What a truly remarkable and surreal experience this has been. Leaving the bush I have almost retraced my journey to a tee, but everything is in stark contrast to my arrival, everything is now somehow different…
The charter flight arrived without a hitch and we went about a very quick handover. About half an hour all up, no long good byes or lengthy overlap this time. J.C arrived with some food the pilot hung about waiting as we took care of administration then Laurensia and I flew out. This time however, there was no wary awkwardness, I'd become good mates with everyone, my Swahili enough to get me by and I've learnt all the important words. It's amazing how much fun can be had with the words for boobs (matiti) and impotent (anisi). A visual gag never goes astray either, so the last few hours were full of them and hopefully I picked some of that up in my photos.
I have been lucky (only in that it adds to the adventure) to have had only a six person charter for each of my camp flights rather than the 16 seater that is also used. This time I was in the dual control cockpit, the view no less hypnotising than my first time but this time looking down on the tapestry of forest, jungle, and farms I had a different insight. I knew the soft green pastures between the trees were not welcoming at all as they appeared from the sky but rather impenetrable fields of 12ft grasses (I kid you not, they grew since my earlier blog). I was so obviously deep in thought at the view that the pilot told me, he almost didn't offer up the controls of the plane… but (as goes the awesomeness of this adventure) of course he did. So there I was, flying, to my left a view of Lake Tanganyika occasionally dappled with clouds, to my right, rolling mountains of expansive wilderness and in it all not a hint of civilisation except a light plane straight out of the Indiana Jones movies.
Arriving at Kigoma, I had organised for the driver from the hotel to swing by the local markets which was an awsome insight into the town, if not a bit daunting after spending three months with the same four people on most days.
I got some photos in the market but learnt quickly that people are keen to be paid for the privaledge if your not quick and sly, fair enough I suppose they were just going about there lives and I was being a "Bloody Tourist". Anyway I got some bits and pieces and had a good time before dropping Laurensia at her lodge and heading back to the Kigoma Hilltop.
Hmm, as I am recalling the day, judging by the greetings I got yelled from the roadside "Habari yesu' Hello Jesus and "Mambo Joseph", this jungle beard is also less than subtle now...
At the hotel things had changed too, not only had the baby zebras grown along with my facial hair but I now speak some swahilli, which took the staff, who still recognised me, by surprise. I don't know much, but a lot of what I do know is abstract, deep swahilli from three months of random coversations, rather than the general tourist phrases most mzungus punch out. It was enough to have the staff second guessing what they could get away with, even if I couldn't understand a thing.
It was a nice night at the hotel, though it hit home that this experience is ending.. Morning came and it was off to the airport for another couple of flights. At Mwanza airport it was funny to see a few mzungu travellers, young fellas obviously fresh to the country with flushed red cheeks and timid expressions and I would have looked exactly the same three months ago. Then it was onward to where it all began the boiling pot that is Dar Es Salam. Urrgh and it is hot, if camp was like this I would have cracked long ago but the tropical conditions won't stop me from being a fully fledged tourist while I am here, I am off to highlights I saw in a broschure on the plane including the fish market and Tinka Tinka arts cooperative and what ever else I can find before I leave.