Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bongo Series: Going To Moshi

Given all I had to accomplish in Bongoland, I kept a very tight schedule. Believe it on or not, once I landed in Dar from Iringa, I had to head out to Moshi the next day. Ouch! Nonetheless, someone had to do it.

Given my tight schedule, I had to make sure I had my ticket the day before my travel. Unfortunately, in reaching Ubungo main bus terminal, all the ticket windows were closed. I learned that the terminal leadership instituted strict rules regarding the operation hours of ticket vendors and other activity in the terminal.

Despite the terminal being closed, there were plenty of hustlers trying to dupe me into committing to this and that bus service. I really never studied how the entire bus operation goes in Tanzania, but I got a sense that there are plenty of players in the game looking for a piece of the action. So it is not a surprise to find unofficial salespersons that live on commission.

The worst part is how they would push by providing aggressive suggestions on the quality of the bus service, including departure time and arrival times. None of which were true. I just decided to settle for coming early the next day, when true ticket salespersons were available.

I don’t even recall the name of the bus, but it must have been Kilimanjaro something. For the fare, speed and the “free” sodas and cookies, I couldn’t have enjoyed the ride to Moshi even more.

Just on a personal note, I was going to Moshi to visit my father-in-law. I could have gone to visit him anyways, but this visit was a bit emotional for me, as my mother-in-law had passed on early in March.

Was there anything interesting on the way? Let me see…there was this cashew nuts vendor who boarded the bus in Chalinze. Well, I thought the guy was going all the way to Moshi, only to disembark at one small village along the road. I couldn’t help but wonder, how was the guy going to get back to Chalinze (if that is his base), board another bus?

Again, I have never been into roasted cashew nut vending business. Man, there are so many things in life to learn.

The kicker for me on this trip? Kuchimba dawa. There are some traveling “traditions” that you would think are long gone. Boy, was I wrong! Just as we were somewhere in Tanga region, someone got “squeezed” (what is the proper English translation for “kubanwa”?). As usual, the driver pulled over by the road side and made the usual “kuchimba dawa” announcement.

Well, folks obliged.

Quite naturally, I took advantage, along other passengers, to relieve myself. Of course I wondered why this tradition has not died, but as I watered my plants, I also pondered over the idea of whether this was pollution, fertilization or straight up indecent exposure….

I guess I will never know, as I can’t go back and identified my “dawa” which I “chimbered”. And on the indecent exposure part, I think I can rule that out. Man, the whole bus was doing it. Can’t the fact that “everybody” was doing it be an excuse in the court of law?


Anonymous said...

I have been away for only a couple of months and I cannot wait to go back home. Reading your bongo reflections I cant help wonder if I will also one day view Tanzania as a foreign place. The thought of it makes me shiver. But I guess in life we go through different paths. I just hope my path will take me back home in two years.

Nice blog, keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Matty - How can you have such a short memory? How long have you been out of Africa and how long have you been in Africa b4 you went abroad? How unfair is that....to think Africa is changing at the speed of light? Did you think they now have American Style highways and rest areas along the way?

Jaduong Metty said...

@Anony 9:06PM
I can totally understand your fear. I think it is a natural tendency for all of us to get used to a certain routine. Definitely, life in the West can come with that sense of familiarity, which requires abandoning once you go home.

I actually got used to the Tanzanian life that I gained a couple of kilos. And that was for just a stay less than one month!

The easiest way, I would suggest, is to hook up with folks who returned home for them to tell you how they coped with the change.

@Anony 11:50AM
Actually, I think Africa is changing a little bit at a speed of light. The problem is how they are managing that change.

I really didn't expect Tanzania to have American style highways. Nonetheless, it was amazing to see the "kuchimba dawa" thing, while they actually have a "highway rest area" in one of the hotels along the way.

I guess the call of nature knows no schedule and when that happens, my people relieves themselves anywhere...