Friday, 19 September 2008

15th September 08

Date: 15th September 08
Location: Sitalike, Tanzania
Weather: Clear blue skies and sunny, no wind unfortunately! 35°c
Status: Hmmm, bumpy, dusty roads again but all’s well…this is Africa!

What a day of awful roads, bumping tracks and dust filled lungs and nostrils!

Up at first light and as I opened the zip to the tent I heard a noise right outside the door of feet shuffling away. As my tired eyes focused I saw three giraffe no more than 10 feet away staring right back at me! Wow again!

We packed up the tent right on the bank of the river looking down on the group of hippo who’d just returned to the water from their night time feasting of the grasses on the opposite bank, had a quick bite of breakfast before heading out of the town and back onto the bad road north towards our destination Kigoma, 350kms away.

I did choose to take this track for the adventure it would offer in comparison to the tarmac highway which goes from Malawi to Mombasa via Dar Es Salaam, but after the last three days of irritating, dry, dusty and really rocky, bouncy conditions I did start to question my own intelligence for having done so!

I like to keep the inside of the truck clean and dust free as it’s my living space and sometimes I need to be away from the outside world, but it proves impossible when the windows are open for ventilation and you’re passing through areas which during the rainy season are impassable as the roads flood and wash away large sections of the track. The repairs are then carried our by bulldozing the surrounding countryside back in to fill the gaps and this is invariably topsoil which once it’s been pounded by truck tyres of times, becomes microscopically tiny dust particles…..try keeping these out of something like the Colonel which isn’t exactly airtight!

As the day progressed we covered a good distance, stopped for some lunch in a rocky area of the mountain range we were passing through and were attacked by tiny black flies who all wanted our water, gave a local who’d just cycled up the steepest of hills some water, and eventually arrived at what I thought would be the start of the tarred road signalling the last 86kms to Kigoma. How wrong I was! Instead the road was just as bad but twice as wide, balls.

We eventually pulled into the cities outskirts as the sun was setting and made for the Tanganika Beach Hotel to find out if we could camp there….it was a building site, so the next place we chosen from the guide book was the Aqua Lodge…..this had since closed down. Hmmm, so we followed the nearest sign advertising the Coast View Hotel up the hill and to a location overlooking the bay. We pulled into the driveway of a brand new luxury looking palace!

I went to reception and gingerly asked if we could camp on their driveway….not expecting a yes at all! The manager was called as I explained the situation and asked about spending the night there. Now he was slightly pissed and said we couldn’t setup camp in their driveway, but instead he’d let us have a room for the same cost as we’d paid for camping on the previous two nights!!! Ha awesome, a double room with shower, fan and tv for nothing! The Colonel would be spending the night alone.

We ate in the very good and cheap restaurant as we had nothing left in the fridge and met a couple of real characters, Leroy the waiter; again pissed and very friendly asking all the time for a set of free shades. And the in waltzed ‘B’ – Byron, a Canadian gentleman who was very forward, excitable and seemed to know everybody in the world including Mr Richard Branson of course….and if I could prove I was doing my expedition for a decent cause he’d make a donation, sweet!

After catching up on the day’s news on Aljazeera TV and finding out that the results for the Rwandan elections are due on exactly the day we want to enter the country (not a very good thing to do at all!) we went to bed.

End of day location: Kigoma, Tanzania
Distance covered: 365kms

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