Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Arusha to Dar Es Salaam

It was our time to go, Sean was flying out to Nairobi to meet his girlfriend and go safari, Seppo off to Finland for Christmas and we were scheduled (or so we thought) for arrival in Bagamayo in 36 hours. Juliet had arranged our bus tickets to Dar and when Seppo dropped us off it looked like we might take the early bus. No go, our tickets said 9 and that’s what bus we were getting. Unfortunately our seats were between windows, fortunately the bus had air conditioning and the temperature was now 31C. Unfortunately the air conditioning broke down. At one point it was, according to the on bus info display, 42C. We stopped twice in the middle of ..somewhere so folks could go pee and a couple times before Moshi to pick up passengers. At most stops including the weigh station locals held up offerings to the windows. In the 11 hours we sat on that bus we got off once for a 15 minute lunch break, fried/roast chicken and chips. Elke bought some plums and the bus lady dispensed soda pop and water. At one point the bus slowed and at the side of the road were a number of people. Down below, the earlier bus to Dar upside down with a tarp draped ominously over the front windows. Yikes! We also saw a bus face planted into a building and tanker truck laying on it's side in the ditch. We drove through heat and torrential downpours, fields of sisal, palms, bananas and African scrub, and almost everywhere there were people walking along the road. By the time we got to Dar our taxi driver William had called concerned we were in that bus that had flipped. It was now dark, the traffic made it almost impossible for the bus driver to pass anyone and we had slowed right down. With the windows open we could smell the many odours and scents wafting through from the settlements towns and bus stops we were driving through. Folks were getting off now, a feeling of anticipation in the air as Elke warned me Dar's bus station was chaotic and good place to get pickpocketed. I stood my ground when assailed by taxi offers, especially since Elke told them we already had a driver. We hauled out our stuff from under the bus, the two packs and the big basket with the incredibly fragile cargo (really? You won't believe what this pot has been through already!)

William brought the car around, while I stood guard, then drove us to our hotel. The power was out, we were unable to get any food, but beer was available. Our dinner of dutch cheese and crackers was wonderful as we watched the lightening crash around us and from the balcony stayed dry as the rain came down in buckets, drowning out the sound of the generator, next door. Have I indicated how hot it is here? We went to bed and lay as still as possible under the mosquito net. When the power came on later, turned on the fan and had a fairly good sleep.

Continental breakfast has to be an oxymoron or something, sheesh. Lucky for me there was fresh mango and papaya. It was Elke's birthday so something special need happen!. Walked along the road in a couple directions looking for beach access, finally finding it, already hot, we sat in the shade in front of a big resort /bar watching fishermen pulling in their nets and big dugouts being poled around as the tide dropped. Too early for beer we stopped at a bakery then after arranging to leave our stuff at the front desk, hailed a bajaji (3 wheeled taxi) and cruised on over to the Slipway.

All along the sides of the roads here and in Arusha there is nursery stock. Hundreds of pots of landscaping trees, fruit trees, shrubs and perennials. I am enthralled with the variety. If only I knew what half of them were! I want to buy some for the shamba!

Traffic here is crazy, but our vehicle is able to drive along the shoulder, whip into openings and avoid the standstill. Some of the roads are less than smooth, shall we say, once we get off the main tracks. Through neighbourhoods with walled compounds, the broken glass along the top only slightly less friendly than the barbed and electrified wires protecting some special people from something. We all have our ways of creating safety.

At the Slipway I see more white people in one hour than I have in the week I have been here. Off to the left looking North is the bay and many dhows, yachts and dugouts are anchored or beached on the sand. The tide is out and there are orange and blue crabs scuttling around below the walkway. I have promised Elke to take as many pictures of her as she has years today. Funny how difficult a task that can be... We meet her friend/volunteer Sally, have a drink, some lunch and tell stories. She has some suggestions for Zanzibar.

I am enthralled with the basket weaving, the beadwork and fabrics but we are both a little overwhelmed as we rush through the market hardly seeing anything. The basket weaving at one stall though has my attention. The sellers are insistent until we tell them we will be back. We need to measure the pot, although I am thinking of getting two baskets, they might nest together for later at home!

Another bajaji back to the hotel. William arrives, we load our luggage in his trunk. He will meet Caito and transfer it into his car as Caito has room for luggage not passengers. We take the dalla dalla to Bagamayo.

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