God Bless Soccer City

God Bless Soccer City

About 8km from the town of Kisarawe in rural Tanzania is a place called Soccer City. It is a motel with 4 sets of buildings with 4 rooms with ensuite bathrooms in each. It is also a pub with a small television set high above the chairs and tables on the balcony overlooking some lovely trees. There’s a well worn billiard table too. Thatched huts are scattered around where you can sit sipping milky tea at the end of a hard day. The motel is set at the top end of a valley. Above it is the local cement factory owned by the Indians. Apparently Soccer City is also owned by Indians.

The driveway to Soccer City from the dusty main road is steep and very bumpy. I imagine it’s tricky to traverse in the wet season. It is now the dry season and so there are no problems except for dealing with puffs of powdery dust.

I’d been intrigued by Soccer City ever since I’d been told by GHAWA that we’d be staying there while located on our rural placement. I can’t quite pinpoint the image I had in my head but it certainly did not match the reality! A silver building, multi-story perhaps, glistening high above the local homes and buildings? Not so…

Last week when we were here, so was the World Cup. The whole of Kisarawe I imagine, came to drink and enjoy the soccer. Each night we’d be woken by screams of delight. Drunken shouts echoed down the valley. Our rooms were close to the pub. The first time I heard it I was startled because I thought perhaps there was a riot! It took a few minutes as I woke properly to work out what was happening. This happened every night.

This week we were hoping that because the soccer was finished it would be quieter. Wishful thinking… Again each night the party cranks up. We have chosen rooms furthest from the pub this time and that has made a difference.

The other day I noticed that there was a lot more white paint than I remembered last week. Concrete walls now a crisp white colour. Then I saw the World Cup soccer fountain also painted white. I felt a little sad because it was a tarnished golden colour before. When I saw the fountain for the first time, the penny dropped. I now knew why it was called Soccer City! Anyway, yesterday we suddenly noticed two men spray painting the precious fountain – golden!! I have a photo but unfortunately there is not enough internet to load the picture but I promise I will when I get back to Perth. It’s worth a picture.

This morning when we arrived for breakfast (every morning we are served a boiled egg, 2 slices bread with butter and a cup of milky tea) nothing was ready on the tables. The place was a mess with dishes piled high. We’d heard quite a shindig last night including dogs fighting. All the pub staff looked a little worse for wear! Eventually at 7.45 we got some hot water to make a cup of tea (something we hang out for each morning). As the waitress returned to the kitchen she switched the thumping music on again. All three of us just about leapt out of our chairs shouting “no!!” And making the no signal with our hands. She quickly got the message and the thumping stopped. The birds began to sing again and it was music to our ears.

My room is quite spacious and I have a little routine now. Leave shoes at door so as not to bring dust and mud in. Spray with insect repellent before heading up for dinner. Have fan running until just before bed then switch off – there is only one speed although the dial says otherwise. Shower before bed. Don’t stand over the squat toilet because you’ll lose your soap (been there, done that!). Remember the shower is cold so ease in slowly.

Last week we ate dinner every night at the pub. It really was quite awful. Sadly the chicken was as tough as nails and a few times we just about broke teeth on grit in the greens. This week we are feeling rather smug because we have brought some supplements. Our routine is to order rice from the pub. Then we add a precooked/prepared meal. Monday was leftover Thai chicken curry and rice, last night was Alloo paneer from a packet and rice and tonight we had, you guessed it, rice with tinned tuna. It was delicious. The staff are intrigued by these three mzungu who are eating strange things. The kitchen staff have been very helpful in boiling water for us and heating up the meals.

When it’s time for sleep, I set out my mosquito net and snuggle down to sleep. The foam mattress sinks in after a while and so I find I have to dig myself out of the trench to get comfy again. Each morning I wake to the sounds of the many birds and sweeping. The sweeping starts at about 6am and hasn’t stopped by the time we leave which is about 8.15am. It reminds me of staying at my grandparents house in Scottburgh, South Africa…the sounds of sweeping the leaves every morning. p>

Despite all the noise and other discomforts, I’ll be sad to say goodbye to Soccer City. It has been a safe place to retreat to and we have felt well looked after. Every day we have gone for a brisk walk along the main road. It is busy at times and so we have to step off the side to let a heavy laden truck or bus pass. Of course we are intriguing to the locals. 3 white women walking along the road so we get lots of hoots and waves. We’ve got to know some of the women who sell oranges, coal, passion fruit on the side of the road. Today a couple of them greeted Mary and Beth by name! We’re feeling rather like locals here now!

We’ve seen some vervet monkeys, a bright green snake today, some interesting birds and of course some gorgeous children. It has been good to go for a walk and breathe in the fresh air (choose the timing carefully so as not to inhale a lungful of dust).

Soccer city , you have been good to us. Thank you God for a clean safe place to stay.

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