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Workin the World The 4 month trip that lasted 5 years .. all the adventures from Workers final year o/s and the trip back to Oz.

Africa Awakening

TANZANIA | Saturday, 20 October 2007 | Views [1031]

Want a recipe for disaster? Take 27 strangers, place them in the back of an open truck for 54 days then drive them through, hot, dusty Africa adding a nightly booze stop followed by early morning wake up calls. Sounds like a great holiday right? Well so far it has been nothing short of sensational.

I know it is a cliché but Africa is the most amazing continent, well, behind Australia of course. The diversity in scenery, the unique flora and fauna and the lovely people have so far made the trip an incredible one.

When I last wrote we were about to board our truck and head off to explore Africa. Once we had completed the formalities at our 7.30am team meeting (I have since learned this is a late wake up) we jumped on our 28 seater truck to head through Kenya and into Tanzania.

The truck itself is a marvel in maximising space usage, with 2 rows of seats facing each other along the side of the walls, plkenty of storage and even a beach area, it is surprisingly very comfortable. In fact I would suggest that whoever did design this truck get a job with a major airline to teach them a thing or two about customer comfort!

Driving out of Nairobi and through the countryside of Kenya, the first thing you notice is how friendly the people are. Despite many overland trucks passing through these towns over the course of a year, every person seems amazed to see such a vehicle passing by. Everyone waves with a big broad smile, children chase the truck and cyclists, who seem to be carrying as much on their back as we shipped home from London, give you a big thumbs up.

After a long, 11 hour drive, taking in Masai villages, complete with mud huts, expansive dusty plains and even our first sighting of a giraffe we rolled into Snake Park campground, just outside Arusha, Tanzania.

The campground was more a sandpit than anything else, however with the water shortages out here it is amazing that Ma & Pa (the Safa’s who run the place) can even run a campsite. Of course the first stop was the bar and, as with most first nights with a crew of strangers, everyone proceeded to up the ante, the beers, ciders and shooters were flowing, I was in my element with the Ma’s revenge, a concoction of tequila and Tabasco. I was soon to learn, however, the dangers of running a tab, $110USD later and I had formally settled in to Africa, so much, it would seem, that Ma was concerned for myself and gave Mouse a hug as she had apparently agreed to become Pa’s 3rd wife.

Waking in a tent is not normally the best way to greet the day, it gets even worse when you are hung over and multiplies exponentially if it is hot, hence upon opening my bleary eyes the next morning, I was as dusty as the camp surrounding me, however, we had a Masai village tour to take part in, so with my head under my arm I made my way over to begin what would turn out to be a magic experience.

First stop was the museum of Masai life, if I was feeling queasy before the tour, I was not made to feel any better when told by our guide that circumcision takes place for a Masai warrior when he is 18, you are not allowed to make any noise and it is done by a witch doctor in a dusty hut.

Next we made our way to the village, it would seem the Masai have quite an interesting take on life – marry as many women as you can, pump out a stack of children, then move to quieter surrounds in your old age, leaving the women to manage things. Each Masai village houses a single warrior and their respective families. The particular village we visited was home to a local warrior, his 8 wives and countless number of children, in fact there were almost more children here than people at a Power home game, though I guess that is no mean feat.

But back to the children, they, and I can say this with no feeling of metrosexuality, are absolutely beautiful. They perfectly encapsulate youth, big broad smiles, completely un-assuming nature and loving to every one, including their siblings. They hug you, hold your hand, play swings with you and seem genuinely mesmerised by your appearance, despite the fact there are groups passing through here every day. Friends who have been to Africa previously have all remarked how, upon seeing the children, you simply want to hug and take them all home with you I can confirm this is no lie.

Over the course of this trip I have seen how amazingly resilient humans can be, take the loving nature of those in Bosnia and Poland who have suffered terrible atrocities in the name of ethnic cleansing, likewise just how horrible we can be to one another. Seeing young African children actually puts faith back in what mankind can truly be like, these children have nothing and yet retain a loving, caring nature, it is quite moving to actually be with them, rather overwhelming actually.

After spending some time with the children and seeing the inside of a hut, we were treated to a Masai warrior dance. They assemble themselves in a semi circle, not too differently to a rap dance group, then begin to sing and wail beautifully before, one by one, a warrior will move into the middle and jump into the air, coming down with big dust clearing thud to end their turn. After a while we were invited to dance with them so of course Matthewman came bustling out of the pack, however, my inability to get more than 2cm from the ground soon proved my downfall and my Masai dancing career was over just as quickly as it had begun.

After the dancing had finished we bid our new friends farewell and were shown some of the good work our hosts Ma & Pa were doing around the local area. They have built a free medical clinic for the locals using proceeds from the campground, this made me feel a little better for spending my $110USD, in fact, if you look at it, I simply had to keep drinking there, sure I felt bad from the night before, but it was now my duty to our new friends!

So, after a few beers we packed up ready to head off on our first safari … next stop Nogorongoro Crater and Serengeti National park

Tags: Adventures

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