05 June 2008

Arrived in Tanzania

I arrived in Dodoma, Tanzania last night after more than the usual brutal transportation. Ordinarily the journey from Nairobi to Dodoma is a two day event: the first day is 12 to 14 hours from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, then the second day should be a comparatively easy 6 to 7 hours from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma. (If you look at a map, you'll realize that the route seems illogical, because it is not a direct line by any stretch, but the roads are so bad that it's necessary to go through Dar es Salaam.)

Unfortunately for me, out of all the potential buses, I chose the single slowest one from Dar to Dodoma. It took nine hours, without any breakdowns or traffic or anything. It was just slow and stopped for something like two hours for lunch. Apparently the driver must live in that town and decided to go home for lunch or something.

Buses are the standard mode of transport both within and between cities in East Africa. When I was in Nairobi, we'd catch the bus into downtown every few days. Bealy insisted on sitting up front whenever possible, because the back of the bus tends to take the bumps and turns a bit harder than the front of the bus. The side effect of sitting in the very front of the bus is a heart-gripping fear for your life! The driver has two spots next to him in the cab, and since the engine is under the cab, it's a flat front. The way Nairobi bus drivers drive, that means that, on average, there are only probably 12 to 18 inches between my feet and the bumper of the car in front of the bus. You think I'm exaggerating, but I assure you, it's true. I got good practice in having peace in situations outside my control, that's for certain. The speed at which we barrelled down windy hills took my breath away at times. Add in pedestrians leaping off the curbs and cars sticking their noses into heavy traffic to force traffic to make room, and you've got a crazy situation!

Anyway, the internet access here at the Kanisa ya Mennonite (Mennonite Church) is good enough that I can upload a few photos in a day or two.


Frosti said...

You should write a memoir someday.

thatoneguy said...

Wow. Riding the bus over there sounds like one of those extreme theme park rides, only 200-300 times longer. And probably with a lot less seat belt. Too bad you don't have a video camera! I hope things were equally exciting (but in a different sort of way) when you arrived.