Sunday, May 3, 2009

Trip South Part 1

Hello everyone. It’s been a while since I wrote a real blog post. Now I have some things that are definitely blog worthy. I’m going to get pretty detailed with this description of our trip south to Mozambique from Tanzania because when we were looking for information on it the best stuff we found were in people’s blogs. Good but insufficient. I’m going to donate my experience to society:)
We left Heri hospital on Friday April 3rd. We got a flight from Kigoma to Dar es Salaam where we would get our bus tickets for Malawi. The flight left on time and everything seemed to be going just fine until the pilot said that we’d have to go and land at a different airport part way across the country because the wheels wouldn’t come up. I guess the mud on the runway in Kigoma got up in the wheel retracting apparatus and was keeping them from rising. We landed in Tabora and stayed there for about a half hour while a fire truck sprayed off the wheels. Then we took off again headed for Dar. The pilot informed us that the wheels had retracted properly. I was just hoping that they’d go back down again when we needed to land:)
Once we landed (the wheels did go back down) we got a taxi driver to take us to the Scandinavian bus station in the hopes of buying a ticket straight from Dar es Salaam to Lilongwe, Malawi. They informed us that they don’t have services to Malawi but that Falcon did. We asked our friendly taxi driver if he knew where the Falcon ticket sales office was and he said he did. We wandered around Dar while he kept asking for directions to find Falcon. He finally found a guy who said he worked for the bus ‘companies’ and that Falcon didn’t have service to Malawi but another bus company, Taqwa, did have a bus going to Lilongwe. We got ‘directions’ to the Taqwa ticket office and when we reached the street we saw the Falcon office instead. We went in there and they agreed with what we had heard that they didn’t service Malawi. As we went back to the car we spotted the Taqwa office down the street a bit. The small room was full to the ceiling with cases of powdered milk. Using our taxi driver as a portable translator we found out that they did have a bus leaving for Lilongwe the next morning. Neil asked them some questions about the bus. Like does anyone sit in the aisle: “oh, no. everyone has their own seat”. We asked how long it took and the gentleman said that it would leave Saturday morning and get there Sunday evening, spending the night at the border. There were some pictures on the wall of their buses and they didn’t look too bad so be bought tickets to leave at 6 the next morning. We paid 55,000 shillings which is about fifty bucks US.
We spent the night at the YWCA after talking to the taxi driver about picking us up at 4:45 the next morning. It was a wonderful night’s rest with the power going out (so the fan stopped) and a few friendly mosquitoes smuggling their way into our nets:) Our taxi driver dropped us off at the main bus station around 5:15 and we got on our chariot of fire bound for Malawi. The bus was probably half full when we showed up and we were surprised to see two other foreigners already there. Apparently when you buy a ticket on the bus you’re just buying a seat. The bus had lots of storage room underneath already packed full of stuff people were exporting from Tanzania. I ended up with one backpack between my feet and Neil likewise and our joint bag we tossed in the back on a pile of other people’s belongings. The bus left only a half hour late and before it departed low and behold another random white guy got on. I don’t know if you can understand me or not but after being way out in the middle of nowhere for months and getting yelled at(in a friendly way) all the time for being white it was almost shocking to see other white people again:) To be continued...

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