Monthly Archives: February 2012

Mendoza…Feliz vendimia.


‘In decision is thief of opportunity’ …

In the modem ways of life we work hard to have control of situation, learn difficult and complex thing just to make sure we can solve all the mysteries.  Once I hear the story of clever and successful man who cant fly because he will be out of the control.

I’m a victim of the same situation, I plan and try best to go with plan. Although this isn’t the first kind of expedition I’m taking on but the begin have been a huge testimony, I guess the Africa experience become just normal to me. I make the decision after a month of visa waiting hoping that I will move soon but again I found myself passing one week + in Mendoza to wait for my equipment which sent in the morning of the day I got visa. Practical 300km shouldn’t be such big deal for shipping, for me it just Nairobi to Arusha. But ‘never compare’ the system it something else. The 5 days of shipping are now become 2 weeks.

The equipment sent Friday, don’t count weekends, Monday and Tuesdays in Argentina was holiday  Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (The National Grape Harvest Festival). Friday make it a 4th day then come the weekend. Monday in Argentina it holiday  ‘Cumple del Bendera’ celebrating 200 year of National flag. I was told today is holiday as well, thanks it isn’t it just a riot of some workers demand more salary. Fun thing is, Argentina postal told me today is when the package crossing the border!

My main challenge of waiting and killing time in unfamiliar place is to stay fresh. I have already run out of reading material and now I’m reading a second hand book which took two days to find the place selling English books. As English valuable here, the book which in normal circumstance I wouldn’t be able to read two pages it cost me 20 pesos ($4.6) but so far it doing the job. The locals have very ease way of killing time ‘part all night and sleep all day’ and if nothing important to do just do the same. I’m not part animal, I can try 2 days a week and at least 3hrs of dancing rather than get hummed.

I assemble my Fango and make most of it to discover Mendoza. Mendoza, stand 746m.a.s.l. in the east of Andes make the end of Pantagonia and Pampas while making the begin of Andes plateau. Back in the days before Spanish this was home of Huarpes, Puelches and Incas (tribes of native Indians). They had irrigation system which was the only means to sustain life in this plain. The system ‘yangi traps’ acequias is still evident till today watering most of trees in the city. One of the biggest irrigation canal run through the city made Spanish confuse it to the river.

The city was found in 1561 by Spanish and named after Chilean governor. Today Mendoza is largest wine produce in Latin America, 9th wine capital in the world, 10 historical city by national geographic. It is also here where the film of ‘ Seven years in Tibet’ was shot.  This is ease access to Aconcagua peak, you will see lots of those guys on their brand new ‘North Face’ from the top to the bottom. The city government invest a lot in tourism, since I have been here it unlikely to pass two days without sort of fiesta which are well organized. The one I love was the  ‘Fiesta de la Vendimia’ , the festival of vineyard harvest which open by testing the new wine, different performances; folklore, gaucho  in their black and white costume, there was also Indian and Arabic dance!   

But what doesn’t go to the list is; It here where I have seen for the first time the electronic buses, ‘El Trole’. The bus connected to the electronic cable commuter down town! Why no one told me this before?

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Greetings from the foothills of Andes Mountains, after a while without blog up to date for the last weeks of Buenos Aires, there were no much happen in the big city and if happen they swallowed with hassling for Chilean visa.

After 1 month and 10 days of waiting without knowing if it is going to be No or Yes, it makes the situation worse. I’m prepared for the challenge but this was starting to were me down, the only last reason remain to go to Chile was to fulfill the name of the project. I’m flexible as I mention it before inmost case I have been forced to change the travel plan due to some difficult such as this, I was resistance to give up because I couldn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t get Chilean visa. This was the same to the in charge she couldn’t explain why it take such long, and still she couldn’t say YE or No. In some case she confuses herself for the information she give me in the previous days.

It was difficult time consider as the begin of the tour but this time offer lot of experience. Thank you very much for anyone who jumped in and offer help.  Every single help is valuable and I real appreciate for those who write letters to me to the embassy though Buenos Aires take them for granted but Mendoza consul real think they were important to take the case serious. 

For my community in Buenos Aires…

Thanks for those who offer accommodation, food and company, you make this project possible, since it is non-profit project and so far running for the personal support in terms of finance, I’m required to stick in the shoes string budget but there were no rooms for this in place like Buenos Aires.  Most important is your company and sympathy though things were not working out well you were there to offer possible help. You are so many to remember; Adrean , You owe a lot for Chile to Kili. I’ll establish Racing supporter in Tanzania for you fantastic club. Carla, I couldn’t know there are place like Bella Vista or getting pressing bureaucracy in the local way as you did not to forget you lovely mum who teach me to say ‘Que bueno’ which make even bad thing to sound good. I now use “Che” and “Que bueno” more than it supposed people wonder if I have been here for years.  Bella Vista remains one of the highlight in BA.  Olsalvado, you know yourself your ‘Cool’ , I’m glad I raise your sense of wonder for Africa which make you start to follow the news and buy National Geographic Africa edition.  Mara, the coffee meeting where awesome just a good break from Mate.  Mati, you rock buddy.  Can’t mention all of you her but for what you did I remember you by heart and you made Chile to Kili move on.

Back home…

This is your project I’m happy you still keep your commitment. Thanks Bakari for asking me to come back and take another year for preparation, that was a thought of it kind buddy!


Moving on…

I made up the mind to the alternative which was hard things to do as my intuition was not agree with my ratio though.  I ask BA Chilean consul if I can peak my visa at Mendoza since she is not sure when it will be authorized and this could be relief for her not to see my face cause she was real tired to see me. One day she work away and leave me in the desk. She thinks for a while and agrees and say she will send the information to both part Santiago and Mendoza.  I ask my friend in Chile to ship my equipment from Santiago to Mendoza just across the mountain but cost more than ship them for USA.  I resume my bus ticket from the argent I book with since back home, I pass at their office as make try to pay for bike transport, I was told I’ll have to pay to the drives. 21hrs big comf bus show up, for my surprise the fat bulk hear drive tell me we don’t carry bike ‘this is not track’.   With no further explanations and no one pay attention, I have experience some case of racism here and as I try to push in, explain that I wasn’t informed no one pay a hid. As the bus was taking off I was told to get my refund from the argent I but ticket. It is 22hrs no one in the office, moving with bike in this busy terminal it very difficult and cart push guys charge 50 peso ($11) more than tax to take me back to the city. First cart push leave me and as paramilitary order to stop I was asked to pay him. They real annoyed me with their irrelevant questions so I said I don’t speak Spanish and they don’t speak English, the west time going through the stamps and visa in my passport . I wonder what the hell they do since everything is written is English except Argentina visa which they dint even not. They return my passport and ask in Spanish what I sell, I open the passport and show them my visa and ticket just like they wake up in the long sleeping they nod heard wish good, Ciao negro!  I thought sleeping in the terminal but this could be real fetal with 2 bags and box so taxi and find accommodation, what expensive day! Next day at bus argent two girls can explain to me what is going on neither in Spanish not it English, since first email when I was hassling for Argentina visa in Kenya I mention that I gave bike box and it measurement and last day I repeat it but can’t believe what is such unprofessional. Clear they didn’t pay attention to the detail now they just look surprise like me but the worst they are telling me that the refund is done at the bus ticket office in terminal. At the bus office the news is your ticket is expired but we can give you 30% discount and you will have to pay $50 for bike transport in the truck.  I tried to explain the situation but non seem to be interested to understand. 

Arrived in Mendoza after overnight bus, I rush to the internet to check if there is any news regarding the visa just like the dream there was short message from in charge say ‘ Dear Munis, your visa have been authorized for 10 day. Best wishes’

It good news but what is the hell with 10 days. I answer and ask for more explanation, call but the phone ring and no one peak in some occasion it said occupied. Any ways for me calling here it work very well if your ordering pizza or taxi.  I rush to Mendoza consul, deal with cue and waiting, I meet the consul assistance very open and welcome though professional. He said there is no info about my visa ‘ring BA ask them to inform as’. After long explanation and begging he close the conversation by saying ‘ My daughter is very sick, I’m going to the hospital, forward me the email and come back 16hrs’. I learned that isn’t me only had difficult time even this boss has.  Back at 16hrs two fantastic gentleman take their time in my case, if I don’t get it to day it will be till Wednesday so waiting for weekend and two days of some kind of holiday here. After 2 hours I was asked to pay $50 not event in the bank and I got 90 days. I celebrate with these gentlemen who speak fluent English guess the good one I hear since I arrived here out of few tourists I met. I guess they had fun speaking it and make some cleave jokes. I try to dig info why my visa take such long but also they dint have any idea, they said it was suppose to take 10 days.

Now passing weekend in this small town compare to BA waiting for package to cross Anders, as soon as it arrive I’ll start cycling here since it more difficult to get bike in the box to Santiago and package is on the way towards me. Already assemble bike and take it for a test yesterday seem like I attract lot of attention my host think is only black dude they ever seem wonder in their town on bike. Working on logistic how to take the road across the Andes, the long climbing, high pass of about 2400m.a.s.l. it 280km from here to ‘Ruta 5’ in Chile which will take me north.             

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Rotary Club of Buenos Aires & Things I still Wonder…

This Wednesday I was invited to participate in the Rotarty Club of Buenos Aires, this was real cheer up as I straggle with visa. The invitation was due to my charity project, the goal to raise awareness for sustainable development and my connection with one of my sponsor Rotary club of Mount Meru Arusha.  Though I’m not official Rotarian I receive worm welcome and recognition before the club president as ‘Elvis from Rotary club of Mount Meru Tanzania’  The president of the club acknowledge that it is his first time to meet a Tanzania .  There were plenty of casual comments and question such as; ‘How did you know Rotary, Were your parent Rotarians?’ I like   this one  ‘ Your tour is going through the migration of the people from Africa to South America’ I have never think about this one before though I knew that theory so now I’ll be tracing the way back home! Though  I didn’t had chance to present my project  I was kept busy with these gentleman who were quite curious to know about where I came from and what I’m up too.  As a visit and Rotary tradition I was presented by cub banner for exchange but unfortunately it was unequal since I don’t have Mount Meru club banner.

 Rotary club of BA is second oldest club in Latin America, with quite huge number of member compared to those clubs I know in Tanzania. It real a formal club all has to be in suit and tai so as I.

I have negative pecipactive regarding this kind of clothes,  I always felt it sort of mental slave and hid evil. It always worn by certain people in the community most with good income, they also sold for ridiculous prices. I’m not communist neither capitalist if those thought exists I simply believe in the in the better life and freedom for all. Not all of us we can wear it for some reason but please that don’t make us less humans or so. Though being in this clothes I find out it nice dress code for the certain occasion so I glad I learn lesson in different way.

It is hot here and this dress is made for walk, I had to walk 10 blocks to the Marriote Hotel and wait for subway in the tunnel it wasn’t very pleasant. As I said suit make you look like you have money so as I walk in the busy street of Florida I was offered ten times leaflet for restaurants, cinema, sex massage,  souvenir shops, salsa dancing photo pose, and what not. This was different compare to the other times when  I pass this street with my tired short and maasai shoes. Even some fella in the street shout ‘ Hola negro tienes uno peso’


And the things which I’m still learning or wonder here….

I’m not quite sure if it because there are too many people here or life it more busy, I can’t real understand the feeling or the situation in the public places such as in the bus or train.  As people hop in the get busy with something, cell phone, ipods or just looks something and get lost there. Every one avoids eye contact. It quite difficult for me who have to confront people ask for directions, looking for tattoo, hair styles, dress, etc. These things are very interesting, new for me and I’m sure you have tattoo or fun hair style in order other to see but  when these folk find out I’m looking at them they gave me sort of stare which make me pretend like I’m not looking at them try to read my map or so.


For Tanzanians…

Hope the doctors are back to the hospital.  As I’m it need a degree of patient for visa for the only one explanation ‘for your country is take long’  which doesn’t even tell you how much! I went to Bolivia embassy to see if this could be my option if Chilean will not work out till next Monday. I couldn’t believe that Tanzanians we can have 30 day free tourist visa! 

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