After 2 months in Arusha, it was time to move on to Zanzibar and leave Arusha with its 3 seasons in a day kind of weather. They call it winter here but it is nothing compared to the winters I know. A winter where I only need a single light sweater to feel warm is summer; please! Still, it was summer for me.
Arushans say it’s winter yet they use one-bed sheet at night as a blanket, sometimes when it’s extreme they use a very light duvet. It is very interesting for me as a person who comes from a very cold region. But I guess winters are different.
Anyway back to the bus and my need to get to Dar Es Salaam in order to move on to Zanzibar island. I booked a ticket at Alloyces in Maji ya Chai. I chose Dar Express as advised by a friend. I was not booking directly at the Dar Express offices because I was far from town. So I booked at an agent’s office for an extra charge of course. I asked for a luxury bus and I was told that 2 buses left one hour apart.
The agent called the Dar Express employee to confirm if it was a luxury bus and the times of departure. We settled on the 7:00am bus that was not really a 7:00am bus but an 8:00am bus. The booking was for the next day. I showed up at their offices at 7:15am but these guys were not there as promised. I went to wait at the bus stop and the guys got off a dala dala about 40 minutes later. The agents didn’t give me all the information about the buses because they were obviously chasing their commission.
One of the agents informed me that my bus was not a luxury bus after all. There were calls made to confirm and luckily I was refunded the difference. Why would a 8:00am bus be advertised as a 7:00am bus? The simple answer given is that Tanzanians are always late and so you tell them the earlier time so they can arrive on time. My name and my cell number were clearly not Tanzanian. So I am not sure why that applied to me, but I guess when in Rome…
It came as no surprise when the bus was 2 hours late. At 9:55 the bus finally arrived, my suitcase was loaded into the bus and we were on our way. We passed through Moshi picking up and dropping off some passengers. At around 12:00pm we were at the Dar Es Salaam Petrol Statio in Himo. Although it was early we had lunch while the bus was fixed. I am not sure what was wrong, but whatever was wrong was discovered at the Himo weighbridge. After lunch, we went through the Himo weighbridge again before continuing with our journey.
I like how I have been able to communicate with Tanzanians even with my very limited Kiswahili. I had a few conversations with the person that I was sitting next to. We got along very well despite the many communication breakdowns. He helped translate what the conductor was communicating. Before we passed Same, we were offered soda and cookies. The refreshments were apparently ticket-dependent because some people did not get them. I might be mistaken though; it could have been simply that the other passengers did not like what was on offer.
The drive from Arusha to Dar Es Salaam is on a beautiful scenic route. I enjoyed looking out of my window and seeing an imaginable amount of beauty pass before me. Before reaching Korogwe there is a never-ending mountain that majestically stretches to no end. Many times I wanted to get off the bus and stay there for a few days. That mountain had me imagining living a life in that area.
The only dampener to my trip was the terrible driving. The driver did not care about our lives at all. We almost smashed behind a truck; the only way to avoid the truck was to move to the oncoming traffic lane. Had there been an oncoming car, we would have been toast. I just didn’t understand the impatience. But we eventually arrived at Shekilango Bus Stand in Dar Es Salaam 12 hours later. Alive and tired.
The conductor was very helpful in getting me a bajaj that drove me from Shekilango Bus Stand to my friend’s place in Kijitonyama. The bajaj driver was trying to swindle me by charging me thrice the price. But the conductor stood up for me. I am grateful to him.