Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bus (I mean dalladalla) to Arusha

After 16 total hours of travel time, including 13 on a hot bus, with 7 of those hours going across the bumpiest roads you could ever imagine (I'm not sure you can call them roads, but more like dirt ditch paths only suitable for mountain goats), Shannon and I finally made it to Arusha. It takes 50 minutes to fly from Mwanza to Arusha, and took us 13 hours on a bus. You do the math.

We left at 6am and got in to Arusha Town at 7pm. We had one pee break around 9am on the side of the road where women peed behind bushes and men (ie me) peed right beside the bus for all to see. At 12pm we stopped for "lunch", which was more like an actual pee break where you could use the facilities (however gross they may be, but women did benefit from some privacy) and get some food. Then from 12 to 7 we just kept on driving.

I took two sips of water when I woke up at 3:30am and not a drop of water touched my lips until 8pm here at Sakina Camp in Arusha where we're staying.

I'll admit for a man these bus trips are much easier. The bus did stop plenty of times to pick people up and drop them off, but for one that's not enough time for a woman to pee and it was in the open on the side of the road for everyone to see. I took advantage of one these stops. I was on and off the bus in about 15 seconds.

The thing that made the trip uncomfortable for most people and horribly uncomfortable for others, was that they had the bus packed like a dalladalla (for those new to my blog, see my dalladalla post from Mwanza). They had people sitting on the floor or standing for a good 5 hours at a time. Say the bus could comfortably seat 60 people, they had about 75 at its peak. Luckily for us Stanley knew one of the guys running the AM Coach bus company, and we had the best seats on the bus - right up front beside the driver.

I heard some horror stories about long bus rides in Tanzania and East Africa - broken down buses, near bladder explosions, people almost getting left behind on pee breaks, an 11 hour trip turning into 16 or even 20 hours, and even entire bus jackings and robberies - so I'll admit our trip was pretty uneventful. The most stressful part by far was getting into Arusha when it was dark and just trying to make sure you get your luggage off the bus then making sure no one steals it. That part wasn't fun, but all in all I can't complain with how the trip went.

For someone who thought making a 5.5 hour drive from Mississauga to Montreal was long, I can now pretty much hop on a bus and go anywhere in North America. If you think those Greyhound bus bathrooms are disgustingly gross, or the light is too dim to read, or the movie was boring, or the guy next to you is taking up all the armrest, take a bus ride from Mwanza to Arusha and you'll realize you were riding in luxury.


  1. sounds :P
    glad u got there ok!

  2. experience is the best teacher... no more bus (dalladalla) rides from one town to the next.

  3. Glad you got their safely. Sounds like it was an extremely long 13 hours...but at least you've got a new story to tell :-)

  4. Man, I've got all kinds of stories to tell from being in Tanzania. All kinds.

  5. u can never get used to the bumpy roads... trust me.. that's how it is back home as well.. through the mountains you'd be surprised how many times one will bang their head loll.
    it's an experience you'll never forget. glad you made it safe!