Tanzania part 2

I woke up in my guest bed somewhere North of Singida. I was covered in mosquito bites. I mentally added malaria to the ever growing list of concerns I was traveling with including: running out of cash, the Land Rover breaking down, and dehydration.  

After my experience from the prior day, I decided to head back to Arusha and regroup. I pulled back into CMC Automotive and strolled back into the office to the complete surprise of the accountant whom I’m sure never expected to hear from me again. We spent a half hour going over the new route now taking me along the western seaboard towards Dar es Salaam. I pulled into my first stop on my new itenerary that night at Morogoro just west of Dar es Salaam. I stayed at a completely out of place posh hotel rising from the shops and small dwellings that comprise Morogoro. It couldn’t have been more than a couple years old. The attendant who helped me take my bags up the 3 flights of stairs was as mystified as I was about the place and purpose of the hotel. I began to get the feeling it was a ‘Field of Dreams’ build it and they will come type thing … but no one was coming.

The following day I made what started out as a fairly short trek to Dar es Salaam. I arrived at the outter limits of Dar after 3 hours of driving. It would be another 2-3 hours of stop and go traffic before I penetrated into the city center. I quickly learned to despise Dar. The traffic was the worst I’ve seen anywhere in the world and the people were markedly less friendly. I turned around and headed for a 13ish story hotel I had seen pulling into the city. It was expensive but incredibly well appointed. I had internet for the first time since Arusha and I proper shower.

I left Dar pretty early trying to beat the ruthless traffic and headed off for Iringa. I had googled accommodation in Irgina with my new found access to internet at the hotel and had found a campsite just outside of town that had good reviews. I was a little concerned by the word ‘campsite’, but I’m always up for putting a little distance between me and the towns. I saw the sign and drove down a dirt road towards the river. I was slightly surprised to see very well laid out campsite with a main lodge and several cabins. I choose a covered tent because I was low on T-Shillings and proceeded to park the Landy and head up towards the lodge. There I met 2 Aon Insurance employees and their guide. There were participating in a competition as apart of their sponsorship with Manchester United to carry soccer balls from Cape Town to Cairo. There was one other team doing the same route and four others trekking across South America towards Alaska and Asia. The balls were going to be auctioned off at Loyd’s of London later this year. We talked travel routes and jobs for a couple hours I headed off to journal for a bit. While journaling, I saw the most unexpected slight .. rain. Every one of my trips up to this point had been during the African dry season. I had subconsciously come to the conclusion that it didn’t rain in Africa, however, it was pouring. Before dinner I walked to the library/tv cabin and met a family of 7th Day Adventist who had just moved to Tanzania from Missouri. I felt bad for their young son as he was clearly bored to death and each time to climbed up on one of them they told him to quit making such a fuss. The mother was a little domineering and I have to wonder if Africa wasn’t her idea and everybody else got dragged along for the ride. Dinner was well beyond my expectations. The owner of the campsite had her staff prepare a huge spread of pasta, meat cuts, and little samosas. It was one of the first proper meals I had since leaving the States.

The drive that morning to Mbeya was short and sweet except for my departure from the campsite. For those of you unfamiliar with diesels, the engine needs a couple minutes to warm up before obliging the user with access to the full power band. Well that morning I woke up and packed the Defender and headed off towards the main road at the top of the hill. Well the Defender did not want to cooperate. As I plotted along the dirt path in 2nd gear, I came upon a particularly steep bit and the Defender decided to stall (due to the rain and cool engine of course .. nothing to do with my driving skills!). Well undeterred I backed her back down the hill in neutral, cranked her back up, and started back to the hill top. Again she stalled. Well I decided 3 attempts was going to be plenty and I got as much speed as I could in the short space and left her in 1st to the top of the hill. I picked up my second set of hitch hikers along the way to Mbeya. A police crew waved me down and asked if I would give two of them a lift to Mbeya. Figuring this would give me immunity from pestering roadblocks, I agreed. Unfortunately, neither of them spoke anything approaching conversational English leaving me to listen to hours of Swahili conversations happening in the backseat. Once in Mbeya I headed to the pharmacy convinced that I had malaria from my unsuccessful trek to Singida where I was eaten alive at the guest house. They only had pills for treatment and I was reluctant to take those without knowing my official status. I headed off to the Stockholm Hotel that I had heard about from the Aon Insurance people in Iringa. It was a nice enough place except the electricity and water were out making my stay a little rougher than I was expecting, but these are the inconveniences one expects in Africa.

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