August 22, 2011

Kisii Kenya to Musoma Tanzania

Filed under: Trips,Uganda — pearsey @ 6:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

Today (a bit over 12 months ago) we left Kisii, headed for the border crossing point of Sirari/Isibania, crossing into Tanzania. We stopped at a soap stone carving place along the way. Soap stone is a soft stone that they carve into different ornaments and things like that. The place we stopped at was home to the soap stone, in one of the few areas in the world that it is found (so we were told). It was good to watch it being made, from the start in chunks of stone, through to the finished product. They were happy to explain the process to us all, and were happy for us to take photos. It was encouraging to see that the owner, a local, had built up a bit of an industry that would help other locals gain employment. The products here were a little more expensive than elsewhere, (like more than double) but at least if you purchased anything you could see and talk to the people who had made it and that you were supporting. (If you’re after the cheapest soap stone stuff, the Giraffe center in Kenya was the cheapest we saw). The ladies at the shop were just fantastic. They wanted their photo taken with us, were more than happy to pose for photos and genuinely looked like they were enjoying what they did.

Onwards to the border and Tanzania!!
At the Sirari crossing point, we had to get off our truck and walk through (the truck had to be checked for illegal goods), and unfortunately we couldn’t take any photos, so no photos at either border crossing. I parted with USD50 and in exchange I got a visa and stamp on my passport and was allowed into the country for 3 months! For the record, I was able to purchase my visa at the crossing and had no problems at all. They had some toilets there on the Tanzanian side, but of course you had to pay to use them. They did take Kenyan shillings though, that was a bonus, took a while to work out which toilet was male and female because we couldn’t read the signs, then by the time I went to go, the lady manning the toilets had gone – I headed in and by the time I got out the gate was locked… Thankfully though she was right there, and took my money off me and let me out. The border crossing was surprisingly busy. There was hardly anyone around on the road while we were travelling, but when we get there, I’m like where did all these people come from… Contrast this to the Vietnam/Laos border where there was no-one on the roads and it was all quiet at the border crossing too. Anyway, they let us all in and we continued toward Musoma.

Somewhere along the route was a bridge that must have been a fairly strategic bridge. For what I have no idea, but whatever it was, it was guarded and we weren’t allowed to take any photos. What??? Don’t they realise we can all just jump on google and view the bridge from the satellite photos anyway? Of course we all reached for our cameras and very discreetly took some (poor) shots. It was a great view from the bridge, maybe that’s why they were guarding it so much! For everyone’s sake, here is the bridge location on google maps (satellite view), along with some wikipedia photos of the bridge and the view.

Got to Musoma, on the shores of Lake Victoria (almost felt like being back “home”, with home being Uganda). We were looking around wondering where we were staying when Chris, our driver, jumped up on the truck and started throwing stuff down. We’re looking at him and he’s like grab one, go set it up. And this was our first night camping. We had some free time in the arvo, some people went bike riding around the town, I thought I’d go for a walk along the shores. That kinda got hijacked a little… I was on the shores in the area just outside the camp ground when a couple of younger (about 17-18) boys started talking to me. One was from Tanzania, one from Kenya. One of them wouldn’t stop talking – the other guy, the Kenyan I think it was, didn’t know much english so he didn’t say much. The Tanzanian told me all about the lake, how the Ugandans had caused all this “weed” problem they were having, didn’t want me to go near the water because it is dangerous because we (white man) aren’t used to the water (we were able to swim in it in Uganda, what happened, oh yeah that’s right the Ugandans must have caused some problems). He asked me where I was from and when I said Australia and he found out that he could come over to Australia and not have to work and live off the government, he started asking whether I was married and maybe I could marry him and he could come over to Australia that way. Told him I was spoken for (to stop the hassling) and he said but now I am your friend, I could come over that way. Wanted to hold my camera, I said no way, drop dead – could just see him running off with it, then wanted my email address because we were “friends” and he could come and stay with me in Australia when he came to visit. He wouldn’t stop asking so in the end I gave him a fake one – it was close, but not close enough! And while all this was going on… there were some sea eagles doing some absolutely amazing stuff in front of me – diving, fishing, playing, soaring… I’m like… ahhh let me go, get some photos, but he wouldn’t stop. Was so annoyed I was missing this display from the eagles – and he wondered why I was saying no to his marriage proposal!
Finally escaped from these guys and hot footed it back to the shore of the lake near our camping ground and hung around there instead. At least everyone got a good laugh from my afternoon stories!

It was just on dusk and we’d just eaten a fantastic meal cooked by our cook and we looked up and saw this huge cloud coming towards us. We just did the only thing we could – RAN for the truck. Our driver, tour guide and cook were just laughing at us – oh yeah, they forgot to mention you get invaded by these insects here – they won’t hurt you. Thanks guys. The insects kind of ruined the evening a bit, maybe you just have to get used to them, but they were everywhere and so thick. Still there in the morning, but at least the majority of them had disappeared.


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