We’ve arrived in Dar Es Salaam. Dirty, hairy (my face), and with a little girl on our lap (Randi’s lap). Now that I’ve had a shower, a decent night of sleep, and gotten a shave at the local barbor, I guess it wasn’t that bad (and actually, the longest ride goes to the thirty-hour Kenya-Ethiopia trip, and worst was probably the four-hours-on-a-bumpy-ass-dirt-road-stop-in-every-village Malindi-Lamu ride Sara and I took in 2007). Our bus from Moshi (the main backpackers’ town near Mt. Kilimanjaro) to Dar Es Salaam took longer than we expected, and by the time we arrived lastnight it was late and we were tired, hungry, and dehydrated. We must have been not too bad off (or just in survival mode) because I still managed to navigate us to the YWCA hostel where Anique and I stayed last year. For future reference, out-of-town buses will drop you off at the bus station. As soon as you get out a million taxi dudes will be harassing you. Tell them this: “Wee, bwana, dalla dallas zipo mingi! Siwezi chukua taxi!” (Dude, there are so many dalla dallas. I can’t take a taxi!). Just grab your bags and follow the locals outside the bus station and pay your two or three hundred shillings to get to the city center.
We’ve only been on the road for five days but we’ve been pretty busy. We spent Christmas day on the bus to Arusha and the evening eating delicious barbecued chicken at Khan’s BBQ). We immediately took off for Moshi the next day, just in time for Boxing Day, a day which absolutely nothing happens if you’re a tourist in a foreign city. Luckily there are lots of local people who apparently don’t celebrate it, so we had a nice Indian dinner that night. The next morning we went immediately to Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. It was raining and pretty miserable but the mountain was totally awesome. Lots of dudes were embarking on a several-day hiking expeditions to reach the peak. The National Park gate is just fine for me, thank you very much (and free, minus the bus to Marangu, then a taxi to the gate).
That brings us to Dar, where we are sweating like crazy and have nowhere to wash our clothes. Coastal towns on the Equator are so humid, I don’t know why people love to come to these places. Aren’t there other places which are just as beautiful but less humid? Speaking of beautiful, Zanzibar is. We’re not going there because it seems like a waste of money. It’s quite a lot of money to ride the boat there and back, plus the island is very touristy and that also seems like a waste of money. I think Randi and I will just hang out in Dar Es Salaam for a few days eating chips mayai (fried potatos and eggs) and shopping for some clothes and souveniers before heading back to Kenya via Mombasa.
I haven’t been on hiatus, I’ve been on holiday! Actually I’ve been working a lot, but I did make it across the border this past weekend for a little rest and relaxation. One thing I realized during my 24-hour stay in Tanzania was that my Swahili is permanently Kenyanized. I’ve already accepted that I’m nowhere near fluent by Kenyan standards, but I’m a disaster by Tanzanian standards. You see, after their independence Tanzania embraced Swahili as the national language in order to unite their country as a common people, no longer colonized and no longer a collection of tribes. They were Tanzanians now! Kenya chose both Swahili and English, and while people here speak Swa, it’s kinda a watered-down, Englishized version (“sheng”). Kenyans even make fun of Tanzanian Swahili; it’s a chore, it’s boring, and it even sounds funny. And I know it’s terrible, but I do too…
To back up kidogo (a bit), I went to Tanzania to get a new visa; both Kenyan and Tanzanian. My one year, multiple entry Tanzanian visa expired earlier this year, and my Kenyan one is due for mid December. Sure you can go to the embassy in Nairobi but that’s no fun! Border runs are fun! Besides, Arusha is only five hours away, so it’s like living in San Diego and going to Mexico to eat tacos for dinner. Besides, I’m a local in Arusha by now. I’ve beenthere two times before so I’ve got the hang of which hotel to stay in, where to eat, and how to get around. I’ve always liked Arusha because it’s a mid-sized town with lots of local life buzzing around at night; finger food is plenty and cheap, and I’ve never felt unsafe there. Continue reading Hakuna Hiatus→
4224I think Matuu means “footsteps” in Kikamba. I made some footsteps there the other day. Matuu is about two or three hours from Tala depending on the car and the route. I passed straight from Tala through Kilamabogo instead of passing all the way through Nairobi and Thika. There are a few big dams in that area but the water was really low, and you’re not even allowed to swim or take pictures. We ended up going to the staff club at Kamburu Dam for some swimming (in a pool).
The chronology was something like this: arrive in Matuu, play with puppies, cook dinner, talk about Swahili, talk about politics, sleep, go to the dams, go swimming, eat grilled meat, sleep, come back to Tala.
I went to Thompson Falls in Nyahururu the other day with a friend from Tala. It’s about three hours drive from Nairobi, which itself is an hour and a half from Tala. We left a bit early in the morning and were there around lunch time. Other than some dudes dressed up for the tourists and some sweet monkeys, we had the whole place to ourselves, so we sat and chatted about nature, religion, and Kenyan politics for a few hours. By the time we got back to Tala it was late and we were tiiiiired! Enjoy the pictures…