Tanzania Trip- The Final Chapter (The long journey home)
Arusha, Kahama, Rusomo, Kigali
I will start by warning you that there are not a lot of fun photos in this entry. By this point in the journey a lot of things started to go wrong and whipping out my camera every few minutes to document things dropped very low on my list of priorities. During a visit to the bus station in Moshi we discovered that it was impossible to get from Moshi to Kigali without going through Kampala which would mean buying another visa just to get home. So we opted instead to take a bus from Moshi to Arusha, which extended our trip another night but meant we could find a direct bus to Kigali- or so we thought. So we arrived in Arusha and found a place that sold tickets to Kigali. They told us we could pay 35,000 shillings ($23.33) for a ticket to Rusomo, the border between Tanzania and Rwanda, or we could bite the bullet and pay 60,000 shillings ($40) for a bus that would deliver us straight to Kigali. We decided to pay more for the direct bus, purchased our tickets and headed off to find lodging for the night. One of the most convenient options was the 7-11 hotel, an establishment lacking in charm but nestled deep within the bus station which proved to be an advantageous location when it came time for the 5am commute to the bus. We asked the woman to show us a room and although she was not too pleased with the idea of all five of us in one room she eventually caved and, after swearing us to secrecy, only charged 50,000 shillings for the night. That means we each paid less than $7 for the night which was good because I was borrowing money from another girl at this point. We rested in the room for a while and then headed out to find some street food for dinner. I think my favorite option was grilled corn:
The secret ingredient for this delicacy is the lime covered in chili-salt that they rub all over the corn once it has finished cooking. Absolutely delicious! After we scrounged up enough food we returned to 7-11 to watch a Twilight movie and then went to bed. At 5:30 am we were all loaded up on the bus and very ready to be home! This particular driver was not my favorite for a plethora of reasons. He drove way too fast, never slowed down for speed bumps, only stopped for bathroom breaks every four hours, and once almost left us at a remote bus station. Under the mistaken impression that he was finally stopping for a break four of us climbed off in search of a bathroom. When we were walking back I noticed a bus that looked suspiciously like ours driving away from the station. We all took off running and chased it for a while before he pulled over and even then refused to completely stop the bus for us to climb on. Luckily Sara had been on the bus, shouting for him to stop, or else he probably would have just left us. So all in all he was not my favorite driver.
Towards the end of the 10-hour trip I noticed that the bus was starting to look empty which seemed odd. One of the other passengers asked us where we were going and we happily replied, “Kigali.” Then came the saddest news of all. This man informed us that we were almost to the end of the drive and this bus did not continue to Kigali. So we arrived in Kahama, about four hours from the border, with no feasible way to continue on that day. It is still unclear what happened with our original tickets- there was either a miscommunication or the men charged us way too much and helped themselves to the rather substantial difference. Either way, we found ourselves stranded in Kahama and the company issued us tickets to get to Kigali but the bus would leave at 6am the next morning. This meant finding another place to stay with even less money than we had the day before. One of the girls in our group started crying and this turned out to be a key turning point in the afternoon. The bus workers, absolutely distraught by our sadness, jumped into action. They used a little bus to drive us to a cheap hostel near the bus station, helped us negotiate a good price for one room, and even offered to pick us up in the morning. The good news was that the room was 7,000 shillings ($4.66) for the night. The bad news was that the room was 7,000 shillings ($4.66) for the night. We each paid less than $1 for the night, I think you can imagine what kind of place this was. We had one bed for the five of us, a bug net full of holes, shared latrines that happened to be down by a gathering of creepy men, and we used a padlock to close our door. I am happy that all five of us stayed together- everything is less shady when you are in a group! We made a quick trip out to find food and ended up at a real grocery store which was fun. We stocked up on food and hurried home so we could be locked into our room before it got dark. We enjoyed our random meals of snack food, watched a movie, and spent most of the night praying for the sun to come up faster! It was pretty miserable with five of us in a full size bed. You had to sleep on your side and even then there was no extra room to move around. There were also tons of mosquitos and our ratty net was less than helpful.It was a relief when the alarm went off at 5am! The bus came to get us at 5:15am (people are only early when you are not ready) and soon enough we were on our way! Of course when we arrived at the border they informed us the bus we were on did not continue on to Kigali so we had to carry our bags (remember mine was rather large) across the border and find another bus to take us home. Luckily they wrote out the tickets without charging us more and we finally found a bus and climbed in. There was an “umusazi”, or a crazy person, who came to the windows of the bus to talk with us until a police officer escorted her away. She promptly removed her plastic sandal and slapped the police officer across the face with her shoe and ran away. She returned a few more times before we left, running around with her shoe in the air and screaming things in Kinyarwanda. It was nice when the bus finally left!
Well I think that is all! It was a wonderful trip but I am very happy to be home. This morning there were some dark clouds in the sky so I am praying for rain! There has been a huge water shortage lately caused by dry season and a faulty pumping system in the area. If you know me then you know I love showers so taking a bucket bath every four days with my rationed water is depressing. Thank goodness for baby wipes- at least I can go to bed with clean feet! 🙂