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  • Day137

    Strange creatures everywhere

    May 2 in Tanzania ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    Days pass by like pieces of a bar of chocolate. I didn’t have good chocolate for months though! Two weeks since I returned here and in a few days I have to extend my visa again. I can spend a whole day chasing the dogs or petting the cat, watching the clouds or letting a chameleon climb from my sleeve through the beard on my head. Strange creatures everywhere. Lizards eating spiders half of their own size, for example. In the invasive black wattle trees I found a caterpillar carrying several tiny, vertical cocoons on its back. Nobody knew what that was. I did some research. It turns out to be a caterpillar which has been blessed by a parasitoid wasp of the Braconidae family. Theses wasps lay eggs under the skin of caterpillars. The larvae then feed on the caterpillar’s juices while the caterpillar keeps marching on and harvesting the plants of his desire. Finally, the larvae exit his body and build their cocoons on his outside while he continues his daily business. Here we go. I put the caterpillar in a box and made him my experiment. His name is Donald.

    Meanwhile I planted a few more trees and enjoy the extraordinary food. Eggs on home-made bread, tomatoes and cheese, tons of bush avocado, local orange marmalade, fresh juices and cereals with yoghurt for breakfast. Spinach pies, Polish gołąbki, self-made pasta or potato salads and rich soups for lunch and/or dinner. Banana or guava bread with coffee and chai masala in between.

    One day Jutta and Markus on two German KTM motorbikes came for a coffee. They travel "from north to south", stay in Lushoto right now and were on a day trip around the mountains. As it gets colder Philipp and I spend the evenings at the fire and I regularly use my oven in the cottage. I like to sit in my bed and do crappy stuff on the computer, like writing this blog post, while listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Steve 'n' Seagulls, Snarky Puppy or Slagsmålsklubben ;-) Now and then I support the local organisation with geodata expertise and empower the people with QGIS. Preferably also from my bed office. On Monday I will restart working remotely in Germany in far-from-home-office style. Exciting!
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  • Day99

    Home office?

    March 25 in Tanzania ⋅ 🌧 22 °C

    Fight nature with nature: Toast à la Cheesus with onions, garlic, aromatic habanero and tomato for lunch (germ-free zone), polska szarlotka in the afternoons (Dagmara knows her business!), coffee all around the clock und nen guaden Grappa for sun set. Our night watchman patrols with a
    small brown sheep and the bush baby in the nearby tree always has an eye on me. Doesn't sound like the end of the world, does it?
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  • Day97

    Going to hell. Not.

    March 23 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    The Zanzibar flight is restricted to 50 persons and primarily designated for island tourists. According to the embassy my chances to get a slot are small so I don't risk all the stress getting there in half the time I would need. The mainland airport in Dar-es-Salaam is still in regular operation even though the flights to Germany are sparse with obscure transits for prices I would not pay right now where "thinks are still normal here". There might be skylifts planned later for all the other volunteers and expats scattered around but Tanzania has low priority at this moment. The embassy is currently gathering info about all people left in the country. All land borders are closed so whatever I will be doing, it'll all be branded "Tanzanian experience 2.0" ;-)

    As for now, I keep enjoying my coffee and fix some pending issues around the car. Maybe I continue tomorrow. Maybe not. This spot is just too pretty!

    If necessary, from here I can be in Dar within one day and the chances are high that my new mechanics' friends could take care of my car at their well-guared lawn.
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  • Day188


    June 22 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    The choice to build my car’s interior from wood proves to be a good one. It is way more robust than expected – even the partly used poplar multiplex – and I can extend it anytime. Today I finally managed to neatly integrate the cooler box which I bought in Cape Town. Since then it was always flying around which is especially annoying when not having a fully packed car, meaning, when travelling alone. So, this weekend I was the main customer of the MamboViewPoint carpentry. It took half a day of engineering and another half day to build this thing. I cut a part out of my upper bed layer and reused this as base plate for the fridge unit. There were various reasons for not centring the fridge in the middle of the car with the major being the possibility to use one of the heavy seat screws to fasten the plate to the ground. Also, it keeps a nice big gap between the seats to reach in the back under the bed from the front seat row. Somebody always hides a snack box there ;-) The small fridge is unmovably aligned on the wooden base and simply tied down with two Seilflechter straps. Dat sitzt bombenfest, Digga! I like to tie down stuff. It’s so stupid and simplifies all kinds of designs in regard of rattle-free installation in the car. The bed is the best example. The fridge’s lid is super-stupidly designed because it’s not flat but still, you don’t really feel it when lying on the bed. It is easy reachable by quickly uplifting the cushions. Done.Read more

  • Day138

    Cave hike

    May 3 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    This Sunday is hiking day and we explore some caves north of Mambo. Far more impressive are the great views we get from the rocks above the caves!

    Unfortunately during the hike one of the dogs tries to snack a sheep and we are forced to buy it from the owner. At the lodge it gets treatment and joins Dolly, the other sheep which has been attacked by a dog before. Two days later while trying to perform in home officing I will be going to witness sheep legs, a sheep's head and sheep ribs being carried through our premises. Dolly is alone again.Read more

  • Day178

    From 4x2 back to 4x4

    June 12 in Tanzania ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    After Eckhard invented some innovative welding solutions to get the most stubborn piston out of the brake caliper he wonderfully refurbished the remaining parts and in total just two of the eight pistons had to be replaced. Spare parts for my Toyota Prado are pretty easy to get here as many of this model are still on the roads. Cleaned, with new sealings and brake pads everything looks very promising! Exchanging the brake fluid and bleedig turns out to be much less of a hassle than suspected! The very same evening I have a nice sunset test drive with Philipp through Mamboooo.Read more

  • Day103

    Pa pa!

    March 29 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Didn't expect to having been talking and thinking a whole week in Polish during this trip. After seven nights camping deluxe I say "Pa pa!" to my new family at the heaven's gate and descend via Lushoto (stopping for cheese, local coffee and jam) in direction to Mkomazi National Park which is north "just around the corner". The whole day submerges into a melancholic atmosphere. Why did I leave? Will I return one day? Maybe even very soon ...Read more

  • Day98


    March 24 in Tanzania ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    Here at the lodge they constantly employ some 17 villagers (as long as there are tourists ...) and whenever renovation work has to be done they make use of their professionals' network and rotate additional employees weekly in order to give others the chance to also earn some money. Most supplies are acquired in Mambo, water comes from the forest and power brings the sun.Read more

  • Day159

    Donald the deliverer

    May 24 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Donald openes his missile silos and launches a bunch of tiny black wasps (Braconidae) to infiltrate the next victims of his own kind while Bariati prepares dinner for 25 guests and I enjoy the sun in pleasant anticipation of the dinner :-)Read more

  • Day100

    Back in time 30 million years

    March 26 in Tanzania ⋅ 🌧 23 °C

    Since March 22nd I’m relaxing here on the spot and preparing my mind for the dawning apocalypse. Today I break out for a hike into Shagayu Forest Reserve (part of Usambara mountains) with the local guides Joseph and David accompanied by five dogs from the camp, of which three are Dagmara’s imported stray dogs from Morocco (all Poles I know are crazy about dogs!). We accomplish more than 21 km within seven hours and again I feel the past three months of sitting behind the driving wheel. Back home I will have to order a replacement element for my left knee on eBay :-P

    The path leads us from Mambo through monotonous pine and eucalyptus forests which have been planted by Germans and/or Brits during colonial times, primarily to obtain fast-growing firewood and building material. Already back then the natives’ settlement pressure was intense in this fertile and smoothly-climatised region that the whites feared to loose more and more of the precious, pristine rain forest. This is why they erected a wall of eucalyptus trees to denominate a border between cultivated land and the Shagayu forest which has been declared a forest reserve during the nineteenhundrets. This tree wall persists until today and looks somewhat strange. The locals say that this system still works pretty well as they are allowed to gather firewood from the pine and eucalyptus plantations any time whereas from the primary forest they may only collect dead wood which indeed is strongly controlled by the current government. At least they seem to have realised that this old forest is the only source for fresh water during the dry season. It even sources water during droughts when it does not rain for two years in a row!

    This "firewood thing" is really a problem. Tanzania is poor and has a huge population which uses wood and charcoal for cooking and heating all year long. Getting a hot shower in rural areas involves firing an oven. But in Zambia it is even worse! There the water reservoirs are depleting which also leads to hydro power shortages and whole Zambia’s economy and life seems to be concentrated around “where do I get firewood and where do I get charcoal?”. Even in Lusaka we experienced power cut-offs from early morning till the evening and running water was not available from 9 am to 3 pm. In their fuckin’ capital they cook daily lunch on charcoal! Here in Usambara mountains 30 % of the ladies are carrying veggies on their head and 70 % are carrying ... firewood. By the way, I don’t see any guys working here. They are just hiding or sitting around on crappy Chinese motorbikes (they say that they fall apart after one year).

    So, back to Shagayu forest: it’s nice, you should go there. Don’t fear any leopards, they don’t come any more.
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