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Natron Schmatron

Su Shi

271 vizualizări

Tanzania 08 - 10/06/2012

Ne intorceam sa ne recuperam motocicleta de unde plecasem cu doar cateva zile in urma, in fata cladirii in ruina a vechii vami din Bagamoyo

We had returned to pick up our motorbike to the crumbling old customs in Bagamoyo 

pano_tnz_bmoyofort.jpgStarea noastra de spirit nu arata mai bine decat vama, in ciuda faptului ca ne intorceam din Zanzibar. Africa pe moto continua sa faca noi ‘victime’. In capul listei diveselor obiecte mai mult sau mai putin scoase din uz (cort, saltele, haine etc) intrasera MacBook-ul si lentila de 24mm, distruse in urma nefericitei intalniri cu o pardoseala de beton. Camera pare ok. Viata de nomad se bate cap in cap cu atasamentele de obiecte. Dar aceste obiecte pentru noi nu au venit usor.

Our mood - even if we were returning from the stunning Zanzibar - was crumbling as well. To top the list of gear that has been slowly decaying to bits (tent, mattresses, clothing etc), in Bagamoyo we had new wounds to lick. Our MacBook and 24 mm Canon lens had been damaged, after an unfortunate incident that involved a concrete slab. Camera appears to be ok. We duct taped the lens, but there even hand held it will focus one out of maybe fifteen attempts. A small disaster we have yet to come to terms with, now that vagabonding has tempered with our attachment to material things. But these things were tough to get. 



Scrisul pe blog si fotografiile au fost de la inceput o parte integrala a calatoriei noastre cu motocicleta in Africa. Ca sa putem continua sa facem ce am facut pana acum, este musai sa inlocuim computerul si lentila. In afara de faptul ca am incercat sa gasim sponsori (cam in van pana in Johannesburg, stii bine), ne-am straduit sa facem totul singuri. Ne-am zis ca vom gasi ceva de lucru pe ici, pe colo, ca vom vagabonda pana vom ajunge la fundul sacului. Dar dupa mai bine de un an pe drum partea financiara a devenit apasatoare, oricat de mult am strange ‘cureaua’. Cautam, deci, o solutie ‘ieftina’ pentru a inlocui cele doua instrumente atat de importante pentru noi. 

Poate cunosti pe cineva care este dealer Apple sau Canon? Poate ai auzit de un magazin care ofera discounturi sau chiar sponsorizari? Poate ti-a facut placere sa citesti acest blog si, chiar daca ai economisit toata iarna pentru vacanta ta de vara, ai putea contribui ceva catre suma necesara pentru a cumpara echipamentele defecte. Daca da, te rugam sa ne contactezi si iti multumim anticipat pentru orice pont. Din cauza asta insa, vor fi pentru un timp mai putine fotografii pe blog si tot din cauza asta in semnatura a aparut (pentru o vreme) nesuferitul de buton ‘paypal donate’. Si daca cumva te decizi sa apesi acest buton, nu o sa lasam gestul tau nerasplatit. Pentru orice donatie de minim 20 de euro sau dolari, iti vom expedia din Bucuresti o fotografie format B5, semnata. Am selectionat 5 fotografii care reprezinta 5 momente speciale de pana acum si tu alegi pe care o doresti. 

Blogging, documenting and taking photos have been all integral to our journey across Africa. If we are to continue doing so, we must find a replacement laptop and lens. Besides shopping for sponsors (so hard to come by), we never planned that other people somehow fund our travels. We left thinking that we’d find temporary jobs while traveling or scramble. But after 1 year on the road things are getting a bit desperate. We are now looking for the cheapest way to replace these two essential tools.

Maybe you know retailers or dealers who might be interested in offering a hefty discount or even sponsorship to us? Maybe you’ve enjoyed reading this blog and even if you’ve been saving all year for summer holiday you might still consider contributing, if you can, something towards covering the cost of the broken bits. … If so, please get in touch, any information/support is very, very much appreciated indeed. It is also why for a while there will be less photos in this report and why you can now see the dreaded paypal ‘donate’ button in our signature. Hopefully you will not see it for long, but if you decide to click it, your support will not remain unrewarded. We have selected 5 photos representing 5 special moments in our round Africa trip. For any donation of min. 20 Euro/US, we will post from Bucharest the photo of your choice, printed on B5 format and signed. 

POZE 1-5

Africa nu iarta nici o greseala. Dar asta nu inseamna ca nu ne vedem de drum. Unul dintre motivele pentru care am cotit-o spre vestul Tanzaniei, era sa vedem un lac cu apa ca amoniacul, purpurie de alge si cianobacterii: Natron. In acest mediu extrem supravietuieste o colonie de 2 milioane si jumatate de flamingo. Cum Natron e pe langa mult mai faimosul Ngorongoro, speram sa mergem cu motorul si de-a lungul craterului. Ne-a luat o zi si jumatate sa ajungem in Moshi, de unde o porneam inspre Natron, adica a trebuit sa dormim o noapte intr-un lan de sisal.  

Africa never forgives a mistake, but we were still in the game. One of the reasons we went west, on the border of Kenya and Tanzania, was to see a soda lake with water nearly as basic as ammonia, that breeds  2.5 million of endangered Lesser Flamingos: Lake Natron. This salty red hell of algae and cyanobacteria is one of Rift Valley’s most environmentally extreme spots. Natron is close to the more famous Ngorongoro crater, which could provide us with the opportunity to ride along another amazing place. It took us a day and a half to arrive there, actually in Moshi, after sleeping a night in a sisal plantation. 

pano_tnz_bushcamp02.jpgPlantatiile de sisal sunt din nou in expansiune in Tanzania, odata producatorul numarul unu in lume pentru aceasta planta. Pe vremea aceea semintele erau aduse ilegal din Mexic, dar productia Tanganikai a decazut treptat, Brazilia devenind noul lider mondial. Astazi circa 2 milioane de fermieri isi castiga painea din sisal in Tanzania, iar fibrele nu mai sunt utilizate pentru confectionarea de franghii, ci la armarea produselor din plastic (de ex. interioarele automobilelor), pentru sarpante si plafoane suspendate, conducte, placi compozite si chiar ca aglomerat in procesul de reciclare a hartiei. Se pare ca planta ar fi si o sursa interesanta de bio-combustibil. In plus, plantatiile sunt numai bune pentru un pui de somn. 

Sisal farming is experiencing a revival in Tanzania, once world’s largest grower, now a distant, albeit promising second after Brazil. In the late 19th century, in what was then Tanganyika, seeds were smuggled from the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. Today over 2 million Tanzanian smallholders are growing sisal, but in the meantime even the economic significance of the plant has changed. Traditionally used to make ropes and twines, the sisal lint is now used to reinforce plastics in car interiors, in roofing materials, piping, and fiberboard. The low grade fibre is even employed in the paper recycling process. Sisal is a promising source for biofuel. Not to mention that the plantations make a nice background for camping. 

pano_tnz_aloecamp.jpgDrumul catre Arusha

Road to Arusha

pano_tnz_arusharoad.jpgKilimanjaro, cel mai inalt munte si poate cel mai cunoscut loc din Africa se afla chiar in fata noastra. O imagine impresionanta. Adica asa ar fi fost, daca ceata si norii nu ar fi mascat totul sub pacla deasa. Am luat-o spre munte pe potecile de pamant care strabat plantatii luxuriante de cafea, in speranta ca vom gasi un loc de unde am putea sa zarim ceva inteligibil. Asta e tot ce am obtinut:

At 5895 m, Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and arguably its most iconic landmark was right in front of us. An impressive sight. At least it would have been if it wasn’t completely hidden behind the thick dark cloudscapes. We took some dirt tracks among lush coffee fields, hoping to find a spot where, if we squinted really well, we could see a shadow in the fog. There’s your Mt. Kilimanjaro, better luck next time.

IMG_2485.jpgUn taran ne-a confirmat ca ceea ce nu vedeam era cu adevarat faimosul munte

This guy confirmed that what we could not see was indeed the famous mountain

IMG_2484.jpgMacar muntele Meru s-a aratat din ceturi

Mount Meru was a bit more visible.

IMG_2490.jpgSi mai tarziu alte cratere stinse ne-au mobilat orizontul pentru o noua noapte libera

And later these long  extinct volcanos were a nice backdrop for our freedom

pano_tnz_bushcamp03.jpgDrumul catre Natron incepe cu o fasie de asfalt impecabil, care duce in interiorul craterului Ngorongoro. Soseaua e plina de masini de teren echipate pentru safari, care transporta nenumarati turisti, oprind din cand in cand in dreptul etnicilor Maasai care asteapta sa fie pozati pe cativa dolari. Tiganind portul traditional, chiar abordand trecatorii, acesti Maasai - sau poate falsi Maasai - pare ca si-au pierdut demnitatea.

To reach Natron, you need join the good tar leading into the crater. These few miles of 5 star road are populated by innumerable safari jeeps, that stop here and there, so that the tourists can step out and snap Maasai tribesmen and women. If until recent times the nomadic people of Tanzania and Kenya have been discouraged to modernize their way of life, things are now changing. On the way to Ngorongoro one can see dozens if not hundreds of Maasai (or are they?) lining the road, masquerading the traditional attire, waiting or even begging to be photographed for money. 

pano_tnz_ngorongorotar.jpgApoi drumul o coteste prin pietris la dreapta; in sfarsit puteam respira. 

Then we turned right. There’s always something therapeutic about leaving the long straight lines of tarmac and zig zagging among mountains and valleys, helmet flooded in sweat, until you and your bike can finally breathe again. 


IMG_2532.jpgAerul era incins si intinderea de acacia era intrerupta de palcuri de cactusi uriasi si cateva incinte Boma. Acestea sunt curtile Maasai, in care traiesc la un loc oameni si animale. Colibele traditionale sunt construit in trei zile pe un schelet de lemn infipt direct in sol, peste care se tese o retea de crengi, tencuita la final cu un amestec de pamant, vreascuri, iarba, balega si urina de vaca si cenusa. Societatea Maasai este patriarhala si poligamista, centrata pe vitele care constituie sursa principala de hrana.. 

It was scalding hot, kooky cacti forests sprayed across the vast expanse of mattress-puncturing acacia where few Maasai compounds scattered. These are called Boma, and are inhabited by man and domestic cattle alike. A hut takes 3 days to build: a timber framework is fixed directly into the ground, then a web of branches is interwoven with it, and finally plastered with a mix of mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and urine, and ash. The traditional Massai society is patriarchal and polygamist, centered around cattle, the primary source of food.

pano_tnz_ngorongoro.jpgIn pustietatea aceea mai aparea cate un Maasai infasurat in Shúkà, patura traditionala rosie sau violet, incaltat in sandale taiate din camera de bicicleta. Unii ne priveau consternati de cate ori trageam pe dreapta, codindu-ne sa cerem voie sa ii fotografiem. Si asa de sfiim sa facem poze oamenilor, care sunt tratati de cand cu turismul de masa ca obiecte intr-un safari uman. Asa ca am ramas doar cu imaginea Nuyarei, care a fost ceva mai comunicativa. 

The occasional Maasai stared vacantly at us as we stopped to contemplate asking permission to take a photo. They were wrapped up in Shúkàs (traditional red and purple plaid blankets) and wore bike tyre flip flops. The Maasai believe that a camera can steal their soul, but since mass tourism has conquered this land, things changed. We already are too shy to shove the amera in someone’s face, most times we prefer to spend some time with the people, interact, introduce ourselves etc. Now there was also the photo-for-money paradigm to negotiate. Nuyara gave us a minute.

IMG_2563.jpgImaginea celui mai mare crater vulcanic stins ne-a dat fiori. Undeva in spatele vastului perete de lava ghiceam intiderile nesfarsite ale parcului Serengeti.

The site of world’s largest volcanic caldera stirred our souls. Somewhere beyond it we could guess the Great Open Place of Africa, Serengeti. 


pano_tnz_ngorongoro.jpgNe-am oprit la buza dramaticei arene, si am numarat in pacla de lumina si ceata nu unul, nu doi, ci trei vulcani.

We stopped at the edge of this horizonless, dramatic natural arena and gaze not at one, not two, but at three volcanos 

pano_tnz_ngorongoro02.jpgNe documentasem bine: lacul Natron nu e parc national, deci nu sunt taxe de achitat pentru a il vedea. Exista insa calatori care au acuzat recent prezenta barierelor ilegale si faptul ca au fost fortati sa plateasca sute de dolari si sa isi abandoneze zona de campat sub amenintarea kalashnikoavelor. Dar speram sa fi fost accidente: in Arusha politia si cei cativa agenti de turism cu care am discutat ne-au asigurat ca putem merge linistiti la Natron. Dar in curand ajungeam in fata primei bariere. Pe placa de lemn cineva scrijelise cu vopsea ‘15 dolari’, cuvintele abia se puteau citi, pentru ca fusesera evident adaugate ulterior. Cat am incercat sa negociem, a aparut si primul golan cu AK47 pe umar. Treaba incepea sa se imputa. Am dat sa intoarcem, dar a aparut o rata plina cu sateni si bariera s-a ridicat. Dintr-o data insa, un brat alb a aparut la geam si o voce a strigat ‘ce tara misto’. In secunda doi autobuzul a trebuit sa opreasca si a inceput haosul. Nefericitul care nu s-a putut abtine sa isi manifeste entuziasmul la vederea noastra s-a dovediti a fi un turist englez. Era insotit de o localnica si avea o hartie din partea unui ONG oarecare, care cerea sa fie scutit de taxele de bariera. Mai multi dubiosi cu pusti au aparut, toata lumea striga din toti rarunchii. In plus, dupa bariera asta ar mai fi urmat o a doua, unde taxa ar fi fost 10 dolari de persoana. Am decis sa facem cale intoarsa, si sa mai vedem o data Ngorongoro pe afara.

Refacand traseul, inapoi catre drumul principal, eram inca veseli, imbatati de aromele care emanau din grohotisul fierbinte. Nimic din pacea si caldura peisajului superb in care am campat ultima noapte de Tanzania nu prevestea incercarile care vor urma.

We had researched our destination: some travelers had reported Natron to be infested with hasslers, blocked by illegal toll gates. People had been forced to pay hundreds of dollars at gunpoint, escorted from their bushcamp etc. We hoped those reports had been accidental. In Arusha we confirmed with the police and several travel agents that Natron is not a national park, that there should be no fees (except for a 1 Euro community fee in the village), no problems. Then, we arrived at a barrier. Someone had painted ‘15 USD’ at the bottom of a wood board, obviously after it’d been mounted. That was the first ‘toll gate’, so the reports were accurate. We argued in vain, and soon the first dude with AK47 showed up. They told us that there was a second ‘toll gate’, where we should pay 10 USD. So 50 dollars to see the lake. As we were turning back, a bus crammed with locals arrived in front of the barrier, and suddenly a white arm sprung out waving and someone shouted ‘great country!’. Almost instantly the barrier was lowered and more vigilantes and AK47 appeared. The unfortunate man who couldn’t contain his enthusiasm and had to salute us, proved to be a tourist accompanied by a Tanzanian lady. He had a letter from some NGO, that should exempt him from paying the ‘fees’. If he had kept his mouth shut, the bus would have passed through. Everybody started to shout and argue, and it became clear that we will not be allowed thru. It was time to concede that Natron was not meant to happen this time. 

Retracing our tracks back to the main road, we still felt good, tripping on hot baked-in chemicals, released off the ground. Nothing in the tranquil and warm landscape that sheltered our last night in Tanzania let us suspect that we were about to pay for all the good times we had had. 


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