Riding with Jesus to Dar es Salaam

October 2, 2013 in Africa, Tanzania

It was still dark when I woke up at 4.30 to start packing my belongings for the trip to Dar es Salaam.

The bus was leaving from the center at 5.50 and Benjamin´s house were situated a few kilometers outside the city meaning we had to take some form of transportation to the terminal.

We had agreed with some locals the day before that we would be picked up at 5 in the morning by the gate in front of Benjamins house. They were a no-show so after 10 minutes we started walking towards the bigger road in hope of finding any boda-boda divers awake at the crack of dawn.
It was not even dawn as it was pitch black and walking around on slippery dirt roads without any street lights, is an art in itself. We managed to find two guys coming driving up the bad road and convinced them with some pink elephants (10.000 schillings) to drive us to the bus station.

The flickering pale light from the headlight of the motorcycle was all that could be seen a head of us while cruising down the asphalt in 80 km/h. At least that was what the speedometer said when I glanced over my drivers shoulder.
If it was correct or even working I don’t know.
It was 5.20 in the morning and I was not the freshest person as I had slept just a few hours and was looking forward to sleep on the bus to Dar es Salaam.

When we reached the bus station, we found a small shop that was open and bought something to drink for the road as we now had a minor trip of 10 hours a head of us on what looked like a pretty new bus model.

It was still dark as we pulled out of the station and headed into the early morning with s cool temperature. It didn’t take long before the video system on the bus started and the closest TV screen started flickering and running rows of lines up and down. For those of you who had the fortune to operate a VHS player in your homes knows exactly the flickering I am talking about.

And then it came.. I was half asleep, the dusk was slowly growing outside and someone had set the video volume to a 11 on a 10 scale… ASANTE YESU!
It was a true awakening!
Not in the sense of me being reborn or touched by the lord, but rather by the volume of the praise song performed by Martha Mwaipaja.
Asante is the Swahili word for Thank You.. and I assume I don’t need to translate the word Yesu?
So hardly any more sleeping on this journey.
The songs from Martha kept on for the next hour or two, all with lyrics regarding God or the Lord in one way or another.

When the sun had risen above us I started noticing that the bus didn’t have any air-conditioned and the only fresh air that came into the bus was from the few windows that were open.

However the windows were frequently shut by my other fellow brother and sisters on the bus as they found the draft being cold to my despair. Slowly cooking in my seat it was a minor relief when the bus pulled up outside an establishment by the road. It seemed to serve as the local restaurant point as several buses already had come or was about to leave the place.

We got some 20 minutes to take a piss, breathe some fresh air and buy some fruit and food before the bus stomped off again towards Dar es Salaam. We were already delayed making us see the small time window hat was left to get the last ferry to Zanzibar disappear.

When we reached the outskirts of Dar es Salaam we got caught in the incredible traffic jams and the time window shut on us right there and then to the tones of Canadian music as Celine Dion´s “My heart goes on” and Bryan Adams “All for love”. A bit amusing really.
How would we now make it to Zanzibar and would there be a place for us to sleep if we had to spend the night in Dar es Salaam before taking the first morning ferry. Jake was constantly saying that there must be more ferries than the one written in the Lonely Planet guide.

Finally the bus arrived at the central station and as we walked off the bus we were quickly surrounded by people offering us taxi to all different destinations. Fortunately Jake had befriended a local on the bus as he had become curious about Jake’s Kindle reader.
The man gave us an estimated price range for a boda-boda, our favourite means of transport by now, and we walked out of the station to take one on the street.
We negotiated a price for two of them to take us to the port and off we swooshed between the cars and traffic lanes.
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After riding for some nearly 10 minutes, the drivers drive in on a street which is currently being constructed so there is a lot of unfinished asphalt lying around and huge potholes. I can not see any way out of the street but Jake’s driver passes elegantly between two flowerpots at the end of the street and as me and my driver approach on our bike, a person walks right out in front of us.
My driver stops and starts talking to the person who simply turn of the bike with the key and takes the key and walk away.
I understood nothing.

I start asking but I get no real answer.
I raised my voice and the guy who took the key said,
-I am a police officer, and smiled at me.
-So, was my answer, what is the problem?
I don’t get any real answer but just a mumble back.
I once again raise my voice as I am getting really irritated at this moment over not knowing or getting any answer to what is going on as well as I am in a hurry to the ferry in case there is another one.
-He has to wait, was the only reply I got.
Getting off the bike and taking my bag as well loudly swearing the man start to panic, the policeman that is.
He is asking me where I am going and I just push myself by him and starts talking to one of the boda-boda drivers sitting on the other side.
The policeman, as he claims that he was even without any uniform or showing any ID, suddenly gives the driver back his keys and tells me to go along.
Apparently he was just trying to get a bribe but failed with me.

I was not in a good mood when we finally got off the bikes at the port and we were surrounded once again by touters to tell us where to buy the tickets for the next ferry. Most of these people are homeless and addicts who makes it to get money from the company.
Fortunately I had read up on this and we headed towards the official ticket office while we had one addict running along our side telling us that there is no more ferries today and the tickets are the cheapest at his vendor.

We entered the building and found out that there is a night ferry that leaves in 5 minutes which is the last for the day, but that it will not reach Stonetown until the next morning. Not having any place to sleep in Dar es Salaam we agree to take the last ferry.

zanzibar ferry tanzania