Monday, 1 December 2008

Just off to visit a friend…

…a simple thing by car, a direct half-hour ride to out of town. But when you have to rely on public transport and it’s the rainy season it’s a different story. The main form of public transport is something like a VW van, called a daladala, that may have seats for 15 people, but takes up to 25 if you cram together like sardines, which is the norm.

So, on Saturday my friend and I head to town to catch a daladala. We’re not sure we’ve got the right one as the conductor says one thing and the sign on the front says something else, but he assures us he’ll take us to our destination so we climb aboard. Half-way there we reach a bus-stop where everyone gets off. OK, so it’s not going where we wanted! However, the conductor refunds half our fare and tells us to get on the next daladala. A few minutes later we find what we need and climb aboard. Just as rain begins to fall, we reach the next place where we knew we would have to change daladala again. Fortunately we don’t have to wait long and we are off again. We are assured by a sticker on the panelling that…

Finally, arriving at our destination, we hop out into a deluge of rain. Though the friends we have come to visit are only a two minute walk away, we are soaked through by the time we get there – our little umbrellas are no protection against the torrential rain as we try to skirt the flooded footpath!
So, ‘just’ off to visit a friend? It took us approximately one hour to get there and we arrived looking like drowned rats! Nothing goes quite as you expect it to in Africa! (Oh, and by the way, we had a lovely time with our friends – we were soon into dry clothes and sitting down to a dish of something hot and steaming that I can’t quite describe but was apparently Paraguayan!)

Hamna umeme!

No electricity! That’s been the cry for the past week, it was off from Sunday afternoon until the following Saturday afternoon. Each day rumours abounded that maybe it would come back on that day or the next, and now the rumours are that the electricity will be rationed. We were lucky, our landlord has a generator which is hooked up to our home too. It was put on for a few hours a day, just long enough to keep most of the freezer food frozen, as well as enabling us to use the cooker, kettle and lights in the evenings. Others were not so fortunate – we stored some friends’ food in our freezer, but others had to give away pounds of meat that they had in stock.
Now I am appreciating the peace and quiet of having lights without the throbbing of a generator (mind you, it does mean that music is once again blaring out from bars, and churches’ sounds systems are at full volume in the services!) The main sound I can hear right now is rain pounding on the tin roof, as the rainy season is once again upon us.