Trip Start Apr 21, 2003
34Trip End May 07, 2004
Missing a crucial entry here. Where's the safari? The bug bite? The rainy days in Zanzibar?
I'll have to look. Unless anyone can email them to me.
It's later and I haven't really looked, however here's Em's voice on the matter.
Subject: Tanzania - part two.
Sorry... very long e-mail, again.
Chapter 3, in which Emma and Joanna are rained out of Zanzibar, get
involved in their first road traffic accident, Joanna has her shoes stolen
and then develops a putrid abcess on her leg.
It sounds like a disaster, but really we've loved Tanzania. In spite of all
the setbacks, it's our favourite country so far.
Last e-mail I sent, we'd just spent our first evening in Zanzibar,
overdoing it at the fish market. We spent the next day wandering the narrow
little streets of Stone Town. If we'd been trying to get anywhere in
particular, we would have been thoroughly lost, but the great thing about
Stone Town is that every single claustrophobic, unpromising street you turn
down, holds some little interesting sight or experience and - painfully for
budget travellers - small shops selling beautiful curios and artworks.
The next day, we headed to the north of the island, to a little beach
called Kendwa. The first day it poured with rain relentlessly. And the next
day. And the day after that... We had joined up with a pair from England,
and we three Britons drove Joanna mad with our baseless optimism about
non-existent patches of blue sky and weather that never did quite "clear up
by lunchtime, for sure".
Despite the weather we had a fabulous time at Kendwa. I took the
opportunity to learn to dive, figuring that if you're underwater, it
doesn't really matter what the weather's like. The visibility wasn't
perfect, but it didn't stop me enjoying some stunning coral reefs, which
were just buzzing with so many different types of sea life. The beach was
beautiful, even with the stormy weather, and when the sun came out briefly,
it was just dazzling. We were there during low season, so it was a great
atmosphere - we got to know all the other backpackers staying at the beach,
and spent very relaxing evenings (when, infuriatingly, it didn't seem to
rain at all) sitting round beach bar bonfires with a cold beer.
After about a week, we gave up on ever seeing sunshine, and headed back to
the mainland. We took the overnight ferry, after being caught in a
rainstorm of as yet unrivalled ferocity. Once on the ferry, we tried to get
changed demurely behind a couple of towels, but that didn't stop us being
the main entertainment for the evening as we wriggled out of soggy clothes
into a strange assortment of garments that were nearest the top of our
Leaving the ferry the next morning in Dar Es Salaam, Jo wasn't keen on
putting her sopping running shoes into her pack, so she chained them to the
outside of her bag. On arriving at our hotel, no more than ten minutes
later, they were gone, having been cut off the chain. They were quite a
nice pair of nike shoes, which Jo figured she could claim on insurance if
we got a police report, so we headed down to the police station after
The police station was a complete waste of time, other than as a life
experience. We were passed around from officer to officer, with no
perceptible progress, while they entertained themselves by trying to cram
more people into one tiny jail cell than you can conceive (the rest of the
detainees had to wait with us in reception as there was only one cell). One
police officer wrote down a very florid description of how Joanna had come
to realise her shoes weren't there and then refused to give us a copy of
the police report unless she wrote a statement saying that they were
probably lost and not stolen. She wrote out the statement, and then he told
us we should go to the Canadian Embassy for help. We tried to explain that
the Canadian Embassy weren't going to help us get a pair of running shoes
back and that we only needed the report for insurance purposes, but to no
avail. We left several hours later, irritated and report-less.
We spent a day or two in Dar, before heading north to Arusha. An English
guy that we'd met in Zanzibar was driving a truck up to Nairobi for
servicing, so we had jumped at the chance of a free ride with him. The
truck was going to Nairobi to be fitted with seats and other such luxuries,
but we were quite comfortable, sitting on our packs in the back of the
truck under a tarpaulin. Inevitably, the truck broke down halfway there and
we sat by the side of the road for an age waiting for a tow truck. A few
hours later, our tow truck turned up and a great number of people jumped
out and set about attaching the two vehicles together with great gusto and
a lot of animated discussion. It was getting near dark by this time so the
three of us in the back of the truck lay down for a little snooze as we
trundled along, before we were woken by a loud crash and flung forward to
the front of the truck. It seems that the manky bit of rope holding the tow
together had broken and we had crashed into the back of the tow truck. We
inched to a halt, and everybody jumped out of their respective vehicles and
there was much angry gesticulating at the side of the road, which (as it
often seems to in Africa) swiftly and bewilderingly turned into a lot of
jolly laughter and back-slapping.
We eventually made it to the next town and stayed there overnight before
the three of us (me, Joanna and an English girl called Becky who is joining
us as far as Malawi) set off to get a bus the rest of the way to Arusha. We
were offered an outrageous price by the first bus that stopped, but we took
it anyway as we were stood by the side of the road and weren't too sure
when the next bus would come by. We were infuriated to see that the
inflated price was partly due to the fee the bus driver paid a couple of
touts who hung around us and then, despite our protests to the bus driver,
claimed commission for getting us on the bus. Of course, the bus blew a
tyre about five minutes out of town. We were waiting beside the stricken
bus when another bus came by. As we hadn't paid for the tickets yet, we
grabbed our bags and quickly decamped to the next bus, which offered us a
far lower price in order to poach our business from the first bus. We felt
slightly victorious as we drove off, thinking of the fee that the first
driver had already paid to the touts.
We eventually made it to Arusha and organized ourselves a safari. The three
of us joined with another couple for a three day safari to the Serengeti
Plains, Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara. The first day was a long trek
up to the Serengeti, but was worth it once we saw the herds of zebra and
groups of giraffe roaming about the plains. On a three day safari you can't
really see the Serengeti properly, but Ngorongoro Crater (a stunning
volcanic crater) on the second day, made up for it. After staying in a
luxurious lodge balanced on the crater rim, we descended in the early
morning to the crater floor. It's hard to overstate the concentration of
wild animals that make their home on the crater floor. You can't travel
more than a few metres without coming across zebra, elephants, warthogs,
gazelle, hyenas etc. The highlight of the day was probably the pair of
lions that we saw lazing by a water hole. According to our driver, they
were on their honeymoon, and it did feel a bit voyeuristic watching them as
they raised themselves out of the grass for a (very) brief shag and then
flop down again for a bit more lazing around, but really, how often do you
get to see that kind of thing?
We had got a good price for the safari, but it did feel like we were
splashing out quite a bit, so we made the most of our luxurious lodges that
were included in the price; taking hot baths, stealing the shampoo and
demolishing the 'all you can eat' buffets in a way that was truly
impressive to our other travel companions.
The only downside to the whole safari experience was that Jo was suffering
with a bite of some kind on her leg that had somehow got infected and
swelled up to quite impressive/revolting proportions. We had visited a
doctor in Zanzibar, who had prescribed some cream, but since then it had
got much worse, so we were planning to go back to a doctor on our first day
back in Arusha. The first evening we were back in Arusha, Jo took the
bandage off and half her leg seemed to fall out onto the floor in a little
bloody heap (for any parents/boyfriend reading, I'm exaggerating, but it
was very gross all the same).
So we headed down to the hospital this morning. Despite what you might
think of an African hospital it was all very clean and sterile, which I
hope made the experience a little less traumatic. Poor Jo had to lie on her
stomach while the doctor cut open the abcess, squeezed out the gunk and
thoroughly swabbed it all out, before shoving a piece of iodine-soaked
gauze in the hole and bandaging it up... all without any anaesthetic. It
looked so painful, poor thing. Anyway, she's feeling much more cheerful now
and the leg looks much better. I've left her lying in the hotel room and
I'm going to go and splash out on some post-op Pringles. We have to go back
tomorrow to have the gauze taken out.
As soon as Jo's fit to travel again, we're heading off to Malawi. We're
really looking forward to it... Tanzania has been wonderful but I'm excited
to see a new country.
Love to you all,