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Published: July 10th 2018
A heavy storm woke me and 5 minutes later my alarm went. I’d intended to get a bus leaving Dodoma at 6, not fancying going anywhere in this weather I re-set my alarm and when it went again at 6:55 I got my shit together. I was on a boda to the bus stand at 7:40. Asking for Morogoro I was surprised to be shown to a big old ‘Raha Leo’ bus, yesterday I was told only smaller buses plied this route but like yesterday the fare was 12,000Tsh as quoted.
At bang on 8am the less than half full bus hit the road as the heavens opened once more. The rain was really bad; 2 hours out of Dodoma along the Morogoro road the tarmac disappeared below the water for 50 metres or so, and on both sides of the road the fields were flooded. On one side of the road all I could see of a shack was its roof just poking out of the water on the other side of the ‘road’ was the sight of what was now a lake that was sprouting baobab trees.
The road did get
drier and it was only about now that I noticed the destination sign on the front of the bus that read “Tanga via Morogoro”. I only intended to go to Morogoro to split up what would be a long journey all the way to the coast. So nearing Morogoro I confirmed with the conductor that this bus was continuing to Tanga, and he suggested I pay the extra (another 12k) once we reached Moro’ where we had a natural break and we could if need be get some food.
Despite the rain it was a hassle free 5 hour journey to Morogoro and for the rest of the way once they removed the Celine Dion tape from the tape player this part of the journey wasn’t that bad either.
I alighted at Muheza at 18:40 pushed my way through the gaggle of taxi drivers and walked the short distance to the huge bright yellow concrete boozer on the corner of the road, and feeling desperately pleased with myself I drank a well earned beer and sat facing the road as I saw the conductor wave to me through the window of the Raha Leo bus I’d just alighted
from continuing on its way the last few clicks to Tanga.
The light was fading and there was no power in town as I checked in at Kissiky lodge, I got a self contained room with a huge bed for 18k and as I was about to shower by torch-light the mains electricity returned.
After showering and a change of clothes I ate supper a couple of doors away at a crowded café (always a good sign) a rather decent wali mboga mboga
(rice and vegetables) and a cup of tea, all for 1,500 TZS. It took a while to get served as the two shy waitresses argued as to who would serve the muzungu
. “But I can’t speak English” I heard one saying to the other to excuse herself from serving me, and when she eventually did you could see the relief on her face ‘as I ordered in Swahili.
I couldn’t see any other bars nearby so returned to the big yellow boozer where I was greeted again by the friendly manager and served by a young over friendly waitress. It was now that I realised I was absolutely shattered after the journey, even too
tired to watch the footy on the box in one of the rooms of this big three roomed pub. I intended to have a few quiet drinks on my own but some bloke started chatting to me about exporting teak to India “Oh really, how interesting” and his previous job of dealing in gems. He was a thoroughly nice bloke but fuck I was knackered and couldn’t be arsed talking to him. I struggled through 3 beers as well as the conversation before buying a bottle of water to take back to my gaff and had a long dream filled sleep. Pangani
Leaving my room in the morning I was greeted by the guest house manager with a “Shikamoo” and I was pointed to the “breakfast room”. Breakfast hey. It wasn’t much only tea and mandazi but the fresh mandazi were very good.
I found out that there were buses at 9 and 10 am from Muheza to Pangani, I was in no rush so I slowly got my stuff together and after a few strong coffees to kick start my morning, at 9:50 I boarded the bus that didn’t move
an inch till 10:40. Two other wazungu
got on board neither of whom acknowledged me as I smiled at them, one was wearing full jungle gear all in khaki, bush hat, zip off legs to his pants and a huge backpack which he struggled to find room for. He looked more like he was going on military manoeuvres not going to an Indian Ocean beach resort, his mate was wearing shorts, a white polo shirt with a thick white headband in his hair. Anyway, shortly after Gunner Sugden and Roger Federa found a seat, the bus departed.
The unpaved road to Pangani is an absolute shocker but the fare was cheap. So after the best part of a couple of hours of being shaken back and forth I climbed down from the bus and went straight to Valentine pub at the small bus park in Pangani. They stocked no Balimi or Pilsner so plumped for a “Kili Ndogo” for 1,500TZS, it hardly touched the sides.
I’ve stayed in Pangani before so headed straight to Stop-over Guest House near the ocean. There was no sign of Juma who worked here last time I was in town. I was shown
a room that was looking really sad for which they wanted 20k, more than last time. Maybe prices had gone up? The room was rough but it is just over the road from the beach. I was handed the register to write down my details and I could see everyone else had paid 10k, I queried this and was told that locals pay 10 and Wazungu
pay 20. I told the girl where she could shove her overpriced room and I flounced out. Back near the bus stand I checked out the brightly painted Sunrise Guest House and found my old mate Juma who now worked here, but sadly Sunrise was full and Juma told me to try again in the morning to see if they had any vacancies.
Next door was the Maji Maji guest house. They did have a self-contained room which was vacant; I think it was the only one in this small guest house for all the other rooms shared a bathroom. Yeah it was a tad shabby but had a net and a fan and was a great price at 8k, the Maji Maji would do for a night.
At a bar near
Across the Pangani river.
the market I drank a strange, sickly sweet and very strong banana beer (I wont be having that again) and then had an excellent chipsi maiai, fed and “watered” I put on my cosi’ under my shorts and went to the beach for a couple of hours splashing about in the waves that were just big enough to do a bit of body surfing. Hardly another soul was on the beach today.
It wasn’t quite dark yet but the crepuscular mosquitoes were already biting as I entered Shimoni bar and restaurant. Its rare being a veggie to actually have a choice of food in a local restaurant but here today I did. They do actually vary their dishes from day to day here but what I like about this place is that not only is the beer chilled but so are the glasses as well. I tried for the first time a beer called “Kibo Gold”, it had a strong taste that I wasn’t quite expecting, it reminded me of a strong, expensive Belgium beer; but as far I know you’d be very lucky to find a Leffe Blonde for the equivalent of 33p; and I was
feeling very lucky eating a decent meal and supping several bottles while watching live premier league football before turning in.
Two days later a knock at the door of my room woke me around 7:30, and after eventually freeing myself from the tangle of bed-sheet and mosquito net I opened the door. The immigration bloke I’d met yesterday near the ferry was standing in the doorway. I smiled at him but he remained very serious.
“I guess you’d like to see my passport?” I asked him.
He looked at my passport, studied my visa and then asked? “What work do you do here in Tanzania?”I assured him I was here on holiday but he was pretty persistent in asking me where I worked; I invited him into my room. He was still very serious but I found it all very amusing, I think I was probably still pissed from last night.
He picked up some photocopied sheets of paper, mainly maps and other information copied from guide books. I think it was only then as he could see on the sheets of photocopy that I’d highlighted dodgy boozers and cheap places to stay
in a few towns around TZ that I was actually on holiday here and not working. He was curious to know where I was last night.
“I started drinking in Shimoni but spent most of the night In Valentine pub even dancing to Congolese music and left around midnight” I told him.
I’m not someone who likes a dance but when dragged up to do so by a Swahili women who could hold her beer and had a big arse (a combination of qualities I have always admired in a woman) I couldn’t refuse.
“Eh! You drink at that place?” he laughed.
At last his serious work-face dropped and the Tanzanian beneath appeared. He was all smiles then as he warmly shook my hand as he left and then laughed again as I promised to buy him a drink if he turned up at Valentine.
I slept again for an hour or so before checking at Sunrise Guest House where there was now a room free, I was told to come back later as they prepared my room. I went straight for my usual breakfast in Pangani at a tea shack on the main drag.
Breakfast Pangani style
Maharagwe na chapatti, the corner-stone of any nutritious breakfast!
I would wash my hands at the tapped bucket outside and sit inside to be given the same meal every mid morning, and after the first time I never used have to order as I sat I was brought my usual chai, beans and two chapattis. The chapattis here were excellent, as you tore the crisp and dry chapatti apart you could see the many layers inside, these were not the greasy chapattis favoured by Ugandans.
On the table of the tea shack was usually placed a plate with chillies and limes to further spice up your meal. Thankfully the tea wasn’t pre-sugared and I was often handed the sugar bowl with its desert spoon which I left unused.
The bright purple Sunrise is a newly built guest house standing in a gated compound with bougainvillea growing over the walls near the taxi/bus park. I was led to my immaculately clean tiled self contained room with net and a fan, a real bargain at 10,000tzs.
I’m not sure if it was the time of the year, the cycle of the moon or whether I timed it badly wrong but on every occasion I went to
the beach the tide seemed to be out, way out. Last time I was here I remember the tide right in and the oceans waves were lapping at the base of the Casaurina trees at the edge of the beach.
At 7am the tide was out again so I walked the full length of the beach, and then played in the waves for a couple of hours before returning to the Sunrise to change then on to the tea shack with a ruthless appetite.
Most mornings of the days I spent in Pangani I’d go to the beach early morning and often go again mid afternoon. At the internet café at times I struggled to get a decent connection and yet other times I would have no trouble at all. At times I struggled to find my favourite Tanzanian English language paper “The Guardian” at either of the two news stands, one in the taxi park and the other near the ferry that crosses the river. One day I did splash out the 200TZS the fare for a foot passenger to cross to Bweni the other side of the river, although the crossing was enjoyable there is not
a lot on the other side; a few tea shacks and a gaggle of boda riders pestering for a fare. Tanga
Buses to Tanga seem to leave all through the morning. I’d intended to catch the big bus that comes from south of the river an arrives around 9;30 in Pangani. The smaller mini-buses tend to only leave when they are full where as the big bus doesn’t hang around. No sign of the big bus I boarded the mini-bus then sat on it as it did a loop of the village and sat back at the bus park before eventually leaving for Tanga. The road from Pangani to Tanga is marginally better than the one that goes to Muheza and the tarmac ends at the edge of town and I didn't see nay again until reaching Tanga.
Unless you want to end up at the new Tanga bus park several miles west of town, you have to alight before the centre of town in the Ngamiani area of town. Most people seem to disgorge themselves from the packed bus here on the busy road just before the centre of town, and the usual gaggle of bodas
await the passengers here to take you to your final destination. I spurned the advances of the motorised boda and bajaj drivers and as a keen cyclist I opted for pedal powered transport to Chuda and the Mississippi guest house. Fair does, the guy riding the bike earned his 1,000TZS that he quoted for carrying me plus my bag. So I did add to the fare.
The Mississippi is where I’ve stayed before and have always been made to feel welcome so I bought a round of drinks at the small bar there for Mama the manager, Lillian who works on the bar and reception and myself, and then another round. Paying for the drinks and for my room the change I was given in return was exactly enough for one more round of drinks so thought why not and bought a third round. Tidy!
Tired and hungry now not having any breakfast I showered and changed and walked down 8th
street and stopped to buy some rather good and very cheap nylon bhajia. I also got a warm welcome in a mbege bar on the same road. It was
good to be back in Tanga.
The road my guest house was on ran parallel to the railway line and along this line of buildings and on some other buildings nearer town was written “BOMOA” crudely written in red spay paint. Back at my guest house I asked mama what all that was about.
“Reli ya umeme” she told me.
The buildings where they had encroached onto railway land and been built illegally are to be demolished to make way for an electric railway line!
A breakfast “of sorts” is included in the 15k price of the room but is was just bread and chai maziwa (milk tea) but I ordered and paid the extra for an omelette from the kitchen which was really quite good. I’ve always found African eggs tastier that those we get at home. The twice weekly market (Tuesday and Saturday) was on today along Pangani road. It was bouncing; mainly stalls selling second hand clothes or cheap synthetic Chinese made clobber. Manya stall holder would call out greetings in Swahili or even in Kisambaa. In Ngamiani I came across an Indian sweet centre; I’m not big on
I fine drop of Mbege available at Ken's place in Tanga.
sweets but like all Indian sweet centres they also sold snacks and this place I was told was famous for its dal kachori and after ordering a plateful I could see why. They were excellent. It wasn’t just the kachori it was also the pickle that accompanied the spicy Indian dumplings.
I left and walked south down Mkwakani street towards the permanent food market near the taxi park only stopping to have an excellent cinnamon tea. Further south again I came to an area where they sold bikes and bike parts. One shop after another selling predominantly “sit-up and begs” but there was a really nice Schwim fixie I was seriously tempted with. It was a tidy looking machine, so I popped into the near-by Mini twin bar and mulled over the logistics of how I could get a bike back to the UK from TZ whilst supping Pilsner.
I woke early feeling that I’d been bitten by a mosquito, I immediately found the culprit that had found its way under my net and squashed him in a bloody smudge against the wall.
I was feeling drained today but it was understandable after all the walking I’d
done in the heat of day yesterday; walking from Chuda to Ngamiani along Swahili street where I stopped at the Wananchi bar, into Bombo and for a swift Kibo amongst some serious pissheads at Mtunduki bar, and then all the way to City Hotel at Chumbageni where I sank a litre and a half of cold water then a Pilsner and from there back to Chuda, where I watched the football on TV at the bar in Mtendere hotel.
Although I was tired I walked to the internet café in Ngamiani but only managed half an hour on line before the power went. I was not far from Nawhad the sweet mart and found the thought of kachori hard to resist.
The Indian owner turned up. “It’s so damned hot and the power has just gone.” He complained. I resisted the urge to say “why are you where a thick pair of jeans and a vest under a shirt then.” Power or no power I tend to wear a only vest and a pair of linen shorts to walk around town.
I walked to Bombo and eventually reached the Mkonge hotel where I paid for use of
Dal Kachori, Tanga
The best Dal Kachori on the planet, end of!
the pool, and at 5k I thought a bargain. I had 2 ½ lazy hours to my self at the pool. I walked back into town stopping at “Food Palace” for an OK veg curry and rice before walking all the way back to my guest house in Chuda.
Another day another plate of Kachori at the Sweet Mart on 8th
street, and it if at all possibly was the best I’d had. It crossed my mind to go back to Makonge for another day at the pool but alas, the sun yesterday was possibly too much for my tender Welsh skin. Not sure if it was because of the sun but I also hada bit of “tummy trouble” so bought some ciprofloxin and dosed myself straight away Korogwe
My tummy seemed fine the next morning so I picked up my bag and hailed a boda and for 3,000TZS got transport to the new bus park about 7k west of town back towards the cement works. I was at the bus park at 8 and the Lushoto bound bus I was on moved away 30 minutes later, and bang on 11 we arrived at Korogwe for
the fare of 3’500.
I had never previously stopped at
but had passed through town and knew the bus park was right in the middle of town So I was somewhat thrown when we stopped at a brand spanking new bus park just off the roundabout a couple of clicks south of the older bus park that still exists.
Because of not knowing exactly where I was I took up the offer of a taxi into town. I thought the taxi driver would also know a decent place to stay for 15k, but he had to ask and stopped one place first before being dropped at the door of the Marangu Inn. The taxi driver insisted on checking the price before I left the cab. He came back beaming.
“it is only 12k so because I found you a room for 12k and not 15k you can afford to give me three thousand instead of 1,500 we agreed for the taxi ride”. I had to laugh at the cheeky old boy but then explained that he’d also picked up 2 other women from the bus park and charged them 500 each. We compromised, we shook each
others hands and he went away smiling with the 2k I’d given him.
The room was perfectly acceptable all be it a bit sparse but had a big bed, a fan and a table to dump my bag on I didn’t mind a bucket shower instead of running water. The Marangu inn was opposite the old bus park and the bus park’s move to a new location was possibly the reason for the place to be so quiet; so I had a choice of the rooms.
I went walkabout and walked as far as the Pangani river which took me 40 minutes. I slid down the bank under the bridge to take a closer look a bit further up stream I could see a couple of lads stripping off and bathing in the water so to give them a bit of privacy and to get away from the stink of piss that came from under the bridge I went to find a drink.
“I love you so much baby, you are very handsome” is not the usual Tanzanian greeting but this was my welcome by a pretty girl at one of a line of a few bars
about equidistant between the river and my hotel. What was more welcome was that both the big bottle of water and the Pilsner were both ice cold as I was now sweating buckets in what I found to be the surprisingly humid heat of Korogwe. I trudged off from the bar sweating again back to my gaff buying some more water and some mtindi and chilled reading the Guardian I’d also bought.
That evening I went to the near by “Travellers” bar which I thought was a surprisingly smart boozer with smart boozer prices with Pilsner being 2k a bottle, then I went for a piss and after seeing the toilet quickly changed my mind. The outside space of the was full of tables and chairs facing the main road and you could watch the Arusha to Dar es Salaam buses tearing along the highway.
The music here was dreadful, it was African style faux reggae or basically songs by Lucky Dube; saying that, it could have been the same Lucky Dube song played over and over again because all his songs sound pretty much the same. I’ve had the misfortune of seeing him perform live twice, whether
I was at an African music festival in Den Haage or Nairobi your man Dube would turn up.
Hunger and dreadlocked South African singers drove me away from The Travellers and I entered the Mvuti Hotel a few doors away from where I was staying and I had every intention of feasting on some chips but instead went for greens, mchuzi, beans and rice. The rice was piping hot and cooked to perfection and I had a choice of fresh or dried and ground chilli to pep up my meal. They had a choice of tamarind, passion or karotti juice, I was well made when tasting the carrot juice to find it with more than a hint of ginger.
It was all delicious and quite possibly the best non-Indian meal I’d had so far on the trip. It was twice as good as the lunch I’d eaten at the taxi park and it was half the price, I paid 1,500TZS meal and juice.
Planning to have an early night I went back to my room and at reception a bloke introduced himself as “Kelvin from immigration. I’m just doing my routine checks.” As he showed
me his I.D.
These blokes from Tanzanian immigration are well keen, I thought. I got my passport from my room and once he saw my valid visa he thanked me and was on his way. Handeni
Packed and ready to leave at around 7 am, I asked Babu the watchman whether transpoprt to Handeni left from the new or old taxi park
“Wait a little.” He said and he ran off towards the old taxi stand and returned a few minutes later.
“Mpya” He said, so it was the new stand.
Now this unfeasibly helpful watchman flagged down a Bajaj but then told the driver where to go when he wanted 2,000. he collared another.
“Stendi mpya ngapi?” He asked again.
“Buku” was the answer, 1k was the right price.
The all new singing and dancing bus park at Korogwe was fenced off and to enter it was almost like entering a football ground through a turnstile for which one had to pay the sum of 200TZS. 15 minutes later the minibus I’d boarded was rattling its way along a very fast road steadily
uphill towards Handeni.
I was surprised at the change in climate; Korogwe which was at the bottom of the mountain was lush green, hot and sticky yet only an hour and a half’s drive up here to Handeni it was all hot and dry .
The dusty bus stand at Handeni reminded me more of somewhere like Ukambani in Kenya more so than anywhere I had yet been to in TZ. I alighted I declined a tempting offer of an onward bus journey to the town/village of Songe on the Massai steppe and instead looked for somewhere at the bus stand for breakfast, and how could I not resist going for a cuppa and a chapatti at somewhere called “Sophia Punk Hotel”. I ate two freshly made chapattis with my cuppa and I enjoyed them so much I ordered another tea and chapatti, excellent.
Just behind the café was a guest house it was obvious where it was but a bloke insisted on showing me to a guest house. 25k was a bit out of my price range.
“I know another” my new self-appointed guide told me, in really good English.
The next place was
Chogo bar and Guest house which had a room for 8k but the bathroom was separate from the room and even that would not be free till this afternoon, but the bar looked a great place for a drink. Here they suggested I try Long family Guest House.
My “guide” said his name was Alan (but everyone called him Teacher) and he showed me the way.
“I used to be a teacher” he told me.
He was harmless enough; I figured he was desperate for a few bob so on reaching long family I gave him a 1,000 note.
Long Family Guest House was fine for 15k it had no running water but a huge bucket of water was in the clean bathroom and a flat screen TV was next to the large netted bed. If you wanted the huge bucket topped up with water one of the girls would bring several buckets of water filled up from an underground water tank that was accessed via manhole cover just in front of the bar!
I wandered around town and I soon realised that the bus stand where I’d arrived was nowhere near the centre of
town which was possibly 2 k away and the post office and government buildings over a river and up a hill further away again. The market was a typical rural Tanzanian market where I bought some Ubuyu the almost sherbet like fruits of the Baobab tree, as well as a scarf from a stall selling Islamic clothing such as kanzus and scull caps. And before leaving the market I bought a couple of cups of thick strong coffee just to get me back to my guest house.
I was right about the Chogo bar it was a good little boozer and that afternoon from 4 I was relaxing there and only popped out to buy some chips and to get my sandals repaired by a fundi who’d set up his business under the shade of a tree close to the pub.
I was surprised to awake when it was already light, I must have slept well. One of the Tanzanian TV channels streams BBC news in the morning and I watched that for a while before bathing and dressing and then eating breakfast at a tea stall near my guest house called “Chezy Cage”.
I tried to find out what time transport left to Dar but all the advice I was given was all really confusing. There was a bus company office in the centre of town I thought I’d check there later when I went walkabout.
At the smart new bus office Hadjees Safari limited had several coaches that left for Dar every day, I handed over my 10’000 and in return I was given a bus ticket for seat No2 on tomorrow’s 7am bus.
That afternoon I was back at the Chogo when about six or seven Masaai entered the bar all dressed in their usual shukas and carrying rungus. One was an elderly woman who was plainly very ill who they helped into one of the guests’ rooms. One of them a middle aged bloke came back into the bar and scanning the bottles of beer on the shelves ordered a Kibo kidogo. He had obviously never tried one before as he pulled a face as soon as he tasted his beer but necked the whole bottle all the same and he was more surprised when he received his change asking if Kibo was only 1’000 each. You
could see him thinking about this as he asked the waitress
“So for 10’000 you can buy 10 beers?”
It was Friday at the end of the month and the waitresses in the bar must have had their monthly wage. The town’s jewellery hawkers must have known this because one after the other they entered the bar and did good business as did the young lads working as manicurists and painting nails.
The next morning the Hajees smart new looking bus left on time from the bus park before a short stop at their in-town office. It appeared the 7am bus was used by a lot of people like a commuter bus and seemed to stop at every other mango tree to pick up or drop off passengers.
Of all the towns and villages I’ve been to in Tanzania I reckon Handeni has the highest proportion of smokers in the country. In bars people generally go outside for a smoke or ask if you mind if they light up in a boozer but Handeni’s smokers seemed happy to spark up where and when they liked and even as the bus was about to leave a gaggle
Clinton Bar, Dar es Salaam.
An excellent juke box in an excellent boozer.
smokers were getting their last nicotine fix fiercely sucking on the cancer sticks for all their worth before entering the coach.
The bus was taking forever to travel the first two dozen kilometres and then on the edge of Dar we hit the traffic and crawled all the way to Ubungo.
I thought the Saturday traffic would be a lot easier to negotiate but I was wrong. I was also surprised at how full the mwendokasi was at a weekend. It was standing room only as I got onboard the bus and at each stop it gradually became ever more tightly packed.
After worming myself and my cabin sized wheelie bag through the throng on board and freeing myself from the bus I found myself pretty much outside the DDC social hall, and just to be social myself I went in for a quick scoop. Lunch time on a Saturday it was pretty busy but could still get to my favourite spot near the caged off counter. A second beer quickly followed before I left for my hotel. Dar
The last few days of my trip were spent doing a bit of shopping
and enjoying some of the excellent food available in Dar es Salaam. The previous year there was a rather good Indian restaurant not too distant from my hotel but since then it had closed so when I wanted an Indian meal (which was most days) it meant me going to Kisutu to either Rasoi or Bhorg 69 both veggie restaurants.
Near my hotel were a few street stalls selling chips one stall was excellent, alongside the fresh chips that were fried in huge karais you were asked if you wanted it with everything; everything was mayonnaise, salad, chilli sauce tamarind sauce and ketchup. I always plump for everything except tomato ketchup! Around the corner is Agrrey Street. Each side of Aggrey Street near the mosque is lined with the best street food in Kariokoo, there is obviously a lot of roasted meat but there is also a place selling beans and chapatti, roasted octopus and octopus soup and one of my favourites a bowl of ‘mix’.
Mix is a bowl of thin spicey soup the guy selling mix will then add diced cooked potatoes fresh coriander, small pieces of bhagia, crisps and if you like a large dollop of chilli sauce; possibly the best 1,000 TZS you could spend on a meal in Dar es Salaam.
Mix is what I ate on my last night in TZ before getting my late night taxi to the airport to fly back to the UK.
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