Trip Start Nov 18, 2002
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dar es Salaam 11th June 2008

We left Moshi on the 9th June and took the 11 hour bus to Dar es Salaam. There we booked into the Safari Inn situated in the city centre. We visited the National Museum which proclaims to have the famous fossil discoveries of Zinjanthropus (nutcracker man, so called because of his large molars) in particular the apelike skull (sitting in a simple glass case) which is meant to be 1.8 million years old. There are also various displays of random subjects, the Zanzibar slave trade and the German and British colonial periods. We felt it was worth a visit if not just to watch the local school children tearing about all excited just like we used to when we were kids let out on a school trip.

On the 11th June we took the Scandinavia bus to Iringa. We set off at 10.15am and got there at 18.30. Another arse numbing day. On arrival we checked into a hotel near the bus station. Not always a good idea with the buses honking their hooters and leaving at the crack of dawn but as it happens the sound proofing wasn't too bad and with the help of our trusty ear plugs we both had a restful night. The next day we spent walking about the small town.
Iringa is the main base for safari's heading out to Ru aha National Park situated some 130kms away. Unlike Arusha we didn't get anyone asking us if we wanted to go on safari etc. But there again Ruaha is nothing like as popular as the Serengeti.
We did have a real bonus in that we were getting free wifi connection in our hotel room. The signal was coming from an internet cafe about 700meters down the road!
We tried in vain to hire a motor bike so we could explore further a field. First we made inquires at a shop selling motorbikes. The man there was very helpful. Our hopes were raised but only to come crashing down (as time went on) when he turned up at our hotel later that afternoon saying he found a man who would rent his bike to us but first it needed a service! That's all well and good but we don't know how much the bike is to rent first let alone tell the bloke to go ahead and have it serviced. We had already told our man that we wanted it as soon as possible, like now or this afternoon. It is now we have to remind ourselves that we are in Africa......nothing
( in our experience) gets done at much speed or efficiency. Well, like sometimes at home. We ended our meeting telling our man we need to know how much?
Next morning at 8.30 we get a call from our man saying he found someone else with a different motor bike. 'Meet me outside your hotel at 9am' he said. Fine at 9 we all meet up and he takes us to a place just a couple of minutes from our hotel. And guess what? the man with so called motorbike is not there! Our man calls him, yeah yeah he is on his way. Mmm Where are we again? Ahh yes Africa....... 45 minutes later and still no one. Martin and I decided this is a bum number so we tell our man we need to go back to our hotel for breakfast etc and we would check back with him at his shop later. Over breakfast we contemplated more of this typical African 'nothing happening fast' scenario we were in.
We decided in the end that if there was 2 seats for us on the bus to our next destination of Mbeya (on the way to Malawi) that would be the decider in not bothering with the motorbike rental. Off we went to the bus ticket office. Yes there was room for us. We paid for the tickets and then went and found our man. We thanked he very much for his time, shock hands and gave him some schillings for his effort. He apologised for the delays etc and wished us a happy safari (safari is Swahili for 'journey') and then we were on our way to the bus station. Now it is at this time that I have to remind all readers that today is Friday the 13th Was everything we did that day going to turn out to be a bum number? Looks like it. When we bought our tickets we were told that the bus passes through at 1-1.30. Remember this is Africa!!! So we got there at about 12.30 to make sure. 1.30 came and went.........nothing. 2pm came and then we were informed that the 'bus running late.' Right we gathered that! Then 3pm came and went........the bus finally came at 4.45! It was the bus service from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya. When we finally boarded we learnt that it had been delayed because 8 Somalian illegal immigrants had to be taken off the bus at an earlier stop. Although we had waited at the bus station in Iringa for 4 and a half hours most of the people on that bus had been on it since 6.15am when it started on its route from Dar es Salaam. What a nightmare.
We eventually arrived in Mbeya in the dark. We took a taxi to our hotel (without hassle) where we learnt that all the restaurants in the now sleepy town were shut. Great Happy Friday the 13th folks.!!! Good job we found one little shop still open. We then returned to our room, showered (good job there was hot water) then sat in bed having made a nice cup of tea and coffee (with our precious travel kettle) and munched on a big bar of Cadburys milk chocolate with biscuit pieces. Sweet dreams!
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