23 February 2013- Mybeya, Tanzania
We are camping in the car park of a church/mission tonight. Safe, pleasant, cold shower, squat toilet what more could we want?! We have been told there are guard dogs from 11pm-5am so DONT get out of landy during that time, just shout out ‘watchman, watchman’ and he will hold the dogs back if we need the loo. He explained this with a few words of English, some hand signals and by barking loudly. On the plus side we can hear the choir practising in the church- lovely! We are in southern Tanzania after crossing the border this afternoon. The border crossing was once again fine, very straight forward- we are a well oiled machine now and deal very well with the people selling this and that, changing money etc! The final hour or so in Malawi we passed at least five roadblocks but were waved through all of them. Already Tanzania has heaps but we have been waved through most of them as well. So far a noticeable thing about the roads in Tanzania are the massive speed humps!!!
We have internet! We spent a few hours this afternoon getting a sim card, in the past few weeks we’ve only had internet for a few minutes twice so we have some catching up to do, posting blogs we have written offline, banking, emailing etc.
Where to start? A quick catch up- We had a few days near Livingstonia- enjoying the views and the cool air but didn’t enjoy the bloody mossies constantly on us! We stayed at a great place, which uses entirely solar power, compost loos, and an amazing garden so we had a massive salad from their restaurant each night!
We so enjoyed Malawi! It’s a beautiful colourful country and we will fondly remember the smiles, the bicycles taxis (mad colourful decorated bicycles used as taxis), the children mobbing us everywhere we went (hugging us, touching us, climbing on us, shouting and singing to us), of course the lake and swimming in the beautiful fresh water and one of our fav spots, our camp last night. When we left camp near Livingstonia yesterday we carried on a bit further up the hill to Livingstonia itself to have a look at the church and the town.
We were not sure where we would go next, another night on the lake or cross the border into Tanzania? We wanted another night on the lake but the place we heard about nearby was full of big overland trucks (with 20 somethings all over) which we have not seen since Vic Falls and are not really into, we are so used to having everywhere to ourselves! Anyway while we were there checking our email we saw a small sign for a B&B and camping near by so we called in and we were so glad we did. In the north of Malawi, only an hour or so from the border sits FloJa Foundation, a mix of the names of the people who started it. A Dutch couple came on holiday to Malawi ten years ago and one thing lead to another and they decided to move here about four years ago. They built their house and started a preschool for 80 local children (preschool is naturally not a luxury people here have!). About a year ago they started the accommodation side to continue to fund the project. We were able to have a look around (the kids had mostly gone home) and saw the two classroom, decorated with growth charts, painting, alphabet games (in english so the kids can practise english which is required in Malawian school) and a spotless kitchen where they prepare two meals a day for the children who attend. They have employed all locals and trained them so they run the whole thing. The manager of the project (a local guy, Benson) gave us a quick informal tour of the place and told us how it runs, his pride was evident. The children are local children who are vulnerable, some orphans, many with HIV and of course all from families struggling to feed them and send them to school never-mind preschool. He also showed us a tap they have installed which is open to everyone in the community so they can access clean bore water rather than drink lake water (which is what most places do as well as where they bath, wash dishes and clothing). When the children leave the preschool to go to primary school they can come back each day after school (primary school is only a few hours a day in classrooms with a hundred or more students and one teacher with very few resources) and get further tutoring with a qualified teacher. There were still a few kids around playing in the playground and we ended up playing an impromptu game of footy with them, started with us and two littlies and soon some more faces appeared then a few more and soon there were about ten of us, we played until we were dripping with sweat (not saying much its humid there) and I ended up on the sidelines with some little ones crawling all over me chatting and dancing while Olly played on for a bit with the bigger ones (happy to get rid of us useless ones no doubt) so they could show off their real skills – fancy kicks all over!
After we said bye to the kids we settled into a lovely evening next to the lake and enjoyed our dinner. We felt a bit heavy-hearted when we left this morning! Every so often you find a place that really captures you- and this one really did.
So here we sit in the car park, finally getting all caught up on the posts we have been doing offline and will actually post this the day its written! (Not to be. The internet died and computer battery ran out!)
Tomorrow we are off to a farm near Iringa- some friends of David and Elaine (very good mates of Olly’s – David married us in Ireland!) live there and we have been invited to stay. Really looking forward to meeting them and having a little time with them.