Sunday, August 21, 2011

Early Mornings

Day 1: Wake up at 3:40 AM for 4:00 AM taxi to bus stand.  My (Jeanette’s) malaria symptoms are all gone!  Arrive bus stand at 4:12 AM and get two of the three remaining seats.  The aisle completely fills up with people standing pressed like sardines.  We are lucky to have seats.  Bus leaves at 5:10 AM, drives around town picking up more people until 5:20 AM and then leaves for Mocimba da Praia.  Various stops at small villages along the way.  One hour break at Chai to change flat tire. Anne goes to watch used clothes auction and decides not to spend 20 cents on a hot pink, lacy corset-like top. Said top is bought by young man, presumably for his girlfriend. Arrive at Mocimba da Praia with numb arses at 2:30 PM.  Locals recommend staying here for the night as the next town has no lodging and all transport leaves from here anyway.
Find cheap hotel, order take out instead of sit-down because of annoying drunk guy, talk to a driver about picking us up at 3:00 AM (that’s just when they leave) to head for the border.  Go to sleep at 7:30 PM (at least I do; Anne stays up reading). 
Day 2: Get woken up at 2:00 AM by another driver that the hotel secured for us.  Get in back of truck (a regular pickup truck) at 2:10 AM.  Drive around town picking up other people until 3:30 AM.  Head for the border via Palma where we pick up more people.  Back of truck contains 20 adults, 3 children, and all luggage.  For serious.  Arrive Mozambican immigration at 7:20 AM, wait for everyone to get processed, climb back in truck, and arrive at Rovuma River and the border at 8:35 AM.  Mayhem and chaos ensue while the boats vie for passengers. We previously committed to one boat with no motor so one guy poles us across while we watch a group of hippos and the other guy bales water out of the boat.  Set watch ahead by one hour.  Arrive Tanzanian side at 10:10 AM local time.  Get in dalla-dalla (minibus/taxi) and proceed 200 meters. Dalla-dalla followed by hordes of people shouting out prices to get to Mtwara.  Dalla-dalla stops, everyone gets out, mayhem and chaos ensue while other drivers aggressively compete for everyone’s business.  Someone takes Anne’s pack and puts it in their dalla-dalla.  We take it out and put it in a different one.  Climb in same dalla-dalla after ensuring that both our packs and both of us are on the same vehicle and confirm price with conductor.  Leave at 10:20 AM.  Drive 5 kilometers to Tanzanian Immigration, wait for everyone to get processed, pay $100 US for visa but they give us one-year multiple entry, climb back in vehicle.  Leave immigration at 11:15 AM.  Arrive Mtwara at 12:30 PM.  Board another minibus for Lindi.  Leave station at 12:40 PM.  Arrive Lindi at 3:30 PM.  Find hotel, ATM, Tanzanian SIM card for cell phone, buy bus ticket for next morning, book ruins tour for next day, eat, shower, sleep at 10:00 PM.
Day 3:  Sleep in to 6:15 AM.  Dress, walk to bus depot.  Arrive depot 7:00 AM for 7:30 AM departure.  Bus arrives 8:40 AM.  Board bus.  Real bus.  Comfortable, padded seats, one person per seat, aisles empty.  Lament about bruised back and arse from previous morning’s ride while fully appreciating the padded, comfortable seats.  Arrive junction at 10:45 AM.  Walk 200 m to taxi rank.  Find taxi for Kilwa Masaro at 11:00 AM.  Wait for remaining four seats to be filled.  Leave junction at 11:25 AM.  Arrive Kilwa Masaro at 12:05 PM.  Find hotel, call guide, eat lunch.  Guide arrives 1:30 PM sportily wearing blue and white plaid pants, a green and white striped shirt, and a Hitler-style mustache.  Walk to dhow terminal and board small sailing boat with working rudder. Arrive at Kilwa Island ruins 2:00 PM. 
The island is an historic trading center for gold and slaves previously inhabited by the Portuguese and the sultan of Oman, among others.  Re-board dhow 4:20 PM and reach mainland 4:40 PM.  Walk to hotel, arrive 5:10 PM. Find dinner, sleep by 9:30 PM.

Day 4: Wake at 4:45 AM.  Walk to bus depot.  Arrive at 5:15 AM. Board and leave at 5:40 AM. Decent bus, padded seats, driver willing to stop to let people pee in the bushes. Arrive in Dar es Salaam at 12:00 PM. Board local bus 12:15 PM (standing room only) to center of town. Arrive at junction near friend’s house at 1:00 PM, call Leah, she picks us up at 1:10 PM, arrive at her house at 1:20 PM and travel finally ends!! For a few days, at least…

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