Vladimir Lysenko. THE FIRST AFRICAN EXPEDITION (TANZANIA)
(February of 1993)
In the second half of day on February 16, 1993 the fate of the expedition hung by a thread. There were no money.
But at 15.30 the our sponsor Andrey Evstigneev ("ART-PRESS") gave out to us (me and Gena Kopeika) 1,800 dollars - and "a wheel began to rotate". The aircraft to Dar as Salam (the capital of Tanzania) took off the same day, at twenty o'clock. For three hours we made many acts in Moscow: have changed a half of the sum to Russian roubles, have purchased in the Frunzenskaya embankment the avia-tickets, have taken away things of Gena from the baggage room at Kurskiy railway station, and my things - from Zelenograd, have come running, at last, to airport Sheremetyevo-2 with the heavy load... At 19 o'clock we have appeared before the custom. It was thought: now the custom-officers will begin to find fault with my duraluminium pipes, from which the frame of catamaran consists, will blame for export the strategical material. But everything turned out all right. After the exciting holy-action (the weighing of our load) it was taken from us only 15 thousands roubles - less, than we assumed.
The successful beginning of expedition should force us to ponder over the possible problems at the end, to enhance vigilance in the alien country... But the Russian carelessness and conceit won, and for it we have cruelly paid in Africa. But about it is later.
What did we fly to Tanzania for? Two persons under the task of the publishing firm "ART-PRESS" owed to make two acts: the climber Gena Kopeika - to make ascent of the highest African peak Mt.Kilimanjaro (5,895 m), and I - to have rafted from it in a catamaran on the Karanga River. At the same time we were obliged to make the good photographs for "ART-PRESS".
After the intermediate landings in Larnaka (Ciprus) and Sana (Yemen) our aircraft has landed in Dar as Salam at 10 o'clock on February 17. In a taxi we have reached the hotel "Starlight". The cost of two-bed room (including a breakfast) is about 20 dollars.
We had a look at the town, at Agency of Aeroflot have confirmed the return flight to Moscow on February 24, have purchased the photofilms and the tickets for the bus to Moshi for 10 o'clock of the following day. In the morning on February 18 we have gone away from Dar as Salam. The suburbs were replaced by the cultivated fields, then the savanna has gone, and, at last, there appeared the mountains. At 19 o'clock we have arrived to Moshi. There we were caught by the representatives of the firm "Prince Kili Safaris" and have been conducted to the hotel "Coffee Tree". The one-bed room with breakfast cost 1,300 Tanzanian shillings (at the rate 440 shillings - 1 dollar).
Having studied in detail the map of region of the national park Kilimanjaro, we have decided, that I shall begin the rafting on the Karanga River from place Kibosho (located above, than Moshi), and Gena with the guide of the tourist firm (the presence of which in the national park is certain) therefrom about will begin the ascent. However in the morning of the following day it was found out, that cheaper (200 dollars instead of 300) there will be the climbing on the classical way with the use of the constructed there huts.
In the morning on February 19 in a jeep of the tourist firm we have gone to Kibosho, but soon were convinced, that before this place yet the Karanga River is impassable for rafting (at this time it looked as the shallow stream). As a result I had to start on the Karanga a little higher the bridge on the road Moshi-Arusha. Gena Kopeika during hour assiduously photographed my rafting, then has set off to make the ascent.
The bottom of the Karanga River has the stepped character, each "smooth" site comes to the end by a choke from stones with the very narrow passes (narrower, than the width of my catamaran). From these stones the water falls downwards, then there is the next "smooth" site. Over the such rock-chokes I had constantly to carry the catamaran.
The "smooth" sites at first were very short (less than 10 meters), then become to lengthen. By the evening I am very tired and have not begun to object, when four local fellows became to help me to carry the catamaran over stones. Unfortunately, this "help" had for me the fatal consequences: one of fellows has cut the rope, by which the rucksack with my things was fastened to the catamaran behind my back.
I have found out the loss of the rucksack only after that as four rogues have disappeared in jungle. For my rafting there watched dozens of people, but anybody "did not see" the thieves. The hate to the white-people has remained from the colonial time. The spectators were frankly glad, that the white man was robed.
In the rucksack, except things, were my passport, avia-ticket and money. Next day I together with policemen have come back to the place of incident, but the guards of low have soon left, citing employment. Having convinced, that "the people and thieves are united", I have conducted at five villages the talks about that it is possible to don't return me my money and things, but the passport and air-ticket are necessary for me very much, without them I can not leave Tanzania. The people understandingly and with sympathy noded... But only it.
I have continued the rafting. The slope of the river gradually decreased, the speed of water fell. My interest to the rafting has become to vanish. Besides the twilight began to fall. Suddenly from the bank a crocodile was thrown in the river. I have moored to the bank, have draged out the catamaran from water and have disassembled it. Passing a few kilometres, I have found a road. The passing car has taken me almost up to Moshi. For the last five kilometres I had to carry the catamaran on self – I had not the money to hire a car.
In the evening of the following day Gena has appeared at the hotel. He has successfully finished the ascent of Kilimanjaro.
I made arrangements with him: he tomorrow (on February 22) in the morning will go to Dar as Salam and will try to receive at Agency of Aeroflot the duplicate of my air-ticket, and at Russian Embassy - the document for my returning to Moscow, but I for one day shall stay in Moshi. To a certain extent it worked out as expected: someone still have planted my passport to one of police divisions.
On February 23 in Dar as Salam I have met Gena at the hotel. Under his request Moscow has confirmed the fact of my purchase of air-ticket for the return way, and the duplicate of my ticket was given for me. In the morning on February 25 we have got out of the aircraft in Sheremetyevo (Moscow).
But the stealing of my rucksack was only the first act of our "Tanzanian tragedy". When in the evening on February 22 Gena has arrived to Dar as Salam and approached to hotel, four Negros suddenly attacked him. They have taken away the Japanese photocamera of the cost of 500 dollars, watch and 200 dollars. Defending himself, Gena has been wounded by a knife in the hand, this hand has been cut very much. In holster of the photocamera he kept all six photofilms, shot in Tanzania for "ART-PRESS". It was the heaviest for us loss. You see, for these frames we have received the money for the expedition.
In spite of the fact that on the sporting plane we have carried out the task for 100 percent, the mood was spoiled. We could not grow fond of Tanzania. It is involuntarily recollected the verse by Russian children’s writer Mikhalkov: "Don't take a walk, children, to Africa..."