23rd December 2013 Entered Tanzania with no difficulty and are now ensconced in the grounds of an evangelical centre, in Mbeya, which provides camping. Appropriately an African choir is practicing in the hall next to us in preparation for Christmas. Sounds good too. Judy is defrosting the fridge.
The police are very courteous and cheerful at the road blocks and driving through Tanzania is similar to Malawi if not even prettier with rolling, green, lush hills.
By the way the toilets here are different to ours and are of the Latin variety. If you are a wallaby you will have no problems. Judy needed instructions. No I didn’t say demonstration. I piked out and used a conventional toilet when I saw an apartment open with an ensuite at the centre. I really am an opportunist.
24th December 2013 Received another speeding fine, $20, it’s easy to do here. As the sergeant was writing down my particulars, in his hand painted squad car, he asked what “Tribe” I was from and at first I didn’t understand, “Australian” was the correct answer. He guffawed when I shook his hand as I wished him a “Merry Christmas” and was truly grateful for the sentiment.
The driving here is something else with the mini buses being the worst. They are all packed with people, chickens, matresses and will overtake on blind bends or crests, no worry. The Juggernauts are much the same but even slower at it. We saw a three-truck pileup and if there wasn’t a fatality in there it would be a miracle. In the cities the driving is challenging in a different way i.e. It is utter chaos, honking, bumper to bumper, dog eat dog, no quarter given but my successful tactic was to get right behind a minibus and let him do all the hard work.
We camped at The Old Farmhouse campsite on Christmas Eve and listened to the Michael Buble` Christmas album for our Christmas cheer.
We wish you all a merry Christmas and New Year.
27th December 2013 Christmas day found us at the Riverside camp near the town of Iringa. It is very pretty here and we made a baked dinner in our camp oven. The firewood here was of dubious quality and when we started eating the meal, it had a strange flavour to say the least. Judy adlibbed an excellent Christmas pudding. On Boxing Day we just loafed around. Some African boys gathered around the old guitar again, later to be joined by the whole family and it was guitar lessons all round.
There are guards roaming around the campsite carrying double-barrelled shotguns or machetes but we are used to these sights now.
28th December 2013 Drove up to Ruaha National Park about 120k from Iringa. Very bad road and the park was quite expensive US$160 for the both of us including one night of camping within the park. The campsite was next to the river flats and the beauty of this was that we could sit there with our campfire and watch the animals coming for a drink. We saw elephants, warthogs and hippos. In fact we saw the hippos a little too close for comfort. There was another family of campers there, and at dusk, without warning, two hippos ran right through the campsite. Well! people ran everywhere, into cars, onto car roofs and into the toilets. It was really very funny. These hippos probably weigh about a ton each but we did not hear their approach, they kind of snuck up on us. They say hippos kill more humans than any other animal, apart from horses.
In the morning we drove around the park and it was wall-to-wall animals but no lions, although they were around as they’d been spotted the day before. We were bailed up by a cranky, adolescent, elephant who would not let us pass and later had an altercation with another elephant.
On the way back we had our fifth flat tyre, AUS$2.30 to repair.
30th December 2013 We’re on the Highway To Hell. The road to Dar es Salaam was even worse than the previous day by a degree of ten. We were nearly run off the road by a bus. These people are madmen. I believe the bus drivers have to undergo a psychological test here to get their licence and if they are proven to be a psychopath, well, they get the job.
I was pulled over for yet another speeding fine, this time dodgy, and was able to talk my way out of it, Judy put in her ten cents worth in, as well. Good teamwork.
Got into Dar and it was one form of madness transformed into another. Unbelievable chaos. Three hours to get through the city, just like Sydney and then crossing the harbour by jampacked punt to lead us to our camping area on the southern shore at Mikadi Beach Camp. This could be Tahiti or Nirvana, one of those two, I have been to Tahiti, working on the other. Tropical sand, palm trees, 33 degrees, unimaginable colour of the sea, turquoise to try to put a label on it.
31st December 2013 New Years Eve. Booked the car in for a service and got a sim card which took all day and had my sixth flat tyre on the way back. I am really going to have to do something about these Xxxxxx tyres as probably the hardest part of the trip is upon us, not to mention Mongolia, and what I am going to do is replace them with B.F.Goodrich All Terrains.
So in about 10,000k I have had six flats and two ruined tyres, one shredded and one with wall deformities and splits. Two tyres were brand new at the start of this trip and four had done 13000k.( see more details in “Travel Notes”)
In the night the camping area here had a New Years Eve Party, and we got to meet some of our fellow travellers.
This campsite is patrolled by Massai tribesmen complete with traditional togas, spears and swords. They answer to Hey Massai, are courteous but silent and don’t pry. They keep to themselves.
Happy New Year everybody