Earls High School visits Tanzania. February 2019.

The long and winding road …

Well that was eventful … Fred and I got out of the hotel at 7 to head to the airport to change the money for everyone … firstly there was a delay as a lorry had taken a corner too fast and over turned, blocking the dual carriageway, but the Tanzanians are resourceful and just used the verge … and there was a moment of consternation when we got to the airport and the bank said something similar to last night ‘we are changing the shift and can’t do anything for half an hour’ and the first exchange said ‘I don’t have many shillingi’ … fortunately the third said they could change half and the fourth covered the rest … so back for some breakfast and then on the road by 9 to head for Dodoma … an 8 hour trip we were promised (more on that later!).

I spent the first half an hour doling out the money I had changed … there was some early sickness in the coach no but the student was amazing and dealt with it brilliantly … well supported by Miss Hackett.

The trip was fairly uneventful but very long … it was great to see Tanzanian daily life out of the window, to see the bright colours, and football shirts, the different road side markets selling local fruit and vegetable, which changed as we moved into the interior … one area selling potatoes and onions, another tomatoes, another oranges, another mangoes and then there were bananas and water melon and one region where every roadside vendor was selling either maize or sunflower oil. It was Sunday, so no school, so there were children manning stalls, or playing football with a bundle of rags (such skill with such a poor ball) and women in their Sunday finest going to and from church. Part of the fun was that a couple of times on the trip roadside traders were let on board to sell cashew nuts, or drinks etc which is very different from the UK. Students had already commented on the vendors walking up and down between lanes of traffic at every traffic light in the city.

We think we have a plastics problem … but we stick it somewhere it can’t be seen … no such luxury in Tanzania and alongside the road there was lots of plastic just thrown out of windows … however, people do collect it and sell it for recycling as you can see in the picture below.

Remember this road is the equivalent of our M1 … the main road into the interior to the capital city and as you can see it’s single lane … the surface is poor, but tarmaced … there are big humps at every village and many 50kmh zones with Police the people are scared of and big fines for failing to follow the law.

Lunch was a roadside cafe at Morogoro, about half way distance wise, by which time we were already an hour later than I expected, and the air con wasn’t working … but hey ho … they definitely work at a different pace out here and who really cared … food was Chipsi and chicken on skewers for 5000 Tanzanian shillingi (about £1.75) with drinks (coke/Fanta etc) for 1000 shillingi (about 35p) … the meat was a bit chewy but very tasty.

So back on the bus the bus driver re-evacuated from a 5 pm arrival to 6pm … but watching the roadside markers we recognised we had much further to go so we all had a guess … and Miss Hackett was the closest at 7.25! It was the longest of my nine journeys between Dar and Dodoma at 10.5 hours but the students took it with good grace and were in good spirits. We were met by the headmistress and two teachers from Umonga, got the cases to the rooms, mostly singles with some doubles, and then had … you guessed it … chicken and chips for dinner … with some other tasty morsels.

Then we gave them a short time before bed … rooms with aircon and fans and plush comfortable beds … heaven! However … no WiFi, much to the consternation of a very small number of students, which was gratifying … most had taken on board my warning about Tanzanian WiFi and were prepared … so blog written but not posted … that will have to wait for tomorrow … with hopefully some photos from the day.

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