So today we were staying in Arusha for another day instead of heading off on a bus right away to Mwanza. This is solely because we are exhausted after 5 days in a truck on safari. Our bodies and minds need a day of rest to catch up before heading out on public transit for the first time. To start out I put the wife to work and watched/helped as Lindsay did laundry, by hand, in Boot’s back yard. My help was minimal as I made everyone eggs for breakfast instead. So after a few hours of laundry, it sure takes a long time by hand, we all headed into Julia’s car to go into town for church once again. It almost feels like we live here and have a routine with this whole going to church two weeks in a row thing. Just like the last week it was a normal Lutheranish service with the music done way too slow.
Right after church we met up with Beans and made a quick beline over to the chaotic bus station where we manage to get two tickets for the next morning to Mwanza, 12 hours away on lake Victoria. We’re leaving bright and early at 6 am and paid 35.000 TZS each for the privelige of sitting on a bus for an entire day. Then we got Burgers, Tanzanian style. They were at this little burger stand along Sokoine (the main road) and damn were those good burgers. This, and the safari, was the point at which we started eating local vegetables. It is kind of unavoidable if you want to eat and so you just go with it and hope for the best with your stomach, so far so good. Lindsay and I probably walked past this burger place 2 or 3 times in our previous days in Arusha and didn’t even notice it, so it is definitely handy having the locals around that now the good places. The best $2.50 burger and “chips” we’ve every had, turns out the secret ingredients are cabbage and tomatoes.
Lunch was pretty quick and then we headed back to the girl’s house where Lindsay and I lazed around for a bit and consolidated the packing and the Wray girls worked on their funky quilts that they make. Occasionally we piped in with opions on ideas for new quilts or what size to make the aliens space ship. A good time hanging out with friends. After our lazy afternoon we walked with Beans the 25 minutes or so to her home and house in O’lorien. We were curious as to what her place looked like and hadn’t had the chance to see it yet so we went for a visit there. When we got there one of their friends/relatives, I can’t remember which, was washing the floors. Now this was not done how you or I might wash a floor with a mop and bucket but with a t shirt for a rag and a lot of bending in half from the waist. This was a reoccuring site on our travels; women bent over in half cleaning things. It boggles my mind as to why no one, and I mean nearly no one, uses a stick. Brooms consist of only the sweeping part, no handles, mops are rags with again no handles. I could single handly fix all the backs in Africa by putting a stick on every broom and mop for a handle and voila. They sure are bendy though.
Bean’s house is quite small, but it is nice. They’ve got couches and an entertainment centre set up in the living room and a bathroom that doesn’t leak! We spent about and hour visiting with Beans there chatting about living in her place and how rent and landlordship worked around there. The landlady has been building the house next door for years now in stages instead of saving money and doing it all at once, common here, but strange. It started to get towards the point of sunset so Lindsay and I figured we would start walking back. Beans gave us instructions back to Suye and Lindsay and I said goodbye and thanks for everything in Arusha and then headed out.
Bean’s directions were faulty. There was a key moment where, turn left, would have been very very helpful. Lindsay and I walked down the one road that we “just needed to follow back to the highway” for a very long time. Eventually we made it to a giant walled compound that we were sure we hadn’t seen on the way in, so we turned around and asked for directions. The girl we asked told us to head back down the road until the “banana” sign. Hoping that would work we took off again now walking in twilight in a neighbourhood we knew nothing about and the girls had warned us not to walk around at night. Thankfully we found a sign saying “banana” and we turned at it. After some more twists and turns in the road we asked again for directions to make sure we were on the right track. This time the guy we asked knew some french so he and Lindsay chatted while he walked with us for aways then eventually pointed out the road in the distance. We came out at the highway at the “2I Pub” the bar we had visited last week so now I knew where we were. Took the shortcut up the dirt path into Suye and made it back to Boot’s house.
We washed off our exceptionally dusty sandals and then promptly had Boots call Julia asking if we wanted to meet her at Pentagon Gardens again for dinner and drinks as she was out testing her foot and knee on her own walk near there. Of course we said yes and met her and Amy, the girls new housemate, at the restaurant. We got our drinks and then waited a really really long time for food to come. The girls had all got Chipsmayai and I had wanted Nyama (bbq’d meat and a plate of sauces) so I waited for my 1/2 kilogram of bbq beef to come. My meat eventually came but was a whole kilo instead, that just meant more good eating and a little more cash but not much. Nyama is extremely chewy. They seem to have taken all the parts of a cow that no one else wanted and bbq’d it and then they serve it to you. Each piece while super flavourful and awesome takes 5 minutes, no joke, to get to the swallowing point. It is also extremely messy as it is mostly cow fat. That brings me to the ridiculous way Tanzanians (at least Arushans) “wash” there hands. I use wash loosely. Before I eat my meat they bring a jar of water which the waiter poors over my right hand only into a bucket. I am supposed to squeeze my hand together tightly while water flows over it for like 2 seconds. This apparently magically makes your hand clean, ha, they have a lot to learn on hygiene, like soap. After eating the greasiest meal you’ve touched with your supposed one hand (I used both or never would have been able to chew the food off of some bones) they come back and do it again and give you a smidge of liquid soap to wash with. I didn’t get any soap. 2 seconds of water, no soap versus 2 hands covered in cow fat equals still completely dirty hands that are now wet, sorry only my right hand because again hygiene needs work here and the left hand is still used for a lot of you know what. Soap useage and broom handles could change this country drastically. In our trip I saw tons of guys “washing” their hands in bathrooms without soap. Lots of squeezing and wringing of your hands as if that actually does something. Carfeul who’s hand you shake, carry hand sanitizer. Usually nice folks, but soapless.
We paid and walked back to Boot’s house in the dark, me careful not to touch anything or anyone because my hands were covered in grease. Lindsay had to put money in my pockets and get my head lamp for me. To finish off the night we showered, makes more sense at night here than in the morning, said goodby to Julia and Amy and good night to Boots. We packed then crashed for the night, ready to get up at 5 am for our taxi ride at 5:30, oh joy, bus travel, this should be an interesting 12 hour trip.
Arusha was fun and kind of felt like home after a while. We’re a little sad to go on and strike out on our own without our friends handy to give us the low down on things. Also kicking ourselves for not having bought a painting we wanted at the Masai market, turns out we could have gotten a good price and we’re now carrying a big cardboard tube for Lindsay’s other painting anyways so why not add more art right?
Oh, still squatty potty free for my self.