27th October 2010
The border crossings are pretty painless again.
The official who is the most exacting is the one in Malawi. He clearly does not like sloppily filled out exit cards.
AH is in for a rebuke: „Ey, my brother, what about all this?“ (The offiical points his finger at the bottom part of the form where stats are collected on age range, occupation and how much money we have spent in Malawi) „Almost looks like you are in a hurry.“
Actually, yes, we would like to move on. Border posts are really not the most exciting places and we have already lost time when police stopped the truck and wanted money for a missing top headlight at the back of the truck. It costs more money and time when our tour leader asks for a receipt.
We later find out that overlanders are sometimes held up at the border for 2 hours for no apparent reason.. Our official moans that we do not have to pay a visa fee whereas he would have to if he visited us, so maybe delays are a form of revenge for the perceived injustice...
The only thing the Tanzanian official doesn't like are old Dollar notes. It's not enough to cough up US$50 per person (or US$ 100 if you are an American) – the notes need to look neat and new.
Unlike the Tanzanian shillings we get shortly after the border. 1 US$ is 1,450 Tanzanian Shillings, so we once again have to be careful that we get the right change. What a difference an extra „0“ can make...
AH has lived in Dar for a year, so we are approaching home territory. Well, it will take a good while to get there, as it's at the other side of the country.
I wonder whether AH will recognise anything. After all, someone who has left England in the late 60s and came back now, would be in for a shock...
Tanzania is very different from Malawi and Zambia. For a start, this is now Pepsi country, and there are no traditional huts. Even modest homes often have a satellite dish.
The temperature is also a lot cooler as we drive into the mountains past banana and tea plantations. We pass open top vans which are filled with nothing but bananas. I have never seen so many bananas in one go.
The teabushes are only knee high and bright green. They give the landscape a fresh spring appearance...
Soon we are in a traffic jam in a town called Tukuju. There is no space for both the local bus and our truck on the narrow roads, so there is a deadlock.
To my surprise our truck pulls into the entrance of the Landmark Hotel. Once again it takes a lot of maeneuvering as space is tight.
Apparently, we will be camping in the garden of the hotel. Room 105 has been opened for us, so that we have access to a shower and a toilet. Talk about a wide range of camping experiences!
The plants in the garden are familiar: Roses, dahlias, lilies, pinks, just like back home.
They also have bottle brush trees (proper trees, not the stunted shrubs we manage to grow in English gardens.)
It's strange to walk into a hotel. It is a basic hotel, but feels like the height of luxury. It seems like we arrived in Africa a long time ago („Mazani“) and have been sleeping in tents forever and ever („Milele“).
So this is what a clean floor looks like... Not a grain of sand inside (until we walk in).
And that's what a fluffy towel feels like. And look, it's white! I have almost forgotten what a proper white looks like...
But this is Africa of course, so the hot water is cold when I take my shower, the toilets in the bar area are holes in the ground and in the evening there are several attempts to keep the electric generator going after a general power failure.
For a while it feels like going to sleep next to a building site, where the workers are so eager that they are working overtime into the night.