Kenya and Tanzania part 1

I touched down at JomoKenyatta International Airport at 3:45 am where I obtained my transit visa�into Kenya. After retrieving my bags I approached the taxi and bus�kiosk where I bought a 8am bus ticket to Arusha, Tanzania. I then proceeded to the airport cafe where I would spend the next 4 hours of my life in utter boredom. I was joined by 3 Latvians who were headed to Arusha as well to embark on a 6 day hike of Kilimanjaro. It was jealous of their excitement and energy as it was apparent this was their first time in Africa. It appeared to be a dad and his two sons and the dad had his camcorder out capturing every last detail. I remember that feeling … the very first time you encounter Africa. At the time I was just overwhelmed with the thought of driving the Landy across thousands of miles of road with no spare parts, zero tools, and�very little�cash reserves.
The ride was�a needed departure�from�airline travel.�It was nice to see the countryside as we made the 6 hour drive. The�border crossing into Tanzania was quite hectic. There�were scores of�locals rushing to each of the buses pulling in�hawking little curios and jewelery. I was half expecting the spectacal, but it was interesting to watch everybody elses reaction.�My blue passport granted�me the privilage of paying 50 USD more than everybody else, which was mildly frustrating.�The mountains began to�appear as we�neared�our destination.�As we pulled into the bus station in Arusha, the all to familiar pack of aggressive hawkers descended on the bus to offer taxi rides. Not having onward transportation I had the unfortunate pleasure of dealing with the hoard and arranging a taxi to CMC automotive, where the defender was idling. The taxi I ended up in was in a terrible state of disrepair even by African standards. What little remained of the�interior�was in jeopardy of ripping apart on each and every speed bump.�To add to the spectacle, the car wouldn’t start and�an army of Africans was needed to propel the taxi forward so the driver could jump the clutch.�Getting the Landy from CMC became quite the ordeal as was to be expected since the Defender had been sitting there since 2007. I managed to work through the existing invoices for the repairs and upgrades, but the status of the ‘packaging fees’ remained. They wanted several thousand USD in fines for the years the Rover sat there and I was only prepared to give several hundred. After hours of negotiation, we settled on a number and they drove me to a guest lodge as I would need to go to the bank the following day to withdrawal the money. The next day I was picked up and driven to the bank, however, they capped the withdrawal amount significantly less than the amount I needed. I ended up having to go to a high end hotel to withdrawal the money as it was one of the only facilities in Tanzania with a credit card machine.The accountant I had been working with at CMC released the car and then helped me draft a route from Arusha to the Zambian border. I took off for Singida and was ecstatic to be in the Landy in route to Cape Town. Everything went well until the road unexpectedly ended due to road construction. I warily took the dirt path that composed the detour road and stopped a couple miles down the road at a parked police vehicle to inquire as to when I would link back up with the main road. The policeman assured me I would eventually hit the main road and be back on my way to Singida. The�detour lurched into the mountains and further away from where the the construction crews were busy paving over the dirt road that�led to Singida.�After�a couple hours I became concerned that the detour hadn’t linked back up with a main road and that I had only�seen a couple�cars and trucks the entire time.�My fears only grew as the path climbed higher and higher into the Tanzanian mountain side. Soon I found myself crawling along trying to straddle the road as it�meandered along top the ridge of the mountains with pronounced drops to each side. I was elated as the road began to descend from the ridge tops, however, that brought it’s own perils as sections of the narrow road hugging the side of the mountain had been washed out. What was worse, was sharing that precious narrow road with oncoming buses and heavy trucks. It became a test of wills and nerves to see who would give the most as we tried to ease by each other. After hours on the road I was nearing a state of panic. Driving at night in the bush is seriously frowned upon and driving through unfamiliar territory only makes matters worse. I began to speed hoping to reach Singida before dark. As I raced through the villages on what had become a sand road, the vehicle lurched towards a sharp left turn. I pounced my foot on the clutch, ripped the Rover out of gear, and went for the brakes. The back end of the Landy started to come around as she tried to grip the sand. The Defender started to list to one side as the back end kept coming around until til I was perpendicular to the road. At this point, I was almost certain the Rover was going to flip over on her side, but to my amazement she righted herself and lurched to a stop with a great deal of fanfare from the locals watching. I took a moment to regain composure and get the Rover pointed back in the right direction. I headed on now desperately wanting to be in Singida and off the road. After another 30 minutes of driving I saw a black tarmac road and raced towards it. Sure enough I had hit a main road. I pulled off to the side and asked a local which way to Singida and he pointed for me. However, to my extreme disappointment as I headed off I came upon the same detour I had taken all those hours ago.

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