THURSDAY August 4, 2005
Most of today was good. We went to the National Museum, which was
different but still pretty cool. There were some
neat things there and I'm glad we finally got the chance to go. Then,
the inevitable happened. We had to sit and wait for
dinner. We were supposed to have dinner at Salma's aunt's home at 6pm.
Hendrik had a meeting at 4:30pm and he
was supposed to go with us. This, of course, changed to we were leaving
at 6pm, meaning we finally left at 6:4pm,
So, we sat at this opulent house until 8:45pm when dinner was served.
By this time, everyone was cranky, especially
Meinderd and Hanna who had specifically told Hendrik, several times,
that they wanted to be home early so that they
could pack their stuff. When we were told that dinner was at 6pm, we
thought it would really happen. We had even
gone to the internet cafe for an hour and were quite happy with the way
the day was turning out. Paul, who was now
literally falling asleep at the dinner table, spilled his beer all over
my plate and my pants. Now, I was already cranky
because it was so late and now I got to sit for a few hours stinking of
beer. To make matters worse, Paul has informed
me that he wants to leave tomorrow and go home. I can't really say that
I blame him. He has been the most patient of
us all during this trip and I think he's finally had it.
Hendrik finally shows up around 10pm and has his dinner. Meanwhile, the
rest of us are cursing under our breath and
just want to go home. Meinderd and I were going to review our photos
tonight and then I was going to burn him a
copy. This plan, as well as any hope of packing is now gone as we
simmer in anger.
We finally got home just after 11:30pm and everyone just went straight
to their rooms and went to bed.
FRIDAY August 5, 2005
Today was a pretty good day for me. Paul and I stayed at the rental
house until 5pm when Hendrik took us to dinner.
We had said goodbye to Meinderd and Hanna earlier as they were packed
to leave and had to spend most of the day
sitting at Salma's parent's house waiting to leave. Hanna was supposed
to get more henna done but, surprise, surprise,
the woman never showed up to do it. Although their flight left at
11:10pm, Hendrik's father was at the airport at 4pm.
He was paranoid he wouldn't be able to leave I guess.
After dinner, we decided to go with Hendrik to the airport. We waited
there about an hour before everyone was
allowed to enter the airport. It's weird because you can't actually
enter the airport until your flight is called. So you sit
outside on benches waiting until they call you. You also have to pay $8
in American dollars in order to leave the country.
It's all very bizarre to me. Anyway, their flight went off okay and we
headed to Best Bite for some ice cream. I paid for
everyone and then, when it was my turn to get my cone, they were out of
vanilla. Typical. I swear this country hates me.
Salma was nice enough to give me hers and she shared with Hendrik. We
were home early, 9:30pm.
SATURDAY August 6, 2005
Today we are heading out to Tanga, which is the name of the country's
third largest city as well as the name of the region
of the country. It's also Salma's birthplace and her home for the first
17 years of her life. We're going to be staying with
Nganya's parents once we get there and I imagine we're going to do lots
of touristy things. Hendrik keeps saying it's a
four hour bus ride but I'm convinced it's going to take at least seven
So, here we go again. It's almost comical by now. The bus was an hour
late so we left at just after 4:30pm and arrived
just after 10:30pm. Of course, we also couldn't have just one thing go
wrong, not when your traveling with Hendrik.
Like I said, this country hates me.
Our bus was supposed to be a first class bus, have a TV and a movie and
air conditioning. None of this came to fruition.
On top of all this, it had to be the shittiest bus ever made. Half the
seats were broken and, as my luck seems gigantically
crappy, I had the worst seat of them all. The cup holder on the seat in
front of me was broken. It seems someone must
have really needed the magnet that held it up so they unscrewed it,
took the magnet and then put the screws back in.
The footrest was also broken, happily bouncing around and whacking my
The best part, however, was my broken
seat. It leaned halfway back to the seat behind me and, whenever we hit
a bump, joyfully flapped around, making my
head bounce along with it. This only lasted about a third of the way
through the trip because the seat finally broke on a
large bump, leaving me sitting very uncomfortably with no back rest and
the poor lady behind me with a back rest
practically in her lap. Now, one would think that this was enough of an
adventure, but no, there was more fun to be had
on this death trip.
We approached the weigh station just outside Dar and were told that 25
people had to get off and walk a quarter of a
mile past the weigh station because the bus was overweight.
normally, it wouldn't have been, especially since the
bus wasn't full. However, we found out that it was likely that the
driver was transporting something that he shouldn't have
been carrying. We didn't ask what that was. It's better that way.
So, off the people go and we drive up to and onto the scale. A lady two
rows ahead of us is on her cell phone, yelling
and swearing in swahili at the owner of the bus company. I call it the
shittiest bus ride ever, but that is being polite
compared to the things she was saying. As this is going on, we get off
the scale and start to turn around.
was left on the bus had to move to the front of the bus to make the
back lighter and get back in line to get on the scales
again. This time we passed, although we had lost a good 30 minutes.
Then, we drove up and picked up all the people
who had been kicked off earlier.
Shortly after this, we were given a packet of coconut wafers and soda,
then they gave us a bottle of water. Paul and I
stuck the water in our bags because it was way too much liquid to
About an hour later, we stopped to go to the
bathroom, or short call. I really had to go but I decided to wait. I
had no toilet paper with me and I didn't want to pee
in a pitch black field in the middle of the night with 40 strangers
around me. So, off we went again until we finally
Ngangya's parent's home is really nice and so are her parents. Even
though it was late, they gave us some food, which
included cow's intestines. I passed on those but ate some of everything
SUNDAY August 7, 2005
6am - damned rooster woke me up
7am - damned rooster is still at it
8am - damned rooster is going to die, but after I've had a shower.
9am - cold shower, again. You can only get hot water by boiling it and
taking it into the shower with you in a bucket.
This is common in nearly every home and I'm far too polite to wake
someone up just so they can boil me some water.
11:30pm - today ended up being a very busy day and I am quite tired
now. Paul and I are getting ready for bed as we
opted to come home and sleep while Hendrik, Salma and Dina are off at
Today we went to see the Amboni Caves, which are limestone caves and
one of the most extensive cave systems in East
Africa. The caves were used as a hideout by the Mau Mau during the
1950s when they were fighting the British. It was
really cool and really hot inside the caves. There are lots of natural
formations that look like other things. There were
also a lot more bats than I had expected but they didn't bother us at
all. It was fun, especially all the very tight spots we
had to maneuver around that required us to squat and walk, sometimes
crawl to get through some areas. A flashlight
was definitely necessary and, as I was at the back of the line and away
from the light, I saw much of the cave in near total
darkness. It was still a good trip and a fun experience.
Next, we went to the Tongoni Ruins, which were also interesting. They
are what remains of a mosque and its tombs from
the 14th century. They are also the largest collection of Shirazi
pillar style tombs in East Africa. At high tide, the ocean
comes up to the edge of the cliff that the ruins lie on. There are many
mangrove trees at the bottom of the cliff that get
partially covered as the tide comes in.
After all this, we went on a drive to Pangani. We mostly just drove
around but we also passed through a very large
sisal plantation estate. The sisal was on both sides of the road. Some
of it had already been harvested so I saw plants
that were just beginning, all the way to being cut and bundled and
packed onto trucks.
We also crossed over the Pangani River and had lunch at a new hotel on
top of the bluff. It used to be some other hotel
but it closed, was bought and has now been redone. It was very nice but
we waited two hours for lunch to be served.
We also had to wait over an hour for dinner (with signs marked "minimum
45 minute for dinner") so I am assuming that
this is typical in this area of the country.
I also saw my first two-story mud-brick house today. I had always
assumed that it wasn't possible to build more than
one level but there it was, standing on the banks of the river.
MONDAY August 8, 2005
Today is Nane Nane Day (Farmer's Day). Essentially, it appears to be
similar to our Labor Day. Some shops will be
open for a short time but almost everything will be closed. We're
supposed to go to the Galanos Sulphur Springs today
but I'm not sure if this is going to happen because it's after 8am and
Hendrik and Salma are still sleeping.
10:30pm - Okay, we got a tour of town today, which is smaller than I
thought but also very laid back and nice. We also
stopped into the local market where I discovered topatopa fruit. It was
very tasty and I wish I could bring some home
but that's not possible. So, I will just eat lots of it here.
Afterwards, Hendrik and Salma left us because they had to do
the rounds of the relatives. So, we went back to Nganya's parent's home
and had lunch, then took Dina with us to the
The Galanos Sulphur Springs is an interesting trip.
The springs themselves aren't all that impressive, thought Paul and
Dina enjoyed them. They both drank the water there and washed their
faces. Getting to the springs is difficult, at best.
I don't know how or if anyone can visit them in the rainy season. The
road goes from normal dirt road to "how the hell
do you navigate these holes and ruts" to "what the hell were we
thinking?" to "what the hell? That's the road?" Then, you
have to get out and walk a good mile to the springs.
You're basically walking through a forest of coconut trees with small
footpaths. Occasionally, you pass someone. They
are always polite and say hello but have the puzzled, "what are white
people doing here" look on their face. It's very
evident that not many people ever come here.
Anyway, it was interesting
and Paul was happy so that's all that counts.
On our walk back out we saw a man climbing a coconut tree with the same
speed and precision as most people walk on
We met up with Hendrik and Salma back in town but they still had 3 or 4
homes left to visit, so we returned to relax a bit
before dinner. Relax we did. For four hours! I swear, I will never get
used to 10pm dinners!
TUESDAY August 9, 2005
8am - Well, I've been up for four hours already. That damned rooster
needs to die! If this was my home, we'd be
eating rooster for breakfast today.
Oh, Hendrik also told me that they bought the wrong tickets to get here
and has assured me he got the right ones this
time. I still don't understand why people put up with such shoddy
10am - So, one of the taxis didn't show up and we had to cram into one
car to get to the bus station. Of course this was
the car that Salma had already given some money to last night so that
he would be on time this morning. Hendrik and
Salma dropped us off the station and went to buy some ubuyu (boab fruit
boiled in sugar, with red coloring). This stuff is
very good and tastes a bit like a mounds or bounty bar minus the
chocolate. Salma's mom is going back to Tanga on
Saturday so I will be sure to give her a buttload of cash to get me
As usual, the bus is 30 minutes late. I am no longer surprised by such
things. It was an okay bus and was definitely
better than the last bus but we still didn't have any a/c. They claimed
it was running but all I was getting was hot air. We
did have two TVs, one at the front and one at the back and we got to
watch Home Alone 2 and K2. Nice wintery
movies in the middle of summer. This bus ride, however, was uneventful
and we arrived safely back in Dar.
We got off
in Ubungo because it was closer to Salma's parent's house.
Dina went to get a taxi, which ended up being a death rid with a road
raged driver from hell. I swear, I have never seen
so much flipping of the bright light switch in my life. I really
thought the guy was going to break it off. First, the driver was
angry because he thought Dina was alone. There were really five of us,
meaning he couldn't make a lot of money so our
taxi ride went from 8,000 shillings to 10,000 shillings.
The people at
the bus station also wouldn't let him out of the usual
exit because he was about five minutes past time so he had to take the
other exit and pay extra. This did not make him
any happier. In the end, we made it home but not before we were
entertained by the most impatient driver ever,
shifting and switching lanes frantically.
WEDNESDAY August 10, 2005
Today we did a crapload of running around to get a bunch of minor stuff
done. First, we went to the Dutch Embassy to
pick up Hendrik and Salma's marriage paperwork. There's too much
legislation, I think, in filing all that stuff. First, they
signed stuff at the wedding, making it legal in Tanzania. Next, they
had to take it to the embassy for some official
stamping. Now, they have to take it back to Holland and file it with
their local council, making it valid in Holland for six
months. Then, finally, they have to send it off to The Hague to make it
So, with all that done, we headed over to the photographer's place so
they could get some more things taken care of.
Salma ordered some frames from a shop across the street, which were cut
there and delivered to her house later in the
evening. After that we had lunch at The Alcove, a very good indian
restaurant. They had chicken korma and garlic naan
so I was all set.
When lunch was finished, we went back to the
photographer's shop, got Paul and Hendrik's shoes
shined and bought some African music.
Still more was to be done, so we headed off to finish buying gifts for
everyone and then went back to Salma's parent's
house where we finally got a taste of some ugali. The best way for me
to describe ugali is that it looks like a mound of
mashed potatoes but a lot thicker and tastes a bit like bland oatmeal.
It's usually served with some different types of
sauces but their homemade pili pili sauce is way too dang hot so I ate