Catching Up

It has been a few days since I last had internet access, so the three posts I’m putting up today are all a bit belated. They’re also way too short to actually account for everything that has been going on, but hopefully I’ll get some pictures uploaded to make up for the lack.

I left off on Saturday night after arriving in Lamadi at the Fly Emirates Lodge. Lamadi is a popular rest stop for truckers who ferry goods from Tanzania to Kenya and Uganda. Maersk cargo containers, furniture shipments and other bulk goods are common sights along the road. Hence, much of Lamadi’s income is from rest houses and bars. Suzana told me that although this activity is a bit off-putting to many of the townspeople, it brings in a great deal of wealth. Lamadi is quite well off, especially compared to its neighboring towns and villages. The town was lively on Saturday night (as with most other nights, I hear) but I still managed to get a great night of sleep.

Suzana greeted me in the morning for breakfast and brought me to the same restaurant I visited earlier. We had Chai, Chabati and Samosas, all of which had me questioning whether I was in Africa or India. Chai is how Tanzanian’s refer to all tea, but the tasty preparation with the milk and tea they used at breakfast reminded me of the $5 cups of Chai that Starbucks sells. Chabati is a thin dough pancake, like a crepe, that I think is common in Indian cuisine, and the samosas were filled with delicious beef and veggies, wrapped in a paper-thin dough and cooked to perfection. After such a delicious breakfast I was prepared for a long day of SITE planning.

Suzana and I took a taxi to Zariki Primary School after breakfast. I was surprised by the school the first time we passed it; there are only three small classrooms in the middle of an open field on the side of the road. The school was empty at the time, but as I soon discovered, Zariki gets its substance from the teachers and students that crowd its small campus. We spent a couple hours talking about the ELiTE SITE program, during which Suzana, Justin and the other teachers offered incredibly helpful and creative input to my original plans.

As we continued to talk into lunch time, I learned more about the story behind the Zariki school. Paige’s father Richard, while traveling in the area several years ago, discovered Suzana teaching a group of primary school children underneath a tree. In the village of Mwaburugu and the nearby town of Lamadi, there are at least 100 children for each primary school classroom, so many children simply get crowded out of class. Add to this predicament the common lifestyle of drinking and debauchery that most of the men in the community tend to enjoy after their fishing trips, and one can understand the type of conditions these children have to grow up in. Richard was inspired by Suzana and the other teachers’ dedication and helped fund the construction of the new Zariki school. The teachers are now working with Paige and her family to get the school registered with the government and expanded into a full-sized institution.

After a long morning we drove back to Lamadi for lunch and a well-needed break. This meal matched a fresh fried chicken with a dough-like item called Ugana (or something that sounds like that), which was nearly identical to Ghanaian Banku (tasty!). Following a brief nap at Fly Emirates, Suzana and I began to wonder about the fate of rest of our group. They had been scheduled to meet us in Lamadi early in the afternoon, and we had not receivedd any updates from them all day. We finally heard from Waziri that all of the travelers were held back by a mechanical issue with their plane, pushing their 6PM flight back 1 hour, then 2, 3 and so on. After what sounded like a miserable evening at the Dar airport, they left for Mwanza around 11PM. They decided to stay in Mwanza for the night rather than risking the dark roads at 2AM, so I was on my own for the night. Suzana helped me bring my luggage to the luxurious Speek Bay Hotel to check in, and thus I spent another night as a ‘Solo Pilot’ on my trip through Tanzania.

Asante for reading, and come back soon!


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