Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Getting to Tanzania

After dodging countless baboons and potholes, my minibus/quambi/chappa/dalalala finally reached the border. I think it only took like 7 hours. Most of the time waisted, was because of 2 things. 1: all the stupid freakin check points in Malawi. Every 10 km or so we would have to stop at another road block while cops or military guys walked around very slowly and intimidating, acting like they were searching for something. twice we all had to get out of the very packed bus, climbing over luggage ( by luggage I mean crates of chickens, gunny sacks of bananas, etc) then walk 10 meters around the road block and wait for the bus to come get us.. Very annoying. The second reason for time waisted was the constant stopping for stupid stuff. I think we stopped four times because someone yelled that they wanted to take a picture of, or feed, a stupid monkey on the road. Once we stopped because the driver saw someone selling fish on the side of the road, and wanted to bring some home. He hung it on the windshield wiper for the rest of the journey to "keep it fresh". Other times we would hang around bus stops way longer than was necessary, so the driver and his helper could grocery shop. By the end of the journey there was fish on the windshield, a big branch full of bananas on the roof, a crate of Coke in the isle, and about 3 gunny sacks of corn here and there. Pretty good experience though.
At the customs office on the Tanzanian side of the TZ/MW border, I made a friend of one of the Border officers. We talked about this and that until he decided to go home, and offered to take me to the bus station, saving me about 5000 shillings. when we got there, he refused to leave me in the shady area (I failed to mention how it was just another depot, in just another developing country to me) until the bus arrived. It never did. Then a friend of his showed up, and offered to take me all the way to Mbaya, normally a $50 taxi fare, for $20. The officer also made a call somewhere, when I mentioned the train, and found out that yes, it was suppose to be in Mbaya today, but do to a derailment, it was just late enough for me to catch it, if the taxi hauled ass. Haul ass we did. Normally people would be scared to death and a little angry of the way this guy was driving, but I tell you, it was pretty damn nice for a change not to stop for every person looking for a ride, and having the car so packed it hurts. I would do a little inner dance every time we passed someone calling for a taxi. It was like being a VIP; something new for a backpacker on the budget.

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