Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Bongo Series: Mwanza...Here I Come

My “short” stay in Shirati came to an end I had to head out. My itinerary indicated that I was supposed to pass through Dodoma, and going through the central line made more sense. I was really looking forward to Mwanza.

The road to Mwanza took me to Tarime again. I found a bus that promised to leave on time only to end up staying at the Tarime bus stand for over an hour. I regret being naïve, but next time I visit Tanzania, watanikoma.

The ride to Mwanza literally took me through a memory lane. In the old days, the Kirumi Bridge was not there. Crossing the Mara River required the use of a pontoon. As a kid, it was such a scary thing to be on that “boat” with all those people, cars, buses and things. Obviously, when the pontoon was broken down, folks crossed over to Musoma through Kinesi by boat.

As usual, the bus had the three most important persons – the driver, the conductor and the “tandboi”. I wonder why this combination is still intact.

Sadly, I had forgotten all the little towns along the way, save Bunda. Maybe I easily recalled Bunda because in the old days, the bus from Tarime/Mwanza would stop there for a tea break. Man, I would like to go on record saying this – Bunda has the best tea in the whole of Mara! (This is especially for my wife – honey, I am not hungry; so hunger is not impairing my judgment)

For folks who have never been on the Tarime/Musoma to Mwanza road, just a few miles from Bunda, you could actually see zebras, antelopes and other wild animals grazing. Unfortunately, I was seating on the “wrong” side of the bus and couldn’t take any pictures. I tried passing on my camera to one gentleman with a better view, but he only ended up getting good shots of meaningless trees and grass. He got a few zebras, but the pictures are so fuzzy. I was grateful for his attempt though.

My level of trust for this bus service dipped so low when we had a breakdown. Yeah, I know that stuff happens, but I was ticked off already by the fact that the bus didn’t take off at Tarime on time. Surprisingly, it appears I was the only one minding. The rest of the passengers were just taking it easy. I guess the American life has conditioned me to expect the best service all the time. Through these experiences I saw my expectations crumbling down.

Such is life.

I know Iringa is mountainous and all, but the Mwanza atmosphere is the best. The bus made a final stop at Nyakato. Obviously, that did not go well with folks who wanted their final stop to be downtown Mwanza. The bus conductor and the driver made their appeal about the traffic police being hard on them blah blah blah... I couldn’t argue with them, since I didn’t have any clue of the rules in Mwanza. I had intended to go all the way to downtown, but I resorted to calling my host to pick me up.

My host was my cousin. I stopped by his house, luckily, in Nyakato. I had called him earlier to buy me a bus ticket for Dodoma. I was informed that buses from Mwanza to Dodoma/Morogoro/Dar starts off the journey at Nyegezi. Nyegezi, obviously, is miles away from Nyakato. If I had to be at the bus stand at 5:30 am from Nyakato, I had to stay awake all night. The resolution was for me to spend a night in Nyegezi.

After pleasantries with my cousin’s wife and kids, I headed off to Nyegezi.

I was able to secure lodging at a very “fancy” hotel – Millennium something. The hotel was nice. I Tanzanian lingo, each room was “self-contained”. The only thing was, there was no running water, so I had to call for a bucket of water. Did I mention having a flat screen TV in the room? Obviously, no HBO, but plenty of satellite channels to surf. I wasn’t in a mood for TV, so I chose instead to enjoy my $30 bed.

By Tanzanian standards, $30 a night was plenty of money. Nonetheless, given the security at the hotel, wake-up call availability and the closeness to the bus stand, I was not ready to whine.

I was just sad I didn’t get to see much of Mwanza as I had wanted to.



hey love your blog. im not Tanzanian but was recently in Tanzania.very beautiful country.had the pleasure of seeing Mwanza,musoma,bunda ,Dar etc. keep up the great blog

Anonymous said...

i fell in love with your blog, it is so amazing to read Bongo facts!! keep the spirit up till u get at the peak of kilimanjaro.