Monday, April 18, 2011

Working for a Living

Life on the truck was still an uncertainty. I had been shown some paperwork, but wasn’t exactly feeling the love from Kylie and Angus. We were in Dar es Salaam and I had the dubious pleasure of sanding and painting equipment for the truck. All of our passengers had trundled off to Zanzibar. I would have loved to go, but was reminded that this was a working trip. There would be time in the future for fun again, but for right now, I was earning my keep.
Yes, I had the fun pleasure of varnishing a table in Chitemba, while the passengers went to climb Livingstonia. I scraped sand mats with a wire brush in Karonga, and painted truck pieces and stools. While it felt good to actually physically work, it also added to a feeling of loneliness that I couldn’t shake. No matter how much black and white paint I slopped around, I could not forget my former travelling companion Brett’s smiling face. Despite singing a little fast on my beleaguered walkman, Bob Marley’s crooning voice in my ear didn’t help either. My labours  left me  with too much time to reflect.
Before we arrived in Dar es Salaam, we got to see the beauty of the Tanzanian countryside though. As soon as we left the Malawian border behind, the scenery changed. We went from the lush beaches of Lake Malawi, to tea plantations that stretched to mountainous backgrounds. They were generously interspersed with stately banana palms. It made for gorgeous green valleys  that filled my vision as far as I could see.  
Shortly after entering Tanzania, we made our first bush camp of the five-week tour. It was mild enough to sleep outside and I woke to the stars. While it was wondrous to look up at them and watch the sky lighten, I could not stop the tear that slid off my cheek. Brett had been the one to appreciate sunrises. Without him by my side I felt adrift and oh so lonesome. My dream of living and working on the African continent seemed hollow without a friend in the world to share it with. My birthday steadily approached and a tiny flame of hope burned that perhaps I would bump into Brett again. The reality of the path I had taken made it unlikely though.
Our second day on the road in Tanzania, the landscape changed from vibrant green to dry yellow. Mealie patches and dry grasses dominated the landscape now and despite our proximity to the equator, you could tell that it was winter. The changing leaves were nothing in comparison to the brilliance of Canada’s Autumn displays, but we did not have the mud huts that leant the reminder that I was far from home. I was definitely in Africa.
The excitement of reaching Dar es Salaam, while great for the group, was less so for me. Once the gang was gone, we gathered supplies for the truck and ourselves, then set out for a camp outside of town called Silver Sands. Melancholy followed me, as a sad song by UB40 and the loss of a lover of a character in my book, left me in tears. I allowed the tears to come, as I missed friends and family, and even finally allowed some tears for my long-lost relationship from the beginning of my trip. There was no one to talk to about my loneliness though, so I shook it off and returned to the present. The present held more truck maintenance that saw me scraping paint off of cupboards till break time. I was then left to catch up in my journal and read.
The hours became painful though, and intermixed with a desire to explore the city of Dar es Salaam, I wished to see the only friendly faces I knew, that of our passengers. They would return in a few days. Our reunion would be short-lived though, as we would only explore the city for a day, before it would be time to head off to Arusha. From there, they would go to the Serengeti. I would be headed for Nairobi though and the end of my training trip.  The word was that I had a trip lined up for another 5-week Overland from Nairobi to Harare. I still had to get my evaluation though. That would happen in Nairobi. 

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