Thursday, 16 October 2008

15th October 08

Date: 15th October 08
Location: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Weather: Heavy rain overnight then clearing up to leave a hot and humid day. 34°c
Status: Drifting aimlessly in the Indian Ocean……

Africa, you’ve gotta love it!! it really has been one of those days, that started off well and then deteriorated pretty rapidly. We got up early and had breakfast with Mum and Dad, a superb mixture of fresh fruit, scrambled eggs and pancakes. Took my own coffee along as it was one of those chicory-real coffee substitutes.

James spoke to the owner of the campsite who gave us some information about the journey across to Zanzibar and the running of the ferries. There was one leaving at 12.30pm and if we hurried we’d make it, mistake number 1.

Hurriedly threw everything we’d need in a bag and organised the truck so it could hold the remainder of our gear for the next few days whilst we were away. Left it securely parked in the hotel car park and caught a taxi to the ferry port which took 20 minutes, longer than expected so we arrived at the first ferry across to the main Dar terminals late.

Grabbed our tickets and joined the throng of passengers already waiting for it, after 20 minutes they let us all on and we were just swept along by the crowds until we were all just about together. The short 10 min crossing took far too long and we arrived at our destination with just enough time to grab a cab to the second ferry port (across to Zanzibar) and rush to what I thought was the ticket office to buy our tickets. Mistake number 2.

What I thought was the office was in fact the office of one of the touts, Ally. A nice enough character but he was in it for himself and after we’d bought the tickets we sprinted down to where the ferry was supposed to be leaving from…..and it was already gone. Balls.

The next one was due to depart at 4.00pm but this was the fast ferry which would cost us another 15.000 schillings each. Reluctantly I parted with the cash for all of us, Bre all the time thinking to herself “why the hell is he doing it!” what I should have done was walk myself to the ticket office and buy the damn things but the heat of the moment and the urgency to get across to Zanzibar made me loose my normal level headed self and I just went ahead and did it.

We just spent far too much on the tickets across to the island and now had to wait for another 3hrs until we’d depart. Not according to the normal well-oiled Ben plan, balls x 2.

Hmmm so we sat and waited it out, me worrying all the time about Mum and Dad and their first day’s experience with Africa again. They didn’t seem to mind but I’d rather things would go smoothly of course!

We got ourselves going around 3pm and made our way to the terminal, arrived with no problems and queued for nearly an hour before we made our way on board….at least the tickets we’d been sold were genuine! The boat was similar to the ones used between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight seating around 200 people inside and also out which was weird!? A high speed ferry chucking up god knows how much spray soaking everybody at the rear, well at full speed at least!

An hour into the 2 hour journey the swell was rocking the vessel around beautifully with a few of the passengers blowing chunks into black sick bags, the sun was starting to set and we were cruising along very well. Then the vessel suddenly slowed and we were trickling along at less than the speed of a cross-channel car ferry, this was accompanied by the sound of a very rough engine. After 20 minutes of drifting one of the crew came down and told us we’d lost one of the engines!!

Its now an hour later and we’re still slowly plodding across the ocean towards our destination which originally we were supposed to be at for 6pm, its now nearly 7pm and were not even close yet!!!

Australian boat, African crew who stand no chance of fixing the damn thing and us the passengers wondering when we’ll make it to the island! That lobster which was on the cards seems a very long way away now!

Watch this space…..

Arrived at the port finally at 8pm and met our walking taxi Eddy who took us to the hotel, amazingly gorgeous place with two double beds (in case of arguments!) and air con all for a very reasonable price. Ordered a taxi and then made for Mercury’s, a Freddy Mercury tribute seafood restaurant on the beach which serves the most amazing seafood imaginable. Bre and I shared a full on seafood platter which was awesome and then we all headed home.

End of day location: Stone Town, Zanzibar
Distance covered: 80kms across the ocean

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