The Cynical Traveller goes to… Tanzania (Part 2 – The Bus to Arusha)
It may sound strange for a person with a website called the Cynical Traveller, but I am in fact afraid of flying. It hasn’t always been so. In my younger and more carefree days, I was thrilled at the prospect of being suspended in thin air in a 400 tonne mix of metal and explosive liquids. I even went so far as to go stunt flying in a light aircraft; basically what amounted to two seats bolted onto a set of wings.
It is difficult to isolate the exact time when I became afraid of flying. It would make sense that it was during a trip over the Pacific with Malaysian Airlines where my plane plummeted about 70 metres and everyone (even the stewardesses) screamed. However, my recollection of that incident is that I was remarkably clam during it, and, as I don’t have an excessively high laundry receipt for underpants, I assume that this is not the instigating cause.
In fact, I believe I can trace it to the point in my life when I broke my ankle playing that most genteel of Anglo/Australian sports, Cricket. This was the moment when my sub-conscious decided to stuff the concept of mortality deep into my heart.
All of which is an incredibly long winded explanation of why I would choose to take a cramped, sweaty 12 hour bus trip over a relatively comfortable 45 minute flight.
So, after having arrived in Tanzania and spent a few minutes checking the sights of Dar out, we had a couple of days to waste until catching a bus to Arusha.
Arusha is basically the tourist centre of Tanzania, and as such, there were several buses going there from three or four different companies. However, in order to offset the, quite frankly, ridiculous convenience of this, the companies made sure that each of them offered only 2 choices of departure time; an obscene 4.30am and a slightly less obscene 5.30 am. Additionally, all the buses set off from the same area, so knowing which bus is yours is a difficult prospect
Obviously in the confusion, we must have inadvertently telegraphed the sheer magnificence of our gullibility because two men who were putting cases into the bottom of the bus asked to see our tickets. They then informed us that the ticket price only included the seats and not our luggage. We would have to pay a further ten dollars each to put our luggage on the bus. We decided we weren’t interested in seeing Africa “Au Natural” and opted to plump for the extra cash. The gentlemen, faces beaming, informed us that they would take good care of our luggage, and escorted us onto the bus so that we could no longer see them shaking with laughter.
Top travel tip: This is a scam!
The trip then proceeded to get worse as my travelling companion decided that the contents of his stomach and his doxycyclin tablets had had a rather serious disagreement and one of them was about to be kicked out. The sad thing is, we still hadn’t even managed to leave the bus station at this point.
So, while my friend sat in distress, and I sympathetically ate a bag of cashew nuts, we slowly set off.
And we slowly continued.
And we slowly, slowly, slowly continued.
For some reason, the Tanzanian highway department have decided that the best way to ensure safety on their highways is to put speed humps every 5km or so. So, there is very little chance of your bus breaking into more than a trot. However, fortunately the bus drivers attempt to make up as much time as possible by overtaking on blind corners.
Having said that, the slow bus speed did offer me the opportunity to poke my camera out of the window, engage the motor drive and take an extraordinary variety of blurry, poorly composed pictures.
Such as this:
This proved to be amusing right up to the point where we entered our first town and the bus actually stopped. Then, the rather angry individuals I had photographed suddenly seemed a lot more menacing and I slid back into my seat below window level and decided that the back pocket of the seat in front of me was far more fascinating than it had any right to be.
Anyway, there’s only so many hours you can take photos for, particularly once it gets dark. So it was music on and staring outside until we rolled into Arusha, where luckily our hotel had organised people to pick us up.
Bus to Arusha highlights:
1. The ability to take photos of locals with a large measure of impunity
2. The fact it wasn’t a plane
3. The rest stop which was selling chicken and chips
4. A bottle of free Krest Lemon, Tanzania’s most delicious softdrink
5. The bus arriving at Arusha
Bus to Arusha lowlights:
1. The inability to take photos of locals with a large measure of focus
2. The fact that even though it wasn’t a plane, it had a higher probability of crashing in a ball of fire.
3. The rest stop toilet
4. A packet of free biscuits that came with the Krest
5. Trying to find the people who were picking us up when the bus arrived at Arusha
This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 at 7:52 pm and is filed under Tanzania. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.