And… We’re off!

So… along with getting the car ‘safari ready,’ I’ve been itching for a few days of ‘quiet time’ to fine tune preparations and relax (just a little..) before hitting the road. Yes, a few days turned into a week. Yes, I’ve lost count of how many farewell dinners we have had (tonight’s could be the 5th or 6th). Yes, our continued presence in Dar has turned into a running joke with our friends. But yes! We are finally leaving!

The extra weekend spent in Dar was not in vain. Roger Federer won the Wimbledon final and reclaimed the No.1 ranking, and Mark Webber won the British GP. Couldn’t have asked for a better start to our safari!

Today we were fortunate enough to catch some of my esteemed colleagues at ‘TuboCha’ to say thanks and goodbye – and also to receive their well wishes this afternoon. The picture above is our team alongside our old faithful ‘Purple People Eater’.  To all of you – I wish you the very best and I hope the project has great impact in improving the livelihoods and nutrition of rural Tanzanians.

Thanks all for your well wishes and look forward to hearing from you! If you click on the speech bubble on the top right you will be able to leave us a message – please keep in touch!

-Eugene

Journey begins…Tomorrow

My supposed two-week stay in Dar Es Salaam is slowly approaching its one month anniversary. Since we are on Africa time, the delay of our departure should come as no surprise as one thing after the other has delayed our departure. On the onset of our planning we realized mechanical issues will likely be an issue for a 14-year-old vehicle at some point but getting off the start line was more difficult then we imagined.

Things began to go wrong on June 16th when we made a day trip to Bagamoyo – the capital of colonial German East Africa, an hour north of Dar. On our way back from Bagamoyo, a ‘tutt-tutt’ sound began to emanate from under the hood. Although we weren’t overly concerned at the time (it is easy to hallucinate strange noises with old diesel cars) we asked our mechanic to have a look as precaution since we do have a 20,000km+ road trip to make. Over the next 20 days I was given a comprehensive tour of Dar’s automotive industry.

So far, any progress we have made with the car has almost certainly been accompanied by corresponding setbacks. Here are some of the lowlights of our tour that included over 20 separate visits to different shops and mechanics:

–       Cracked piston

–       Cracked water pipe

–       Mechanic accidentally cut a different water pipe while trying to replace the broken one

–       Burst AC pipe and lost gas

–       Four visits to the roof carrier shop before our custom made roof carrier was fitted and functional

–       While trying to fix the spotlight, the electrician wired the headlights directly to the car battery so it stayed on permanently.

While the price for replacement parts are on par with the rest of the world, thankfully labour is dirt cheap (a multi-day job replacing the pistons cost $50) so the repairs were much less painful on our wallet than it would’ve been back home.

Now that the car is finally good to go and our stuff all packed, we are all set to leave tomorrow (for the 5th time this week, this time is for real) for Iringa. The itinerary page will be continually updated throughout the trip to reflect our actual itinerary.

The smart money is on Andy Murray choking in front of the home crowd at the Wimbledon Finals tonight.

Follow my odyssey on Twitter @AlpheusChan