Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Not with a bang but a whimper

Monday December 10th

Well, the adventure is over and this is the final entry in this particular blog.  I’d like to thank Google for making this all possible.  I’d like to thank the MS Word Dictionary for drawing red squiggly lines under all my Swahili words and their Thesaurus for providing alternatives to my otherwise endless repetition.  I’d like to thank my family for allowing me to take this adventure, especially the ever patient Chez.  I’d like to thank my readers for the emails of encouragement I have received and finally I’d like to thank THE HILL which added so much to the feeling that this was an adventure and not just a prolonged holiday. (Pause for Gwyneth Paltrow like tears)

Friday was spent packing and organising what I would take and what would be useful to leave.  The flask, food containers, first aid kit and the little gismo I have that is a cross between an Swiss Army Knife and a pair of pliers, were all presented to the various workers here and certainly I had less problems closing my suitcase than when I set off.  I did manage to fit in a swim as Deo, Suzi and Chita joined me for my last dip in the Indian Ocean, for this year at least.

The day was marred as the previous night Mama Gladness found out that her Mother’s sister had died and she would not be around to see me off as she had to travel to Moshi for the funeral.  The rest of the gang though had arranged to have a meal together with me, which was a treat as the vast majority of my meals had taken place in solitary splendour. As we had a drink and waited for the meal I looked out through the darkness and saw somebody coming up the path from the beach. I was amazed to see that, for the first time whilst I had been here, John had forsaken his Masai outfit and his knife and was dressed in slacks and shirt, and very smart he looked as well.  As I was returning home he told me that after Christmas he would be visiting his family in the Masai heartlands near Arusha, to see his wife, ten year old daughter and two year old son for the first time in nearly a year.

We had a lovely meal of skewered beef and rice and there were more presentations of items made with the local material, but without the presence of Mama it was a little downbeat.

The following morning as well as my VIP Class seat I decided to really treat myself and booked a taxi for my final journey to Tanga, which removed the difficulty of getting two cases down to Pangani to ensure a seat on the bus.  Having ensured that both dogs were tied up, as I didn’t fancy having to return all the way back with Chita, I waved my goodbyes and set off on my most comfortable journey yet to the regional capital.

Even now, Tanzania was to provide me with memories as I arrived at the Bus Stand at Tanga, ready with my luggage, to find that there was a hold up at the Kenyan/Tanzanian border and there would be a delay of about ninety minutes.  The Kindle came out again as I sat on some chairs provided for the customers, and I continued my reading even when it looked as if the Arsenal team coach had pulled into the square. 

Eventually my bus arrived and, with my suitcases stowed below, I climbed the steps, to find my seat occupied by an old lady of Indian ethnicity.  I was asked to sit in another seat whilst the local agent and his two helpers argued at length with the lady, whose ticket said seat 18 further down the bus, even phoning Mombassa to confirm that she hadn’t paid extra to move up the bus, as she claimed.  All this was taking place as the bus pulled away from the square and drove through the streets of the town before pulling up outside a restaurant that obviously doubled as a restroom.  Here the lady got off and I was told that she said she was going back to Mombasa, but I did see her later in the journey sitting further down the bus. T.I.A.

The journey was uneventful and even a very comfortable seat could not reduce the travelling time of six hours so by the time I had met Karim and been transported once more to Mikocheni B, there was not much time left before nightfall.  I settled in my room and decided I might go down to the bar and watch the final of the East African football cup, but when I got down there I found that the locals had decided that Sunderland v Chelsea was much more important, so I had to wait for a triumphant text from Denis to find that Uganda were, for the second year running, East African champions.

Sunday was very much a damp squib and lead to the title of this post.  I had to leave the hotel by ten so Karim picked me up, put my luggage in his boot for the day and dropped me off at Slipway, a tourist shopping area, about thirty minutes later, with the agreement that he would pick me up at eight that evening to take me to the airport.  Eight and a half hours is a long time to spend shopping for presents and the high-spot was a thirty minute tour of the back streets of Dar es Salaam in a Bajaj trying to find an Internet Café that was open on a Sunday.  We eventually found one and looking round the district I promised the Bajaj driver a good bonus if he returned for me after ninety minutes; which thankfully he did.

Karim was as reliable as ever and dropped me at the airport with three hours to go through the interminable queuing, form-filling and two sets of luggage scanners and belt removals that are needed to even leave the country.

Long plane journeys are a bore to endure and worse to report so suffice to say I arrived back at a very cold Leeds/Bradford to be met by Paul, who thoughtfully had brought my coat and scarf to the airport, only to leave it in the car as he met me inside the terminal.  Good to be home and know that nothing has changed.

There isn’t really an epilogue because you should know well by now how I feel about my adventure and my feelings about Tanzania.  Nimependa Tanzania, nimependa Pangani, nimependa Chapattis na nimependa sana watoto wangu.

If you are interested there is a list, from memory, of the Swahili I learned whilst out here, although I keep thinking of words that I can add.  You’ll find it here


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