Dar, Zanzibar, Back to Dar and Arusha.
I still hate Dar. Yep. No amount of time I will ever spend there will make me change my mind. Thankfully the promise of Zanzibar and the Indian Ocean make up for it but I can’t say I will ever book my own trip to go there. If I were to do Zanzibar on my own, I would fly. The traffic is worse than Nairobi which is enough for anyone with a severe road rage problem to avoid it and the suppressing heat and humidity and smell of rotten fish just make it a thousand times worse than what it could be. Unless you are visiting a long lost family friend that is stuck there then there is simply no reason to visit. So don’t.
The beaches are however a saviour. Granted we don’t spend much time in Dar so I am probably not really one who should judge but the journey through the traffic, on to the small ferry and then on to a matatu that we have to take to get to the beaches still doesn’t make Dar anywhere where I would spend much time. I can see a beach in Kenya that would probably be nicer and visit it in the comfort of a private car. Why would I bother going to Dar to get to Zanzibar. The true answer is I wouldn’t. I only do it because the itinerary says so. I guess it is a good way for the tourists to get a taste of the local life and the experience is quite something but I dread that part of the journey. Every time. What also makes it worse is the butt crack of dawn early wake up call (4:30am) from Chitimba and the very long drive to avoid the traffic. We then only stay a matter of hours and the small ferry, heat, chaos and pandemonium starts all over again to catch the big ferry to Zanzibar. Thankfully on the way over this time it was smooth sailing and no one I was near was sea sick. In fact I think I spent most of the time sleeping or watching snippets of the Jackie Chan movie being played on the screens. Some say that this ferry journey is a highlight. Granted this time around it was actually sunny so the views were pretty good but being stuck on a floating boat with many people (some who actually get sea sick) just doesn’t quite cut it as a highlight for me. At best it’s a great time to catch up on sleep.
Once we arrived in Zanzibar I didn’t have to do the spice tour this time around so I had a chance to have time to myself. As I was with the tour leader and her family we decided to hit a really cute cafe tucked away behind a big building for some fresh seafood lunch and a chance to shop. Thanks to my shopping companions I now have more crap that I don’t need and a new outfit or two. Unnecessary but it was such a pleasure spending my time not really being a tourist and doing things that I would do back home. It was then sundowners and a delicious seafood dinner followed by cocktails. Zanzibar is awesome. I can see why people now told me that I simply had to go. Stone Town reminds me a lot of Lamu with the people, buildings and alleyways and general lifestyle. I don’t think I could spend much time there but it is nice to be somewhere that feels so familiar. I look forward to the days when I can explore it on my own, I have no doubt that there are little treasures tucked away round the back somewhere. I can not wait to go back already and I only left there a few days ago. Oh and the beach. Who could not love it there. On North Bound trips we have 3 days at the beach instead of 2 so more time to soak up the sun and spot some fish. I literally spent my days catching up with old friends (another tour leader I met a while ago and a randomer I met in Kenya), having a few cheeky bevvies, dancing my shoes bare at a reggae party and sleeping. It was heaven. Ad the fresh fish thrown in there too. Uh. Take me back. I could stay there for a while.
The return journey on the ferry was horrendous. I sat right at the front, stupidly, so ended up feeling a little green. Not green enough to bring out the sick bag but green enough for want it to be over. The two people sitting me either side did help with the distractions of games if scrabble and logos but at the time I knew getting off was going to be the only cure. I have to remember to get some anti nausea tablets or something because that was not enjoyable. And to think people call it a highlight. They have to be crazy.
When we got back to Dar I headed straight to the sea to wash off the grime of the day and settled down for the evening to some email checking and Facebook.
It’s times like these that I miss my family. I love Facebook but I hate it too. I just realised how much I miss out on when I am not there. To be fair my adventure is awesome and I can guarantee you are all missing out here too but nothing beats being at home with the family and doing fun things together. It was only bad this time around as everyone sounded like they had such fun at the rhino charge and I desperately wanted to go. I soon got over it because I too was heading home and then on to Uganda. I realised that moments of homesickness are allowed but only short moments.
As it was a very long drive the next day to Arusha I decided to call it quits and go to sleep. 4:30am is not my favourite time of the day but being awake for sunrise does make it all a little more worthwhile. As a group we a also getting really good at these long driving days. One of the girls comes up with quizzes and fun games to play. My musical knowledge is growing greater by the day and I am fast running out of good reading material. I guess that I should enjoy it while it lasts as when I am working I am us accounting and planning will be keeping me busy but there nothing worse than sitting in a truck for 8 hours going crazy and realising that you are only half way to the destination. Ma and BJ at the Meserani Snake Park are really a good cure for Arusha road rage and 16hour driving insanity. They always have a friendly face and a cold beer waiting for you. It’s always a pleasure seeing them and catching up. It’s like meeting your grand parents and them doing everything they can to cheer you up. I can see why everyone loves them so much, they make it so easy.
It was a quick dinner and an early bed, we were heading to the Serengetti and Ngorongoro crater the next day. I have always wanted to go there so I refused to be tired. This is the first real chance of wildlife spotting I have had since I left and I was not ready to miss out. I was lucky that the company let me go this time too. I love Arusha and a few days break and rest would have been awesome but game viewing and bush camping just seemed much more exciting. Who wouldn’t want to go?
Bed that night was awesome and the shower was the best shower I had had in a while. Even though it was cold it was still great to get the dust off and to refresh. Sleeping on a Safari is a big no no for me so getting a decent 6 hours was all that I needed. I woke up way beyond excited and ready to see some Elephants. It was that great that it gets its own blog post!