Our bus drive to Iringa was most extraordinary! As usual, we were sitting squashed in an uncomfortable bus, sweating in the heat. And as on other rides, the beat-up flat-screen TV at the front of the bus showed some awful Tanzanian music videos, followed by unbearable and pretty violent local half-hour movies. In the middle of one of the movies a middle-aged woman in the row before us got up, asked the bus driver to pause the film and started a fiery speech with the Bible in her hand. She cited a passage of the Bible and continued her sermon in an almost violent tone of voice. I didn’t understand what she was saying of course, but she was kind of scary in her vehemence. When she was finished, the passengers applauded and the odd person asked her for a blessing. After leaning accross us to bless the person at the end of our row, she grabbed V’s hand looked at her challengingly and asked her “Do you serve Jesus?” Luckily I was able to persuade the scary lady that we were both religious and she needn’t worry about our souls and she sat back down.

Then it was time for the blockbuster from the US. We had watched these in other busses before, either just in English or sometimes with Kiswahili subtitles. This time the movies were dubbed and had English subtitles. At first we just thought they were using one voice to dub all characters….not ideal, but ok. Then we noticed that the synchronizer was speaking also when nothing was said on screen and realized that he was commenting the events. This was especially obvious in the second movie that played in the forests of the Mayas….while the hunters were running silently in nature, the fellow did not shut up for a moment. What was worse, he was not just explaining neutrally what was happening. He was full of emotion and excitement. When the main character would land a blow to the enemy, he would cry out delightedly “Wohoo!”. When the hero got hurt, he would wail in agony. When a child would stand crying, he would call out in the most annoying baby-voice “Mama, mama!”…even though the kid didn’t say any words at all. And when the hero was especially successful, the dubber would laugh hysterically full of joy. I have never been part of a weirder or funnier movie experience!

After that Iringa, as calm and cooly positioned in the mountains as it was, could just not catch my attention much, as my mind was filled with “Wohoo”s and hysterical laughter.

Clock Tower Iringa

Iringa Market

Sleeping in Iringa Town

One thing that did impress us quite a bit though was “Neema Crafts” guesthouse and restaurant, which was started by the local Anglican church. In many countries in Africa people with mental or physical disabilities are hidden away in their families or expelled from their homes. At Neema’s people with special needs find their place. They are helped to live fulfilled lives by being integrated and working at the craft shop or the café, being able to support their families and live as normal lives as everyone else. On top of that their families and the communities see that there is hope for people with special needs and there is nothing that has to be hidden away.

Neema Cafe

Neema Guest House Iringa

Neema Cafe Iringa 2

Neema Cafe Iringa 3

The produce of the craft shop was so pretty that we ended up buying some items despite the 7 months of travel that lay before us. Another nice touch was that our room was donated in celebration of a special occasion.  😀

Funded Room Neema Hotel Iringa

Before we left Iringa, we had the pleasure to stumble upon a mass being held in a large building. From afar we heard loud music and singing and thought we were missing a party somewhere. When we approached we realized that this was a religious gathering and wondered if we could enter. People at the door motioned for us to step in and offered us seats. They told us to do as we liked and to feel free to take pictures. The atmosphere was very warm and welcoming and it was fantastic watching the parish jump, dance and sing expressing their belief.

Church Singer Iringa

Church Iringa 2