Day 313: In The Dark

Sat. 22nd June 2013

At least we are not on one of theseThe tour now has three days of 5am starts as it is two more hard days driving to get to Dar Es Salaam and then the rest of the group have an early ferry crossing to Zanzibar. We are leaving the group at Dar and are looking forward to a lazy day on the beach at the campsite just south of Dar. I am actually writing this sat in the relaxing open air communal space at the campsite overlooking the Indian Ocean and it is bliss. However, the prospect of the beach seems so far away as we clamber onto the truck in the dark and try to get more sleep.

Tea plantationsWe reach the Malawi and Tanzania border just after 7am Malawi time which is 8am Tanzanian time. I find that I slept through the tea plantations, but Dave managed a photo. After a short wait for the visa stamps, checking of yellow fever certificates and for the customs guy to arrive to give clearance for the truck we are on our way heading north through Tanzania. Immediately we notice the difference as there are more stalls and more hustle and bustle.

Weighbridge queueThe number of lorries on the road also seems to increase as we are back on the main road from Cape Town to Cairo, along with an increase in weigh bridge stops. As we are a large vehicle we have to stop too but Dom, our driver, usually heads to the front of the queue as sometimes we are just waved through. Occasionally we are weighed but there is never a problem. The main problem is the speed traps as police seem to appear from nowhere and on our tight time schedule we are bombing along.

Tanzanian townBreakfast was at the side of the road next to a garage where we also met our local moneychanger with Simon Cowell trousers! Not as chatty as our previous chap in Malawi. Next stop was a town for us all to raid an ATM and to stock up on snacks and drinks to keep us going through the day. There were no supermarkets as we know them, just stalls or shops the size of a living room selling a few items. Dave also hunted down a SIM card and had to DIY cut it to a micro-SIM size for his phone. However, after getting back on the bus and fitting it in his phone, he found it needed to be registered before it would work – and that can only be done at the cellphone company shop! Its going to have to wait until Dar.

As we drive on, I learnt two new rules of the road which are commonly used in Tanzania:

  1. When approaching a cyclist from behind beep the horn constantly until the cyclist pulls onto the gravel verge.
  2. Give way to overtaking vehicles on the wrong side of the road which are coming towards you.

Before we hit the roadworksWe had been warned that there were roadworks on the last 20km of our journey which would be very slow going and it was. There were long contraflow sections which sometimes were chocker with two way traffic trying to squeeze through. It took about an hour to get through them meaning it was dark by the time we reached camp. Luckily we are now quite adept at putting our tent up so this was quickly done.

Traditional mealA traditional meal was cooked for us by the campsite staff and served up in a traditional round hut. As we were late we did not have time to dress in traditional costume which was a shame but I think most of us were too tired to appreciate our surroundings – and we did our dressing up yesterday! We were soon off to bed to catch some zzzz before the 4:30 alarm tomorrow to strike camp and be ready for the 5am off. It is also a shame that we will not see the campsite in daylight.


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