Tanzania - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 63
Wednesday 14th May
Well, after a gruellingly long four-day truck marathon, we finally arrive here in Arusha this evening. I was not anticipating the trip to take as long as it did and I’m pretty amazed that Sandy held up as good as she did. But, here we are and now the real fun starts.
Not much to recap about today’s journey. Like the past few days, it was mostly boring with little to keep our interest peaked. We did see a lot of Baobab trees this afternoon. We drove through what looked like a little forest full of them. We also enjoyed waving at all the kids as we drove through the small towns. The smaller the children, the more enthusiastic they called out and waved to us. It’s quite a strange feeling to be the only white people around. Every now and then, someone would shout out “Look at the white man” or something of that nature. We didn’t eat much today other than a slice of bread and a boiled egg this morning on the truck after we left the camp. We didn’t even stop somewhere to have a bite to eat in a restaurant. We just pushed ahead to try to make it to Arusha before sunset.
As it turned out, we arrived here in Arusha shortly after sunset. Our first impressions of this place are not that great. For the last sixty or so kilometres leading up to Arusha, someone has painted large ‘X’ symbols across every single billboard, sign and advertisement. We thought it might be some kind of political or religious statement on the part of some extremist crackpot. The word here in the bar, however, is that the authorities are marking all the structures that need to be removed to accommodate the upcoming widening of the road. Whatever the reason, it just gave us the chills a bit. Also, since it was dark, we were constantly swerving to avoid minibus taxis, people, cyclists, goats and just about anything else that moves.
Kenny took us to a lodge that he knew about just on the outskirts of town and we checked over the place with a view to staying there for the night and departing company with the truck. We had a look at the room but my gut instincts were telling me that the whole place just didn’t seem right. Initially, the room was going to cost $30 but then it was $25. Then, we had to pay in US dollars (we don’t have any left) but could then pay in Tanzania Shillings and so on. I remember reading in some travel guidebook that you should trust and obey your initial gut instinct, as it’s usually the correct one. Accordingly, we declined the room.
Kenny and Robson need to change some money up tomorrow morning after then banks open at nine o’clock. They were planning to stay at one of their usual camp-site just a few kilometres outside of town so we decided to stick with them for tonight. It means sleeping in a tent but at least the night’s accommodation is for free and, more importantly, arranged. We will depart company with them tomorrow morning. The folks here at the camp-site suggested that we stay here until we have arranged our safari tour. They will even lend us a tent so we can’t say better than that.
We talked briefly with the bartenders about how much a safari tour would cost us. Ideally, we want a tailor made tour for just the two of us. It’s unclear at this point just how much this will cost and how we are going to be able to pay for it. We may or may not be able to use our credit card here and we are now running low on traveller’s checks. The only remaining US dollars that we have are our last resort emergency money, which I don’t want to dip into. Hopefully, we can do some phoning around tomorrow after Kenny and Robson have left to get a better idea of what’s what. As ever, everything is still up in the air and we will probably only know what is what just a few minutes before it is arranged.