Out of the Nest

Friday morning, our safari guide dropped us off at the Tanzania border to start the next part of trip. The part where you don’t have a driver, cook and accomodation already set up where you arrive somewhere. The border crossing went fairly smoothly, we got visas for Tanzania with no troubles and they even have our pictures on them! Our bus to Arusha (the town we were headed to in Tanzania) was only an hour and half late, but we made it safely through the under-construction roads. Our driver didn’t seem fazed by the washboard and cleaned his ear with a toothpick while driving a bit too fast for comfort. I was concerned not only for myself but also his ear drum…

We arrived in town hot, sweaty and tired. But we found a cheap hostel, and you can walk pretty much to every thing here (including a bank that finally accepted VISA). We’re not huge fans of Arusha – its filled with people who want to sell us things. This is typical, except they are very agressive here compared to else where we’ve been. Every block we have the identical conversation:

Them: Jambo! Hello!
Us: Hello
Them: Where are you from?
Us: Canada
Them: Toronto? Vancouver? Ottawa?
Us: Calgary
Them: Ah, Calgary… Here, let me show you this painting…

Then we spend a few minutes trying to convince them that we are not buying, so matter how cheap the price, before we finally lose them. It gets a little tiring after a while.  I think though we have spoken with all of them by this point, so they are starting to leave us alone. One fellow in particular has been very persistant – he has almost bartered himself down to nothing for his paintings. He started at 80000/print and has now lowered it to 10000 for 3.

We have been doing some shopping, when we can actually get somewhere without being followed. This morning, we walked up to a small workshop where they actually make the batiks you see for sale in town, and bought two beautiful large prints. My bartering skills are a little rusty, but the nice old man who sold us the prints was very pleasant, and sort of helped us along to a better price.

Other than that, its been a lot of walking from one end of town (where our hostel is) to the other where the internet, bank and such can be found. We have purchased bus tickets out of here tomorrow (Sunday), something that we wanted to do sooner but couldn’t find the bus company yesterday afternoon (the Bradt travel guide for Arusha is a little off).  We’ll be heading to Dar es Salaam and then Zanzibar if we can get our act together. We have tried some new Fanta flavours – Jon in particular enjoys Fanta Passion, while I’m still a fan of Fanta Pineapple. We bought our own bottles, so now we can take away our Fantas while we cruise around town.

So, off to Dar tomorrow, and we’ll let you know how that goes. Wish us luck that our express bus is actually express and arrives on time!

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