As the Crow Flies – Travelling through Tanzania

All buses depart at 6:00 am in East Africa.  I never found one that left at noon or 8 pm, always 6 am sharp.  It is the only thing that is on time, everything else is on Africa time – pole pole meaning slow slow in Swahili.

I was in Arusha, Tanzania heading to Malawi and bought a ticket to the border city of Mbeya.  I inquired which route would be taken and was assured that the bus would go straight thru Dodoma to the border.  Exhausted from a late-night of partying I grabbed a moto-bike taxi and made my way to the depot around 5:30 am. 

I boarded the typical Tanzanian bus – each has its distinctive style of deafening club and gospel music coupled with bright neon lights running overhead the central aisle.  A general assault of the senses hungover or not.  I smoothly negotiated with the driver to turn the lights off and turn the music down at least until 9 am.  He was kind and charitable and gave us peace for the first few hours. I cozy-ed into my window seat for the 15-hour journey to Mbeya via Dodoma, straight through the center of Tanzania. 

Still in Tanzania- Location unknown

I had supplied my iPad with the new Netflix series “Stanger Things,” my offline Sudoko, some fresh music, a book and a new journal (I like having options).  But without tapping into any of my amusements, I fell asleep quickly and woke up when the bus pulled to the side of the road for a mass exodus.

A side note ***Keep your day pack on you with your passport. Don’t run too far into the bush. Do your business. And never, ever be the last to board*** 

When back on the bus I checked out where we were and Wait, What??? We are past the road to Dodoma.  In rough Swahili I verified with the wide mother sharing my seat that we were still on our way to the border.  She nodded yes and handed me her baby.  As soon as I took him, she fell asleep and I kept him for the next 3 hours until I felt he was wet then passed him back.

I fell back to sleep and woke up when the sky was turning dark and I checked my map again.  What the hell are we doing heading into Dar Es Salaam? We’re at the beach!  Cut through the middle, my ass. With a 15-minute break to stretch in Dar and then back onto the bus for another 15 hours and we finally made it to the Malawi border. 

Total time – 31 hours.   Expected time – 15 hours.  Children held – 4.

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