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Dar Arusha Video Coach Fast Express

november 21st, 1998 Comments off

MEMORABLOG: 21.11.1998

We woke up early. Yep, mosque effect… Actually, we started taking it out easy… we decided not to catch the first bus, but the one at 8:30 am. Why should we go so early, as everybody says its only 7-8 hours to Arusha… Oki, at least we can have a proper breakfast.

Of course… bus didn’t leave at 9am. It left when full, at 9:30am… We got the best seats, thats infront, either because we overpayed them, either because nobody wanted to seat infort and look at the road 🙂 More probably both. It took us long time to travel out of Dar. Not only that we were constantly picking up the passengers, we had several stops to buy food and supplies. It looked like we were going on a trip for several days. And the bus driver knew where to stop for fresh bananas, pine apples (heh, he bought LOADS of pine apples). And finally we we on the road… speeding, being the kings of the road!!!

Road out of Dar was BAD, full of potholes, but later on, on the plains it was just good. To good, as the driver though he is Ayrton Senna (but thats a common belief everywhere in third world). At first, I was quite uneasy sitting in the bus, as everybody looked at us. Not looked, stared… But when the TV programme started, two mzungus were just not interesting anymore. How to describe the TV programme? Well… it started off with some music videos (funny people dancing even more funny dances, everything filmed on an amateur camera by an amateur) and then with a couple of bloody and violent movies. Don’t recall the movies, but I remember to see a title of Missed in Action, number unknown… 🙂 But it was, good… after 30 minutes nobody cared a bit of us…

After a few hours of driving… tire bust… heh, probably we were just too fast. But it was a good chance for “discovering the bushes” and emptying our bladders. In meantime all the male passengers tried to help changing the wheel… Except us… 🙂 Funny…

When coming nearer and nearer to Moshi, sun slowly went down… Then we figuered out, that either we are terribly late or just they forgot to add a few hours on the “travel time” that they mentioned to us… Anyway, but coming late to Arusha was not the worst thing. What worried me was… well… our headlights were not working… OK, from time to time, they started working, but most of the time we were just driving in the dark… damn, now i know why they let us sit infront…

In Arusha we followed an advice of our friend from the airport, and we hopped off at Golden Rose hotel and not the bus station (just to avoid the hassle of touts). We went to nearby Mashele guesthouse, which was not a bad one… Funnily, the guys from Paradies safaris found us an hour later… they wanted the rest of the money for the safari, and we wanted to meet the lady… Well, the lady didn’t arrive, as she had some other business to do, a safari will be delayed for one day… so… we decided to… let our 100US$ go and get lost and find a new safari company… There were some disagreement by those lads at Paradies safaries, but eventually they resigned with quite a nice bonus… And only a few days later we found out, that this was not a bad idea…

So, it was time to get a new safari company. And that wasn’t difficult, as touts were like ants. The only problem was, that we wanted to go as soon as possible on a 4 or 5 day safari… even tommorow…We got someone that would take us the next day, and the price was right (it was actually lower than the one in Dar) and he got some recommendation from our language. We also agreed to pay ANY money, when the jeep comes to pick us up and when we are happy with the jeep. That was cool, but without knowing we screwed some other people, who were promised to go in “four” and then they got some extra passengers… At least beer was tasty and cheap… :)))

Well, later, much later I was browsing to get some information about our safari company – Stonechat… actually, it was on a black list and has probably disappeared and reappeared under new name… While paradies safaris is still alive… Nevertheless, we enjoyed next few days…

Coming to Africa

november 20th, 1998 Comments off

MEMORABLOG: 20.11.1998

Africa… first stop… Entebbe… where the hell did I hear that name from? Ups… some decades ago an abducted plane landed there, and some people never left Uganda… Again, since the beginning of 80th, this should be a relatively safe country. One thing struck me… the african heat when stepping out of the plane during our one hour stop. Soon, we were in the clouds again, passing Victoria lake and Kilimanjaro…

Final stop… Dar es Salaam.. To be honest, i didn’t know much about Tanzania before. Fortunately i bought myself a Lonely planet just a few days before. And let me say, its my first trip outside Europe. And let me add, we both are completely unprepared and without any previous travel experiences. But, why complicate things, lets enjoy… And we did… when getting visas we were pleasantly surprised, as the citizens of Slovenia we had to pay only 20US$, while all the dutch and those EU citizens had to pay 50US$…

So, whaaaat next… ufff… luggage delivery is chaotic. Everybody can walk in. So, if you are not fast enough, your bag can disappear… even if it is worth nothing. But we were fortunate. Everything was waiting us. So, what next. I guess we have to get a taxi or something. And at least 50 people was trying to catch our look, and they were shouting taxi, taxi, cheap, … Crazy… Frantically i open LP for the first time (yep, that was a first lesson – get basic information about your destination in time) and start searching for transport. Prices are outdated, so it doesn’t help us really much. And the guys are yelling their prices from 10-12.000 Tanzanian schillings…

Jambo, jambo, jambo… Officially, “jambo” means “hello” in Swahili. But to tourist in Tanzania, it means “look at me, I want to sell you something.”. And that doesn’t stop with taxi drivers…

And then we see something familiar. A lone traveller, from our country… We started talking, and actually we waited for his plane to depart. That guy, lets call him David (and there is no chance that i remember his name, sorry) has been in Tanzania several times, and as usual business he buys in region of Arusha souvenirs and etc. and then sells them on stalls around Slovenia. So, he has an unofficial business going, not sure whether everything was completely legal. Who cares. He gave us lots of insights. We got a first impression of the country that was very helpful (and that we couldn’t get from any guidebook), how and where to change the money and so on… Even, for the first time he bargained a taxi for us to take us to our hotel – Jambo Inn… Starting price was at the beginning 12000 TSch, and eventually dropped to 5000, which was very fair price… at least for us…

Jambo Inn was… well… khm… interesting place… one of those low-budget hotels near main Dar bus stop. It was clean, with quite short beds and keylock was in a strange state (like somebody already broke in a few days before). The only downpoint was, that its quite near the mosque and its very loud speakers…

—-

Buying a bus ticket was funny. At the end we didn’t buy it, we just decided to buy it in the morning, or the day we decide to leave Dar. But before, we got shown at least ten different busses, from Kilimanjaro express to Kilimanjaro express video coach… They were pulling us apart, to see even more busses… They let us »hear« the sound of the bus… And the ticket office was… well, just a shack, made of old bus tires…

—-

Later in the evening, after a tasty meal downstairs, somebody knocked on the door, actually a doorman.

He cried »There is a woman outside«.

And?

»She wants you.«

Damn. We haven’t even settled in and prostitutes are coming for us. I was never a magnet for women, so i’m not really accustomed to that. Where the hell are we? But OK. The last thing i want to have in Tanzania is sex, so…

»She wants to speak. She mzungu«

Ok, i dressed (and was already figuring out a blonde swedish in trouble and nowhere to sleep), and went downstairs. She looked like… well, probably a woman, with dreadlocks, at least when hearing a pitch voice I believed she was a female… Came back up to the room a minute later and said to Adi… She wants to speak with us regarding the safari. She is a white german woman, a bit on a ugly side, should we go down or hide?

We were feeling adventourus so we went down to see what she has to offer. And basically, this was the first tourist trap lesson (yep, lets do it the hard way). She explained, that she is organising a safari, that she is a guide, originally from Germany and she now lives here… We were quite happy to speak with someone in german or english, so after a few beers and a presentation of »Paradies safaries« we’ll make a deal. We’ll go with her on safari from Arusha, just we have to catch a bus next morning… We cashed out 100US$, got some kind of contract and someone brought us also a bus tickets for the morning bus… Well… only then i opened the LP. It said there… »beware of touts«, »don’t give money infront«, »check the blacklist«, … Paradies safari wasn’t on the black list, but paradise safari was… so… what the hell… oh, well… tommorow is a new day… lets enjoy our first night in Tanzania and worry tommorow…

London calling…

november 18th, 1998 Comments off

MEMORABLOG: 18.11.1998

Its was a cold November morning. My alarm started ringing at 4:30 am with the song »L’ombelico del mondo« – the belly of the world – loudly. Anyway, it was a short night, as packing was done into long night hours. So, i picked up Adi some 30 minutes later, just as he was just getting his hair cut (at 5am in the morning hehe)… actually, he didn’t even go to sleep, funny (straight from work, but hey, he was seriously tired afterwards in the day)… My dad then drove us to the airport, and i got seriously annoyed by his slow driving… But OK, better safe than sorry, as our trip was just starting 😉

So, our first stop was London, an overnight stop and British Airways arranged us a nice, but overpriced hotel (arguably, it was payed by BA, so i didn’t care – but the breakfast was really miserable – so, i really would recommend Russel Square hotel). Actually, we were quite surprised, how London is expensive… i had some 30 pounds, and Adi had some pounds less… so we had to survive 3 full days (2 going there, and 1 back) in London with that… impossible… We were actually typical tourists, just without any aid. No maps, no money, nothing. But we managed to get a right in a double decker, we saw Trafalgar Square, Buckingham palace, Big Ben and eventually we got lost in Soho… Food was miserable… all that we could afford was fast-food… When traveling from the airport Adi had a misfortune and his backpack got torn THE FIRST DAY of our trip, so… But I liked London. I liked the buzz around London, and surely i will come back some other day…

Some adrenaline rush was made by our visit to Victoria Coach Station, as we almost missed the bus… Well, not almost missed, but we were some 15 minutes early… and the bus was just leaving… damn, isn’t that a bit early? Not really, that bus is 1,5 hours late, so the next bus, due to go in 15 minutes, will be canceled… that would also mean missing the plane… but OK… it was the cheapest and apparently also the slowest transport to Gatwick…

Start of memorablog – Tanzania (and Zanzibar)

november 16th, 1998 Comments off

So, memorablog. Last time I found some notes from my first trip on African contintent – Tanzania. I decided to write a memorablog of my maiden trip and of course add some photos… So, for next few posts i will transfer back to November 1998…

How everything started… nothing too dramatic…

At the end of September 1998 i was finishing my graduation thesis. And in Ljubljana I met with my best friend Adi for a drink . While drinking beer and watching people going by, he explained his idea to go traveling to Zanzibar… Zanzibar I asked??? Thats somewhere faaaaar away? Yep, Africa he replied…

Well, i was interested to go with. But, I didn’t want to go only to the beaches, i wanted to see the world. I wanted to see wild animals… yes, lets go then backpacking to Tanzania.

A few days later we reserved ourselves flight tickets towards Dar Es Salaam. We got some medications and antimalarial drugs, and that was it… No particular planing. No experience. We just knew, that we will end our trip on Zanzibar, enjoying white sand beaches drinking cocktails and beautiful women… And in meantime we’ll see Kilimanjaro and some elephants…

Lets go 😉