the northern and southern parts of the village. People gather in a large field and start singing and dancing, but the songs they sing mock the other people. The women sing songs that suggest that the men of the other half of the village have small manhoods and will not be able to produce children. Then a man from the north and a man from the south go into a hut which is then set on fire. The man who stays inside the hut for the longest time wins. The main event is a large fight, the men have sticks and whips made from banana plants, they beat each other until one of them submits. It is quite a strange festival to watch but is very enjoyable.

Africa Trip

Usually the festival lasts for 4 days, the other days are filled with parties and celebrations, but this year Mwaka Kogwa was the day before the start of Ramadhan so the celebrations have been delayed until after Ramadhan has ended.

Week 53: Settling in to Makunduchi life

Week 53: Settling in to Makunduchi life

This week I have been settling in to my routine which will continue for the next month or so. I get some breakfast and ride down to the beach by bicycle, I take my laptop so that I can use the internet in the hotel. I teach the staff in the hotel at 12 each day, English Monday to Wednesday and IT on Thursdays and Fridays, then just after 1pm I get a free meal with the staff. I ride back into the village ready to teach from 3pm while 5, these lessons are with students from Makunduchi Secondary school. I have three classes to teach during the afternoons, two of them are IT classes and one is English. After 5pm my time is my own, I usually relax in the house then cook my evening meal.

Africa Trip

I also met my best friend from when I lived here before, Mussa Kiongo, he is now a teacher and he asked me to go into his school to speak to his class. So one morning, on my way to the beach, I called in to his school. I answered a few questions and then ended up drawing maps of Europe and Africa on the board, asking the students to name each country I have visited. My house mate Mohammed has spent the last week or so travelling around Zanzibar with his brother, he had already paid for his food to be delivered to the house and decided not to cancel it, so that I could eat it. Luckily they didn’t bring his food, the food he has been getting is not good, sometimes it seems like they have intentionally brought him the worst of the available food. The lack of this bad food forced me to start cooking for myself, I wanted to eat well as I had not eaten properly for a week or so while I was ill. So I have been cooking tuna pasta and my favourite meal at the moment, potatoes sautéed with onions and garlic, served with scrambled eggs with onion, tomato and sausage inside. The food seems to be working well as I am feeling much stronger and full of energy.

Africa Trip

The only problem in my daily routine is the power goes off at around 8:15 until 9:30 most evenings which has caught me in the middle of boiling potatoes once or twice. As for my other side projects, I haven’t found a definite buyer for the motorbike yet, although there are a few people who have shown an interest. I also still need to find a job in India, I have a little over a month until I am supposed to leave Tanzania but I already have a contact for one job in the North of India but I am still looking for something in Delhi or Varanasi. Happy 18th Birthday to my brother Connor!

Weeks 51 & 52: A Year on the road

Weeks 51 & 52: A Year on the road

I started week 51 by moving out of the hotel and back into my old house in the village. There was also a guy called Mohammed arriving from England on the same day, he will be here for two months to teach in the school, his time here was organised through Zanzigap. We spent the first week travelling to the neighbouring villages and looking around the school. Mohammed was observing classes in preparation for his own lessons, I was waiting for confirmation of my own teaching job. About half way through the week my job was confirmed and I was asked to start as soon as possible. Unfortunately I started to feel ill towards the end of the week, at first it was just stomach cramps which I ignored thinking it was the normal kind of stomach issues people have from time to time when travelling. At the end of the week Mohammed’s brother arrived for a holiday, the first night he stayed in town, then the next day we went to Jambiani.

Africa Trip

By the time we got back from Jambiani I was feeling worse, the stomach cramps were now joined by headaches and fever. As I’m not taking any anti-malaria medication I have been on the look out for fever as this is one of the symptoms of malaria. I decided to go to the hospital and get a malaria test, it was negative, but I told them that I had been to Malawi recently and could possibly have got Bilharzia while I was there. Luckily I had already bought the medication in Malawi and was planning on taking it soon anyway. They told me to take the pills and see how I felt after a few days. The Bilharzia treatment is a one time dose, the size of which depends on your weight, the pills flood your bloodstream and kill the parasites, but can also cause stomach cramps and headaches. Luckily I didn’t get the stomach cramps but I did get a terrible headache, I spent the day in bed trying to sleep through it.

It has been a few days since I took the pills and I am feeling better, now the only problem is that I haven’t eaten properly for a week and have lost weight. I just need to cook myself some nutritious meals and I should be fine. Obviously I haven’t started teaching yet because I have been ill, but I should start teaching this week. As for my other arrangements, the Namibian government have transferred my money and I have had a couple of offers on the bike. The offers were a little lower than I am looking for (about £200 lower) but I’m in no hurry yet. As for making arrangements for India, I met a girl who spent some time working for an organisation in northern India, she sent an email to one of her friends there who has offered a job. We haven’t talked about wages yet but I have time to look for other jobs if this one doesn’t work out, at least it’s a start.

Weeks 48, 49 & 50: Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar

Weeks 48, 49 & 50: Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar

Week 48 started well, we managed to get our bikes into Dar es Salaam port and onto a ship. Once the bikes had been secured we headed to the ferry terminal and took a ferry to Zanzibar. We hoped to get the bikes off the ship quite quickly the next day and head to Makunduchi, unfortunately the process took around 9 hours, so when we got the bikes at around 6pm, just before sunset, we decided to stay another night in Stone Town. So on Wednesday morning we set off from Stone Town to Makunduchi. We arrived just before the end of school (1pm), it was a great feeling to drive my bike into the school and see my friends for the first time in six years. We talked about the changes in the school and took a walk into the village to see my friends new son.

Africa Trip

Although we had an offer to stay in the school house, we decided that we would prefer to sleep at the beach, so we drove down to the beach and walked around looking for a good spot. While we were walking on the beach we met a guy who worked in the one hotel in Makunduchi and he offered to give us a tour. Swimming in the pool was a Dutch doctor who is doing some charity work in the local hospital, she offered to let us stay in her spare room for the night. The next morning we headed off to Jambiani for a few days, but agreed to meet the Dutch doctors again, during the weekend, to swim with dolphins in Kizimkazi. We camped the beach next to a bar for a few days, enjoying the beach, and took a trip out to the coral reef to do some snorkelling.

Africa Trip

On Saturday the Dutch doctors arrived in Jambiani and decided to stay there a night so that they could watch a football match. The guy we had met on the beach in Makunduchi actually lived in Kizimkazi so I managed to negotiate to get the four of us out on a dolphin trip very cheap (around 8 US dollars each). I had been swimming with the dolphins a few times before but this time there were around 15 dolphins, so it made for an awesome experience. On the way back to the shore we stopped to snorkel for a while, I found a huge Triton Shell Sea Snail and our captain said he wanted to take it back to shore. We got back to the village and ate the snail with rice and a coconut sauce.

Africa Trip

After lunch we took the doctors back to Makunduchi and headed to Nungwi, on the way north we went through a police check point, Charlie was arrested because he didn’t have the correct permits to drive in Zanzibar, but they let him go when he signed a bail agreement. When we arrived in Nungwi I managed to negotiate some cheap accommodation in a bar which is not currently open for business, the guard had a pet monkey which he let me care for while I was in the area. The next morning Charlie drove to the court to see what punishment they would give him, in the end he just had to pay a bribe to the police and then buy the permits. We spent a few days around the beach, swimming and snorkelling. The best place for snorkelling is a small island called Mnemba Atoll, again we managed to negotiate a cheaper price (13 US dollars instead of 20). The snorkelling was great and we stopped on the beach for lunch before going back to Nungwi.

From Nungwi we headed back to Stone Town so that Charlie could take a ferry back to Tanzania. Charlie left on the Thursday and I headed back to Makunduchi. On my way down to the beach I bumped into two old friends, one of them is now the manager of the hotel on Makunduchi beach, he offered to let me stay there for free so I agreed. I have been there since Saturday but hope to move back into my old house in the village soon. My money has pretty much run out but I have three life-lines which I am looking into. Firstly there is the 450 Euro which the Namibian government still owes me, I have actually heard from them and they are ready to do a bank transfer. Secondly, I need to sell my motorbike, I can concentrate on this a little more once I move back into my old house and can unpack and carry out a few minor repairs. Thirdly, I have heard about some temporary teaching work which pays around 600 US dollars a month. While this isn’t much money, it is actually enough to live on with some left over to save. At the same time I need to start planning my time in India, I need to find a job before I can apply for a working visa so I need to find something soon.

Weeks 46 & 47: Cape Maclear to Dar es Salaam

Weeks 46 & 47: Cape Maclear to Dar es Salaam

The last two weeks have been excellent, Malawi is one of my favourite countries. Week 46 started with the birthday celebration of Joana, one of the girls we had met in Monkey Bay. We stayed in Cape Maclear for a few days before we decided to head north, but on the day that we tried to leave Charlie found that he had a puncture in his rear tyre. We tried to patch it but apparently having ‘slime’ in your tyre prevents patches from sticking. We had already slept in Cape Maclear from nine nights but we had to stay a tenth night so that we could sort out Charlies bike, he put a smaller tube in the tyre to last until we could get to the next town. The next morning we set off north and stayed a night in Kande Beach before we arrived in Nkhata Bay.

Africa Trip

Nkhata Bay is the most popular tourist destination on Lake Malawi, I prefer Cape Maclear, but Nkhata bay is nice too. We stayed in a lodge called the Butterfly which offers opportunities to volunteer in the local community, in return you get discounts on your accommodation. We spent the weekend there and then stared week 47 by travelling to Livingstonia. Most of the journey was along nice tarmac roads with beautiful views on either side, then for the last 15Km the road turned into a rocky track which winds its way up the mountain to the town of Livinstonia. We stayed in the most amazing lodge I have ever visited, Lukwe Gardens. The lodge has been there for eleven years, the owner has built a permaculture farm which supplies the lodge with fruit and vegetables.

Africa Trip

We relaxed there for a few days before heading over the border into Tanzania, but on the way to Mbeya I lost touch with Charlie, we didn’t have mobile phones so we couldn’t find each other, I stayed a night in cheap accommodation before heading off on the long 830Km drive from Mbeya to Dar es Salaam. I arrived late at night and Charlie arrived the next day, now we are trying to arrange a ship to Zanzibar. Yesterday we had a ship that would take us but we couldn’t get past port security, the next ship leaves on Monday, hopefully we can get into the port then.