BootsnAll Travel Network

Stung by bees part two.

So my spleen falls out. Actually it bounced out. When you have to take a 4-wheel drive mini-bus, you should expect that there is a possibility that your spleen will fall out. From the border of Burundi to Kigoma, Tanzania, should be called the land of the lost spleens. Oh, bad ride. Crammed mini-bus, bad bad roads, people vomiting, spleens flying, bad ride.

Once I got settled into my hotel I let out a sigh of relief. I figured it was over. I was in civilization as Tanzania is a pretty touristic country, often times a place where thats all that people go. There was an atm that when I put my card in, it took it, and it gave me money. Civilization. Not Congo, not war ravaged countries, a tourist country, much like Disneyland, but bigger. People were supposed to speak English as it was there second national language next to Kiswahili. It was easy travels here on out. I survived. I even ran into my Norwegian buddy who was staying at the same hotel. I was back with other tourists.

It was all good in theory, but I was soon to find out that I was and I wasn’t back on solid tourist ground. The people didn’t speak English. Swahili I would say was 90% and English was 10%. It was better, but it wasn’t the quick and easy that I was looking for. Kigoma (not named after my friend Patrick who was the only other Japanese kid in my neighborhood,) is a one street town, known for being a port town and end of the Tanzanian railway. Oh yea, it was possibly the place where Stanley and Livingstone met. They are the ones where that saying “Livingstone I presume,” or something like that. Again, not a big reader. Anyway, not so much there. I figured, a couple of days to do some relaxing and then hop on the train and head almost the whole way back to Dar es Salaam, on the far side of the country, but the ground zero for tourists as it is the hopping off place for Zanzibar. Well, imagine my horror as I amble up to the train ticket window, as I was just taking a stroll and noticed it, and the ticket guy says the next available seats are a week from wednesday (8 days from then.) What? No, no, no. No. No. No. No. Adjust delays between the No’s to accurately understand my distraught. Three days tops before I went mad. That was as long as I could handle Kigoma. I went back to the counter twice, once for clarification “now, I just wanted a ticket for the train as a passenger, not as the conductor.” 8 Days. Now, if I paid a little bit more than what the ticket costs “wink, wink”, 8 days. I started to go rocking, kind of like those kids that have comprehension disorders- sorry, lack of book learning. I almost got to the point where I was grabbing my head and groaning, when the guy asked if i would be okay with going to a town about half way which was Tabora. It left the next day, but at least I would be going in the right direction. I quickly bought that solitary ticket and was happy that I was getting that. This meant I wouldn’t get to go to the place where Stanley and the other guy met, and I wouldn’t get a chance to take a little Pirogue out on the lake, but oh well, I was heading for civilization.

The next morning I was at the station as requested 7am. Well, he requested 7:30am, but I figured if I was going to be heading back to civilization, I had to be not only prompt, but early. So, as I was sitting there in the train station at 10am looking at some empty railroad tracks where a train ought to be, slowly rocking, thinking that Mother Congo was still screwing with me. Five hours behind schedule, and we were off. Second class on a Tanzania train equals to nothing that they have in the Congo. There was water and lights and food that was ordered off a menu, and was brought to your berth. It was all pretty civilized. Villagers weren’t trampled, people weren’t beaten, it was still a long train ride, but it wasn’t too bad. We arrived in Tabora pretty late so there was a mad dash to the local hotels. I got to the cheapest place in my guide book and got the keys from the receptionist as some other passengers were getting there. Soon, I was being told that I actually didn’t have a room but there were other hotels not too far up the road, so sorry. Screw that. I wouldn’t give them my keys. There was a lot of “Muzungo this and Muzungo that”, Muzungo meaning foreigner, but I wasn’t going to give them my keys. I was dirty, tired, and not in civilization. Once I started covering my ears, rocking and groaning, they changed their minds and let me have the room. I like this new disorder it is very convenient. If only it worked on women.

So bright and early I headed down to the train station, as Tabora was, how can I put this, not civilization. I got to the ticket counter feeling pretty good. The lady was very nice and let me know that they were booked solid for nine days. Uhhhnnnn. I got that dizzy, ready to vomit feeling. I went over the whole not wanting to drive the train, just a seat, how about a few shillings to bump someone off the list, and there was nothing. Grabbed the ears, swaying, moaning. “Uh, perhaps you could talk to the manager?” One look at me and the manager told the lady to give me a ticket. The next night I would be off. Happily I went back to the hotel to tell the lady that I was leaving bright and early the next night.

2am, staring at empty railroad tracks where there should have been a train eight hours earlier. Even rocking and groaning would make it appear it just created a wider buffer zone around me that allowed me to stretch out while we waited. Nothing. Finally, the announcement came. No train tonight, come back tomorrow morning. I went back to the hotel where the owner mocked me because she had told me the train wasn’t coming, six hours earlier but I had blown her off as the train supervisor had told me no problems. I told her that I believed in her complicitly and to wake me when the train came.

10am and we were off. The train had electrical problems and that was the cause for delay. Another somewhat comfortable run where I figured two things out. One, those logs that are tied way up in the trees kind of eerily looking, are for bees. The locals hang those to attract bees in which they then take the honey and sell to the people on the trains and at the market. The other was “Tears of the Sun.” The movie with Bruce Willis. The two questions that me and the Norwegian guy Knut didn’t know.

Oh yea, the above mentioned bees, not the bees in regards to the title. Thats coming.

So we arrive in Dodoma, the actual capital of Tanzania. Civilization right. Nope. It is one of those places where they picked it as capital to make it a trick question on geography tests. Everybody surely thinks Dar Es Salaam is the capital, in every other sort of way it is, but officially, that would be Dodoma. Even though its like a forgotten town with dirt roads and that ghost town feel to it. I did find a nice cafe which had great food and juice, but thats besides the point. Not civilization. I gave it a couple of days and then bought a bus ticket.

One somewhat civilized thing about Dodoma was that it was the first place where the buses were the cheaper, faster, and recommended way of travel. It also had twenty companies vying for your business, so it wasn’t like the boats, or the train, or the land cruisers, or the motos, where it was them or walking. I of course, being a civilized tourist, went to the most expensive bus company which was supposed to by miles better than all the rest.

The bus ride. We leave on time, good. Break down about half way, bad. Stuck at the station. Fix bus and we leave, good. Break down before we get on the highway, bad. Roast in the sun as we wait for either the repair of the bus which is not going well, or for the next scheduled bus to pass us. Since they were pretty much pulling off anything that they could from the engine, all the passengers quickly jumped onto the next company bus. Since there were so many of us, I and a few other got to stand the last half of the way, bad. Now, I can’t say I stood the whole way, as I got a seat on a crate of empty bottles. Now that would have been a good thing had it not been for the fact that some of the bottle were taller than the other, ouch.

Finally, we pulled into Dar Es Salaam and Civilization. That is where I am now. It is freaking hot and humid. I am kind of stuck here as I am waiting for my tent to be shipped to me. As with all shipping things, it is not going well. Hopefully a few more days and I will be heading over to Zanzibar and some beach time surrounded by tourists. Otherwise, Dar is a pretty nice town with tall buildings, shops, malls, restaurants, a Shoprite, and food everywhere, good food. If it wasn’t for the heat, I could spend some time here.

So thats where I am.

Oh yea, bees. Okay, so I can relate my last couple of weeks to a marathon runner. This marathon runner runs in a famous marathon, lets say the Boston Marathon. Now, he doesn’t like win the thing, but he finishes it and he is pretty happy with himself as even finishing is quite an accomplishment. Well, he’s now hanging around at the finishing area, grabbing a Snickers and downing Gatorade, pretty much recovering from the grueling race, thinking how good it feels to be over. Then they start doing the awards and he goes up to the podium to pick up his “I completed the Boston Marathon” award certificate. On the way to the podium he keeps getting stung by bees. The end.

You don’t get it. I finished the Central Africa trip and I thought it was over, but stuff just still kept on going wrong and it was supposed to be easy but it wasn’t. Get it. Whatever.

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2 responses to “Stung by bees part two.”

  1. yazeed says:

    Be careful out there buddy. Hope all is well with you.

  2. chris says:

    cool blog mate. where did you stay in Dar?

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