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Monday 16 Feb 2009
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

And the adventure begins...

The connection here slow and the space bar on this keyboard occasionally doesn't work, so don't mind if this is brief (and sometimes lacking spaces between words!)... one advantage of this is to see how the site works in such situations, and it works a treat (I've resorted to using the Basic no-frills text editor which works when the connection is too slow to download the javascript for the flashy Advanced Editor)

Anyhoo ... I've finally arrived in (as Mum calls it) "deepest-darkest Africa" and as I was pre-warned two senses bombard you when you leave the departures hall. The smell of flowers mixed with humidity and the sense of wanting to escape from the hoards of taxi drivers that see you as a human ATM!

The weather was gushing rain as soon as I arrived, welcoming me to Tanzania in true testament to Toto's lyrics and I made sure to "bless the rains down in Africa". Thankfully they ended as soon as they had started. This is tropical weather after all!

I was quite surprised at the flight over on Qatar airways. I was expecting the airplane to be similar to the luxury you can expect on Emirates, but the seats were extremely cramped in true Ryanair stylee which made it nigh-on impossible to sleep during the whole 14 hours trip (via Doha). Still though, the staff were really cool (dosing me up with huge shots of whiskey and coke) and food was pretty good. So wasn't all bad.

On arrival in Dar I had to pay 100 USD for a visa (whereas everyone else has to pay 50) due to some recent tit-for-tat disagreement with the Irish government (there's even a huge sign saying this on arrival). I felt "speshul". The upside of this was that I got one of the best visa stamps I've ever received on my passport (complete with a hologram and computerised printout of my mug) rather than the bog standard ink stamps everyone else got. This complements the nice visa stamps I got in Vietnam and Cambodia. Score :)

While in London I booked a room at a hotel in Dar (Beachcomber) simply for the sake that it had a pool. The downside, which I didn't realise till I arrived, was that it is miles out of town on the northern beaches. This meant I had to dish out a "whopping" 50000 shillings (about 35 euro) on a taxi for a 60 minute drive north.

The hotel was pleasant enough, if not completely deserted. Don't know if this is anything to do with the recession (the planes I flew over on were all packed, so I don't think the recession is actually having an effect on tourism anyway)

Ironically I didn't bother going to the pool at all when I arrived at the hotel as I had a load of preparations I had to do with my camera, plus I was generally wrecked and fell asleep about 7pm (after having a few nice Safari and Kilimanjaro beers lazily watching the Dhows float along the coast)

This morning I woke up at 4am to get ready to leave in a taxi at 6am to beat the traffic to the bus station (to get up to Moshi in the north for my Kili climb which is supposed to be starting tomorrow!). Being Africa, there was no avoiding the traffic jams at anytime, and it took about 1.5 hours to drive the 10km to the bus depot. To say the least, drivers in Tanzania (well Dar, so far) are suicidal. As are the pedestrians and even cyclists! Paved roads are generally avoided in preference to driving on the shoulder and even on footpaths at one point! I learned a few handy Swahili slang words for such occasions such as "cheezy"(crazy) and "arak arak" (go faster.. this is for the occasions when people take "pole pole" a little too literally).

Got to the bus station eventually in one piece. Then went into the Scandinavia Express bus "depot" (basically a ramshackle shed) and, wouldn't you know it, all the buses were full! DOH!

I investigated the "express" bus office next door, but their buses didn't have toilets (for a 7 hour trip!) and I'm a little passed my South East Asia dayswhen that sorta thing woulda been acceptable to save a few bob.

Nothing left for it, I'd have to fly up there. So I got another taxi ... an even "cheezy"-er guy judging by his mad driving skillz .. got to the airport and splashed out 130 euro on a plane ticket up north on Precision Air.

Hmm... finding TZ to be a little expensive... even the taxi rides are averaging around 25,000 shillings (about 17 euro) and food is about 12 euros for asmall meal.

Anyway.. I'm finally on my way up north.. I might write when I get up there, but Internet availability is sporadic at best.

If not, I'm starting my 6 day trek up to the summit of Kili tomorrow... so wish me luck :)

Pete out

4 Comments for this Travel blog entry

Gary Says:

16 February 2009

Glad to hear that, after a few 'cheezy' moments, all's going well for you, if not a little expensively so! If no net on Kili maybe you can text? Enjoy...onward and upward!G

Gretta Says:

17 February 2009

Wow Peter, that was a slap in the teeth for you - but that's Africa-watch out for the dudes playing on the tourist-make bargain first, if poss. Hope you don't have too many more surprise handouts! look forward to your up-dates1. keep safe\have fun.

sis Says:

19 February 2009

Loving reading your blog... glad you enjoying. Yep, did warn you Africa is expensive! Hopefully we can meet up and I can show you a couple more reasonable places too :)

Speak soon. N xx

peterforan Replies:

23 February 2009

found a great cheap Indian last night in Moshi .. stuffed for around 6 euro.. dayam!

Pedro Says:

19 February 2009

"whiskey and coke"?
you`re so predictable! :-D

peterforan Replies:

23 February 2009

blame Tim :(

I bless the rains down in Africa

Travel blog by peterforan

Day 3  ... Lookin forward to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro

Day 3 ... Lookin forward to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro

With Toto's defining tune ringing in my head, I don khaki pants and venture full-throttle into Africa! Elephants, lions, huge mountains, men with spears intent on stabbing me (probably) and the "Cradle of Humanity" (tm)... 4 weeks ain't gonna be enough!

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