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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Location: Kahama, Tanzania

MapWednesday, May 26th

Since I’m not the only one writing on here, I don’t know what was blogged last so I will just fill you all in on our latest plans. I talked to Charles again, the guy from the shipping company. He said that the crate is not even on a truck yet so we had a meeting, discussed our options and came up with a plan. We would head to Tanzania in the morning and do everything we had planned for next week, this week. We would visit the children on the scheduled days, May 31st and June 1st and then Rylan, Heike and I would accompany Angela back to Kigali for her flight out on June 3rd. Catey, Allisha and Terry will finish up in Kahama and then carry on down to Dar es Salaam as planned.

We spent the day getting ready by, racing around purchasing items to add to what we have to give out as gifts and organizing our transport overland. We found a mini bus willing to drive us the 150 km to Rusumo border crossing for approximately $6.50 each. We actually bought all of the seats so we have room for our luggage. We were worried about possible problems at the border because we were told we would have to physically cross with our luggage and then try and catch a bus at the other side. (The pictures of this crossing are already in the Planet ranger pictures.)

I still had to arrange to transport 37 totes and the Faharja Orphanage boxes, etc to Kahama since now we were going without them. I wanted to speak to the trucking company in person before we go to Tanzania so I could make sure that I could deal with any paper work they might need. Yves had offered to take me down the industrial area to find the office of the trucking company so we hopped on some motorbikes and headed down. We walked all over the place asking people for directions and were sent here and there; everyone was so helpful but we just couldn’t seem to find where we needed to go. At one point this Bangladeshian man approached us and asked what we needed. He listened to me, made a call and a few minutes later his friend, Rananja drove up. He’s the General Manager for a big shipping company called Inchcape Shipping. We used the computer in Mubashir’s office and within minutes, Rananja told me where our crate was, (it landed in Dar on May 20th), how long it would take to clear customs, (by May 26th) and how long it would take to travel to Kigali (4-5 days.) It was exciting to finally know where it was and also to know that at least Rylan, Heike and I would be able to see it in Rwanda and work with it for a few days when we return from Tanzania.

We headed to Tanzania on Tuesday morning after finally cramming all of our bags and ourselves into the van; it was like putting a puzzle together. Yves and Richard were kind enough to come with us to the border to ensure that we obtained safe transport.
We found another van easily but we all felt a little distrustful of the driver. The whole process there is little unnerving as there are crowds of people ‘wanting to help’ with your bags and it’s difficult to watch everything that’s going on. The driver himself seemed a little shady, at one point when we had to move the van towards the actual border office, two of his friends crawled in there with all of our stuff . They were planning on riding the 100 yards or so while we walked, just time enough to pull a few things out of our suitcases or even just drive off. I asked them to get out and then Rylan got in. Our driver was kind enough to show us the entry and exit wounds from the bullet that passed through his upper arm during his last robbery attempt while driving his mini-bus on the road to Kahama. I asked him not to show everyone else. At one point our driver told us that he ‘just found out a family member was sick’ and he was bringing a friend who would take over the drive after a certain point. I found the border guards very friendly and helpful and discussed our concerns with them. They assured us that they knew the man and it would be OK, so the three (another friend) of them and the seven of us headed out. The driver did get out after a short time and we weren’t robbed or murdered!
We carried on stopping a road blocks every few miles. Soon after we left, at one of the checks, two ‘Special Response Police’ got in (with their rifles) and told us they would be escorting us through the area that was a little more dangerous. I think everyone felt a lot better once they were on board but it did make for a very crowded trip!!!!
One of them told me that if we wanted, we could ask their CEO at the check point for permission to have them stay with us longer. I went in and talked to them and they agreed to leave the guys with us. The one we were talking to said that it was a memorable day for him. It must be hard on these young guys stuck out working the check points in these remote areas with no amenities or any from of entertainment.

We were ecstatic to finally pull into Kahama. We’d all run out of water, we had a messy incident with my bottle of soya sauce (sorry Rylan) and were hot and tired. After the primitive conditions at St Famille, the rest house felt like luxury hotel. I was so happy to see Sophie, the woman who lives here and runs the place; she’s just wonderful. It was a great surprise to find out that my friend Nesphory’s wife Neema was also staying here. Nesphory has been transferred to Mwanza, a town north of here on Lake Victoria but Neema is still working here. They live in a house also owned by the Kahama District Council and the roof is being repaired so she’s staying here for awhile. (Remember the roof from the last trip you 2009 girls?)

Anyway, we’ve all had a restful sleep and are now off to begin our first day in Kahama.!!!!!