On day 4, we were going to catch our free ride into town before the Dala Dala (crazy bus) but the driver offered us a ride to Njiapanda. Which was excellent news!As we were driving down the highway we realized he's driving like a maniac, which is a pretty strong word considering everyone drives like a maniac here (especially compared to Canada). We white knuckled it as we flew over the random speed bumps on the road. Then we approached a police check point, which are pretty common on this road. So we pulled over and the two men dressed in army gear with guns approached. Laura and I give the "oh shit we have no ID on us" look. They demanded to see a fire extinguisher. Really? A fire extinguisher. What about the running engines at the gas station!? So we searched the safari van for a fire extinguisher (thank god there was one) and then he asked us to pull a little bit further over. And a new corrupt officer came up, our driver slides him 10000 TSH and we continued on.
Finally, we got to the centre and our one goal for the day was to get firewood so they could have a good supply for cooking. We ended up having to wait an hour for MaMa (how every woman over the age of 40 is named here). Mama arrives and says we can take the old Toyota Corolla ( with Glory to God on the windshield) to the village centre. Once at the village we had to rent a truck and then follow the truck into the jungle to buy the firewood. So I jumped in the front and Laura got in the driver side and we managed to maneuver the beater (which is standard) out of it's crazy parking spot. As we waved to say good-bye to the children and workers, three Mama's hopped into the back plus two men and a 12 year old boy jumped in the front with me. Low Ride Er. On an unpaved logging road type journey. Kind of awesome. After a short ride we get to the place to rent the truck. Which was 25,000 TSH for the journey. 1 Mama left somewhere and the two guys and other Mama went in the truck. Back to the four of us, the 12 year old Evany and me in the front seat, and a mama in the back in the Glory to God mobile. We drove for 40 minutes through a thick jungle (where the Chagga tribe farms, the richest in Tanzania). A very enjoyable drive until we hit the extreme off roading. Laura had to do so much maneouvring and hitting jumps, up hill, down hill, pot holes, tree stumps, just brutal. But managed to drive the whole way with no flats or scrapes on the bottom of the car. Mama was in the back loving it, "oh Laura your such a excellent driver " "I love your driving professional". After forty minutes, the truck stopped on a hill so Laura went to park behind it, some how pegged a giant boulder on the bottom of the car and we both went flying forward. Lucky for Evany, I had soccer mom hands and held him back while my head bashed into the windshield. It left a massive crack in the windshield, that might have been there before and I just spread it or might have been new. No blood though, just a headache and maybe some Glory to God? Laura's head hit the steering wheel. Meanwhile Laura's saying "SHIT, SHIT, JESUS CHRIST ARE YOU OKAY I MEAN SHOOT, SHI!" Well Mama's in the back "Oh Laura such a good driver, Thank you Thank you". Really. We were laughing so hard, it was crazy. So we walked into the jungle for fifteen minutes and helped these tall African men lug trees into the truck. I don't know why, but in my western mind, I assumed firewood meant perfectly squared pieces of lumber ready for the perfect woodburning stove surrounded by the white picket fence. Nope, huge trees. There was a machete to cut the trees in half if need be. But the jungle was so beautiful. We picked chili peppers, habanero peppers, avacado, a one foot long papaya, mangos, cardamom seeds, bananas, sooooooo many fruits and vegetables.  It was really neat.
After our four hour adventure we made it back to the Street Centre for lunch which consisted of ugali (maise flour and water mixed into a paste), a tomato based stew, and boiled leaves. After playing with the kids, riding in the corolla, cruising the jungle, minimal hand washing, and we are invited to eat a traditional Tanzania meal, no utensils. They also didn't know the word for sardine and told us they were tadpoles. So we insisted no tadpoles for us no thank you, but with impeccable hospitality they gave us each a big scoop of......sardines. Thank god no tadpoles this time round.
We then took a Dala Dala home at around 330. This dala dala had a nice number of people (10-ish) and two babies. And the babies had probably never seen whities before because they couldn't take their beautiful eyes off of us, so the mom's didn't hesitate to hand them off to us. There we are, two whities, holding to black babies in some ridiculous rusty bus and an old man leans in and says "Do you want to buy African baby" we laughed so hard. "No African baby sir, we like to have our own babies". Only in Africa. When would a mother in North America ever hand off her baby on a bus to a stranger because the baby was curious? We both appreciate this side of Tanzanian culture, so friendly, kind, welcoming, and open.
We had three beers that day. And they were delightful. We also ate delicious street food for dinner. Tandoori chicken and zanzibar pizza which is like a giant pizza pop stuffed with spinach, egg whites, ground beef, and masala.
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