Thursday, 6 January 2011

First days;Bagamayo and the shamba (farm)

The dalla dalla was a mite tight. At first we were sitting on the left side together then Elke noted that would be the side the sun shone on. I moved and sat beside a woman. Then the woman in front of us sat where we had been so Elke and moved into that seat. then the woman moved to sit beside the woman I had sat beside. Rules/customs around men touching women. I swear I didn't touch her!

So onward towards Bagamayo stopping , well barely, with the fellow at the door calling “Bagagmayo” then we speed off. Arrival at the bus station. Elke tells me it is new, been here only a year, lots of taxis buses, bajajis and piki pikis. She knows a good spot to get a beer, the Florida Inn. We sit upstairs overlooking the street, eat chips mayai and drink a Savannah (apple cider from SA) I am in culture shock I think. Isn't this supposed to be a town? It seems more like endless small apartments at the side of numerous roads, I am finding it hard to get my head around this, There are lots of people, few in uniform but no one seems overly threatening or amazed to see me. Well some of the kids and the older men are sure staring, but if I smile or lift my eyebrows or say “Mambo” I get a smile back and “pao”

Elke is eager to get back to the Baobab Shamba so we hail a bajaji and hurtle past numerous storefronts selling almost everything one might need as well as little displays of mangoes and pineapple, tomatoes, potatoes, cassava and bananas. The traffic coming to town seems to consist mostly of bicycles loaded down with piles of 3 foot sticks and huge bags of charcoal 4 or 5 to a load. They aren't riding as much as pushing them along.

The road into the shamba is rather rough , sand, ruts and huge bumps winding its way through the cattle corrals, mango trees and cashews. There are few people here. Elke wasn't expected for another couple of days so we set up our tent and say hello to Gabriel and Kenneth then wander around looking at all that has been built and where it all rests.

Over the next few days I begin adjusting to the heat. The other volunteers show up on piki pikis each morning, the crew making bricks starts work at 7 and toils away with a few breaks till 5 or 6. In the hot sun. I do not know how they do it. I walk around with sweat dripping off my nose barely moving and these guys are chopping into the clay bank with their hoes which are offset, the blade about a foot long, mounted like a pick with 5 foot handle.

Then add water and sand squish it up with their feet and load it into the forms, carried over to the drying area, flipped and slipped out. These bricks will be fired sometime soon. After about day three we had an enormous rainstorm in the night and a lot of the bricks don't look so good now.......

There are also some other men, fundis is what all these guys are called, mixing sifted sand, cement and water then pushing the resifted and mixed mix into a brick press. They show up about every other day and work all day long punching out these bricks, laying them gently in rows to set in the sun.

We have come into Bagamayo a few times now; spent the night at Francesco's Christmas eve, had dinner with Amy, Kirsten and Christina at the Millennium , walked the beach, swam in the Indian Ocean, it is so warm!

I commissioned some earrings in ebony, came to town on market day...OMG! The number of people, the quantity of goods... I so wanted to take pictures, but, not recommended!

Bought some fabric, a wok(for the shamba) and a few carved bowls. I have been restraining my spending impulses but enjoying the different beers. They quench the thirst like nothing else, except maybe “Stoney Tangawizi” the local Ginger Beer.

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