Photography and Art

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Road to Kondoa

Perhaps the highlight of our trip to Africa was our journey to Kondoa to view the rock paintings at Kolo. It all seemed pretty simple when we were planning this part of the trip on the Internet. The distances looked quite modest and the logistics of putting up four adults in "semi-luxe" camping style in the middle of the African countryside were not particularly daunting. In other words, I had no idea!

Take the trip as an example. Our tour company, Bush2Beach, had to arrange for two vehicles and a half dozen people to drive our camping equipment and ourselves down a pothole-filled road with enough dust to fill the Air Canada Centre ten times over. We just went along for the ride. Here's a photo of the road:

As you can see, the buses whiz by you at a high rate of knots leaving you choking on the dust. The Chinese government is assisting with the job of building a better road, but they decided to put down a fine dust layer for 80 kilometers before they paved it. By the time they get to paving the roadway, the dust will have blown away!

The roadside viewing gave us a terrific insight into rural Tanzanian life. Here are some photos from the car:

The young boys are in charge of taking the herd to the watering hole

A roadside seamstress is a common sight in Tanzanian villages.

We saw a lot of carts being pulled by bullocks, donkeys and even humans.

Here are some kids with the ubiquitous plastic water containers getting water from the village well. They are fortunate to have a well in the village.

A pair of bullocks ready to pull a load.

Just like the tinker in the olden days, these men move from village to village selling their wares. Plastic instead of tin, but the same idea.

We saw many markets, large and small.

At the suggestion of some friends, we had brought along some gifts suitable for school children. This gave us an excuse to call on a school and see what Tanzanian schools were like. Three of our group had some teaching experience, so we were very interested finding a school. Our driver managed to find a school in a small town and we arrived with our gift of World Cup soccer balls for the kids. The teacher was very helpful and, as you can see, the kids thought the sight of four slightly chubby, slightly old white folks was just a riot.

Young boys are the same the world over.

Here is the head teacher with her beautiful baby.

Proud owners of world cup soccer balls (yes, we did give them the little valves so they could pump them up).

This young girl was one of my favourites. She had a huge grin!

Here's Deb surrounded by kids. One of the little girls was bolder than the rest and reached out and touched her shoulder.

Here's the little girl with the big smile.

We reached our destination of Kolo, a small village just outside of Kondoa and the crew had already set up our camp. We camped on the very spot where Mary Leakey had stayed in 1953 when she documented the Kolo rock paintings. As you can see, we had all the luxuries of home including a bush toilet. 

Here is Rick with our friend James who was in charge of setting up the camp. Our camp was on the bank of a dry river.

Here we are with our drinks. As you can see, we had a cast of thousands looking after us. Running a tour company takes a lot of organization. 

Our bush toilet!

Our tour company hired a local guard to make sure we were kept safe at night.

We went for a great walk down the dry river. Deb found a cracked gourd that had been used to dig up water that was just below the surface of the river bed.

Rick and Deb pose in front of some interesting formations caused by water erosion. Can you look any more Canadian than these two?

These three boys lived nearby and were our constant companions. They watched us with great fascination.

The following day, we went to the guide office to meet our guide for the rock paintings. Pascali (probably spelled incorrectly) turned out to be a treasure. He showed us through his small museum with great pride and then marched us up the hillside to view the rock paintings. 

Pascali, Kolo rock painting guide deluxe, in his office

Pascali shows us the rock paintings (coming in the next post)

To get to the caves containing the rock paintings, you have to climb up the side of a large valley. Here you can see the view from an outcrop.

On the way to one of the caves, we passed through fields of crops. Here Pascali demonstrates something (I forget what) with great passion.

On our trip to one of the caves, we came upon an empty school house. As you can see, there are no windows or doors. The teacher has a blackboard and chalk and the kids are lucky to have paper and pencils.

Here we have a lesson on dhows. We were going to see a lot of these boats in Zanzibar.

In the next post, I'll show you some pictures of the rock paintings and discuss the technical difficulties I faced in trying to get decent prints of the rock art.

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