Monday, June 13, 2011

Heading South

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Our leisurely days of sipping freshly squeezed juice and dining on seafood extravaganzas with locals and other tourists, could only last so long. While it was relatively cheap to stay in Lamu, and food could be had at a bargain, my money was running thin. It was time to move on.
After a week spent on this magical, tropical island, I packed my bags and bid adieu to Lamu,  as well as Stuart and Rob. We were all headed in different directions. They were headed North. I, on the other hand, turned myself towards the South, destination Cape Town. It was time for me to wind down my trip and head towards home. My hometown was still a long ways off, but it was finally calling.
So for now, I took the ferry back over to the main land, then flagged down the bus headed towards Mombasa. The threat of road-side attacks remained unfounded, as we travelled along peacefully. We picked up our armed guards for their part of the journey, but aside from their guns serving as a reminder of ill tidings, I reached Mombasa no worse for wear.
One night in Mombasa was all I squeezed in, but I did get the pleasure of an ice cream date with Renée ‘Deutsch’ for company. He even bought me breakfast in the morning, before I jumped onto the bus for Dar es Salaam. He was a gentleman through and through, and I thanked my lucky stars that I had the pleasure of meeting him. Laughter and conversation was all we shared, but he filled my heart with a little more faith in humanity.
As the day wore on, I appreciated Renée’s lovely gesture even more so. The journey between Mombasa and Dar es Salaam was scheduled to be 12-13 hours. I had bought some minor refreshments for the drive, but apparently not enough. The trip turned out much longer than anticipated and hunger gnawed at my insides before long. To make matters worse, being hungry always seemed to make me grumpy.
When I got on the bus, I was the only white face and one of few who apparently spoke English. One man began to chat with me, dancing between English and a native language that I knew nothing of. At first, I was happy to have someone to talk to, but quickly realized that perhaps I had picked the wrong person to speak with. He was loud and I felt like he was saying unkind things about me. The women around me tittered nervously and turned their heads away from my questioning stares. It became obvious that I was the brunt of some unpleasantness, so I turned inward from his taunts and focused my eyes out the window. I tried to ignore him, and soon enough he left me to my own devices.
The road was longer than anticipated though. When we reached the border, everyone got out of the bus to be processed. Again, I was singled out by the obnoxious man, but this time I had no place to turn. Women were having their shopping bags rifled through and border guards began to unpack the stowed luggage. I had been processed quickly, but now was at the mercy of the rest of the bus passenger's paperwork. To get away from my tormentor, I wandered into the bush to squat a pee (when I opened the outhouse door, I gagged, so thought better of it), then returned to an area further away from where he stood.
By the time we finally got on the bus,  a nice young man had quietly befriended me. English was not his first language, but he managed well enough for us to have a conversation. He confirmed that the other man was indeed besmirching my character and that the others were uncomfortable, but unwilling to stop the antics. I guess better me than them.
Once we got back on the bus, I shared a seat with my newest acquaintance. I managed to get some sleep when the bus driver pulled over to rest himself for a few hours. Our border crossing had delayed us so long that no one could keep their eyes open. By 6am, we finally pulled into Dar es Salaam and I was shown to a hostel by my seat mate. We dropped off my backpack and he took me for a delicious breakfast of chapatti and tea. My eyes were getting heavy though, so I returned to my hostel with a promise to meet up with him later. I quickly scribbled the account from my last few days in my journal and turned out the light to get some much needed rest. I would explore Dar es Salaam later.

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