Mtae to Dar es Salaam - Don't miss the bus

Trip Start Dec 16, 2005
Trip End Jun 12, 2006

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Friday, March 10, 2006

It would have been a nice sunrise, but 3 buses left Mtae that day. 4:15am, 4:20am and 4:30 am. We decided to get up early for the first one!

Juma was alarm clock-less and seemed a bit concerned that we would not wake up in time. No need to worry about that the bus drivers had it covered and had a great way to make sure all their passengers were up on time. 3am they were all outside seeing who could rev their engine the loudest and just incase that wasn't enough to wake you the noxious exhaust fumes drifting through the window along with the fresh mountain air was sure to wake you from your slumber. How anyone can live in that area of town without complaining is beyond me!

The driver was also gracious enough to let all the other villages know he had arrived and if they wanted a ride he was outside. A few short blasts on the air horn at every town, village or couple of sheds at the side of the road saw to that.

Back to Lushoto for 7am and breakfast and lodging in the Christian run, no alcohol hostel Iīd eaten in with the 3 Danes a few evenings previously. After some rest and relaxation, book reading, ticket booking for Dar es Salaam, I had a nice stroll up to Irente viewpoint.

On the way up I stopped at Irente Farm for lunch. Bread, jam, cream cheese, regular cheese, salad, passion fruit juice - all freshly made on the farm. Iīve really been impressed with the food Iīve had in a couple of places in Tanzania.

Sat up on the viewpoint waiting for sunset, one local student who came up took 6 photos of me, one with each one of his giggling girlfriends. I was happy to oblige with plenty of cheeky grins and a request for a tip, that was not forthcoming. I also met a Swedish guy who had gone all the way down the west coast of Africa in his 4WD truck. Heīd passed through Congo, DRC and Angola along the way which I though was a pretty impressive set of countries to make it through alive.

I finished my book, Gorillas in the Mist, which was an interesting book about an extremely motivated person, Dian Fossey, who eventually got killed by poachers.

Next morning I got a window seat with the Shambalai bus company, but thankfully not a front seat for the long steep drive down to the plains. Smelt of burning brakes when we stopped down at the bottom so I popped my head out of the window to see smoke pouring out of the wheel arch.

The landscape started out pretty green and we eventually passed through some areas of coconut groves. It did get very barren after that though and I was amazed at how unpopulated the country was. Even the towns we passed through didnīt seem to have more than a few dozen houses. There were a few plantation of Sisal (used for rope production) along the way

The locals amaze me at how well they can sleep on these rickety old buses, nearly every one of them was asleep. About 6 hours into the journey we took a left turn and headed directly east towards Dar and the coast. At this point it started to get decidedly hot and sticky and the soil turned sandy and the coconut groves returned. On each tree I could see where steps had ingeniously been hacked out of the tree so the fruits would be easy to pick.

A few slums on the way into Dar but on the whole it looked very vibrant and more affluent than else where in Tanzania. I found a population of 3 million hard to believe, from what I could see it looked more like a big town.

Eventually the Indian Ocean came into view. The first sea Iīd seen since flying over the Med on my way to Africa. I decided on the Chefīs Pride for dinner and took what I though was a good seaside option of seafood pizza and fresh pineapple juice.

Back to the YMCA and as I sat in the bar reading 2 Massai guys came and sat next to me and were enthralled by what looked like Miss World. For what itīs worth I can definitely tell you Miss Thailand isnīt going to win this one. Pretty face, but who chose that haircut for her!

When I couldnīt take the heat and the mozzies any longer I ordered another beer and went to sit on my 4th floor balcony stripping down to my undies and starting my new book. Reason for Hope, Jane Goodallīs autobiography.
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