The next day was another driving day. We were leaving Mikumi and heading toward Ruaha where we would spend two nights and do another full day game drive in Ruaha Game Reserve. The day's drive was meant to be about six hours, starting on macadam, driving through the town of Iringa with the last couple of hours back on dirt as we neared Ruaha.
The drive was again a pretty impressive part of the trip. It's a tricky one, because of course this is a poor country, and we are relatively rich people driving through it. So, how much of this is voyeuristic? It's really important to us that the children understand how fortunate they are, and yet, is that coming at the expense of the people we gawk at? We talk about these things all the time with the children, and we have no answers. We just talk about the issues.
Vendors selling tomatoes, garlic and onions by the side of the road.
One of the things that struck me was how much Coke and Pepsi advertising there was. Everywhere. I get the local mobile carriers doing heavy advertising, but the American beverage companies were right up there with them.
School uniforms reflect the British influence (Tanzania was under British rule from 1919 to independence in 1961), as does driving on the left side of the road. Rule Britannia.
Coke, it's less obvious (look middle left), but I didn't spend a lot of time taking photos of advertising, so these are just the bits where I noticed it. Three thousand photos, so, you know, there are a few examples.
Pepsi, front and center. Do you notice the big green "X" on the building? As I mentioned, the roads we were on were all scheduled for upgrades. The roads to Ruaha are pretty rough close to the park, and the idea is to upgrade everything to macadam. Everything within 30 meters of the road is scheduled for destruction. Ah, progress. Many of the villages and hamlets we drove through seemed so peaceful and quiet, and yet, if more tourists can come through, there's more money. I suppose someone has thought through the longer term impact. Or, maybe not.
Grilled chicken, delicious! And, Hope managed to score a Sprite. Amazing, isn't it, how these brands end up all over the world.
We made it to Iringa. And stopped. Not because of the ostensibly empty fuel tank - that was the reserve tank we had plenty of fuel in the main tank. But because of the dude with the gun.
Apparently, the Vice President of Tanzania was on his way, and all traffic was halted in order to clear the road for his passage. Poor Rajab, you can almost feel his frustration in this photo. We were very well behaved tourists and entertained ourselves for the two long hours we sat waiting for the VP to whiz through.
Rajab appreciated our patience. He was quietly angry at the government that would cause such a ruckus, but we explained that politicians the world over cause disruption in normal services when they parade through. Two hours seemed like a lot for a motorcade, but there wasn't a blessed thing any of us could do about it, so we read, knitted, played games and napped.
And there they went! There were a dozen identical cars that came through, so I won't even pretend that the VP was in that specific car. He was in one of them, we assume. Rajab was also incensed about this parade of wealth in such a poor country. These cars are apparently quite expensive, and as far as he was concerned, the money should be put into hospitals. Hard to argue with that, although, as we pointed out, it's a problem the world over.
It was fabulous to be on our way again, though. The Land Cruiser was comfortable, but at this point we had spent quite a few hours just sitting in it. Not exactly my favorite way to spend a holiday. The drive to Ruaha took us through some beautiful countryside and villages.
People working in the fields.
Mud and brick houses predominated as we drove closer to the park.
We saw a number of local football teams practicing. Huge sport across Africa, of course.
And then we arrived. The views were spectacular. Ruaha has a very different feel than Selous, much more similar to the Northern Parks with fewer trees and more of a savanna feel.
Our lodgings were again more basic, although, pretty fabulous considering how far away from anything and everything we were. The generator kicked on at dark, so we could recharge our devices. There was no internet, but there was this:
So the gang was pretty happy.