Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bongo Series: Next Stop…Cap City

The walk-up call at the hotel actually worked. I was able to get to the bus stand on time. Apparently, all buses are required to adhere to some standard and fixed schedules. That being the case, the bus I took to Dodoma left the bus station at 6pm on the dot. I was impressed.

At the bus stand, I had to buy two huge “Rambo” bags (anyone relating?) for covering my luggage. I was forewarned that it gets dusty on the stretch between Singida and Dodoma. As I didn’t want my bag to look like they had been dug from the ground, I complied.

The road from Mwanza to Dar-es-Salaam, being paved and all; is such a huge relief. I was trying to imagine the old days when a train ride from Dar-es-Salaam to Mwanza used to take more than 36 hours. The central road link, I must admit, has made travel easier between the Lake zone and the Coastal zone.

It roughly took the bus two hours from Mwanza to Shinyanga. It used to take more than six hours to make the same trip. The bus made stop at the Shinyanga and I was excited to see the town again. The last time I was in that town was 1993, when I officially graduated from Shinyanga Commercial Institute (Shycom).

It was kind of sad to see that the town has not changed much after 15 years. My own alma mater (Shycom) only showed signs of regression as opposed to progression. The Shinyanga railway station looked beaten up and ready to die. I guess I will never understand some things relating to the Tanzanian way of life. I mean, wouldn’t you expect things to improve over time?

Did I mention the fact that even some parts of the road are starting to disintegrate and it seems like nobody cares?

Oh well.

I have been through Manyoni, but never Singida “mjini”. That is because the train ride never really gave anyone an opportunity to go through Singida mjini. I just wanted to experience that. So when the bus actually made the rounds around Singida, my neck was sticking out, just to let my eyes wonder.

Oh, let me talk about the road a little bit. As I was talking about the regressive culture in Tanzania, one thing came to mind. You know how the metal (tin) road signs are typically vandalized? I guess the folks who constructed the Mwanza – Dodoma road had a better idea to beat the cultural tendencies. They actually made the road signs in concrete. The outcome has been nothing more than positive. It seem vandals are not bothering to steal useless pieces of rock mixed solidified in cement (because once you destroy the road signs, that’s what it turns into – useless pieces of cemented rock).

I thought that was work of a genius.

Generally, there was nothing exciting. It was the same old same, unless you want me to talk about how the vegetation changes from Tabora to Singida and Dodoma. Well, let me talk about that then, because probably no one will. As you leave Tabora to the more central part – that is Singida and Dodoma – trees get shorter and thornier. Even more, wind gusts increase and it get chillier.

The only “exciting” thing, probably, was that we got a flat tire and that has to be fixed. No long from the area where we got the flat tire, the dusty road began. I must admit, I thanked those kids in Mwanza who sold me a Rambo bag. Otherwise, my bags would have looked like there were dug from the ground. No kidding.

I was just glad to finally be in Dodoma, for this place also holds a special place in my heart.


Anonymous said...

This part of your adventure is what I was waiting for, I could wait for to tell us a little bit about Shinyanga or SHYCOM in particular. I wish you had time to actually spend a day over there! Lots of good and not so good memories about Shycom.

Hope somebody would bring good old glory of SHYCOM again!


Jaduong Metty said...

As you pointed out, I too wished that I had spent a little more time in Shinyanga. Unfortunately, my schedule was tight. I had to just zoom by the town.

The "ndege mwarabu" town is still the same, with other parts improving while others going the opposite direction. The bus actually passed by the Uhuru Road, so I had a chance to see the girls' dormitory,dining hall, and Uhuru Secondary School, just next to Shycom.

It was definitely a nice trip down the memory lane...but I wish I had seen more improvements as opposed to deterioration.