Five dogs, two cats, two parrots and a horse and let’s not forget Pam and Eric and their two children Francesca and Jack (our hosts) welcomed us into their home and gave us a beautiful cottage to chill out in. I know what you’re thinking, I should already be chilled out. I had just spent six weeks on Zanzibar Island with my Dad. However this was different, being away from all the tourist riff raff made all the difference. I could make my life seem normal for at least a short time. I could enjoy the simple things in life, like cooking, cleaning the toilet and working to a regular schedule.
It might seem strange that I am now wishing I had a semi normal life after I packed it all in a year and a half ago, but I somehow know this feeling is only temporary. In a week or two I am going to get itchy feet once again. So, while I have this temporary home maker feeling, I will settle down on the couch with my laptop resting in my lap, one hand constantly patting George (the fat orange sausage dog who became our vacuum cleaner) and I will attempt to catch up with all my blog writing, drawings and other sideline projects I have.
I actually wanted to take a boat from Nungwi on Zanzibar Island to Tanga. Every week on Zanzibar, I would watch people loading and unloading themselves, mattresses, huge ‘chilly bins’ (To translate that’s ‘Eskies’ for the Australian readers and ‘cool boxes’ for the rest of the world) and huge amount of fresh produce onto a large Dhow. I often wondered where they were going. I had an idea it might be fun to take the Dhow to the main land, until Dad kindly pointed out that sometimes those boats don’t make it. Snuffing out that idea, I also remembered why its best not to tell you parents everything you get up to!
With that in mind, I took the normal route from Dar Es Salaam to Tanga following the main road north to the turn off to Tanga where I was to meet my friend Mike at 1pm. I arrived on time but just as the rain started. Standing there with the water seeping down my back, I struggled with my rusty pannier padlocks. All I wanted was my wet weather gear. Mike came to my rescue as he always carries WD-40, and here I was hassling about the amount of stuff he was carrying! To give the WD-40 time to seep into the lock, we sat in a small roadside shack and drank a much needed coke hoping the rain would stop. It didn’t, but now at least I had my wet weather gear.
Mike was first in Tanga over six months ago when he was on his way to meet friends and family in Mombasa, where he met Pam and Eric. Pam and Eric are both BMW riders and have done a few motorcycle trips of their own. Now when they see an overlander in town, they tend to pick them up off the street and take them home, clean them up, and give them a good rest before sending them on their way once again, refreshed. What they probably didn’t realise is we needed more of a rest than most overlanders, as we ended up staying a whole month!
In the month hanging out in Tanga, I realised the one thing I do miss from being in a place for more than one or two days, is getting to know people within your community. Going to the supermarket, a vegetable stall at the market or just to the same restaurant more than once, builds up connections, strengthens ties, and creates bonds between people. I loved that I know I can buy chapattis, milk and tomato paste at the little hole in the wall shop at the end of my street. I loved knowing the best restaurant in town was owned by a South African and she gave us a slice of cake, fresh from the oven, for free. A man in the market would take me by the hand and help us buy fresh fruit and vegetables and the lady at the supermarket checkout would hassle me about how much beer we were drinking. All of these were just little things you never get to experience if you are consistently on the road, moving every day.
I didn’t sit inside for the entire month. We were kept entertained by the five dogs who took advantage of my kind heart and would trapse in mud, then drop piles of stones and plastic lids for me to throw. In the morning the small young sausage dogs (as George would never do this) left extra special presents around the house, while the bigger outside dogs left dead animals. One in particular was quite interesting. While eating boiled eggs squashed on toast with a nice plunger coffee, sitting on a beautiful handmade outdoor couch, I looked over to the dogs, and wondered what was at their feet. It was huge like a fat cat, fluffy like an opossum but it had a rat shaped head and tail. To make things even more confusing, it had the pointiest testicles I’ve ever seen in my life! (I’m sorry; I forgot to get a picture, so I hope my description is good enough). Now sick in the stomach and completely scared to go outside at night, for if this animal was alive it would eat my whole foot off in one bite! When Pam and Eric came back from their week away they explained to us, that it was indeed an opossum, but a special kind – a special kind indeed!
This wasn’t the end of my animal incidents, one night, while sitting on the couch watching a film on my laptop I felt something cold and damp on my leg. Thinking it was just one of the little sausage dogs being polite for a change and trying to get my attention, I casually glanced down. Flipping out, I shook my leg backwards and forwards really hard, until the clammy, slimy snail flew off and landed safely on the floor. Inspecting my leg to ensure myself that I still had a foot. I noticed it had left a huge slimy trail, that crossed my socked foot a few times, before it headed up my leg. Wow, I wonder how long my foot was sitting still for?
Mike and I decided to get out of the cottage for a few days, as itchy feet had indeed set in, but I was waiting on a package to arrive, so we decided to head 40 km south of Tanga to a beautiful strip of coastal land and head to a resort that someone had mention to me as being a great place to stay. This was far from the truth. It was an over priced place with snobby owners. In fact we would have stayed a lot longer but decided to leave because of the owner’s attitudes. However that aside, this is where I had my incident with the crab – click here to read all about it!
Tanzania is turning out to be an animal infestation for me after discovering white ants in my AXO motocross boots and backpack, a massive spider running around our room and it was also where I got my first scorpion sting! After two and a half months here, I think it’s time to say a massive thank you to Pan and Eric and leave Tanga and head towards Rwanda.