Thursday, July 31, 2008

5 things to do in Tukuyu

If you go to the South-West of Tanzania, be sure to visit Tukuyu! Google Map got some misspelling going on here, not me.

Vis stort kort

1. Learn Swahili for free at Bongo Camping
I learned Swahili at Bongo Camping together with other tourists and in exchange with the local people who are taking english courses at the NGO camp site. A Swahili speaking Dane, Kasper Gram-Hansen, was leading the teachings. It was really brilliant and I got some genuine friendships that made me feel at home in Tukuyu. We took a little group picture:

2. Eat at Ima's Kitchen
This local cafeteria serves local dishes to the price of 1 or 2 dollars. And for some cents you can get a delicious chai. It is the favourite place for both the locals and the tourists. If you are planning on renting a car, I would also recommend asking for Ima.

3. Climb Mount Rungwe
A challenging rain forest vulcano. We climbed it in one day. If you are not afraid of pain, I dare you!

4. Visit Kaporogwe Falls or Ngozi Crater See
Or any other of the great sights around Tukuyu. Bongo Camping or Rungwe Tea Tours can guide you. I would go with the Bongos!

5. Buy a dress / suit
My girlfriend got some high fashion dresses tailor sewn. 6 dollars each.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Copy-paste without text formatting

Do you know the little brilliant application PureText helping you copy-paste? Steve Miller, the developer, explains what it does:

“Have you ever copied some text from a web page or a document and then wanted to paste it as simple text into another application without getting all the formatting from the original source? PureText makes this simple by adding a new Windows hot-key (default is WINDOWS+v) that allows you to paste text to any application without formatting.”

That is, press ctrl+c to copy the text and WINDOWS+v (instead of ctrl+v) to paste the text. Simple.
If you don't like short cuts you can also click the “PT” icon in the right bottom of the screen:

“After running PureText.exe, you will see a "PT" tray icon appear near the clock on your task bar. You can click on this icon to remove formatting from the text that is currently on the clipboard. You can right-click on the icon to display a menu with more options.”

Download PureText from Steve Millers website and unzip the file. Then double-click it and your one step closer to being the quickest editor in the office. If you right-click the “PT” icon you can get PureText to run each time you log on Windows.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Basketball at Odense Harbour

So I went back to the place where I lived in 2001: Odense Harbour. I went to play basketball with a friend with whom I shared an apartment at the harbour before the revitalization when it still gave you this funny feeling of being in another era.

Now, like everywhere else in Denmark, the harbour is being reinvented from industrial port to a leisure area for the citizens. Modern apartments and office buildings rise between the old factories. At the entrance of the harbour the Government of Odense as part of the livable city strategy has made a great sport area – especially for Basketball and skating. The vision for the harbour is life, variation and quality and so far the unpredictable feedback from the public is that they will bring the most critical succes factor to the development of the harbour: life.
Later that night I overheard some guys (not joggers at all) at Café Smagløs talking about the place saying they wanted to buy some basket shoes. So it seems the demand for basket shoes in Odense will rise and maybe Odense Basketball Club finally can make it back to the top of Danish Basketball as in the golden nineties.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Buying a tailor sewn designer dress for only 6 dollars - cheap and easy

One afternoon in Tukuyu I took my girlfriend out to spend a dress on her. Before going to Tanzania Nabil had showed us a nice suit he got made in Mbeya for 20 dollars, so we talked about making a copy of a high fashion dress.
In the Copenhagen airport my girl and my little sister bought 3 woman magazines. I didn't understand why they wanted to pay for 3 different ones when every woman magazine (in Denmark) are hopelessly similar. Anyway, of course they had a plan invisible from my male perspective.
When the day came in Tukuyu where my girl couldn't wait any longer to go to the tailor I realised that she was well prepared. She had chosen a dress from the fashion section of one magazine and made her own drawing of how she planned the back of the dress. It turned out that the tailor had a even better suggestion for the back.
We took a dalla dalla to Tukuyu. Jumping of the bus we met a guy, Jackson, that we previously had exchanged English and Swahili with at Bongo Camping. He was waiting for the bus to Songea where he would do some business. But instead of taking the bus he took us through the lividly market to the tailors of Tukuyu. There are about 10 tailor shops in the same street so I had imagined that we could easily check out which looked most appropriate for copying western fashion. It turned out that on the outside they all looked alike (like woman magazines) so how to find the tailor with the right competencies!?
Jackson had no doubt – he took us to a woman in her early twenties by the end of the tailor street. In no time she understood, with the translation of Jackson and by looking at the picture of the dress and my girls drawing, how to make the dress. We went out with her 50 meter to the fabrics street to buy the fabric that my girl wanted. Then she told us to come back kesho (tomorrow) and we payed half of the price of 6 dollars – all inclusive!!
Like that she was gone. I grabbed my girls arm: “hey, she didn't take your measures!!” But the tailor had taken the needed measures – apparently while we were trying to express how to make the dress. I was impressed so far. And my girl, all hyper, couldn't wait to see the result.
The result was brilliant I would say. And we went back to get some more made – also one for my sister. Beautiful dresses for beautiful girls. And, they say, highly fashionable anno 2008!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kaporogwe Falls 10 km southwest of Tukuyu

Kaporogwe Falls is a wonder of nature. You can experience this powerful waterfall from the front and from the back by going into a cave which in a mysterious way has been made behind the waterfall. I find it hard to describe how special this phenomen is, but I hope you get the picture.
Here is a little video from some guys going there with Bongo Camping:

From the cave you watch the water falling from the cliffs above with the beautiful view of mountains with tea fields and banana palms in the background.

We drove the bumpy way in a 4W drive with the safe guiding from Bongo Camping. I was behind the wheels zig-zaggin' on the challenging dirt road. Something about driving in Africa brings out the happy boy in me. In the back of the car some of my fellow riders were getting car sick, others were praising the nature and greeting both some of the poorer and richer villages in Rungwe.
Entering the falls you pay a fee of 3000 Shillings to the nearby village which is using the tourism income to build water pipes to this area that lacks water and electricity.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Climbing Mount Rungwe in one day

We did it. Me and my girlfriend. We managed to hike/climb Mount Rungwe (2960 meter, by Tukuyu in Mbeya Region) to the top and down in one day. It took us 8 hours and 20 minutes (breaks inclusive). On our way we saw two monkey species: Black-white Colobus and Velvet Monkey.

„This is the toughest day of my life“ my girlfriend said as the taxi were driving us back to Bongo Camping. The hike is tough because the terrain changes many times along the way and you have to keep focus on every step in order to stay on your feet. Still watching the monkeys play and jump from tree to tree over your head makes you forget the pain as you fight your way up and down this sleeping vulcano. The terrain changes from jungle at the bottom to close bush to bamboon breath spots to the desert-like opening at the top, where the view is amazingly scenic.
Most people only make it to the view point as also I did two years ago when I visited Tukuyu for the first time. Mount Rungwe is not dangerous climbing, but it is a challenging struggle for your: knees, legs, heart and mind. We are certainly not experienced hikers (in fact we have never hiked before), we play basket every week to keep in shape but most of all we had the will to force this beast of a mountain!
Now everytime when we have a peep at the mountain peak it feels safi sana ("very nice") to have been there. But at the moment of action we questioned our own sanity.

Our timesheet climbing Mount Rungwe:

6.25: Leaving Bongo Camping
6.55: Dropped off by taxi
7.20: By the foot off the mountain – going in to the jungle
9.50: A plateau with a view point – eating and relaxing
10.15: Leaving the view point to the top
11.03: Out of the jungle – view
11.35: Top of Mount Rungwe – Top of the world!!
12.30: Going down from the top
13.30: Reaching the view point for a short break
13.45: Leaving the view point
15.42: Down again by the foot of Mount Rungwe

Some advices from my girlfriend:

- Bring at least 1,5 liters of water if you are aiming for the top
- The ground can be slippery, especially on the way down- trekking shoes are preferable, although we did it in running shoes.
- Bring suncreme – the last hour before the top you are exposed to the midday sun (auuuu...)
- Make sure you have both sweet and salt to consume on the way (but don't litter)
- You should wear long sleeves and trousers as a protection for leaves

More pictures from Mount Rungwe:

Friday, July 11, 2008

A week at Bongo Camping

We've been more than a week now in the surroundings of Bongo Camping. At least so I guess, because I have completely lost my sense of time.

Things I have done so far:
- climbed Mount Rungwe in one day (sooo proud!)
- been to the Kaporogwe Falls
- chilled a lot at Bongo Camping
- taken Swahili lessons at Bongo Camping
- met many very nice people

Here are some pictures:

In the cave at Kaporogwe Falls.
Bongo Camping with the avocado tree.
Tea field with Mount Rungwe in the background.
Bongo Camping by the bonfire. Imani and Gasto from KUMBE / Bongo Camping, and the environment guy in suit.
A girl and Felix from the yard at my brothers home.

Me and her!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Enter Dar es Salaam

I just found a free hot-spot connection here in Dar es Salaam at our hotel: Harbour View.
It has been a very good stay so far. People are great and we (me and my fellow Mzungus) are improving our greeting skills in Swahili. I also started building small sentences - mostly with the verb "to have" which is created from the word "na" (with). For instance "I have" is "nina", where "ni" is marking "I". "I have not" is "sina". With nina, una and sina I can say everything!
nina - I have
una - you have
ana - he/she has
tuna - we have
mna - you have
wana - they have
In a few hours we are going to the station to take the train about 1000 km south-west through the Savanna to Mbeya. There we will go to Bongo Camping. Hope to see some lions and elephants on the way, but not on the camp site:)

I will now try to upload some pictures from Dar es Salaam. --> It worked fine. I got a lot of street photos too, but for now I'll just post these fantastic views. Baadaye ("later")!

Kilimanjaro from the plane.