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    • Day 1–9

      The same procedure as last year?

      November 6, 2023 in Tanzania ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

      "The same procedure as every year, Michi"

      I should have known. Initially I had not much work planned on my car and wanted to leave early into the bush. But then I notice some dents in my rear door behind the spare wheel. A vertical object must have kissed the wheel in my absence and the tyre transferred the impact onto the touching steel body. Now, bending work is necessary to get it straightened. Afterwards I also end up repairing 25+ deep scratches all over the vehicle body, welding a new fire extinguisher bracket for my front seat, doing some woodwork on the bed, closing the ventilation inlet with a grid in order to prevent rats from entering my car during my absence (they love to build nests on my ventilation filter), getting my old linen pants patched up, getting new linen pants and a linen shirt tailored, delivering some German donations to an orphanage and talking a lot with Eckhard.

      Finally, once I am fully packed and ready to leave we notice a new squealing sound from the engine bay and I loose two further days 🙈: The bearing of my Toyota's "power heater assembly" is at the end of its lifespan. Funnily, the local models don't have such a heater installed because nobody requires heating a car here. This means that getting spare parts is difficult and expensive. Our pragmatic solution is to install a shorter V-belt which simply bypasses the heater. Silence!
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    • Day 10

      Ab die Post

      December 15, 2022 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

      On December 7th I arrive in Dar and spend a full week at Eckhard's place to work on my car. What is on the menu? My most important and challenging mission is to install a supplementary auxiliary battery with charging infrastructure for my fridge, inverter and USB ports. My remote preparations for this task back home in Germany consumed most of my free time during the past weeks. From Germany I brought a DC-DC charger for charging of the battery from the car's alternator during driving. I also brought a solar charger and a foldable 140 Watt solar panel. All necessary cables, connectors and fuses I also had to import because it is quite difficult to find specific parts here in Dar es Salaam. But the biggest challenge of all is to find an adequate battery! I was opting for a small modern Lithium battery (LiFePO4) but after investigating for weeks in advance, not a single shop or supplier in Dar nor in Arusha could offer what I was searching for. In the end, the only battery I can find around here is a conventional 100 Ah VRLA gel solar battery. Now I have to carry around 32 kg instead of my desired 6 kg in the car and it eats a lot of my valuable storage space. They do not have smaller ones on stock anywhere.

      Apart from that I invest in two new high-quality starter batteries, change my engine oil and bleed the brakes. My awning suffered a lot from Namibia's washboard roads back in 2020 and the rivets loosened, some even lost their heads. I replace all rivets, add some more for increased stability and also shorten the mounting brackets. Eckhard's mechanic welds new mounting brackets for my sand recovery tracks and finally I can remount them vertically on my roof rack again! Also my fridge gets a much quieter radiator fan because the original one drove me crazy.
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    • Day 5


      November 10, 2023 in Tanzania ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C

      Whenever I have to wait for people or spare parts, I stroll around Eckhard's wild garden which he should transfer into a nature reserve as it spills over with frogs and colorful birds! Even a White-browed Robin-chat was chanting for me in the evening!Read more

    • Day 367

      "Supranatural qualities"?

      December 18, 2020 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

      "No, supra-natural. That's like a whole other level above super."
      (Jack Black and Ben Stiller in The Pick of Destiny, 2006)

      Easily transferable to the overlanding business. Whenever you ask "Which car should I choose for my overlanding trip?" they will answer "Toyota!".
      "It's the best, it will never break!"

      So, actually, my dear hard-rockin' amigos, I can confirm that this is a myth. Attentive readers will notice that I already had some pretty ugly problems with my 2006 Prado during the first stage of my trip. Here I go with another one. I initially wanted to leave Dar and head north yesterday. But two days ago I discovered a freshly broken drive shaft boot on the front which was leaking grease/oil. Supra-uncool! On 20th I have to be at a border to stamp-in my new Carnet de Passages. Hmmpf. At least I am at Eckhard’s place which is probably the best-equipped truck workshop in Dar. This week Eckhard is busy with another customer’s “problem car” and so I started to disassemble my front left suspension assembly yesterday. From time to time Eckhard or his “fundi” (colloquial for expert/mechanic/skilled individual) threw a glance and a helpful comment. Never thought to be able to untighten these heavy bolts and nuts with my own force. The biggest lesson I learnt: A huge hammer is your most valuable tool! A year ago in Germany, Mario and Andrejs – the guys who assisted me with the Prado – told me the very same. Oh, they were so right about it :-p
      By 6 p.m. we had everything in single parts and thus some desired samples in order to find fitting spares. Another downthrow: also the left steering knuckle oil seal “existed past its designed lifespan”. At 7.30 p.m. both spares arrived via piki piki (motorcycle taxi delivery). And this is where Toyota and Tanzania turn most shit into gold! The fact that around South/East Africa (especially here) these SUVs – in similar age or newer – are pretty common makes every corner shop to sell spare parts.

      Today the fundi continues re-assembling my drive shaft and I assist while Eckhard is throwing curses at the neighbouring Mercedes Benz G’s diesel pump. Apart from G Class he is specialised on Volkswagen Transporters and does not have any specific tool for fitting my huge, flat, filigree Toyota oil seal. A few minutes later he returns from his backyard with the rusty metal cap of a big gas bottle which is having – by incidence – the same diameter like the seal’s fitting nut (97 mm). Wtf?! Quickly the heavy cap is shortened, looses its round head and gets reborn as “special tool for pressing the seal into its bed”. Invaluable, sovereign, supranatural awesomeness! I should better quit my job and do an internship here at Eckhard’s :-P
      In the late afternoon I have everything ready and also manage to rebuild a ripped-off “front fender apron” (the official Toyota part name) from a piece of Cordura cloth which I carry around in the car for a year already. What a great day of improvising and brain using. I reward myself with a calamari platter.
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    • Day 119

      The decision has been unmade

      April 14, 2020 in Tanzania ⋅ 🌧 27 °C

      Booked a flight back home for April 16th on 10th. On 11th the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) locked down the airspace for commercial civil flights which was not well communicated through the media. First public notifications on that appeared on 12th. On 13th in the morning Ethiopian (I booked through their partner Lufthansa) still listed my flight as bookable and its status as "green". So I quickly descended from Mambo into Dar in a 10-hours cruise. Even on 13th in the afternoon I was still able to prepone my flight from the 16th on the 14th on the telephone, just to increase the chance of catching a flight. And now, on 14th in the morning, all the world seems to know that all flights are suspended since 11th, except for Lufthansa. I phoned them again to tell them "Yeah, boys, look, your flight is no more.". "Oh, thanks for the info Mr. Michael.". They checked in some kind of "2nd system" and there they found that it is not scheduled any more. Surprise. Can anyone tell me why this information flow is so damn difficult in our digital era and why I as a customer have to hassle with it myself?

      I have to admit that last week the German embassy pushed very clearly to get on the soonest flight possible. As if they knew of the coming lockdown. There will be no further repatriation flights because we had the possibility to hop on a regular Ethiopian flight for several weeks until now. I can follow that but still would have expected some announced deadlines. Next time I know better ;-)

      I will wait 1-2 more days here at Eckhard's place where I would have left the car. Then I probably will be ascending back into Usambara mountains to move into a cozy cottage with Kilimanjaro view. Eckhard moved to Dar 40 years ago and was running a truck workshop until 4 years ago. And bet what? He is from Brauni-Braunschweig. An epic facial expression he had when he read my number plate yesterday :-D
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    • Ups, time is over!

      January 28, 2022 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

      Before switching Tanzania's hot moistness for German cold moistness I put my glorious plan of gifting my hiking shoes to Dr. Adam into action. Adam works at Haydom Hospital where I met him after my Hanang hike. He will wear my boots for his climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro!

      Shortly after having given the shoes into the hands of his friend I realise that walking around at the airport back in freezing Europe with just flip-flops might become just another adventurous undertaking ...

      Road summary
      Driven kilometres: 5638
      Police controls: plenty
      Fines paid: 0
      Bribes paid: 0
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    • Getting things ready

      December 12, 2021 in Tanzania ⋅ 🌧 29 °C

      "Pole pole" - as Tanzanians in the Swahili region would say - I start to get my things ready for another road trip. This time I want to not hurry and to concentrate solely on Tanzania. This country is sooo damn big and, apart from the main tourist attractions, has plenty of other spectacular spots to offer. The rainy season might boycott some of my yet unmade plans though.

      Over a week I need at Eckhard's place for arriving with my sould, servicing my car, visiting friends, people, neighbours and eating myself through the varieties of street foodi around the corner.

      With the new president many things already changed. Even though the nation celebrates 60 years of independence with positive retrospectives all over the place, the newspapers are again allowed to criticize and to post suggestions for improvements. They chew on the dualistic education system, on gender-based violence, on challenges in the agricultural sector, they report about road network extensions having massive impacts on the ecosystem, they bring specials about nature conservation efforts and they manage to give a good overview about which consequences this whole COVID thing has for eastern Africa.
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