The Long(ido) Goodbye

Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
Trip End Jun 25, 2009

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Flag of Tanzania  , Arusha,
Sunday, June 14, 2009

We spent a lovely weekend in Nairobi, staying with friends of mum and dads at their wonderful house, full of African artefacts – hot showers, lovely surroundings and an endless supply of gin and tonic – bliss!

So, our last week in Longido had arrived. Due to the worsening drought (the annual rains never arrived and it's shaping up to be a long tough year before there’s a chance of any further rains), the Maasai men have had to leave their bomas and travel long distances in order to find grazing lands for their cattle. Some have travelled up to 200km to find green grass! Consequently our digging team began to dwindle in numbers as time went on, as more and more of the men working with us had to leave with their cattle. However this was a situation out of anyone’s control and despite this the project progressed a long way and it’s now so tantalisingly close to being completed. The frustrating, and ironic thing was that we had been making such good progress; if the drought hadn’t worsened we would have completed the project. However we left them with enough pipeline to finish the project and the chairman reassured us that they were trying to organise it so that not all the men left with the cattle and there were enough remaining to complete the pipeline, the need for which was increasing by the day.

Our last day in Longido turned out to be a pretty emotional one. We went to say goodbye to the Maasai we’d been working with and were greeted by a crowd of men and women who all wanted to say goodbye. They presented us with gifts of Maasai jewellery to say thank you and we both felt overwhelmed by their kindness. The chairmen, who didn’t really speak any English, wrote us a message in Swahili, which on getting it translated turned out to be a really beautiful message of thanks and a promise that they would finish the project. Me being a big girl got all choked up!

That night we were invited for dinner at a locals houses in Longido, who had been a big support for us during our time there, where he also made a really beautiful speech thanking us, and another friend, who was our Maasai contact in Longido, and who had helped set up the project, presented us with more gifts of Maasai jewellery to say thank you. If that wasn’t enough, the owner of the guesthouse where we’d been living for the last month made a really beautiful speech about how important the project was and gave us more gifts of Maasai earrings and Chris an ornate fly-swat(!) to say thank you. So all in all it was pretty emotional. The next day we hitch-hiked a lift back to arusha on a bus full of locals heading to a wedding, so our last journey out of Longido was accompanied by loud singing and prayers.

So with the Longido part of our trip over, that left us with a month of travelling before returning home.

We spent a couple of days in Arusha, saying goodbye to our friends there, and a disturbing day visiting the local snake park where we unfortunately coincided our trip with feeding time – those chicks didn’t stand a chance! Not helped by the newspaper cuttings everywhere about snakes eating humans – nice!

We then went to Moshi for a couple of days where we relaxed and enjoyed the views of Kilimanjaro. After which we moved on to Same (pronounced Sah-may) as we wanted to visit the Mkomazi Nature Reserve for the day. This was a strange old day - the park is very beautiful and wild and barren, but very large and dry so we didn’t see much in the way of wild life. We wanted to visit a Rhino Sanctuary, but the owner wasn’t around so we couldn’t enter the protected area, however they also had a wild dog breeding program which was very interesting. We finished the day with a big bowl of Nyama Choma (roast goat meat), in a local bar – yum yum. We’re on a mission to eat Nyama Choma in every place we visit – it’s a tough old life.

Next stop, the coast!

P.S. Phots will follow as soon as we find an internet connection that doesn't send us to sleep!
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