Hamjambo – loosely speaking hi everyone,
One of the downsides of living as a foreigner in a strange country is the transient nature of friendships, especially in a country where there are lots of volunteers. You meet people, form friendships and then they leave. There is a common bond between volunteers, we are here for the same reason and have the same goals and objectives from our trips, many friendships forged over a few months have the strength and intensity of long time colleagues and friends back home. Daphne Haynes is one such friend and she left me in Moshi after a wonderful Christmas whilst she completed her trip by travelling alone around the coast of Tanzania.
Apparently my writing this blog had inspired her to put pen to paper and I applaud her for her efforts and want to share her hilarious tale with you. It resonates with my own dala dala experiences even though my rides are rarely longer than thirty minutes! See My Bus Keeps Going Backwards for more bus ride tales.
Amani to Mehuza by Dala Dala
courtesy of my very good friend and fellow adventurer Daphne Haynes
I was told that the only dala dala of the day going from Amani to Muheza was 6am or ……….. it could be 6.30am. As always here in Tanzania time is of no importance, I got up at 5 to make sure I wouldn’t miss the only dala dala of the day.
Off I hiked down the track to the dala dala stop. I expected to see others waiting but I only saw a couple of men walk pass in their wellie boots, carrying machetes and going off into the jungle.
Had I missed the dala dala? I had got to the ‘stop’ at 5.45. Eventually a woman walked by and after greeting her “jambo” I then twisted my hands in the air saying dala dala ?? She didn’t understand of course. She probably thought I was some mad woman with whom she could talk about with her family and friends.
Well, there was nothing I could do except to wait. Sunrise began over the Usumbara mountains. Monkeys were swinging in the trees, frogs croaking in the jungle.
Eventually a man arrived on the back of a boda boda (motor bike) wearing suit trousers, smart shoes and a jacket. Also carrying a huge sack of jackfruits. Mmmmm this looked promising perhaps he’s wanting a dala dala?
I waited and then all of a sudden the dala dala arrived and screeched to a halt when he saw me. Phew. It was 7.15 and it was absolutely full. So after a lot of shuffling, a space was made for me and my big ruck sack and the man with his jackfruits. It’s impossible to stand upright in a dala dala and seats that are made for 3 have at least 5 sitting. You also have to sit with your knees up against your chest because the floor is covered with bags and boxes.
Off we went zig zagging, bumpty, bumpty down the mountain track. We stop, starting to let people on and off. 2 fat mamas’ got off at one point and I thought that would allow some breathing space. But then 3 men then got on.
The sliding door was hanging off its hinges and was tied shut with a rope. So this had to be untied and retied every time someone got on or off. The floor of the dala dala was so rusty that you could see the road through holes. The wooden seats we’re only covered with bits of plastic (my bum is covered with bruises).
Chat chat chat. Most people know each other. They were probably talking about me?
It amazes me that despite all the noise and shifting of passengers there are people asleep. How do they manage that? Heads sleeping against windows, against the back of chairs or on someone’s shoulder.
At one stop the dala dala stalled. We all had to get off to jump-start it and then quickly jumped back on before it stopped again.
I craned my neck to catch the views between heads. The windows are stuck and covered with dust.
The 36 miles to Muheza took 2 hours to get there and at the bus station I had to change and get a bus to Pangani. This I did with help of a young porter who had a cigarette on one one side of his mouth and a toothpick the other (which made him look like a warthog). .
I managed to get a seat by the door which had more leg space and there were only a few people. Mmmm this is good I thought. I wonder when the bus is leaving? I watched out the window at the chaos of people, bags, boxes, animals getting on buses going in different directions. Sellers with boxes on their heads filled with sodas and food were reaching up to bus window so that you could reach out and buy something.
Aaaaa! Little did I realize that neither bus nor dala dala go anywhere until they are full.
An hour later my bus started! It was chocker. I had a baby on my lap and a woman next to me with a live chicken. She stroked it all the way, while I was sure that it was going to be cooked that night!
The body smells were powerful.
The bus stopped, started, stopped, started again, every time someone was standing on the side of the track. We travelled past coconut and sisal plantations. Mud huts with families huddled outside waving. Children running along calling out ‘teacher’ ‘teacher’. I was the only ‘mzungo’ on the bus.
42 miles to Pangani took nearly 3 hours only to find when I arrived that there was no bank and I hardly had any money!
The nearest bank was 2 hours away !!!!
OMG Another world.