Being close to a body of water is a very calming and a tranquil experience for me so much so that future me will have a big house close to some body of water. After spending 5 weeks in cloudy and wet Nairobi, it was time for me to head to the coast to enjoy some much-needed sun and vast amounts of water.
My friend and I left Nairobi on Sunday the 18th of September on the 22:00 SGR train from Nairobi to Mombasa. We got those tickets by pure luck because some people had canceled and we got their tickets. It being a Sunday the train was fully booked all day because coast dwellers were leaving the city and returning home for work and school. We arrived in Mombasa at 3:30am and we got a minibus taxi from there to Ukunda. Passing through Mombasa town ( which is actually an island) getting on a 5-minute Likoni Ferry that takes us to the other side that goes through to the South. Where Ukunda is very much closer to the Tanzanian border.
We drove through heavy rains and arrived in Ukunda at around 4:30am and there we took a bajaj (tuk-tuk) to Diani. By 5:00am I was getting into bed for some much-needed rest. I woke up around midday and had breakfast and then pretended to swim in the pool (I really need to learn how to swim). My 3 days in Diani were spent playing in the pool, reading & sleeping on the hammock and exploring Diani, and going to the beach.
On Wednesday the 21st of September 2022 in the afternoon I called Tahmeed Bus Co to book my ticket for the next morning to Dar Es Salaam. The booking process is easy and quick. While on the phone you are sent an M-PESA prompt to pay the Ksh 1800 by entering your PIN. The booking is confirmed immediately and you receive your booking confirmation and ticket number via SMS while still on the call. I really love M-PESA for the ease it provides when making payments for goods and services.
My bus was a 6:00AM one on the 22nd of September 2022, being the third and last one leaving for Dar Es Salaam that day. Being out of Mombasa town where the buses depart from, I had to wait along the road in Ukunda; an hour away from town. So if my bus left at 6:00 am I expected it to pass Ukunda just after 7:00am. So at 7:11 when the second bus arrived I got on it. I was surprised when one of the conductors told me I had gotten on the wrong bus. My bus was the third one which was still on its way. It really confused me because before leaving the house I had called the office and the agent told me that there were only 2 buses for that day and that they had left. It wasn’t a train smash though because it’s one bus company. I just had to change buses at the border.
This wasn’t my first tango with the Tahmeed Coach Ltd, I used the bus company in August when I left Dar Es Salaam to go to Nairobi. I had booked the first bus that was set to leave at 5:45am but that was not so because the bus driver was late. While we waited inside the bus, the second and third buses left us inside our bus without a driver. The driver finally arrived over an hour late clad in sunglasses; then we were on our way with him driving barefoot all the way to Nairobi.
At 8:15 we arrived at Lunga Lunga border post. There was about an hour’s waiting time in order to get through the immigration of both countries. I loved that the immigration offices of both countries are in the same building and about 2m apart. There were no immigration forms to fill out. Once I got my exit stamp from Kenya, I moved to the Tanzanian window to get my entry stamp into Tanzania. I only requested 2 weeks but the kind immigration officer gave me 1 month and told me that I could go to any immigration office in the country to extend my stay if I wished it. My encounters with immigration officers are always pleasant and they always offer advice and recommend great places for me to check out.
After getting through immigration, I moved outside to wait for the other passengers on the buses. The buses were parked next to each other. One of the money changers who is tight with the bus conductors escorted me to the bus and facilitated my change of buses by making sure that my bag was moved to the correct bus. I changed Ksh 5200 for Tsh. 93600 from the same guy who helped me find a toilet on the Tanzanian side. I paid for the toilet of course. I bought a 1.6l of still water and decided not to have breakfast with the other passengers because I prefer to eat less on long bus rides. Public transport does not make allowances for unscheduled bathroom breaks.
On a journey as long as ours, roadblocks are inevitable. 40 minutes after leaving the border we encountered one manned by a single soldier. He got on the bus and checked everyone’s passports then exited. A lady from bus number 2 had problems ( I assume that she didn’t have an entry stamp) Calls were made to the border and she was eventually allowed to proceed. Her bus had left her so she ended up getting onto bus 3. I am not sure how her dilemma was resolved.
At Tanga we had 15 minutes of rest, I grabbed my signature meal when I travel by bus; chips (fries) and a cold coca cola. I don’t drink sodas a lot; on occasions when I buy a coca cola I always look forward to the taste. Being in Kenya for a while, I had forgotten that coca cola and other sodas taste so different from the taste that I am used to. Drinking that soda was such an anticlimax. I drank it anyway. If it wasn’t going to taste great, then at least it was going to keep me from being nauseous if the food I ate turned out to be bad.
The conductors are strict with time, at exactly 11:30am we left Tanga, passing just outside of Bagamoyo. Make sure to always befriend bus conductors so that you are never left behind. At 18:00 we entered Dar Es Salaam; I had timeously communicated with the conductor at I would get off at the Shekilango office and we had understood each other on that. But he decided not to honor that bus I was dropped off at the Magomeni office; 5km away from Shekilango where my friend was waiting for me. I couldn’t even call my friend and notify him of the change of drop-off. My Tanzanian Simcard was somewhere in my bag and I was not sure if it was still active.
Luckily the guys at the Magomeni office were very helpful. I was able to call my friend and wait for a pick-up. Once safely with my friend, we went on a hunt for one of my favorite Tanzanian meals (Rice and beans with some green vegetables) Tanzanian rice is my favorite, it’s so delicious. All is well that ends well