Wandering and Wondering

Sunday, September 16, 2007


The first leg of my overland adventure from Cape Town to Livingstone was relatively smooth going in African terms. We spent most of our time in Namibia, which seemed to be a relatively prosperous country with good roads and infrastructure. The second leg of our journey from Livingstone to Nairobi, however, has been a bit more of an adventure. To account for this, a new phrase has been added to our daily vocabulary on the truck: "this is Africa", or TIA for short. Whenever we run into a problem or crazy situation, the frustration can be reduced just by accepting that "this is Africa", so you can't expect things to be the same as you are used to in developed countries. Some examples:

- When a distance of 100km takes 5 hours to drive because instead of being flat, the road is a continuous series of bumps, rocks and potholes: TIA.


- When it takes minutes to call up a single web page on the Internet: TIA.

- When a minibus with 7 seats can hold 14 passengers: TIA.

Dhala Dhala

Fully loaded

- When everytime we park the truck in a town, we get at least several people trying to sell us all sorts of stuff we don't need or want: TIA.

Street vendors chase down a bus

- When your waiter at a restaurant can't understand English, even though it is a touristy restaurant with the menu in English, and after waiting for your meal for 40 minutes, you realise that he didn't even place your order: TIA.

Not that we complained too much - after all, this is what we came to Africa to experience. Looking back, these are the things you actually remember the most. Probably the funniest TIA moment of the whole trip was when we went to a restaurant for dinner at our campsite in Karatu. The restaurant itself looked really flash, with the waiter even bringing us hot towels to wash our hands before dinner, so we were a bit surprised by how cheap everything was on the menu. The cheese burger that Helen ordered, for instance, was only 3000 Tanzanian shillings, which is about AU$3. When the meals arrived, however, the cheese burger turned out to be just a bun with a big hunk of cheese and no meat. Needless to say, Helen was a bit disappointed. 30 seconds later, however, all the lights in the restaurant went out and we all burst into laughter, realizing that it was just another classic TIA moment.

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