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Brenda’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 21 Apr 2009

Location: Mwanza, Tanzania

MapApril 21st

We spent our last day in Kahama shopping, packing, purchasing our bus tickets to Mwanza, and finalizing things with WV, Nesphory and Major Matala. Had a quick bite at the Pine Ridge and said a sad good-bye to the staff that looked after us so well. We tried to arrange our two taxis for 6:20am but with all of the assistance we had and a few phone calls, we were unsure how many cabs would actually show up, if any. The next morning, we were happy to see the car arrive on time, to take the first load. Even though we had given away so much stuff, with our personal belongings and purchases, we still had 1-2 suitcases each plus our backpacks. The cabs were absolutely packed!
The bus stop in Kahama is dirty, chaotic and not a nice place to be if you’re a ‘mzungu.’ Everyone crowds around and you don’t feel like your suitcases are safe. There are different independent bus companies wanting your business and they’re all over you like a pack of time-share salesmen. We boarded the bus as soon as our luggage was crammed underneath and waited there. We were quite excited when the bus appeared to start to pull away ON TIME and with empty seats. It moved ahead about 5 feet and stopped. Ticket salesmen started selling tickets to another crowd that was gathering and then the bus really started to fill up. When we finally pulled away, almost full, we thought it was clear sailing but I think we stopped on every street corner of Kahama on the way out, picking up more passengers. This continued as we went down the highway until there was standing room only.
When we stopped at Shinyanga, vendors surrounded the bus, selling everything from boiled eggs, samosas, bananas, water, cookies, etc. It was stifling, but I didn’t want to keep my window open; it just encouraged them to try and get your attention. Val was brave and desperate enough to use the bathroom at the bus stop. She had to pay to use a disgusting, filthy pit toilet that had a hole at the back of the little cubicle so everything had to run across the floor. Of course there is never any water, paper or a sink. Needless to say, the rest of us decided to wait for 2 1/2 more hours….
We rolled into Mwanza in the afternoon and all rushed to the Internet. It’s slow but at least if you sit in the lobby, you can use your own computer.
While we were eating a great dinner our guides showed up to discuss our three-day trek across the Serengeti. We leave at 9:30am and should reach the west gate by lunchtime. I don’t know what the Internet situation will be over the next few days but there might be a satellite feed over the plains. I’ll post when I can. Kwa heri for now…. (I’ve been trying to post photos again today but am not having any luck. I will try one more time.)