A Travellerspoint blog

driving on the wrong side of the road

on being in a civilised country

sunny 22 °C

I'm in South Africa now - just touched down yesterday and it is SO good to be in a non-developing country... to be able to have people who understand you do something efficiently, and to have roods that are actual roads and to not have people bugging the crap out of you to buy a painting or a safari or a taxi ride every second of the day is a real treat when you've been in subsahran africa.

We actually have our own car.... WITH AIR CONDITIONING and a radio that plays good music. We are staying at one of my buddy's houses, which means no worries about bed bugs or theft and it comes with a hot shower and towels as well as free internet.

Karoline and I are excited about S. Africa! We've got about 17 days here and are looking forward to driving the coast, visiting capetown and joberg doing many wine tastings and driving on the wrong side of the road... should be fun!

Posted by LargeTuna 00:13 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

kili

not an easy mountain

semi-overcast -10 °C

ok... so I climbed and karoline went to dar... bith of us are now in zanzibar, which is the most beautiful place I have ever been.

the funny part about the climb is that I had 2 porters a cook and a guide to get me to the top of the mountain. I'm used to doing all the work when I'm on the mountain, but these guys carried my stuff, cooked my meals and walked in front of me all the way to teh top. It was kinda rediculous! I would be woken up to breakfast in bed, (fresh fruits, egs, toast, tea coffee, etc...) then we'd hike, then after we got to camp, my tent was all set up and they would give me warm water to wash up before afternoon tea time. I felt like such a spoiled brat.

the first few days of the hke were SO easy I think that my grandmother could do it. But the summit day was hell... probably the second hardest physical experience of my life! I mean... I don't know how I made it. I felt like I was on a steep stairmaster from hell... it just kept going up and up and up! By the time I got to the summit I was stumbling around like a drunk man... completely exhausted, but satified that I reached the top of africa!

Posted by LargeTuna 00:26 Archived in Tanzania Comments (2)

community

sunny 32 °C

this is my journal entry from last night...

Happy April fools day...hmmm, what a great way to start. Its 815 on the night of april fools day and i just realized it was april fools day.

When you travel, among a zillion things gained, you lose a sense of community. You lose your place of belonging, at the very core you lose value. Noone i see from day to day knows what i am good at and what makes me a valuable member of society and i dont know it of them in return. Noone knows i can draw any number of things in the head of a guiness when i pour one..a skill ive worked hard at. Noone knows that i still suck my tongue at the ripe age of 26. Noone knows i can take a decent photograph. Noone knows i can text faster than almost anyone i know. Noone knows im still a virgin dying to fall in love with someone who will fight for me so i can deservingly give it away. Noone knows im the baby of 4 of the coolest kids on the block. Noone even knows i am in fact a Westaway, something the we have taken extremely seriously and created a small religion around--dont fuck with the westaways! Noone knows i want to live in India someday but dont have a clue what else i want to do with my life. Noone knows i am a part of a community of believers in christ more passionate about discovering what it looks like to love people the way jesus did, in a setting of new york city, than anyone ive ever met. Noone knows i once dated a guy with the same first and last inital as me, and a strikingly similar last name. Noone knows i love sleeping and i love being naked, but rarely mix the two. Noone knows i used to be a vegetarian, but cant go back because i love a mean cheeseburger(and apparently according to my roommate, fried chicken--her family even asks me about it). Noone knows i take friendship very seriously and am uncommonly intense about it, and would do anything in the world for the ones i love. Noone knows i look up to my siblings with a reverence that brings tears to my eyes just thinking about. Noone knows i would love to write a book but am not refined enough to do so. Noone even knows i am an american, and if my life depended on it--not too uncommon here in africa--i wouldnt be able to prove it. I share all this random info because i know all of you know it..or some of it and know which of you will know the funny details and that makes me smile..and mostly, it reminds me i belong.

My identity, travelling companion and joy of travelling is gone right now and even if i had to i couldnt leave this country. Last night i finished the one 400 page book i brought to DAR and the book store was closed today. I just realized when passing a church that it was sunday..and palm sunday..after seeing the sanctuary covered in palms. My hostel has been out of water for over a day and im covered in sludgy sweat. i did get a bucket to make a bucket bath, which was surprisingly refreshing! My bank has yet to get back to me to determine whether or not my situation is a once in a lifetime emergency case...being in tanzania without a debit or credit card..where they would dhl me a new one. After 30 minutes and 20 bucks on the phone with them i was cut off and have resorted to emails with them instead..the last of which they asked for my address...ps, there arent addresses so much in africa. I have travelled solo before for a month in india and had the time of my life..but this time it is not so. I think i am a more social person than i was last time around--something i attribute to one of my best friends and former roommates, labri. I love meeting new people and connecting with them in conversation..sharing stories and listening to life as they have seen it.

I love this continent and i have loved listening to the stories of those actually interested in talking with me, not just taking from me. i already know i want to come back and i am eagerly awaiting kyles return so we can carry on with the rest of the trip. I know there are lots of memories yet to be had and i am anxious to get these 5 or so days behind me and to see all that there is left to see on our route..zanzibar..then crossing the border into mozambique...as lonely planet puts it..one of the most adventurous border crossings in africa..using busses, boats or canoes, a pickup truck...?..and more buses...then making our way south as fast as possible to jo'Burg to rent a car and spend the last 2 weeks crusing around seeing all we can.

i love you guys and i love doing life with you.

Posted by LargeTuna 08:39 Archived in Tanzania Comments (2)

cairo to cashless

overcast 32 °C

Lots to catch up on here, let me get started...we left off in dahab..a paradise of beaches and chill bars..after, we headed back into cairo before hitting Nairobi

We spent a full day in cairo checking out some of the worlds largest mosque's, a hanging church..hanging on the byzantine gates to the city..a cemetary where a group of poverty stricken people have become squatters and a community now paid by the family of the deceased to look over those burried in thier neighborhood..as if they would get up and move elsewhere once dead, strolled through the many streets of one of africas largest grand bazaars and then enjoyed falafels and chai all as spanish tourists..speaking only in spanish to each other and to people addressing us..twas a grand time. On our only attempt to take the subway around town, kyle and i both stepped into the unbeknownst to us "women only" car and once kyle realized it, we both jumped off and waited for the next train to part..i think kyles face was red for about a minute solid...and once we split i had an amzing time attempting to stay at the door so i didnt miss the stop, i think the train stopped for about 10 seconds tops at each stop with women pouring into the car..im glad i played powder puff or i may not have had the skills to tuck, dip the shoulder and go for it.

We parted ways with our new friend and godsend, Amir, the hostel owner in cairo who had arranged and given advice for almost every step we took in the course of that week. He was a wonderful guy, the one who originally gave me the advice not to let anyone follow us. We left the hostel and headed to the airport, en flight to nairobi. However, just before we pulled in, i went to check some info on our hostel and realized we had reservations for the night after we arrived..and then realized, in fact, we were not flying that night..and turned around and headed straight into the arms of amir..asking for a place to crash for one more night. We had a delightful time with some kids we met at the hostel and amir drinking some strange coconut milk concotion and smoking sheesha.

The following day we hit the airport, and landed in nairobi at 4am and were fast alseep for a few hours. After waking, we spent the afternoon at our friend Scarlett's work..a place called Amani, where they take refugee women and give them work producing goods to sell and a great place for food. We also spent that night with scarlett and her two roommates, hannah and rachel, and a few other friends for a home cooked meal from Mrs. Seneff..it was amazing!!! We then headed off to a bar with a guy who worked at the hostel and got stuck with the bill without realizing it, but before that had a great time watching a kenyan band cover american hits from all genres and decades while sipping on some Tusker--as they say in kenya, "its time for a tusker"

We forgot to set our watches to the correct time zone and were about 45 minutes late to catch our bus for the safari we had just booked...luckily..it was just us and a couple..kenyan 25ish woman and a german 55ish man...hmmmm...who didnt seem to mind our tardiness. Our friends travelling with us had a mystery engagement ring that would sometimes be on the girls finger and sometimes not...it was just a mystery to us...

Our friends left the following day and kyle and i had a personal safari for the rest of the three days through Masai-Mara national park and then in Lake Nakuru National Park. We had a great time. the roads were intense at times, leaving my back in shambles after 4 days of it...but the scenery even without any animals was absolutely breathtaking. We looked around for hours on end without ever getting tired of the landscape, it was stunning. Our driver was rad..we asked him to stop a number of times just to get a cool pic of a tree. We saw what i, against kyle's will, am calling a modified version of the big five. The big five is: buffalo, elephant, lion, rhino, and leopard...we saw all these minus the leopard, but instead we saw a cheetah..which isnt technially part of the big 5, but its just as rad. We also saw the following...lots and lots of giraffs, zebra, thomson gazelle, hardebeast, wildebeast, ostrich, spotted hyenna, thousands of pink flamingos covering the edges of lake nakuru, baboons, topeke, hippos, warthog and im sure others i cant remember..when i say we saw them..we were close..typically within 20 feet or closer. We were about 5 feet from a family of lions 3 times. I think niether one of us knew what to expect and kinda felt cheesy doing a safari, but it was well worth the money and exceeded both of our expectations.

When we finished our safari, we went straight to our palace abroad..tsavo 4, where our friends scarlett, hannah, and rachel were overwhelmingly hospitable and let us crash for a few nights..there we enjoyed capfulls, uno, skype with the langston trio, the dundies, laundry, hot showers, fellowship and much more. We had a great time being with familiarity. Our final night in Nairobi, we all went to carnivore, one of the worlds top 50 restaurants where there are lots of kinds of..guess what...meat! We had chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork, ostrich, crocodile and a delicious baked potatoe..and dawa..a concoction they call medicine made of vodka, sugar water, honey and limes..it was pretty tasty...as well as great conversation and community.

One of the highlights...only in retrospect, of nairobi was the constant police roadblocks..We had read everywhere that Nairobi was one of the sketchiest citys in africa and that corrupt police saturated the streets...The first time we were stopped, i must say i was a bit scared he insisted that since we werent in safety belts, we would be charged and brought to the station...our cab driver talked him out of it..pointing out how rediculous it was and once he realized noone in the car was bribing him, he let us go..it happened i think 3 other times while we were there...once more without our seatbelts on..we were in our safari van still and didnt think it applied..but after that we laughed as we were pulled over..what else could they possibly come up with...we were released without threat..At one time though we did get halfway to the station when our safari driver talked them out of it as well, but while waiting, kyle and i had written the US embassy and scarletts number on our hands just in case..haha..

The following morning, Kyle and i did a shakedown of all our stuff that had begun to overtake their living room and got all organized for the commute into tanzania where we were headed to climb kilimanjaro....we headed out around two and after getting fussy and trying to bargain down the visa price into tanzania...unsuccessfully..we made it around 830, grabbed some dinner and met with a guy sharing info for the following morning--we were to be ready at 730am for departure. Kyle and i repacked..again..having to shift all our stuff around for what was going on the mountain..on our backs, and then seperately with a porter who would not hike with us but meet us at each camp, and then the stuff that would stay in arusha with the agency. So, everything we had that was of any value..monetarily, or otherwise priceless to us...i mean everything..was consolidated into the packs we had been carrying all trip with just a riancoat and water inside...our personal bags that usually contained all this, and in all circumstances would not leave our side were packed away as well...since it had been shifted now to our bigger packs. Kyle and i left his dig camera charging and ran to breakfast and after we ordered kyle ran up for money and came down, we woofed down some eggs toast and tea and gave a quick handshake to the guide and were on our way upstairs to bring everything down into the car in one sweep..our stuff had respread into about 7 or 8 bags and we didnt want to drag it down to brakfast, then move it again into the car...in this 15-20 minutes we were robbed...as youve read from kyles post..and i commend him on that last blog, i think he captured exactly what we both felt..its still a bit shocking to me writing it all..i know in retrospect it seems so simple and why did we leave any of it in the room..but really..it couldnt have been done any other way...the additional misery is that my ipod had broken in dahab and my mom and roommate had gone through a great deal to ship me a new ipod with all my music on it..and kyle and i had spent part of an afternoon retrieving it from dhl and customs just 2 days prior...the frustration is indescribable to feel as a person with feelings and dignity you have been overlooked becuse you are american and they feel we deserved to just be taken from..moving along...

As kyle mentioned, while all this was going on, i began to get sick..and then it just digressed rapidly. After four hours of running around with the police, i was finally in..a different...hotel room where i remained in fetal position most of the day with a fever, a pounding headache, and body aches the ran from my knees all the way up to my neck..along with the obvious runs.. Kyle spent the next few hours with benjamin, our agency contact..getting things organized and getting back most of the nearly thousand dollars i had paid to hike kilimanjaro...obviously i was not going to climb feeling like this..and with the stress of being without a passport. I insisted he go ahead and climb..i have travelled alone before and i was sure id be fine for a few days...he reluctantly agreed and did everything, as a guy, he knew how to take care of me. Kyle and i did get out to walk around before the sun set and offer rewards to any electronic shops we thought they may sell our stuff to..and hit the sack after catching pierce brosnin's staggering appearance in Dante's Peak.

I caught a bus the following morning very early for about 10 hours into Dar es Salaam..for all intents and purposes the capital city of Tanzania..where i got a decent hotel room for a few nights to recover. My cab driver insisted i pay 10000 shekels for the 5 minute ride from the bus station..about ten bucks..and because he was sent to get me from our friend in Arusha, benjamin, i made him call him for the price..and when he wouldnt give me the phone, ben called back and asked for me..he said dont pay any more than 3000..haha...oh efficient africa..i wanted to punch his lights out and tell him to F.O...if he had known how miserable i was feeling after that bus ride..without music..again..i remind you...and after all id been through the past 2 days..instead i did it a bit nicer..but not much

I slept like a baby last night and began eating again today and wandered the streets of dar for a bit. Ill spend the weekend laying low probably..until monday when i can hit the embassy with all my correct documents in hand and begin works for a new passport...its not the grandest feeling in the world to be in tanzania as a white woman, without my brother, and without proof of being an american citizen...

I have to say...i have had offers from about 10 people who are not family if they can do anything or send me money...i am sentimental for sure, but it speaks volumes about humanity in general when you are in need and the cup runneth over like this...thank you so much to all of you who have responded to our unfortunate trail of events these last few days...i know there are some real bastards out there..and it feels crappy to go around ignoring everyone saying hello to me...im just not ready to trust anyone..with anything...not even my words right now...it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth for this country and i know kyle and i look forward to replacing the taste with renewed trust and conversations with people in the next few weeks..

Kyle and i meet back up on wednesday and from there well likely hit the beautiful beaches of zanzibar for a few days...

long winded, eh..sorry about that...well try and blog better the next few weeks..

we love you guys and love that we can share this with you..wish you could all see what we are seeing...and we wish we had pics to show you...DAMN THIEVES!!!

Karoline

Posted by LargeTuna 19:51 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

mazungu

ok... I (kyle) love aftrica! this place is amazing and I have a strong sense that I'd like to live here for a whle.

But as with everything, there are two sides... or more... to every coin. I hate that being a mazungu (i'm sure by now you know it means white man) means I have a huge neon $ on my forehead. I want to get to know real africans, but the only ones I seem to meet are trying (some more subtly than others... some even feigning friendship) to get something from me.

It all came to a head this morning when after leaving our room for 35 minutes for breakfast we came back to find our cameras, ipods, cash and karoline's passport and credit cards missing. THE ROOM WAS LOCKED! So, I'm pretty sure it's an inside job at the hotel. spent most the morning at teh police station. I've been puting word out on the street that we are offering big money to get the goods returned and talk to the culprit.

So, we are in Arusha Tanzania right now, and we are supposed to be n kili, but our troubles this morning delayed it a day for me... but since karoline needs to get a new passport and is feeling like crap, she is heading to dar es salaam - big city on the coast of Tanzania - to get a new pasport and rest up and will not be joining me on the climb. Her decision, not mine.

On the up side the manager of the guiding service has been an amazing help all day - taking karoline to the internet to cancel her cards, translating in the arguments with the hotel, walking me through the police station, translating for me as I offered rewards to people I'm pretty sure know something, refunding karoline 80% of the climbing costs and booking karoline a bus and taxi from the bus to a good hotel in Dar and wouldn't accept money for it.

So there you have it... just like everywhere else in the world there are shady people and cool people. It's hard to not turn into a jerk when people continually harrass you to buy crap after you just got about 2 grand stolen (I can't say I've done a perfect job, since today I layed down a threat of physical abuse if a guy on the street tried to sell me his stupid cheesy african paintings).

But as the late afternoon sun was ending, karoline and I took a walk around town. We watched some kids playing soccer and beautiful little girls walking down the street with there father and mothers carrying thier babies on thier back. It was a good reminder of the beauty amidst the shit and perhaps that there is more beauty than shit in life.

So, I have resolved to try to be cautiously optomistic about people.

Posted by LargeTuna 08:12 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

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