A Day & Thoughts From Africa

Greetings from Tanga,

I’m in Tanga again and on a laptop so I can be verbose for a change. Let’s pick up where we left off, wait that’s impossible as so much has happened and my limited cell updates have been vanilla at best, without sprinkles, no choco sauce, NOTHING.

I digress.

Walked into town yesterday to take photos. Along the way a gent drove by on a bike, slowly… Said hello, he smiled and we greeted each other, could tell he was in no rush so said “Going to Pangani?” It’s a ~3km walk from where I am, he said yes. We walked together took some photos, taught each other a few words. Did you know a shirt in Swahili was “Shirte”, now you do.

When the ferry came he said, “ok, goodbye” I said I’ll pay for your ferry but he never came back, at that moment ran into another friend of mine from the village, went across, chatted, cool guy. Went to my fav place for shakes and indulged, even had a 3 egg omelet for $0.50.

Took countless photos and ran into my friend John. He’s from Pangani but lived in NYC for a while, older gent but cool, you now the type. Turns out he works in one of the historical buildings which is now a shipping authority. Found this out by saying I was taking photos of this building as it’s incredible. He said, want a tour? I said sure. Building is from 1889, the Germans built it. Really love old buildings. Never ask someone their name if they already introduced themselves. It’s rude, especially if they remember your name. If you’re traveling it’s overload but if you are a local somewhere and you meet someone and have a connection, you remember, even if you forget the name, don’t ask again, it cheapens things. You wait for it to come about or …

Starting to know people in town, some foreigners, some locals, I like it. Pangani is really beautiful and sleepy, thoroughly enjoy drinking fruit juice while eating octopus over looking the mouth of the river where it meets the Indian Ocean. It’s just relaxing and peaceful, the stresses of everyday life seem to vanish in this place and in ~5-10 years I see this place being a destination. It already is but even more so.

Afterward, rolled back into town and watched a movie with the staff and a gent from France who is helping out. It was good times, I miss updates on a daily basis as this blog always was and always will be an online journal. Not some “How to live this lifestyle” or “why you should live this lifestyle” or “how to travel cheap” or anything, just what I’m up to as well, it’s my blog!? Also, I don’t think everyone should do this, it’s not for everyone. It has tones of pros and tones of cons.

It’s my fathers birthday today, haven’t seen the people I care most about in this world in what is approaching a year and a half, wtf!? Anything could happen at anytime to anyone, it’s a long time to be away from the base that created you, gave you your values, and you’ve always used as a hub for decision making and thoughtful input on any matter. Miss you guys and happy birthday dad, love ya!

Now, I’m in Tanga, rolled in this morning with head of staff who we will call Mr. B. I like chilling with him, he’s a nice guy and reminds me of a friend I used to hang out with in grade school from Nigeria only much larger. We took a dala dala for $1 each and hit the town. On the ferry ran into some friends I met on the first night, need to go to his resort and have a drink sometime soon, not many people around and he’s very cool.

Once we got to Tanga, ran into another gent who runs a resort in Oshongo, (sp?) It’s the beach location outside of Pangani that is developing and it’s about ~10km from where I’m staying. Then ran into the gents from the other place again, my cab driver in town “Steve” who is mad chill and well if you have a personality and you’re drastically foreign, people remember you. It was cool to come “back to Tanga” and see friendly faces. Also ran into some gent from Arusha who I swear I’ve met before, or maybe I haven’t, who cares?

I digress.

So Mr. B and myself eat well, drank lots of fruit juice and just chilled. He’s a good influence as he doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke and likes working out. Also used to be a bouncer so it’s reassuring when walking around with a backpack filled with GSM modem, laptop, iphone and pockets filled with ID. Seriously though, everywhere is similar when it comes to safety. During the day, stay near crowded areas and you should be OK. When in PACKED AREAS put your hands in your pockets to thwart pick pockets. At night, the predators come out, but it’s the same everywhere, even in the wild…

Did what we had to do, check this. In Tanzania, they want like 70,000tsh for 1 month 3 or 8GB of transfer… It is a GSM modem so runs on sim cards. On your cell you have the option to buy 400MB for 2,500. They will not tell you this in the store and I have friends who have overpaid for months, if you’re reading this… SORRY GUYS. I showed her my phone a few times and said no, I just want to access the 3G internet bundle, anyways when she got that I knew she smiled and was like “ok, cool”. So basically got back online for ~$1.50 instead of $50. I reckon on heavy use, ~$10 a month. Better than $50, indeed

I had a nice watch that I bought on my travels, a really nice one, 2010 edition and perpetual motion. Mr. B was buying a watch in Pangani a few weeks ago so I said “don’t bother, I have one for you”. We passed a watch guy and he wanted to fix the top glass as he cracked it on the truck while driving somewhere. I would not have thought possible to fix from a street guy. The gent made a new one at a store around the corner and fixed it for ~$2 in 20 minutes, remarkable. Later I got them to fix my Esquire watch which was a gift from my parents, I love that watch.

Slightly earlier, I took a photo of I don’t even know what and these cops came and were like “what are you doing, you can’t just be taking photos of things, it’s respect” or something. They wanted cash but I was in no mood to pay a bribe. Told them, “sorry” and they said where from, I said “Canada”. They said you have rules to respect and so do we, did they not tell you this at border? I said they asked for $50US and I gave it to them. They said your guide is responsible, I said he’s my friend.

We stood there for about 2 minutes and I said, I’ll delete the photos, I”m just a tourist who is killing time and they agreed. They wanted cash. If you are in a situation like that, never admit guilt, play up the authority card by apologizing. I also had a photo of a range rover, he said “did you ask that guy to take a photo of his property”. It was seriously an episode from the twilight zone but I’ve heard of these types of things happening. I paid them nothing, FYI.

Anyways on the way home after saying peace out as he is going back to Tanga, walked through a field. There was this garbage bin a big industrial one with flies everywhere and it wreaked. Suddenly I had to do a double take, there was a dude sitting in the garbage eating a rotten mango. This really hit me, I’ve seen poverty but not depravity like this. I’ve seen guys sleep in front of it, but never in it, totally immersed in the garbage.

I couldn’t do nothing so I went back and gave him the equivalence of a decent days work or $2. When I gave it to him he was eating a chicken bone, flies everywhere and just soaked in garbage, didn’t say thanks, smile anything and some other guy I didn’t notice said “What about me!?” Told them to share… I just have never seen anything so down and out anywhere in the world… Earlier I gave a blind lady some cash and felt good about this… Didn’t feel good about this…

After leaving I went to the hotel and ran into my friend Steve, he’s a nice guy and a taxi driver… Got me thinking about how Steve has to hustle to make his living and pay his car, etc… Also while eating with Mr. B, people came to sell DVD, old clothes, old boxers, watches, everything… THESE are the people you want to give cash to in exchange for their wares and obviously old / crippled people. Not sure where I’m going but seeing that guy in the garbage had a weird effect on me so I feel the need to mention it here. I’ve seen A LOT but this was just so …

Also got me thinking about how you need to help people who are helping themselves. That is why AID does not work so well, if you give people things they will use it but it won’t fix the problem. It’s a complicated issue well beyond the scope of this blog, let alone this update so we shall leave it to another day, yes?

Right now I’m chilling, trying to chat with parents but the connection is horrible which is annoying. Will grab some food and have an early night, maybe stay one more night here. Oh check this, a guy was selling fruits and then I saw this carefully crafted fruit cocktail, asked him how much, $0.66. Best platter of my life, on the streets of Tanga, indeed!

So yeah, if you’ve read this blog you know one of my philosophies, never leave a good party to find another. I’m happy and getting in great shape and helping build something which I think will be around much longer than I ever will, on the other side of the planet and surrounded by good people, why move on?

I’ve gone through countries fast and slow. Some argue fast travel is best, others argue that slow travel is best to immerse yourself aka work there. I think they both have pros and cons and if you’re cool “being you” then keep doing it.

Finally, so many cultures here, so many religions and for the most part, everyone gets along. It’s odd how in the world we live in, on a micro level things can work but on a macro level these issues present problems, makes you wonder, yes?

Tips hat,

P.S: These are just random photos taken on my crap camera. Haven’t been taking many photos really. BTW, below is Mt. Kilimanjaro in a rare no could event, taken at 6am on way to Pangani, doesn’t look that big, does it?

Author: SHABL

Rob has been traveling the world and living abroad for over a decade. The goal was to stop having a boring life and it turned into something far greater. He's worked with national tourism boards and been mentioned in National Geographic. These days he lives abroad and loves business, technology, the tropical lifestyle, good food and travel.

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