Day 302, Thursday 01 November 2012 – Dar es Salaam
I had a lousy sleep last night, and struggled out of bed at the ridiculous time of 4:30 – and there was no coffee either. It was a hurried pack up and we were on the road for 5:00, starting on a twelve or thirteen hour trip to the camp ground on the beach outside Dar-es-Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. It is damp and cold this morning, I had a polyprop on to start with and as we progressed on the journey I was regretting not having socks on as well.
The road was a wee bit quieter first thing, but the trucks coming the other way barely slowed to pass us and the road was almost a single lane for a long section through constant road works – almost all the way into Dar. (this was taken later in the day !)
The Japanese were proud of this section of road, not sure why.
Will was stopped for supposedly crossing the centre lines in some no name town and after pleading with the cop was still issued a ticket. There are a lot of cops on the roads into and out of Dar and apparently this is very common.
At 8:00 we stopped for breakfast in a roadside cafe – and coffee, times two for me.
The road to Dar passes through baobab valley and I have been really looking forward to seeing these trees and getting some time to photograph them. We did stop for a wee break and I nipped out with camera and grabbed a few shots, I definitely wished I had more time there.
The valley is quite long and I enjoyed looking out the window at the trees, we passed another truck crash, this time a fuel tanker had rolled and it was mobbed by local people stealing the gas, while a couple of policemen looked on – I guess I would not be wanting to try and stop them myself.
We stopped to buy charcoal at the roadside, we are not allowed to burn wood in some places in Tanzania.
I loved the satellite dishes on the roofs of some houses, there is no power going in – I assume they have a generator. It is likely that they will charge other villagers a nominal fee to watch TV and most likely football.
There was one village where they were selling clothes and baskets – either that or they were growing a t-shirt tree.
I was not always fully concious, at least I wasnt dribbling – and a lesson learnt about leaving the camera out 🙂
We passed through Mukumi National Park and saw a number of animals on the way through, nothing worth stopping for, but it was very exciting to see wildlife so close to the road again.
As we had such a long journey i bought a roaming data plan from Vodafone NZ, it was great to be able to cruise Book Face and do emails as we travelled. Over the next few days I used this to write blog posts on my cell phone and email them to myself so I could pick them up on my laptop. Of course after I had done it a few times I realised I could have just saved them as drafts and opened them on my notebook anyway and saved the data traffic.
We arrived in the outer suburbs around 3:30, amid complete chaos on the main street. The entire street was being widened so temporary dirt lanes were in use. The lanes were probably single but there were always two lanes of vehicles and at one point where the lines blurred between temporary and new road there was six lanes of cars.
It took 3 hours to get through to the far side of the city and then we hit a road that seemed even worse. It was lined with market stalls and as it was rush hour there was people everywhere, buses were pulling in and out of the traffic, seemingly without looking.
It was chaos both on the streets and the footpaths. The air was full of noise from sound systems, car and motorcycle horns and the hubbub of human voices. The smells were overwhelming, diesel fumes, fires, food cooking and the occasional stench from the sewage filled rivers. I would like to say it was enjoyable but after 4 hours it was wearing thin, we had been on the road for 15 hours, I can only imagine how driver Will was feeling.
We arrived in the beach side camp in the dark and hurriedly put the tents up before having a meal on the beach catered by the camp ground – I assume to the relief of our cook, Ebron. The meal was pretty good and was proceeded by a rather humorous event when one of my fellow curmudgeons sat himself down in the chair and went sailing backwards as the rear legs of the chair sank into the sand. As his feet came flying up, they kicked the table and beer went sailing over the last of our curmudgeonly trio – there was a lot of merriment from us not impacted !
I didn’t stay after dinner, fifteen hours in a truck was too much and I needed to go and have some space in my tent for a while before sleeping.