Our “luxury” bus left Arusha only 20 minutes behind schedule, but took two hours longer than expected due to various stops to let random strangers on and off, and at one point to barter for bananas. The luxury service included a free bottled pop, so around 10 am on Sunday, we were cruising through the Tanzanian countryside drinking coke and watching made-in-Africa Christian music videos. Very different than our typical Sunday morning.
It was a long bus ride, and we were glad when our bus finally pulled into the bus station just before dark. Our arrival in Dar es Salaam was the most exhausting experience we’ve ever been through (after 10 hours on a bus, many things are more exhausting than they should be). After getting off the bus, we shouldered our way through the taxi drivers and random people who crowd buses, out to the front of the main terminal, where we wanted to buy onward bus tickets back to Kenya, to save ourselves the trip out to the bus station later. Outside the terminal was worse than inside, we were almost pushed along by touts yelling at us as we tried to read the ticket boards looking for a company with our destination. It must have been a funny picture to people watching – two dusty white people being pushed along by a huge crowd of Africans yelling “Jambo” and “Where are going sister?” with me yelling back “I don’t want to go anywhere”. Jon had to drag me though the mess until we ended up in the office of the bus company we wanted (mostly because I’d lost my temper at the people grabbing onto my arms and was simply refusing to go anywhere). With the crowd outside calmed down now that we’d committed to a company, we were able to purchase our tickets. There was a slight disagreement when they demanded 30 000 TS for tickets which they had clearly marked as 25 00o TS each, but we refused to pay the mark up and after a few minutes of arguing we handed over our 50 000 TS and got our tickets.
To add to our frustration for the day, our taxi driver dropped us off at the wrong hotel (OK, because it was very close to the one we wanted) and over charged us for the ride. We were a very grumpy and exhausted pair when we were finally able to drop our packs and relax. Luckily, the butter chicken at the near by Indian restaurant improved our spirits greatly and we were able to shake off our day. Could have been worse!
This morning was a completely different scene. We walked to the ferry docks, purchased tickets with NO ONE grabbing, or offering to help us (for a fee of course), and walked back to our hotel. Easy! Our ferry to Zanzibar was on time, and fast. We were only followed by three people to our hotel (who, funny enough, kept telling each other to “get lost, they don’t want your help”, after we’d made it clear we weren’t dealing with any of them) and got a fairly nice room for a standard price. We now just wandering around Stone Town, looking at beautiful buildings and the Indian Ocean. We’re planning on heading to the beach tomorrow or the next day, we need some rest and relaxation (it is a vacation after all). Zanzibar seems nice enough, a little on the pricey side but if the weather holds it should be a wonderful break! We’ll let you know…