Voi - Tanga





Dear Alex

How are you? I'm not too well at the moment. I've had the shits for a couple of days which has exhausted me. I'm a lot better today and managed the bus journey here without having to squat in the bush thank goodness ! I managed to go out with Rod yesterday - we were in Malindi - to go snorkelling on the reef there. We went out in a small boat with a glass panel in the bottom. I was a real wimp and couldn't cope with snorkelling - I couldn't breath !! but I really enjoyed watching the fish. They were amazing, all colours, sizes, and shapes.
We have just walked into Voi for lunch and to find the bus office to book tickets to Moshi which is in Tanzania right under Kilimanjaro. As all the shops here are like shanty huts it's impossible to find !! We had some food - I managed chips - they eat a lot here. Rod had ugali which is a maize stodge - with about as much flavour as wallpaper paste - and he had greens which he ate with his hands ! A chap came in begging for food and we gave him some - especially as there was enough ugali to sink a ship.

I have to be near the loo still - it's really exhausting me this illness - but I shall get better. Rod has gone back to try again for the bus office and post a letter to Leah and a present for the twins birthday. I'm not sure how long the post takes - it may get worse in Tanzania.

Thursday 24/10/96

I'm sitting on my bag waiting for a matatu which is a mini bus - Bob size ! They are the local buses and completely manic - there are no bus timetables or anything like bus stops ! So we just wait and see. There is only one scheduled bus to Moshi in Tanzania which is late tonight although we could have got on a goods train at six this morning - but because I was still not well last night we decided not to. We get a matatu to Taveta which is the border town in Kenya and then another to Moshi - I hope - I think it will involve a lot of hanging around ! Last night we went for a walk pole-pole (slowly slowly) round the town. Went to a bar - I decided not to eat as I was still suffering - then we had an early night. There were no windows in our room, just screens and although we were slightly out of the town centre it was really noisy. There was loud music playing till 5.30 this morning - then the mosques started ! There were really noisy buses and trains and I hardly had any sleep !! but - I feel a lot better today, my bug seems to have gone and I've got a bit more energy. We bought a packet of biscuits as they seem a safe thing for me to eat - most of the food you can buy here has been exposed to the heat and the flys all day and the kitchens and cafes are a nightmare - the environmental health people would be really busy here !! Hopefully my bug has built up a bit of resistance in me and I won't get it again.

Yesterday we saw some more monkeys on the bus journey. There are some lovely birds here too - saw a red, white and blue one yesterday and a bright green butterfly. No big wildlife yet but today we go through a game park so we may see something.

Well it's four and a half hours later and I'm on the bus still in Voi ! It's been a nightmare !! The bus was broken down so we were told there'd be one at 11 o'clock so we waited 3 hours and then a truck turns up. They bundle us on the back - well, I got a front seat and off we go - Rod sitting outside - then the bus turns up and chases us to the petrol station - the driver won't give us our money back - the bus gets the police and we drive off - they catch us - we get our money back and they bundle us on the bus. Not the sort of bus you know - it's a large mini bus. We are on the back seat, the window's missing and the frame is only just holding on ! They have put so much stuff on the roof I'm sure it's going to cave in !! including chickens - they won't have a very nice ride ! There is African music playing very loudly and no-one seems to know why we aren't going yet. The road is very dusty and I'm by the open window so I shall get filthy I expect - if we ever go !

Well here I am sitting in Moshi, Tanzania at 7.30 drinking my Glug Glug Glug!!!!Safari Lager !! What a journey it was - we left at 12.30. We went through a police road block and they sent all the standing passengers on ahead to get on after as it's not allowed. We went through another which involved a lot of talking and probably a bribe - then no more - so at the next town/village they filled the bus, and I mean filled. There were about 25 seats at least another 25 standing, on the roof and hanging on. It was chaos along a dirt road. Rod says it's not chaos, it's normal to them !!! We went over the Serengeti Plain towards Tanzania - a bit short on wildlife - we saw some ostrich and several types of deer/antelope some really little, some really big - no David Attenborough, lots of pigeons which pissed me off - I thought I could go to Trafalgar Square and see them !! Got to Taveta, the border town - I use the term town loosely there wasn't a lot there - we were accosted by some wise guy trying to sell us a taxi ride there for loads of money - but we're too clever for that now. We walked to the Kenya border check and had passports stamped and then discovered it was about 1.5 miles to the Tanzania border so we payed 3 lads on bikes to take us and our bags - yes your mum did ride on the back of a bike. The poor lad who took me was sweating buckets - but Rods lad said he was really heavy and took longer !! We got our passports stamped again and were in Holili in Tanzania at about 5.30. One of the lads helped Rod to get some American Dollars changed to Tanz. shillings - about 800/- to £1.00. Then we got a matatu to Himli township - they tried to charge us 2000/- -huh - do we look like fools just because we've got white faces - Rod gave him 1000/- and I knew that was too much so when we got off I said give me my change, which he eventually did 600/- so he was going to charge us 1400/- too much. It was fairly good natured, it seems everyone tries it on here. The bank notes here are so old they can hardly stand being handled ! We got on another matatu this time fair price 300/- each to Moshi. A couple of blokes brought us to the Granado hotel which is fine. We have seen some lovely views of the mountain on the way here, it's really fantastic - snow on the top above the clouds. I will get some pictures tomorrow.

Friday 25/10/96

Breakfast was a bit mean, just bread, jam and tea. Slept well, Moshi is a quiet town - we walked around last night and hardly saw anyone. We wanted somewhere to eat but nothing. Went back to the hotel and had another beer - this time a Serengeti Lager ! and some chips. I tried to get the labels off the bottles but it seems the glue is better in Tanzania ! Everything here seems much cleaner than Kenya and the people seem better dressed. It seems that more money has got to the people and the towns - but this is only first impressions. Went for a walk around town - the mountain is under cloud so no pictures yet. We saw it yesterday but we were so tired and it was late. It seems much hotter here - not much of a breeze. Went looking at other hotels to see if we could find one with a view of the mountain - not much luck. The YMCA seems to be the place but it costs too much. Huge Stork StruttingSaw a huge stork strutting around by one hotel - got a couple of photos of him - then saw some wonderful bright green/blue and red lizards - got a photo of one but it's difficult as they move so quickly - saw another huge bright green spotted butterfly. Had lunch in a cafe - had difficulty explaining about no meat but we managed with rice and greens - it's more varied nearer the coast. Seen more Masaai around here, some of the beaded earrings are amazing - 3 lads came into eat in the cafe. They favour red or purple clothing and had quite a bit of red tartan on which made me chuckle - I called them the McMasaai !! Saw another bloke with huge floppy holes in his ears ! It's very sweaty, hot, dusty so came back for a shower, will go out later to try and get a picture of the mountain. Bought bus tickets to go to Tanga which is back on the coast, went back to count our money and have a shower and keep out of the heat. We have decided to leave Moshi tomorrow morning - Mount Kilimanjaro hasn't shown itself all day. Wrote some postcards - went to the post office, then to the coffee shop where Rod had fresh coffee, the only place we've seen it. Everywhere just sells Nescafé instant in tins like in Greece. Decided to walk out to the area we went to this morning for a drink and a meal.

I'm now sitting in The Rose Garden Bar and Restaurant looking at the summit of the mountain, it has appeared for about half an hour ! I've taken photos of Ted - bet Lego man would have liked it here too. It's an amazing sight.

The mountain has disappeared, we are sitting with Kilimanjaro Lagers this time and it's now raining - it's great, it's been so hot all day, I've been sweating buckets. It's still very hot but the rain makes it feel so much fresher. No food for us at the Rose Garden so went back to the hotel and had omelet and chips ! Sat and talked to Isaac and got his address - really nice man - we talked about education and the state of his country - very interesting. The language here is still Swahili and English. We went to look at the railway station yesterday and there is so much English blended into the language - it's quite funny sometimes - the road to the station was Stashen Road and there was a Stashen Masta ! On Lamu they were telling us about their different holidays and one of them was called "Happy New Year" !

Saturday 26/10/96.

Better breakfast today - changed more money as it's Sunday tomorrow and we're not sure if there'll be a bureau in Tanga. I'm now sitting in the Central Bus Station in the shade. It's only 9.20 and it's baking hot already. There are loads of bus companies working here all trying to sell you tickets, also lots of "mobile shops" which consist of either a large piece of wood or a cut away cardboard box stuffed with things to buy like watches, necklaces, combs, nail varnish and biscuits. I saw one yesterday with a bra hanging off it - just in case you forgot it before you got the bus !!! They also go around with baskets full of hard-boiled eggs - there's lots of coming and going with people carrying all sorts on their heads - a young lad just went past with 2 wooden crates full of bottles of coke on his head !! The mountain has just disappeared behind cloud again but I got one last photo on the way here.

The Fishing Port at TangaI'm now in Planters Hotel which is an old colonial place in Tanga having another Safari lager. Tanga is another quiet town. We are staying tonight at the Fourways Hotel - it's a bit seedy and there's a disco upstairs - so it will probably be noisy. We have booked to stay tomorrow at the Banderini hotel overlooking the harbour with a wonderful balcony. Had a walk around saw some boys throwing sticks at a really big tree. We asked someone what they were after and it's a mango tree ! They aren't ripe yet though.

After our beers we found a restaurant called Patwas and had a really nice veg curry and rice - the food is much more varied on the coast - inland I seem to live on egg and chips !

Sunday 27/10/96

Not a noisy night really - the disco above us wasn't going, the bar downstairs had some music, but it wasn't too loud. Actually got a bit cold for the first time - had to turn the fan off. Breakfast was just 2 slices of bread and marg and a cup of tea. The tea is served in flasks with the milk already in it. I've taken to drinking black tea as the other is too milky - they seem to cope with that OK.

Saw a huge 8"/9" millipede last night - dead thank goodness - you wouldn't want to meet him alive !! Rod says it's a good idea to shake out shoes in the morning - I wouldn't want to put my foot on one of those.
We have moved around to the Banderini which has a great balconyNice balcony at Bandarini Hotel - the only problem seems to be no water upstairs. There are big buckets of water and a jug you use to flush the loo - there is water downstairs and a shower which is sort of outside ! Most of the showers and water is cold - we did have hot water in Moshi which isn't quite so shocking in the morning. There is a lot of banging coming from the harbour and some boats like Thames lighters. We hope to get the ferry to Pemba Island tomorrow to see what that is like and then from there to Zanzibar.

We have decided to stay here until Wednesday for the next boat and to go to some caves nearby tomorrow. Spear, the bloke who caught us at the bus station - it happens at all of them - is going to take us. We are hiring bikes. It's very laid back here so we decided to stay longer - the view from the balcony is great too. We had a walk around town this morning - had some food to supplement a poor breakfast. We went to the Food Palace which was a palace compared to some of the places we've eaten ! We had potato slices in batter served with coconut milk which had lime juice in it and a chili each. It was really good and cheap - with 2 cokes it came to 1000/- (875/- = £1.00 from the bureau). We also went to the market and bought some tiny bananas - we had some on Lamu and they are really delicious. The lads selling peanuts here carry a percussion instrument, it's an old tin can on a bit of wood filled with beans - they sound really good. The music here is definitely African but modern and no drumming really. They sold those small bongo type drums in Kenya. They like videos as there's not much TV, but the videos all seem to be pirates and mostly this modern music. They usually consist of a fat African in a suit singing and prancing about with some very scantily clad African women moving their hips. Video technology is not very advanced and they seem to be filmed in parks mostly. We had a video bus yesterday - it was awful, really unwhatchable most of the time and for the few seconds the picture kept still it was awful anyway ! Had an afternoon rest and then went for a walk and a beer at Planters again. We decided to go and find a bar with more people in - so found a real African bar, had another couple of beers - then I noticed these huge insects running around the floor - they were cockroaches as BIG AS YOUR HEAD !!! Yuk - Rod and everyone else thought it was hilarious especially when one ran along the table towards me and I shot off quick. We then went back to the Food Palace and had a really nice curry.

Monday 28/10/96

Nice breakfast with passion fruit again then we walked to the bus station to find Spear. We walked through a really busy part of town, loads of fabric shops - might go again to see how much. We sat at the wrong place for ages and then found another bus office of the same name - he wasn't there so we went to the restaurant next door for a coke. He arrived and we went to hire bikes - lovely old fashioned bikes with big seats - only 200/- per hour - about 23p. We cycled about 8 km, it was lovely through a really nice village - lots of palm trees - past a river where they wash the cars and buses and there was a water tanker filling up with water !! We don't drink the water we have been using tablets - it tastes like the swimming pool, but you get used to it and you can't go anywhere without water - it's so hot. We saw some monkeys and eventually got to the Albioni Caves, just after the village which was called Karamboni. We had a guide around the caves which are huge. He took us round with a torch - no lights or barriers like we have in England. Loads of bats in there which were a bit scary ! When we came out I saw a huge lizard - don't know if they have iguana here but it was a big 'un. The guide was really nice and was showing me his plants, he had a little garden he was really proud of. He showed me his mimosa plants that if you touch them they just collapse - he gave me some seeds. We paid some lads to watch the bikes - then cycled back to the village for a Pepsi. They have a competition here with numbers under the bottle top to win money - we didn't win - we've seen mostly Coke here so I suppose it's the way Pepsi can get in on the market. I've seen children collecting bottle tops and now I know why.

Spear came back to the hotel to see the photos of Rod's boats - he didn't believe that we live on boats at all. We gave him a Walkman - we bought 3 cheap ones with us - as a tip. It was a good outing. Local Transport in TangaTook the bikes back, went for egg and chips at Patwas and then back for a shower and a rest. There are loads of bikes in this town, it's like Oxford ! There were ghekos on our balcony last night - which Rod says are good as they eat mossies - haven't been bitten here - but got bitten in Malindi. Went for a drink and food - found another restaurant - not bad. I had omelette and chips - eggs, eggs, eggs again ! This time it was a Spanish omelette so that was different. Rod had a fish with its head on - looking at him ! with rice and coconut sauce.

Tuesday 29/10/96

We are still not sure whether we are going to go to Pemba Island - we're not sure about the boat - it's a bit erratic - timetables mean nothing - there was supposed to be one yesterday but it didn't come !! We are going to the bank to get some more money - we popped in yesterday and decided that that's why we don't see many white people in Tanga, they're all in there waiting to get their money changed. They all looked very fed up and said they'd been there at least an hour ! so god knows how long it will take us. Anyway I shall post this and do the next installment to Leah.