Monday 3 June 2013

Another fancy bus ride

TIA you say? Once again it's proven that even when you get used to do one thing a day; get ready to spend almost a full day in a bus or even worse, a minibus; get up at 6.30 to catch an early bus around 7 – 7.30; planning to wait an hour or two until the bus departs; expect to be 300 kms further around 6 or 7 hours later; you still end up discouraged when the bus finally starts its engine to go nowhere.

a bus
Let me explain. I got up at 6.30 that morning to catch an early bus that should've let me arrive in Iringa around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, with plenty of time to go find an internet access and get organized for the following days. But then, after an hour waiting in the bus, the driver finally started its engine to warm it up before leaving. They usually do that about 15 minutes before leaving (no exact science though). But it soon became apparent that the engine didn't want to cooperate, and it turned off all the time. That's the lack of maintenance. I really want to tell them, but to what avail? Anyway, after trying to get out (with a police woman on board) we stop again in a side road in town. Then another bus comes along and stops in front of us. I thought this one was there to help us. Our driver kept trying the engine again and again. A lot of people were talking and arguing outside. I kept on reading my Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf. After another long time we managed to take the bus to the police station, which astonished me a bit.

another bus
In the second bus there were two white girls who apparently understood what was going on as they seemed to speak fluently Kiswahili. A third bus came along and took all the passengers from the second bus with it. Before this happened I quickly asked the girls what was going on, and they told me the buses should have left, but as they were almost empty, they wanted to wait longer. So the police said they wouldn't leave the police station again this day. She told me another bus was going to fetch us as well. When it finally arrived after another 15 minutes or so, it turned out to be one of the medium sized minibuses. Great. I had a nice seat in a big bus that was now swapped with a squeeze-in seat in a minibus. Awesome. I really enjoyed the previous squeeze-in minibus rides and I really want to do it again and again as many times as possible before leaving this place. Sarcasm. So after having spent about 3 hours waiting for any bus to take me to Iringa, I got uncomfortably squeezed into that minibus.
When the bus or minibus starts, it usually does about 10 stops before leaving for good. It picks up another half thousand people until it gets finally so fully squeezed-in that even the operator says it's full. Hardly believable? But it happened.

a church that look like all the others in Tanzania
We then went on our way at a good speed. I thought we would finally make it to Iringa around 4 this afternoon when we arrived in Makambako. But that was without counting on the road that was currently being rebuilt and thus limited to 50 km/h. Unfortunately the driver seemed to over-respect the limitation and drive at 40 km/h even if there was no one ahead of us. But then, luckily he sped up a little after leaving the town. We managed to be there around 5.30.


I had to skip my supper because the wireless place's restaurant was closed in the evening and I had to be back in the guesthouse at 10. If I had known I would have bought one of these avocados while walking to the wireless place. Because when I walked back, the lady selling them was gone.

So I checked my mail, got the good news that I would be working at Paleo and booked my return ticket to Switzerland. Didn't have the time nor the opportunity to plan for Ruaha yet.

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