Tanzania - Mbeya to Ruaha

August 3, 2011 - Mikumi, Tanzania

Our first stop in Tanzania was in Mbeya at the Karibuni Centre, this was hardly a campsite, we all squeezed into the car park for the night with a noisy guard. Missionaries there were helpful and directed us around town to Airtel and a couple of small Western shops. We were delighted to find olive oil, tuna, bran flakes, cheese, yogurt, meat and icecream! Airtel in Mbeya sorted us out and we were quickly connected, he even severely reprimanded the guy who swindled George at the border threatening that the police were coming. Money changers were also a nightmare at the border, a real bunch of crooks and the worst we have experienced so far.

The journey through to Mbeya was impressive, lush and cultivated. The rolling hillsides were full of tea estates and banana plantations, even wheat fields. The towns were very busy and the school children, people and roadsides looked very neat, quite a contrast to Malawi. Now instead of endless bicycles there were also lots of motor bikes, a few weird mini tractor type vehicles and more sophisticated large carts for hauling goods.

Heading through to Iringa the landscape changed dramatically and became the dry old Africa look, uncultivated though still tidy. On one leg stretch stop we explored the local choo (toilet) and were pleasantly surprised. Of course us girls will get exceedingly strong quads in double quick time here as squat toilets are more the norm! My first experience at Karibuni was interesting and the flush so vigorous I decided it was better to make an exit plan before proceeding next time!

We stopped at the Old Farm House outside of Iringa for 3 nights and met some interesting people. The first two were young Dutch girls, they joined us for our Christmas-in- July celebration and were mightily impressed. This was Steve and Paula’s idea and they even brought Christmas pudding from Durban! We had a feast of note to send off our 2 guests who were cycling from Dar-es-Salaam to Cape Town on back roads through all the little villages. Just when we thought that was highly unusual another cycling couple pulled in, they had travelled from the UK (flying over Ethiopia due to safety concerns) and were also aiming for Cape Town!

We made our way to Ruaha (second biggest game reserve in Tanzania) along a very corrugated gravel road. Some distance into the journey Paula announced “ooh, is that George’s door?!”.... they pulled over and indeed it was but even more incredulous was the intact booze cabinet with not a bottle broken! Sometime later we stopped to wait for Steve and whilst stretching our legs we were astounded to see the state of our caravan. On closer inspection we also discovered that our toilet had gone flying out along with other assorted items. Lucky for us Steve pulled up with a big grin and had our door miraculously still in one piece. “Did you find our toilet?” I asked hopefully.... it dawned on Paula that she had actually seen what she thought she had seen but since the door had not detached by that time it all seemed too absurd. Steve and Paula quickly unhitched and went on a treasure hunt of note returning some time later victorious! The big catch was the toilet which took some time to find as it was 4kms before the caravan door came flying off. The porto-loo had been uncoupled and taken into the bush by a couple of delighted locals who thought they were nice containers. Needless to say it took some arguing about it before Steve and Paula could get them to relinquish what was rightfully ours! They came back beaming, it had been a very successful treasure hunt indeed. They recovered some cutlery, the braai tongs, our tow bar lock and other assorted things along the roadside. Next was the job of trying to get the door back on and by that time we had a couple of Masai who had congregated with their spears and other paraphernalia. Steve focusing on the job at hand was not looking where he was going and almost got himself impaled! One of the Masai boys turned around with his spear etc. hanging over his shoulder, it was right at Steve’s throat but he dodged it just in time. So it was an eventful day and of course our caravan had all the more character with it’s red tape holding things together for a temporary fix. I am blessed to have a husband who is a brilliant handiman as is Paula with Steve, they fixed the doors in no time once in camp and now they both work better than ever!

We enjoyed our two nights in Ruaha at a riverside wild camp, it was a lovely setting with no fences. Hyena nosed around one night, there were hippo, crocs and a giraffe that browsed right behind the Thomas’s caravan. During the day we watched giraffe, elephant, impala and of course birds from camp, we had a game drive too of course - all in all it was a pleasant time.




Money changers at the Tanzanian border
Many banana lorries
Beautiful rolling hills and cultivated lands coming into Tanzania
Tea plantations as we drove into Tanzania


August 3, 2011
Hey Mac's

What an intriguing adventure you all are having. Your pictures and story telling is enlightening and offers wonderful insight into all that your are living at this time. Always in my thoughts and prayers.
God Bless and keep you safe.
Lotsa Love
August 3, 2011
Sounds like you had a very eventful journey in Tanzania! Glad the loo & door is safely attached again. when are you & george going to travel on your bikes? Seems everyone is doing it. Have a great time and safe journey. PS... had a hug from Philip on Sunday & thought of you!
August 3, 2011
Glad you recovered the flying potty!! Travel safe!!
August 3, 2011
Bet the local lads were glad they hadn't put their lunch in their new found 'pots' EEWWW! Also very thankful that u weren't sitting upon said 'pot' when it took the diversion - that would've been a sight to remember - perhaps an African version of chitty chitty bang bang - sorry, I'm having to laugh hysterically to my lonely self at that vision and thought, especially as i have mentally changed the spelling if you get my drift!!!

Love Claire
August 3, 2011
a wonderfull expeience !! Take care.
brigitte parfitt:
August 7, 2011
Hi dear Alice and George, just watched the phantastic video show of your photos, read your chitty chitty bang bang story (Claire's words!!!, my interpretation!or even hers???), and am so glad that you are safe. You sure have one or two (or many more!!!) stories to tell. Seeing that on Tuesday is Women's Day, I have a question: What are you doing for that day ??? Perhaps, get all dressed up and party or stay in bed and have breakfast served??? Looking forward to your next episode....
Had J.P. Smythe this a.m. preaching at church and yesterday at a men's breakfast. Very mature and sincere preacher. You would have enjoyed it. Can you listen to the Sunday messages at all? If yes, this one is worth your while.
Take care, be happy, be safe and smile.
Much love, Brigitte
August 11, 2011
Good morning Alice and George,

Well what can I say about the above. Quite a crappy experience, but I am happy all turned out well at the end.
With the number of situations you have been through so far, I see that it is a must to be a hangyman and jack or George of all trades to survive Africa.
We started off the 3rd term at Common Ground last Wednesday with a praise and worship evening. I must say our band was alive and so was the congregation. The hosting elders and Rigby spoke with passion and then P J Smythe from GOD First spoke. What a humble man and so full of love for our LORD.
The previous Sunday Tony Johnson from India spoke and wow is that man also passionate and so in love with GOD. Both made me so "envious". It has made me question my own passion.
Unfortunately I missed the men's breakfast on Saturday as I was away for the weekend. But I plan to listen to the sermon this afternoon. On Thursdays I normally stick around at work and go to small group straight from here. It is pointless wasting petrol going home only to come back about halfway to get to Carol and Sinclair.
No further news from Francois. He is a quiet man. It's his birthday on the 20th so lets see if anything happens.
O, bytheway, I had a call from Cliffie late last week. Says he has been here for a while but has not contacted anyone as he is having problems with his son and is busy fixing his house. I have not been able to catch up with him as I was away. I will see if he wants to come to small group tonight.

Love you both stukkend. Take care, be safe and have fun.
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