backlog – niassa to dar – transit

goodbye niassa

as i now have warm feet and am still for a while i can go back on the past couple of months a little bit perhaps.

1. everything is turning to salt – to dust, to fish. everything smells of fish. – i have been watching these streets come alive this morning, these dirt roads grow light today – and i am still waiting – i wish i had more money and i pay the man to drive me to the border. i am not ready for patience now, it rained, i am not ready for travel now. – i have been slow for the past 3 months and now i am moving, i want to be moving – through the in between and out the other side.

2. vamos vamos – lets go, per favor, por que estoy, los todos, que? why are we waiting, from 5am, i am here, it is 8am now – the millions of eyes setting on this young white woman, sitting on her bag waiting for a non-existent mini bus to take her 5 hours north on a dirt road to an artificial border to cross into another country, tanzania – from mozambique.

3. i think of this dust embedded in everything – this town has tarmac, asphalt, and the rain has dampened the uncovered earth, but the smell and the taste of dust and all of its histories, its bare-footed steps, or boot-footed steps – lodged in my nostrils.

4. the missionaries were nice – except the one who wanted my money immediately, as if i were to run away, she knew i wasn’t one of them. – but the hunters, the south african hunters who couldn’t get the internet to work. “that’s why we’re better off sticking to rifles, john..” he said, with a picture of himself, smiling, posing next to a dead hippo. rifle in hand.  –
“here’s some banana cake and south african biscuits for your journey,” said the lovely missionary, with endless blonde kids living across the kitchen window. “do you know when you’ll arrive?” – we laugh.

5. i miss the lake.

back home from david's funeral

6. i look forward to not being looked at anymore – my obvious imperfection, the colour of my skin, the impermenance of my presence. ‘what are you waiting for? what are you looking at?’ i want to ask.  but i already know the reason.

7. i have watched these streets grow busy this morning, the sacks carried have multiplied – the voices, yelling, the laughs, the volume has multiplied. the music, out of a rustic wooden shack-shop, blasting. – the stalls have opened their eye-lids. – i could still be asleep. how much to fill this car? $137? fuck. i feel broke. no pin number for my credit card, no credit card facilities…? – i’ll wait.

8. why is coke more available than water?

9. i’m smelling the bush. the trees, the sounds;  i can even smell the sounds. – i’ll miss the endless greetings – the repetition of days, a comfort of routine – i hoped for, received.
now to more stories – articles, problems, goals, lies, hopes – to pollution, to charcoal, to..lives on the fringes.

10. the earth that cracks in the october heat – the build up before it melts, melds together, and the sky rumbles and cracks, breaks, angrily, and pours to layer the surface, oils wth accidents, waiting to kill another 16 people off a cliff. – he was on that bus, mickey, shaheeb, i didn’t know – later he said he saw people get chopped off as they hit the truck, and fell off the cliff, caught by trees. dragged his bag uphill, and onwards. alive. those behind him?

11. another child carries a child.

12. i’m grateful for the women, who act like a mother, like mama rebecca, looks after me – she has strong arms, she led me through fields, through crowds, through sand.
this one here in the bus station, finds me this car, but it doesn’t leave. let us move forward, 7 more passengers, but i can’t wait till tomorrow my visa is up today, and the mozambicans like my money.

13. it’s night now. 5 hours of waiting at the market i gave in and paid to move to the border. 3000 Meticais – $103 – to get me to the border – relatively pain-free. covered in dust i check out of mozambique – im sweaty, grumpy and smelly. – the border post, a few straw thatched huts, open walls, with a table in each one, and books that belong in museums, an immigration official whose had too many ‘sodas’ for the day.
i cross the river, the demarcation to TZ – and the immigration post is a little more advanced with a concrete building, and new looking desks – outside three men sit, wave me over – switch, portugese with kswahilli now – a language i want to learn. Then after my stamp, for 12 days, ‘transit’ – not working.. I gave him $40, but he doesn’t have change – “$10, for sodas?” he says.  – you bastard. I’m leaving.

14. I notice in the book – everyone elses purpose for travelling, was ‘peasant’ – peasant, peasant, peasant – mine, … ‘artist’ –

15. later – deals – motorbike to songea – 130 kms? 3 hours? Okay – it’s getting dark, lets go, please. – I have too much stuff for this motorbike, it’s way overloaded. The sky – blue-grey – clouds, skys flashing and cracking, forests green fresh, wet, and paranoia – crashing, dirt roads, too fast, too much stuff, no one else around – leopards, bush, forest, foreigner. – I walk over piles of dirt along the road, the mud, we can’t pass together – I get back on. We continue – through villages, the glimpses of lives lit up by household fires – the only light – the shops, always selling the same thing.

16. It’s dark, we have a puncture, we’re just outside a village, we walk it back, my white face illuminated by the moon, by the lightdark setting – pushing this motorbike through the village, I must look eerie – who is this white person, what is ‘he?’ doing – this woman, this stuff, this night –

lucy and her family, southern tanzania $1.50 guest house

17. We stop at a resthouse – my driver knows him, a teacher also – Mr. Makarana and his wife lucy, welcome us for 2000 tz shillings ($1.5) with some fish and maize and a warm bucket shower lit by candle-light – other lights powered by a noisy generator – the maize mill too – I sleep. Layla salaama.

18. next day – we get another puncture – I give up and flag a 4wd – its comfortable, dry, it starts to pelt down, rain heavily – I leave my motorbike drive – im sorry, im going. Good luck. The roads are so wet, I would never have made it on the bike. Eventually we reach songea, but I have to wait till tomorrow for a bus to dar. this is transiting.

$1.50 guesthouse shoebox room, they stared through the window at this whiteface


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