Africa Plus travel blog

Tim at Tilapia Hotel...Note Characteristic Grin

Infamous Bus, It Was a Monster!

Ferry Across Mwanza Gulf

Ferry Unloading

Tim On Ferry Reading

Mari Creeping Up on Lizard...Rocks Throughout Mwanza, City Built on Them

View Across Bay at Mwanza From Tilapia Hotel


We had arranged a taxi to pick us up 10 to 5 since fellow who sold us tickets said we should be a station by 5. We got up and waited outside til 5 and no taxi! We really didn't know where the bus station was since we'd come in late in the day and didn't pay any attention where driver took us that day. We began walking in the direction we thought most likely, it was dark, but almost a full moon and easy walking on the potholed road w/o flashlites. We had called the fellow who had taxied us around the first day but rejected his offer to do it for $10 US, out guy at the hotel had said $5 would be a good price. I found a young fellow at the taxi stand near the train and bargained him from 7 to $6, so while we walked we could not help thinking "penny wise, pound foolish"! However, as luck would have it even $6 is enuf to get a young buck up and moving at an early hour...he pulled up about 5 minutes up the road saying(somewhat apologetically)"but it's only 2 minutes passed time!" Apparently he got the impression we'd arranged 5 am. Ha! Short story: once we got loaded on the bus it didn't actually pull out 'til 6! It's Africa!!! Damn western habits die hard, but if we had missed it, well...we didn't!

The road remained decent, tho rutted and unpaved, until 8 am when we reached Kisulu(border crossing). Being unpaved, it was rough...not a minute went by w/o rocking side to side or bumping up and down. The driver did not slow down like the minibuses did, this was a big bus, 2 seats one side 3 on the other, 75 plus total in seating. It didn't help that we'd gotten seats 2 rows from the back either. These are narrow seats with virtually no room to move, you are shoulder to shoulder, Bon on aisle, me in middle, Mari the window. By 11 am we arrived in Kibondo, thinking it was a lunch stop...Mari & Bon got off to get something and pee, I stayed on because prior at other stops when people got off others took their seats! Not a lunch stop, 10 minutes and honk honk we're loaded and going...just enuf time to fill the aisles with standing passengers as well! Now we are travelling not in flat plains but rolling hills which adds to the excitement. Remember, the driver is going full tilt most of the time regardless of ruts, hills, bumps, holes...I prayed for the clouds to continue hiding the sun since we were on the morning sun side. My prayers remained answered most of our trip. YES!!!! We began travelling thru less "wild" country (scrub trees and brush), in more populated subsistance agricultural with plots of corn, sugar cane, cabbage, beans, potatoes, etc. Along the way we passed 4 refugee camps, the road passes very near the border with Burundi. We couldn't see them from the road but one we saw earlier had 10' high, sheet metal walls surrounding the entire area. By mid afternoon we began a stretch of maybe 20 km. of smooth and we thought the worst was over...not so cause after this we hit washboard W/ potholes AND huge speed bumps entering, going thru, and leaving every village. Bon & Mari joked about losing weight! Luckily Bon gave me a pill for my pinched nerve in my neck because my head and neck were pounding by this time.

We got to Sengerema at 5 and the ferry across Mwanza Gulf shortly after. Then a wait of 2 1/2 hours in dusty, sweaty, heat of the setting sun but at least off the bus...We left the bus once the whole trip for 10 min., otherwise we were pegged to our seats. The aisle remained full the entire way until after the ferry.

We pulled into Mwanza at 8:30 a taxi to Lake Hotel exhausted, dirty, and hungry in that order. They serve food 'til 10 we ordered and it came at 10:15...by that time Bon had gone up to bed! Mari and I played two games of Crib to a draw.

Mar 26

We went to the train station and paid for our reserved seats on train to Dodoma where we planned to stay overnite and then by bus to Dar...decision to do this was because the train was to arrive in Dodoma around 6pm(it leaves Mwanza at 6 pm and takes a full 24 hours) so we would not see any countryside if we continued on via train to Dar since it would be another 12 hours or overnite. The result would be the same but bus takes only 6 hours on good road and in daylite.

The rest of the day we spent mailing our taxes, doing internet(really fast uploading pics), and getting provisions for the long train ride.



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