Tanzania Tommy Rides Again!
Andrea and I thought long and hard about returning to Tanzania; obviously we had enjoyed wonderful times there between 2001 and 2003 but there’s always that niggling concern about going back somewhere and finding you’re disappointed. It also marked the tenth anniversary of our first meeting (almost) and whilst we don’t mark the event as a celebration (it took Andrea ages to find a suitably romantic star lit night) it did seem as if we were completing a cycle. After attempting to get my Dad to come along we finally headed off by ourselves.
Some things do not change and some things cannot, into which category Kili airport falls into I’m not quite sure, but I don’t think they’ve even painted it! In a way that’s a little unfair; the visa system was more efficient and they did offer Yellow Fever jabs on arrival. Having already had our jabs in Qatar, we were whisked through at a positively lightning pace, to be thrown into the arms of Frederick, who was to be our guide and driver for the next couple of weeks.
Moshi had changed; it’s now cleaner and appears less impoverished than it used to. There are certainly fewer beggars on the streets, a lot less litter and a bustling air has replaced the sometimes deadening slowness that used to exist. Perhaps it was the time of year, we had never stayed in Moshi during the month of July, and the crisp evening air certainly made the town more welcoming.
We were welcomed back by various staff at the International School, many remembered us, but there were no teachers due to the holidays. It was great to stroll around the grounds, catch up with the news and gossip, identifying long forgotten points of interest and, of course, bumping into Isaac.
Fortunately there were visiting students on the campus, which gave it some life, and we managed to peer into my old home and actually enter the place Andrea used to live as it was being decorated.
Now Isaac has not changed, except perhaps his waistline, and we had plenty of time to catch up with his family news. We also had the chance to ride once again in the old Suzuki, owned successively by myself, Andrea and Isaac. The beast looks pretty good on the outside, although some of the tyres are unchanged and bald, but the interior shows some signs of the wear and tear associated with the its lifestyle. This shot (below) from Ngorongoro in 2003 is typical but rest assured I drove out of this hole backwards, even though the exhaust was submerged.
There was also time to visit the Moshi Club where Andrea and I used to play tennis. It was practically unchanged also. Bruno, the lad who used to be chief ball boy in 2003 is now the tennis coach, but that would seem to be the only difference that eight years has made.
One aspect of this that Andrea found particularly galling was the boards displaying the winners of various trophies over the years; all the boards have seen no additions since 2002. Since Andrea won the women’s doubles with Pascal in 2003 she had hoped to see her name in lights; alas, it was not the case.
I don’t recall playing tennis more than once or twice since leaving Tanzania, it would be good to take it up again, but Qatar’s season is limited to a short period when the weather is acceptable, unless you can find an enclosed air conditioned court.
At the end of our trip we managed to see Chandra Shah, someone we used to play with regularly. He took us out for coffees and later a meal with a friend. It was really good to catch up with him and learn of his exploits over the intervening years. Chandra is still playing at the club but it has to be said that the numbers in the tennis section seem to be well under twenty. It didn’t stop Chandra managing to break the bone around his eye socket, which occurred when he took a full bloodied smash to his face, delivered by a good friend. Chandra’s son, Shrikar, who I used to teach, his daughter and wife are now resident in England. If he joins them at some time I guess we might catch up again.
It was also wonderful to catch up with Isaac’s Mother and sister. Moma Lilly used to work for Andrea looking after her house but now seems fully occupied tending the huge number of animals kept in her backyard. Pigs, cows, goats and chickens vie with each other for space; Isaac has tried to ensure that the family will not want for food or income if times become hard.
Isaac’s sister has been particularly unfortunate and is now recovering from a stroke. This has obviously put added pressure on the family, particularly as Vumilia was to have played a pivotal part in the incoming tour operator she and Isaac set up. I’ve put the details of the company at the end of this article. Their name is “Ice and Dust” and they provided all the accommodation, driving and guiding, and most of our food, as well as airport pick up and so on. I think the reason we had such a good safari was down to them and, of course, Freddy, our incredible driver and guide.