(I’ve returned home)
I’m not one for ever having a feeling of belonging or identity, having lived in so many different places across the UK, and now Tanzania, but I do have a massive sense of nostalgia coming back here, not just in country, but finally now back home in my little place up in the village. Having spent some time down in Arusha, and if I’m honest all I did was party for three days, it feels really good to be back in rural Africa. The difference in culture, just between Arusha, Moshi and here in Marangu and Mshiri is huge, and hits you in the face in such an amazing way, that describing it can be difficult if not nigh on impossible. The daladala back to Marangu last night gave me my first taste of things to come, as I sat in the rearmost seat, arm hanging out the window, and as we rose up above 1200m the rain began to fall and I got soaked. Once at the bus stand the normal riffraff of touts and locals came to find out what I was doing, and probably for the first time I was really glad to see some of their faces. These are the guys who hassle, sell and generally annoy every mzungu who goes through their pitch, but last night I needed their help and after giving out a couple of cigarettes and the normal exchange of words I was in a taxi for a good price up to Mshiri. Then comes the road situation. However bad most people who visit the general beaten track here think of the roads, nothing compares to the rocky and often incredibly steep tracks that you need to negotiate in order to get up to the village. From Marangu itself, we climb another 400m up the mountain almost to the Marangu gate entrance to Kili national park, and then you veer off into the dark, unlit tracks of Mshiri and Mbahe to finally come to rest outside Katy’s house at the top of the hill. I’ve done that journey many times, but it never ceases to be a journey I will always revere in and enjoy. Your ears pop three times on the climb from the main road at Himo to Mshiri, and once there, the air is fresher than anyone in Europe can imagine. Apart from the taxi I arrived in, suitably bashed, dented and cracked, covered in premiership football teams logos and stickers, and a tacky sign on the front window saying “mungu ni uhai” – god is life – as per the norm here, and a few vehicles belonging to others that work for our project, there really isn’t any traffic, so pollution is something that locals here just don’t really get. I walked with my bags down to my own house at the back of Dilly’s family estate, and here I was again, back to my little house on the hill, my little kitchen and shower/toilet room, the smell of fresh coffee brewing in the pot, and my bed, made for me by Anna, who was waiting in the house for me with some food ready. This is the life eh? Well for some, this may seem meagre and modest, but to me, it is home, and it’s amazing to be back amongst the people of Mshiri, those who make me feel so welcome, and those whose hospitality is on a par with any hotel I have stayed in.
I’m home, and it’s damn good to be back J