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On the Tanzanian dirt roads


After a quick meeting with Florian in Mbeya, a French friend we met in Australia, I decided to take the less touristic road I could to go to Uganda. First, I wanted to avoid Tanzanians accustomed to tourists who would ask me constantly for money. Second, I had seen enough impressive crashs in 300km of Tanzania to convince me that the main road was not safe enough for a cyclist. I’m rarely afraid on the road but seeing five or six trucks / bus overturned, torn on the shoulder in such a short time is a bad sign. According to information taken from the hotel, the road I want to take is asphalted, perfect.

I quickly rise to 2600m high after Mbeya to first see the huge city and the beautiful valley. I think I am almost back to South Africa in the Highvelds region, I look forward regularly to admire the view, I walk cheerfully, nose in the wind, when my happiness is cooled down by a capricious policeman asking me my yellow card. My yellow card… I first think of my vaccination certificate against yellow fever, which is yellow too, and presented to him. No, he wants THE yellow card. But what is THE yellow card?! That’s the yellow card that you are obligated to present at the border but they never asked me… After 5 minutes I began to show some signs of nervousness, especially as he begins to want me to empty my bags. He seized his Kalashnikov: “ It’s my right to disturb you! If you can not present me your yellow card I have to put you under arrest !” Aaaah … you just want me to break my balls! (Or money probably) Okay, so if you want to arrest me, you must first call my embassy to signify the reason for my arrest and report your identity. He let me go a minute later – I will remember the embassy joker – and I could enjoy again the road.


After 80km of a beautiful road smelling good chemistry of asphalt, poof! sand, pebbles, dust. Oh! I thought first that it will not last, I’ll find the asphalt back after the next village. And then after 2-3 days of tracks including 25 km pushing the bike in the sandbanks, I lost my beautiful youthful illusions and I enjoy the new adventure.


After all, I wanted to avoid tourist areas, I can not complain: at least, I am sure that no one is accustomed to seeing a mzungu (white men) around here, as shown by the kids who saw me arrive in the village, abandoning their capsules-made tractor in the middle of the track to flee behind a box, or girls who run ten meters away from the water pump when I arrive, before returning to help me filling my bottles up.




Everyone has been amazing with me in these wild roads. In the villages, I do not lose time anymore asking if they have a tap (a what?), I just follow the procession of buckets on the heads of women to get to the pump where I can generally drink clear water. When there is no pump around, then I have to ask for water to people who serve me this sort of thing:


It is drinkable, the taste a little earthy. For meals, I fortunately made some provisions in a sort of supermarket in Mbeya, which allowed me to alternate between meals stove (I had passages 80km without village) and meals in the “restaurants” that are often hard to distinguish from classic house.

The track would last 800km until Tabora and then from Nzega to Kahama. Kilometers during which I will again meet the olives baboons, the superb Jabiru of Africa, but especially for the first time : the tse-tse flies.



The legendary fly that everyone speaks about for a sudden fatigue gave me more hard time than I thought. They bite through clothing, they are not even afraid products containing DEET, and unlike a normal fly, they can fly at 40km/h (instead of 25). I discovered that more I moved, more they were numerous and noticed when peeing that the number of flies decreased. The problem is to move as little as possible while avoiding bites from those still present.


So I was getting to the point where, covered in flies and tired of having to constantly agitate the arms while cycling, I had to put on my winter jacket under 35˚Celsius, which did not stop the attacks from time to time on the legs and hands. It’s stupid, I did not plan mitts for Tanzania …


I had got used to the tracks of sand and rocks, where progress is difficult, slow, I had adapted my rhythm, my days, to make it my routine and I do not even get angry anymore against the buses hurtling at full speed, dragging behind them a monstrous cloud of sand. That does not stop me from worshiping the return of tarmac arrived in Tabora. My original plan was to cross the Burundi but local comics decided to get excited a few days before my arrival. Some ups and downs in the capital are not bad, but 25,000 people fleeing the country show that the reverse path is not good idea.


And it’s finally after Tabora and the tse-tse that problems really began for me. The tracks were sometimes difficult, but the people were so nice and the road so original that I enjoyed the experience. It is in these kind of places that you feel the authenticity of the country, and you discover the premises that are not in contact with the “safari tourism.”

Arrived at Nzega, I ate a bad fish that have started a war in my stomach. This was followed by five days of nausea and stomach disquieting agitations. I was even hosted one night by a group of villagers before Biharamulo, bringing me fruits and bottled water in my house to help my recovery. This was unfortunately not followed by miraculous effects and it took me a few extra days on my bike to get better, swallowing the minimum for restoring order in my gut. I have rarely known more difficult mornings when I had to fold my tent and load my bike in contenting myself with a little sugar water for the whole morning. I then crossed a bandit zone between Burundi, Rwanda and Lake Victoria, that police, more armed than Schwartzennegger in Commando, protected by successive dams. For some years the area is fairly quiet but recent problems in Burundi had apparently revived tensions.


[Caption id = “attachment_2652” align = “AlignCenter” width = “640”] water distribution service in a Tanzanian city water distribution service in a Tanzanian city [/ caption]

I crossed the border after spending a night in a Mutukula hostel for $ 3, a guest house run by an alcoholic woman. The next day, I discovered a new country, Uganda, which marked me immediately positively. The regions of Tanzania I went through were very poor, the displays were often hard to see, and many inhabitants were showing remarkable inactivity that did not encourage to compassion. In Uganda, I immediately underscored the advanced development, its displays of colorful fruits and vegetables and, miracle, the more important activity of its inhabitants. The country is, indeed, helped by a humid climate where everything seems to grow effortlessly, Tanzania offered less on that point.
For some years I travel in these hot countries around the equator, I noticed that in hot countries where life has traditionally been easier in recent millennia, the people there were much less active. I first explained it by the heat that prevails but after working in the Australian desert for two years, my conclusion is that offering more facilities to survive, the people for thousands of years, have never been pushed to improve their condition more than necessary, unlike a Scandinavian who had no choice but to heat the wooden house in winter. Obviously I could be wrong and exchanges with other civilizations during the last centuries have contributed to erase a little bit these differences but I think I’m not far from the truth when I see how the work culture as we know it has little presence here.

I then join the capital city in three days, noting in passing that the drivers were not necessarily better than in Tanzania. Kampala was a priori very unpleasant for me: overcrowded, polluted, dusty, heavy traffic (much like my entry in Lusaka that I fled as fast as possible). Yet, the smiling face of the people, the way people interact, not aggressively, the atmosphere have attracted me there right away.
I got an address and a kind of a plan to reach the Ewaka Guest house, a few kilometers outside the city center. On arriving there, my colorful shirt by wandering days and my smell were enough to draw the attention of receptionist who starts asking me questions about my four years of travel. Hearing some snatches of conversation from his bed, a German hallucinates and jumped out to greet me! I must be dreaming too: this is Dennis, a German met three years ago in Laos during the same trip and with whom we had kept very good contacts but neither he nor I know that the other was in Africa. We had more or less traveled together a few weeks between Luang Prabang and Don Det and there was about one in a million chance of being in the same country, the same city, the same place, the same day. And yet … my journey offered me these wonderful reunion after a sick week during which I thought every day to have a buddy with me. Some events are priceless.

ps: in fact, I can not answer the question “ What is the national dish in your country ?”
If anyone has an answer that would make consensus, I’m interested.

Springbox, le Tuesday July 21st, 2015


La page “cuisine française” de Wikipédia est illustrée par un pot au feu. Je pense que c’est une réponse assez consensuelle. Tu peux même citer des variantes, comme la poule au pot, pour appuyer le propos.
M’enfin, on n’est pas loin d’avoir un plat “national” par région.

Pour le reste, je me régale toujours autant de lire tes aventures. Je n’aurais jamais imaginé que l’Afrique puisse être aussi “riche”, tant je connais de gens qui en sont revenus déçus.

Je jette régulièrement un oeil sur le profil Facebook “Deux singes en hiver”, tu n’indiques plus ta position ?

marie muller, le Wednesday July 22nd, 2015

Je viens de découvrir ton blog, bravo ! génial de me faire participer à ton périple ! en effet la plupart des Africains préfère voir la vie ou jour le jour….
Sois prudent ..

P'tite Mougeotte, le Wednesday July 22nd, 2015


Je dirais minimum vital français: le trio pain + vin + fromage
mais qd on a voulu organiser un pique-nique franco-américano-polonais aux USA où chacun apportait un plat typique de son pays/région, 80% des français ont apporté une quiche lorraine, donc ça doit qd même être relativement typique …
Et ensuite pour le folklore, n’oublions pas les grenouilles !

Springbox, le Friday July 24th, 2015

… Les grenouilles et les escargots, pour rebondir sur la réponse de ta sœurette. Si on posait la question à un Anglo-saxon, c’est probablement l’image qu’il a de la gastronomie française, avec la baguette et le béret.

Greg, le Wednesday July 29th, 2015

Salut Spring,

concernant la position sur facebook, j’ai des problèmes avec le GPS, tu me fais penser qu’il faut que j’y jette un oeil pendant que j’ai le temps ces prochains jours.

J’ai souvent dit que le fromage était notre ingrédient national. Parce qu’ils attendaient souvent de savoir quel plat on mangeait tous les jours. Quant à la quiche lorraine, je passe mon tour pour expliquer ça aux Africains…
Mais oui, l’Afrique est géniale, définitivement à découvrir avant l’Amérique centrale ;)

Sylvie Berger, le Friday July 31st, 2015

Ooh quel bonheur de te lire …
Fait quand même attention à toi !!
Je sais .. ( je suis pas ta mère … )
Je ne pensais pas que les mouches tsé tsé, étaient si voraces ( moi juste une petite araignée me fais crier !! ) je suis vraiment pas prête à te rejoindre .. Lol !!!
Toute ma petite Famille t’embrasse très très fort et moi je te fais un gros câlin ( d’1 maman ) :-)

Greg, le Friday July 31st, 2015

Merci Sylvie, je crois que j’ai survécu au plus dur maintenant ;)

Bises à toute la famille!

tom, le Saturday August 1st, 2015

Salut cousin
honnêtement un grand voyage comme le tien sans une bonne tourista des familles, il y aurait eu un manque ^^
Je vois que depuis tu as donc recouvré la forme, tu seras donc prêt pour un petit marathon a ton retour
pour t’entraîner n’oublie pas de courir en montée
Bonne route

pepe meme, le Saturday August 1st, 2015

je crois bien que le plat national ( de baneins ) ce sont les petirs pois a la crème autour avec un poulet de bresse egalement a la creme ainsi que les quenelles il y en aura peut-etre en 2016 bisous et a la prochaine
bravo pour tes commentaires a part les mouches on aurait presque envie d’etre avec toi