Day 57 –
S: Ok, so that was not the most comfortable bed. Luckily, since the mosquito net (which Lesley said looked like a play-pen) was rather holey – there had not been too many buzzing noises. My body ached.
L: I was up and out of the house to see the sunrise, which once again was special. When I saw the lady that cleans the house doing her washing I asked if she could stoke the fire for the hot water, which she half-heartedly did. It was a drippy little splash from a bath attachment and cold, but I was clean. Steve had “showered” the night before so did not try again.
S: While Les was getting ready, I made coffee and put out the cereal using the bakkie instead of the inside kitchen. I chatted to the two American guys who had arrived late last night and kept us awake until midnight while they settled in, one had slept in the lounge right outside our door. They had had some trouble with the hire car that they had driven through the Serengeti and I looked at the car and saw that they had also broken a shock!! They were obviously not very mechanically minded. They are out in Africa on mission work and a bit surprised at the lack of facilities everywhere.
L: Off we went, but not without a battle. The glow-plugs have given out again and the increase in altitude is not helping, but eventually she shook herself right, spewed out black smoke and started. We were off and now with the old shock back on, felt better, but Steve was still cautious. Every time that we discussed the road, we said that the surface is better and we would hit a rutted section again.
We put all our troubles behind us and enjoyed our last few hours in the park amongst the large groups of Plains Zebra (they have a brown main), Impala, Wildebeest and Warthogs. There are troops of exceptionally large baboons and a few monkeys too.
There were a few game-drives in progress and we were amazed that even with everyone standing and looking out from the open vehicle, they just drove right past the little group of elephants that we managed to spot in amongst the trees.
We were stopped at a point having a look at some vultures in the distance when a large bird of prey swooped in front of our car and tried to catch a smaller bird right next to my window not more than two metres from the car. I was in the process of taking a photo of a flower out my window and heard the noise of the flapping wings. I managed to shoot off a few shots and hoped that they were not too blurred.
S: It was still quite a long drive to the exit gate so when I saw the one and only sign for a picnic spot, I turned off so that we could have a lunch break. Now, being in a national park with so many wild animals around you would think that it would be a fenced enclosure – not so.
L: We took out the flask and our lunch bag and opened the back to get some things out of the fridge and sat at the little picnic table. We could hear the river, but not see it as we were on higher ground with a lot of trees blocking the view of the river. The noise coming from the hippos was really disturbing me as even though Steve was trying to convince me that they would stay in the river I was remembering those two huge foot-prints on the bank of the river where we stayed in Okongo.
I was just enjoying my lunch when a raucous hippo “growled” and a baby baboon came running for cover up the steep bank. That was it, I picked up my coffee, tuna salad and of course, the camera and fled back to the safety of the car. We still could not see the hippos, but Steve acted as if it was totally safe and continued to sit at the picnic table and finish his lunch. I have heard him tell so many people that more people die from hippo attacks than from any other animals……..hmmmmmmm.
S: I really wanted to see the hippos in the river so when we had finished our lunch we drove further so that we had a view of the river, but Lesley insisted that the engine stay on and that we don’t go down the steep bank to the river’s edge. There was a really big crocodile sliding into the river too. L: Yes and that is because the car would not start this morning……I can just imagine the hippo running at us while we sit trying to start the car.
S: The last stretch to the gate was not very populated with any animals just the few stragglers left behind when the masses migrated. L: I have always wondered why they stay behind, are they sick, too young or too old………
A huge section of park had had a fire and later we came across the workers burning the brush too. They had also chopped several trees close to the road. At the gate, in good time, Steve handed in our permit and after stretching our legs (Steve still stiff from the marathon mechanic session), we left.
S: I had got a call through to Manus who we had met in Utengule, Mbeya, but he was still on business in Mbeya. He advised that I was sure to be able to find the glow-plugs and shock-absorbers in Mwanza where he lives and said that he hoped to get home soon and we could hook up. We eventually decided to take the chance and go the 130 kms off our proposed route and try to get the bakkie sorted and maybe visit with Manus.
L: The stretch to Mwanza was long and although on better roads, there were lots of settlements where we had to reduce speed again. Once again the racing busses and taxis and one motorcycle taxi with metal sheeting rolled up perpendicular to the bike, making him over 3 metres wide with the driver and 2 passengers. Oh, and a motorcycle with the little trailer behind with a huge commercial water tank in it, hopefully empty as that is quite a weight. We are astounded at what people put in or on their vehicles. Ha ha, ours just looks packed to the rafters!!!!! Though now there are no blankets left, just a lot of wool.
Finally, the town of Mwanza came into view and we were in the 4 o’clock traffic watching for all the taxis and pedestrians and animals. Manus had found out that we could camp at the Talapia Hotel just outside town and we found it easy enough. They, in fact, don’t offer camping, but the Yacht Club next door does.
S: We pulled in, on Lake Victoria, on a grassy patch with toilets on one side of the field and a usable shower at the squash court. TSH10 000 (R64) per person. We met a young chap, Janush, who comes from Morogoro and is using public transport to get around Southern Africa. He told us that his mother runs a resort in Morogoro called Mbuyuni Farm Retreat. Now that would have been helpful to know when we were driving around looking for a place!
L: Janush has warned us that the lake, reportably, has Bilharzia. Funny that the yacht club does not put up warning signs.
Steve organised some charcoal and a braai from the yacht club kitchen and we made an early supper and some nice warm drinks. It was a lovely evening and a great view of the lake. We caught up with the blog and posted another two days. Later one of the waiters from the kitchen came back and tried to get us to pay TSH5000 (R32) for the charcoal that we were given but Steve would have none of that and offered to pay TSH2000 which is what is was worth. In the end we agreed to replace it.
When we were discussing our Serengeti experience we said that we would not advise anyone to use their own transport into the park as the roads are “shocking!” pardon the pun. The toss up is whether you risk your own car or pay the exorbitant prices that the safari companies charge. You will then also be offered the accommodation in the parks which would surely have to be of a better quality than what we had. S: Your own vehicle would be fine if you had one of the fancy heavy duty suspensions fitted like OME, Ironman, etc.
L: It was very relaxing watching the reflection of the lights on the water and all the Kingfishers and Egrets as well as the returning fishermen in their canoes and the breeze swaying the many palm trees above us.
Day 58 –
L: We have now been on the road for 8 weeks……..
I was up fairly early and watching the many birds. Steve got up eventually and we had coffee and rusks. He decided to walk into town to look for the glow-plugs, after having got information from one of the yacht club members, and I would stay with the car. He got sorted with the plugs, quite an expense at $90 for 4. There are shocks at $60 or $95 each, but he is trying to decide what to do.
We had coffee and toast and jam when he returned then he spent the morning sorting the glow plugs and eventually tackled the window-washer motor and made a MacGyver switch to bypass it that we can operate when needed. A fuse had blown, but a new one doesn’t sort the problem so he is not sure what the fuse is for. S: It is a bit frustrating as I cannot locate a fuse for it and I don’t want to start taking the stalk switch apart. I also suspect there might be a problem with the glow plug control circuitry which might explain why the glow plugs keep failing. I will have to go through the diagnostics checks once I can figure them out from the manual. I am also hoping that replacing the blown fuse might have fixed it as there was nothing else that was not working and it is a 20 amp fuse.
L: It is rather windy here at the yacht club, but pleasant enough to sit outside in so we are using today to sort things out and relax. I am loving having all the birds around and another birder to chat to. Janush has studied a lot of bird life during his tourism courses.
We said goodbye to him later in the day as he is continuing his trip by boat up Lake Victoria.
S: After the issue with the charcoal and also because we did not have any meat left to braai we decided to go to the Talapia Hotel next door for supper. We had been parked near to the yacht club kitchen window, so we could plug into the electrics, and Lesley had seen what was going on inside and was not keen to eat there.
So we took a walk around to the hotel and sat outside with a view of the lake. We juiced up against mozzies and it was a beautiful night sitting in very comfortable cushioned chairs. The place was quite busy and seems to be popular with all kinds of people.
L: I had a soup and a lentil curry with roti, it was a great meal and a nice change from what we have been eating. Steve ordered a tuna steak, chips and veg, but felt it was not up to the standard on the Buni Cafe in Stone Town, Zanzibar – still top of the pops for fine food.
When we paid, it was a lucky thing that my brain was still awake as they swapped the amount of TSH into dollars to use the card and hiked it up so much. So we paid in shillings.
Another thing that was strange was when we got back to the camp site, on foot, the security guard asked us to settle our camping bill (and gave us our receipt) before opening the gate for us. Weird considering they had our car in their grounds with all our equipment, not like we were running away.
We both went for a shower and as we got in the cubicle the lights went out and the Insta-Hot shower ceased to give hot water. What good timing after we had just paid so it was a cold one by torch light. Only in Africa………
And then the lights came on and the hot water as we left the bathroom, someone is messing with our “cold” heads……
Day 59 –
L: Ok, so no word from Manus, so we are out of here……..
We had deviated from our route to visit with our new friend, but have not had a return call for a day and a half so we are not going to wait around any longer.
We went to draw money, lots of it and then to the auto-spares shop for a full set of glow plugs (4) and two front shocks – buying the Rolls Royce of shocks at $95 each, ouch!!!!! But we are not taking any chances after the Gabriel ones did not do their job. Thanks Gabriel.
S: Now to get out of this traffic, argh!!! Lesley just keeps telling me to smile and wave as scores of taxis, motorbikes and the odd bus push until you have no choice, but to give way. It is nerve-wracking and ever so slightly annoying, but besides that just full on dangerous!!! Janush had told us that when he went for driving lessons in Morogoro, it is 5 days and they tell them – just drive (like the Tanzanians) to survive!!!!!
Now back the 130kms that we had come. It was slow and steady with only one visible radar gun, but we were very careful to keep the speed down.
L: So many of the towns are dirt poor and the water where they fill their water drums is black. It is disgusting and very distressing especially with E-Coli infections and now Bilhazia in the water too. I persuaded Steve to stop at one of the little stalls selling little piles of charcoal so that we could support them. I asked for 5 little piles which filled a carrier bag and paid TSH5 000. The man was thrilled and turned to his family and did a little jig. As I got back into the car, I gave the nearly full packet of raisins that we had in the cubby hole to the 5 children that had gathered, one child nearly fell against the car in the riot to get it and the packet was grabbed out of my hand with a whoop of glee instead of the usual “Asante” (thank you). You wonder if they have had a meal today…….or yesterday and yet their cattle and goats are still roaming next to the road………
We decided to stop at the gate where we had exited from Serengeti as there was a bathroom and in the hope of not having all the locals stare at us as we had our tuna salad on Provita with coffee. We found a shady spot and enjoyed the break.
We drove the next 100 or so kilometers in to Musoma, making our total, 234 kms for the day and followed the GPS to the Tembo Beach Hotel and camping? .?..
Well now, it is right on the lake, next to a little restaurant, but in sand with not a blade of grass, ok sorry, there is a square meter of the stuff and absolutely no shade and it was 38 degrees.
Steve was shown to the bathrooms, no hot water, no toilet seat…….all for the sum of TSH17 000 per person. Last night had been TSH10 000 per person!!!!
We asked how much the rooms were and booked in when we found them clean with a toilet seat in the en-suite (no hot water though) for TSH45 000. That is R288 for the night.
We had bought 10 avocado pears from a vendor for R3-20 each and gave a young chap a tip that could communicate for us. Those were the first to come out of the car and we each enjoyed one with tea.
Then we set off into town to find a supermarket. What a mission, after passing the same group of guys four times they flagged us down and asked if they could help and one spoke English!! Yay. Back to the corner and there it was – no sign board. I went in and eventually sent Steve in, who also came out empty-handed. Ugh. The meat and chicken was getting chopped up in the grocery shop with flies, blood and guts everywhere – not sure if I will ever enjoy a steak again, but not in this town. No bread, no diet Coke and everything else that was safe was so expensive – no deal.
So now we have charcoal and no meat so back to the soya mince we go……..
S: We explored a bit of the little peninsula on our way back to the “hotel” and it is quite lovely.
We passed about 5 enormous Maribou storks sunning themselves on the sand, fat from all the rubbish they find to eat.
Now it is time to catch up with the blog as we prepare to enter our next country tomorrow……….
L: Oh, and with all the pressure to post everyday, may I remind you that we have 4 other blogs. They are raybyn1.blogspot.com for Namibia/Botswana and replace 1 with a 2 for KZN/Lesotha and 3 for North Western Cape/West coast and 4 for Eastern Cape. Ha ha, now the pressure is off.
But, seriously, thank you all so much for encouraging us and informing us all the way. We never dreamed that we would have so many people wanting to read about our trip.
Bless you all, good night from warm and sunny Tanzania.
Wrap up tonight and for the weekend, all of you in the Cape of Storms (Cape Town) XXXX