Making a good history.......

8th Aug 2013


It was our first day in Tanzania and we were out and about in Dar Es Salaam buying essential supplies before heading north to Kilimanjaro.  A few of the team had called into a pharmacy and so I waited on a bench outside soaking up both the atmosphere and the warmth of the African sun.  Opposite me there was a slightly built man probably aged in his early thirties.  He'd set himself up as a cobbler and shoe shiner.  He had a tatty old car seat as his centre of operations and spread out on the pavement and on a few makeshift shelves he had the tools of his trade.  It was a paltry selection of jars, brushes and rags and his whole set up was covered by a homemade parasol style umbrella sewn together from flour sacks.  I began idly calculating how the whole cost of his equipment would have undoubtedly cost far less than the shoes I was wearing before he quickly brought me back to reality by speaking to me in really good English.
We were soon chatting and finding out more about each others lives.  His name was Jermaine and it turned out he was a university graduate who had, since finishing his degree in languages, struggled to make the break into tourism that he so desired.  I could only marvel at his optimism and enthusiasm for the life he was living given that he had, as yet at least, failed to forge the path he longed for.  It was another important example of the constant life lessons travel can teach us.
I told him a little about my own life, my job as a guide, my business and my life and family in the UK.  He listened with delight despite the obvious discrepancies in where our lives had so far led us.  It was a brilliant experience talking in the warmth of the afternoon. I could have chatted all day.  Sadly, the conversation was cut short by my team members coming out of the shop to meet me.  I stood and said my goodbyes.  Jermaine climbed out of his seat, shook me warmly by the hand and smiled broadly.  "Have a brilliant trip", he said.  "You are making a good history of your life".