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Travel Log - From Cairo to Cape Town


UPDATE FROM DAR 25 March 2006


Dear friends and family,

After a wonderful time in Arusha, I find myself now enjoying and relaxing on the shores of the Indian Ocean in Dar es Salaam. I am relishing every moment of this short break and the thought of getting back on a bike in a few days is really not appealing at all! I think that the second half of the Tour D’Afrique will be a lot easier than the first – better roads, easier rides and sights as wonderful as those we have already seen.  

My stay in Arusha was AMAZING. I don’t think there is any better way of describing it. Not only did I have a great safari, where I saw EVERY animal possible, but I also went to the Rwandan Criminal Tribunal and got to see a part of the proceedings. One thing is for sure – my time in Arusha reinforced the notion that one should “Never underestimate the kindness of strangers.” 

When we first arrived in Arusha, my first instinct was that I should go the see the tribunal being held there. I don’t know exactly why they picked Arusha of all places but it really worked to my advantage. The UN building where the tribunal is being run has three separate court rooms that run simultaneously. I sat in one court room where the actual proceedings are held behind glass windows and all spectators watch from the outside, listening in with translating devices. The witness box was curtained off, protecting the witnesses’ identities, so that nobody watching the trial could see them. Sitting right across the glass partition from me was the defendant, a very well-dressed African gentleman who I would NEVER have been able to picture committing a crime. He just looked so proper and well kept, definitely not fitting the idea I had in my head of the ruthless killers that had perpetrated crimes in Rwanda. As we listened in, the witness described how this man had participated in the decapitation of a young girl and how the defendant had the opportunity to stop what was happening and punish the others helping him, but instead he gave his co-conspirators petrol vouchers so that they could drive into other regions and kill more people. I was completely horrified to hear all this, and the defendant just looked on, unfazed and with no remorse. Although I didn’t get to watch the trial for very long, it was still an eye-opening experience and one that I’m really glad I had the opportunity to take part in. These proceedings have been underway for several years already, and I imagine they will continue for many years to come. My only regret is that even after witnessing some tragedies, it seems that we never learn from them, and acts of violence and hate continue to be perpetrated around the world. 

After my visit to the Tribunal, my trip took a turn for the better. About half the Tour D’Afrique group left to take a safari tour of the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti. For three days, we toured the crater and the game park and were just amazed by what we saw. Every animal possible – lions, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, leopards, elephants, gazelles, antelopes, warthogs, buffalos and plenty of birds – was present either in the crater or in the Serengeti. I think the coolest thing we saw was a cheetah that had just killed an antelope and was feeding on it with her 4 cubs. They were so well camouflaged in the grass that we probably would not even have seen them if the mother had not put her head up when she heard us coming. Our driver has the most incredible eyes ever and could pick out a lion hundreds of feet away. At one point in the crater, he spotted a black rhino. Seeing rhinos is a pretty exciting because they are so rare. EVERY overland car in the crater was there within minutes and lined the road as this rhino went along his business. At one count, there were 26 safari cars on the side of the road with tourists poking their heads out of the sunroofs. We were like the animal paparazzi! We camped one night in the Serengeti and then one night on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. We had been warned about how close the animals could be to us so we were told to take all food out of our tents and to be careful if we left our tents at night. One of our other riders, Judy, had taken everything out of her tent, but woke up to find a bush pig looming over her in the night. As it turns out, she had an empty wrapper in her tent and the animal smelled it and ripped her tent to get inside! She yelled so loud that she woke up most of the camp and then punched the bush pig in the face, so he ran away. Now that’s what I call a close encounter! 

Perhaps the best experience I had in Arusha was upon my return. As I got out of the tour bus, dirty and sweaty, there was an Ismaili family, the Hashmani family, waiting to greet me. They were so nice to me and took really good care of me. Unfortunately due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to take the city and national park tour that they had planned for me, but they did take me to mosque and the henna and music party being held there. I was just so amazed by their generosity and the whole evening, the phrase “never underestimate the kindness of strangers” kept repeating itself in my head. Of course, now, the Hashmanis are no longer strangers, and are in fact my make-shift family in Tanzania! They really made me feel at home, and realize just how wonderful the Ismaili sense of brotherhood is. I had a great time with them, and hope that one day they will come to Montreal so I can repay the favor! 

Well that’s all for now folks! Hope you are all well, and keep sending the emails, I love getting them! Oh yes, and if any of you know of great opportunities out here in Africa, particularly in East Africa (Tanzania or Kenya) that would allow me to stay here and work for the summer, please let me know!!! Now that I’m here and having such an amazing time, the idea of returning home is really not one that appeals to me! J 

Lots of love to all,



Dar was so relaxing, and really helped to ease the mountains of stress that had been piling up on my head. I think that constantly seeing so much poverty and destitution had finally taken its toll on me. Our family in Dar really took wonderful care of us, and treated us like royalty.

Even in this remote corner of Africa, we found Aga Khan Foundation projects up and running incredibly well. We visited a Madrassa school teachers development program, where teachers from small rural communities are trained so that they can return back to their communities and start schools. The AKF program not only teaches them about the curriculum and how to implement it properly, but also about accounting and management so that they can run the school well. It was really an impressive project and I was surprised to see it.

All across the region, even as far as the remote border town of Mbeya, Tanzania, we have come across Aga Khan Health Centers and Dispensaries. The Foundation is doing really wonderful work, providing services to all segments of the population, in places that have been ignored by many other organizations and governmental bodies. I'm really proud of the work that is being done!

A happy Corn vendor in Mbeya


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