Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Nearing the end...

Leaving Lushoto for Dar es Salaam, was so much easier than when we left Arusha. For one thing we were able to buy six bus tickets with ease, especially in comparison to the debacle we were faced with in Arusha. And we were only overcharged one Tsh(Tanzanian Shilling) instead of seven. This time we were on the Shambalai Class bus line. Which was much roomier, there were no chickens on the bus, but the music was still really loud and the seats were squishy. But all in all a much better time was had by all. However, we did have the obligatory bus break down/flat tire. A.W. took a fabulous pic of us in front of the bus, it looks like an album cover, we call it "The Shambalai Chicks". I am not publishing it as it is too easy to distinguish faces and I am trying to protect people's privacy. But it is a hoot for sure, we are all wearing a bandana or kerchief of some kind on our heads, more for dust control than anything.

Coming down from the Usambara Mountains was less hair raising than going up them. Perhaps I had a better seat this time, I was not at the window at any rate. The landscape slowly flattened, we encountered some rain, foretelling of the coming short rains and saw different crops such as sisal. There is a quite a variety of lush vegetation mixed in with the dry dusty and parched landscape.

Dar es Salaam was finally reached in the early afternoon and there began the next debacle in our road trip adventures. First we were surrounded by dozens of taxi drivers all wanting to take us to wherever we wanted to go. They actually picked up our baggage and tried to put it into their cars. I had to practically sit on my bags while my sister and the two A's negotiated with a couple of them. It took a long time, at least it seemed like a long time to me, sitting there in the middle of a large bus depot/parking lot while cars whizzed past and I tried to avoid getting run over and the sweat dripped down my back. Finally we hired two taxis, John and his friend Tash. I had a list of hotels and we went to all of them, none of them had what we needed. What did we need you ask? Well, we needed to be able to have 'left luggage', as we were only planning to take one bag to Zanzibar, we needed a safe deposit, and we needed either three doubles or two triples. (The hazards of traveling in group of six)

After about three hours of driving from one place to another our taxi driver, John, took us back toward the bus station to a very African neighbourhood where there was a fairly new hotel. We ended up in this hotel, in the Manseze district. It was about 12 or so km from Central Dar, but at this point we didn't care. We had been traveling since 7 a.m. and it was close to 6 in the evening at that point. We were greeted by "Mr. Suit" the manager, (I never did write down his name) who was dressed in a black suit and white shirt and spoke next to no English. I do not think he ever expected to have white tourists, wuzungu, stay at his establishment, but we ended up with the nicest rooms, large, with big beds and nice bathrooms and they were all singles! My own room!!! And I had my own bathroom and a big box mosquito net and a ceiling fan. Oh the luxury of it all. And... it was a whopping 8000 Tsh a night = $8. The Segelo Hotel, a marvelous gem hidden away in depths of Dar es Salaam.

View from the second floor balcony at the Segelo Hotel:
View from Segelo Hotel

Dinner is found at another nearby hotel, the New Moshi Hotel, where we are treated like celebrities and seated on the rooftop patio. Our new friends, John and Tash join us for dinner, after we haggled for a while about the taxi price. We have chicken and chips ( a very common meal there). The portions are huge and I am finally satisfied as I sip on a Tusker beer after the meal and watch the moonrise and Venus and Jupiter play tag in the midnight sky. Bliss...

1 comment:

JB said...

Now that I'm attempting to write up my recent trip (a very small one next to your great journey!), I now realize how difficult it is to write about one's travels. However, as always you pull it off wonderfully.

I'm so glad I have the day to catch up on my favorite blogs. :)