Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Dala Dala

Saturday October 6th

The weekend and more photos to print so after breakfast it’s down to the end of the road to wait for a Dala Dala.  No friendly motor cyclist this week and after twenty minutes when only two cars and a van had passed me I was beginning to get hot and fed-up.  It was then that I realised why they pack the minibuses so much, as when one finally came down the road, I would have willing climbed on the roof to get a lift. In fact when it stopped, the door slid open and I was faced with a mass of bodies, I thought the roof was the only way I would get on.  ‘Quart in a pint pot’ comes to mind as the ‘conductor’ got off the bus gestured for me to force my way on, and then boarded behind me.  He hung out of the window and I managed to just about stand with one foot under the other as it bounced away on its journey.  Thankfully at the junction where I normally turn to Boza, three people got off so the last part of the journey was in relative luxury, but, as I say,  I would have clung on behind rather than wait another twenty minutes in the dust and heat.

I had decided to buy some card for my photos, as the Weetabix box had now been sacrificed and I had no replacement as yet, so I walked through the town looking for the stationers that I had been told existed.  When I eventually found it and began the process of purchasing the card, I noticed that the shop had a computer and printer, and found out that they would print my pictures on card for Tsh1000 a sheet (that’s 40p for those who aren’t keeping up).  As I had pasted two pictures onto each page of an MS Word document this worked out at quite a good price and when the boy in the shop then produced a guillotine and proceeded to cut the prints to size with a small white border, the job was well done.  Max Spielmann, eat your heart out.

With my photos safely on board, I sauntered back through Pangani, ‘window shopping’, until I reached the market square where the Dala Dala congregate.  I had a few other things to buy so I had a wander around the market, looking at the stalls, some on tables, some on the ground.  In three or four places I found the evidence of contents of the plastic bags that drop through your letter box with monotonous regularity.  There were piles of obviously second hand clothes that were being tipped out and sorted by the stall holder into the various categories.  Cliff had told me last year that this whole process supported quite a thriving economy, as well as providing inexpensive clothing for those with little to spend, and this certainly looked the case here.  The effect was somewhat spoiled though when the next stall was full of football shirts for all the usual teams, all made in China and all definitely not genuine merchandise.

I continued this browsing, until the big bus had blown his horn sixty times, revved his engine monotonously and moved and stopped about three times as it went round the square, before boarding and returning home.

Last night I decided I deserved a treat and went to the Mkoma Bay Tented Lodge next door, for dinner.  This is quite a nice tourist site and the word ‘tented’ doesn’t do justice to the accommodation with every tent having a solid ‘superstructure’ to it and I would imagine all ‘en suite’.  The meal cost about three times what I am paying at the YMCA but, for Pumpkin and Ginger soup, Stir fried beef with rice and vegetables followed by fresh fruit salad and coffee all washed down with a couple of large glasses of Merlot, I reckoned it was good value at £13.  I ate with the owner, his wife and what looked to be their only guest and it made a change to have some new conversations as well.  I will have to save up for a repeat visit in two or three weeks.  One other pleasant feature of the evening occurred as I turned up at the Lodge gate and called for the Masai security men to open the gate for me.  The guards spend some of their spare time over at the YMCA watching the TV, usually with a soft drink, so as they opened the gate I was met with a big smile, a warm handshake and a cry of ‘Habari Rafiki” (Friend).  No-one messes with the Masai so it was good to know that they would be on my side if ever needed.

A short walk back along the beach and it was time to prepare the room for the night.  This consists of checking the net is tucked in, taking a deep breath and then spraying copious amounts of fly spray under every surface and in every corner finishing with a good blast under the net itself.  I dive outside then for a big gulp of clean air and wander off until the air is more breathable.  Tonight I went one step further.  The other morning when I rose early to take advantage of the Internet offer, I realised that this was not a good time of the night to leave the relative safety of my net and a couple of bumps on my legs reminded me all day of this.  Not to be outdone I threaded the mains cable for the laptop up the side of the mattress, careful not to pull out the net, and placed the computer at the bottom of the bed.  This not only meant I could switch the computer on at 4:00 this morning without leaving my nest, it also meant that whilst I waited for a file to upload or download I could drop back and nod off.  Clever eh!


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