October 20, 2014

Tanzania: Intrepid Overland

I said goodbye to my mom (who flew back to the US) as Chris, my Intrepid Travel tour guide, picked me up from Impala Hotel in Arusha. For the next twenty four days I will be on a truck driving and camping through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Intrepid Staff: Mike the cook from Kenya, Ben our truck driver and our learder Chris. Chris is from Zimbabwe and has been an Intrepid guide for the last fourteen years. I assumed he was a bachelor but turns out he is a "typical African man" Chris said, with a wife and three kids.

Overlanders: There are twenty two other overlanders on the truck from Australia, England, Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and Finland. I am the only American.

After meeting the group in Arusha we drove 1.5 hours to Mtu Wa Mbu where we set up camp. As we got off the bus everyone started setting up the tents, chairs and unrolling the sleeping pads. I stood there. Since over half the group did another Intrepid tour in Kenya they were familiar with the set up processes. I am learning that there seems to be no explanation on the procedures. You must learn on the go. 

Our tents are simple, waterproof and heavy. It takes two people to carry the tents comfortably, Suzzy from Ireland is my tentmate. Our sleeping pads on the other hand are thin. I am starting to get a bruise on my hip from sleeping on my side #needtostartsleepingonmyback. If I were just doing an overland and then flying home I would bring an air mattress to double up. I don't have a sleeping bag, although it was on the suggested packing list, but so far my sleeping sheet and wool Maasai blanket have been doing the trick. 

The food has been excellent and there is always plenty of it. For breakfast we have eggs, toast, cereal, fruit and coffee with milk (I have learned that milk is a luxury here). For the last few days, since we have been on the go, we have been making sandwiches in the morning for lunch. Since I am the only American I seem to have the peanut butter and jam all to myself. For dinner we have soup to start and then a main course which has been delicious. 

We are assigned tasks each day so we either help cut vegetables with Mike, clean the truck or do the dishes - you are either a washer or a flapper. A flapper swings the dishes around until they're dry. We look ridiculous but it works well.

{ Inside the truck } 
{ Lockers }
The truck is massive and hauls everything we need. We each have a locker at the back of the bus which is barely big enough for a backpack (60L). The morning struggle of pushing my backpack into my locker is never a good way to start the day. Africa has taught me one very important lesson: If I don't get sick from it, everything will be okay. The sun will rise tomorrow and so will I. 

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