Just to emphasise how fortunate we are, I should mention what happened Thursday afternoon. I went up to the Bible College office to use the Internet, but it wasn’t working. Absalom the Principal was there and he realised they had run out of credit. So he had to set off on foot to the shops outside the hospital and buy Internet credit cards which I think we’re worth Ts1,000 each (about 40p). I gave him Ts10,000 to buy them since I suspect I had used much of the previous credit. When he came back he had to scratch the cards to reveal the numbers, then enter the numbers into his phone, then by some alchemy he sent them to the Internet company who restored the Internet. And we complain about the slowness of our broadband!
I should also mention the chicken. It appeared in our neighbour, Faris’s, garden patrolling the fence. I made chicken noises at it which seemed to puzzle it somewhat. Tiring of the game I came inside. A couple of minutes later the chicken was on our veranda, walking up and down, making chicken noises back. It seemed that I gad made a friend and one that was loathe to go away. Eventually, realising that I was not a chicken and unlikely to join it for a quick root through the dead leaves in the garden it set off around the house in search of a cock, not something I have ever actively pursued. That’ll teach me – thank goodness I can’t imitate goats!
Last night we ran out of water. I had turned off the valve when it was overflowing and rather assumed Nora or Absalom would turn it back on when more water was needed. Not so. To make matters worse the water company does not pump water into the holding tank opposite on Thursdays and Fridays so that the water can go to a village nearby. So no water until the holding tank fills overnight and then our tank will fill. How we take such a thing as water for granted! So it is back to showering from a bucket and flushing with jugfuls from the giant olive barrel in the toilet!
We rose at 7.00, Dorothee and June having gone to an all-singing and dancing service at the College. They returned looking slightly flushed and we had breakfast. Thomas picked us up at 8.30 and we hit the open road to Ngara and beyond. No dirt roads this morning, but a solid Tarmac road for most of the way. Luxury. However within the first mile we passed 3 lorries on the uphill side of the road in some sort of trouble. One had a puncture,, one had jack-knifed and was nearly across both carriageways, but we somehow squeezed past and one, an oil tanker was on fire. I have never seen an oil tanker on fire before but they do burn well. Indeed it was still burning on our return 2 hours later. Thankfully no one was hurt!
We crossed the River Ruvubo which is a tributary of the Kagera and the same river we crossed by ferry the day we arrived. Along the valley bottom there are a number of brick kilns. We eventually turned off the road and up a dirt road to a shamba. This was a big one – 7.5 acres in all. The farmer practices all the best farming techniques for growing bananas with the result that his plants are healthy and his crop is a big one, about 200 bananas a month. He sends his bananas down to Dodoma and Dar, but has no way of exporting them. So successful is he that people come from all over the region to learn from him, and he was busy teaching a group of about 30 farmers in a tiny classroom.
We wandered around the farm, Thomas explaining enthusiastically how he was doing all the right things. He hopes to use the farm as an example to other farmers in CCMP programmes. The farmer eventually arrived and made us very welcome. He is a leader in his local church. I noted that he was one of a minority of people who use ( and can afford?) deodorant!
He explained his farming techniques and told us that he has a large number of cows, 30 Friesians and 120 Ankoli cattle that provide his manure. He also has a tree nursery which he took us to. There were hundreds of tree seedlings all watered from a tap in the field which is spring fed. He employs 7 people but 4 are paid monthly and three are employed daily. He supports a large family, a wife, 7 children , 3 widows (from his dead brothers) and 7 of their children. He is able to send all the children to school.
We followed him down to the classroom where the farmers were sat hugger mugger on benches . As ever introductions were made and we each had to say who we were and why we were here. Luckily the farmers did not feel the need to introduce themselves, otherwise we would have been there for a couple if hours. We said our farewells and headed off towards Ngara, passing the blazing oil tanker still crowned by flames.
We slipped into Ngara for water, tea bags to take home and a tub of peanut butter that should last the 6 weeks Dorothee and June still have here. We also picked up a passing priest and gave him a lift to Murgwanza, which saved him a long walk.
Lunch was delicious consisting of samosas, beans, peanut sauce and bits of left over pizza, with fruit to finish. A little siesta has aided digestion and now it is time to write up notes. The sky is dark and there is a cool breeze……are the rains on their way?
Stop press: we now seem to have no electricity either!