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Kenya - Mombassa


14.02.98 - Arrive in Mombassa

Arrived in Mombassa around 9:30am a few hours behind schedule after an uncomfortable bus ride and immediately went in search of the closest hotel. We eventually found the place but, thanks to the shitty TLP map, it took us a while and we were all boiling hot and sweaty in the hot and humid weather. We each had a cold shower and an icy-cold coke.

Brad was feeling a bit ill so me and Joe went out alone to collect some of the info we needed for the next couple of days and we stopped off at the markets and haggled some good prices for gifts to take back home. After that we had lunch at Wimpy's (which doesn't closely resemble a Western Wimpy's) and met Brad back at the Hotel who was still not feeling great.

Me and Joe headed out again, we bought some more shit and visited Fort Jesus and the Old Town which were both marginally interesting. The Old Town was like a whole 'nother country, Joe said it felt just like India and I could see what he meant. We bought some chips which were made on the side of the road (and were actually quite nice) and headed back to the hotel for another cold shower and some reading while we waited for it to cool down enough to make dinner an attractive option.

We met the guy downstairs who worked in the Restaurant called 'Coca' Cola who was going out for the night. Apparently it is Valentines day.. pity we forgot. Apparently, also, we were in Mombassa for Ramadan, when meals are hard to find - so we had to pick our restaurants carefully. We're going to Tiwi beach tomorrow!


15.02.98 - Tiwi Beach

We got up early and ate our non-free breakfast in our hotel and headed out to catch a matutu (a van with lots of seats) from the post-office to the ferry (which was free) to the other side of the harbour. From there we caught another matutu to Tiwi beach via a short taxi ride to the shore.

At Tiwi beach Brad insisted we camp in his hootchies rather than take a cabin (which me and Joe were quite prepared to do). The beach didn't look too inspiring 'cause the tide was out and the coral reef was exposed. We set up the hootchie (twice because brad was not happy with the initial results) and tried to go for a swim. I walked all the way south to Diana beach but couldn't cross the river to reach it so we just had to sit and wait for the tide to come in.

The tide came in later that afternoon (thankfully because we were all very hot and sweaty by that stage) so we went for brief swims for the rest of the afternoon. We cooked ourselves dinner on Joe's cooker, sat around for a bit and went to bed early because you can only watch for shooting stars for so long before it gets boring. I didn't get much sleep that night with all the bugs and wind and crabs crawling through our tent, but at least it didn't rain! (In case you haven't figure it out, I'm not a big fan of the Hootchie camping experience).


16.02.98 - Second day at Tiwi

Woke up before dawn and got out of the tent and sat on the beach to watch the sun come up over the horizon. Very nice. Then I went for a dawn swim along with various nude bathers (I don't know what inspires them, but lots of Europeans seem to love jumping into the sea without their pants on).

That day all we did was read, swim, wait for the tide to come back in and chat with the other campers. While there were lots of people staying in our camp, most of them were with 'overlander' groups who pretty much kept to themselves. Finished the day with dinner, fire and bed.


17.02.98 - Leaving Tiwi

Got up at dawn again (with my camera this time) in an attempt to catch the rising sun on film (although I knew it wouldn't work with my little camera) but it was too cloudy on the horizon - much too my annoyance. I took a few photos of the scenery and monkeys before packing to leave for Mombassa again where we would be catching a bus down to Dar es Salaam from. Brad had called to check that he could get off our flight home at Perth so as far as we were concerned the remainder of our trip was under control.

We caught the matutu back into mombassa (waiting at the ferry for a petrol truck to make the traverse on its own) and organised ourselves for the bus trip that night. We had an early dinner and headed for the busses.

We got to the bus at 5:30 for a scheduled 6pm departure as per our instructions, but the bus didn't leave for at least 2 hours after that... It seems the bus we were catching was operating more like a truck than a bus - it was fully loaded (underneath and inside the cabin) with salt, oil and cleaning detergent (amongst other things).

With all the people getting on and on the bus unchecked, my day pack was stolen!! I must have only turned my back for a second and, when I next looked over to check my bag, it was gone! I was SO pissed off!! I checked all over the bus for it but it was no-where to be found.. I told the bus company people but they didn't seem to care. My biggest concern was my camera and Visa card which were the big-dollar items in my bag (if I couldn't cancel my Visa card).

My first thoughts were to make sure I was covered by my insurance. I checked my policy details which I kept with me throughout the trip, and it said I only needed to inform the bus company. So I tried to get a note off them to say that I had informed them of what had happened, but they wouldn't do anything to help me until 'the manager arrived'. Unfortunately he didn't arrive until the bus was due to depart so I had to leave it for the time being. This was the start of the bus trip from hell.

When we finally departed there would have been about 80 people on the bus and our having booked a seat didn't seem to guaranty that you would be the only person on it.. I somehow slept for a couple of hours amongst all the people and boxes all the way to the Tanzanian border. It only took a short time to get through the Kenyan Immigration gate, but we would have spent an additional 4-5 hours at the Tanzanian side while they unpacked and checked ALL of the boxes we were carrying. We finally left the border, and all the thousands of bugs that lived there, a bit before dawn.


18.02.98 - Bus Trip From Hell

On our way out of the border crossing, we stopped at a shack alongside the road to pick up a couple of sacks of 'goods' that had been offloaded prior to the border. I have no idea what was in those sacks but it all seemed a bit dodgy to me.

We next stopped shortly after dawn on an especially shitty section of road where there were three vehicles bogged in the deep mud. Our bus pulled the first (a small truck) free using dubious methodology but the other two were stuck DEEP in the mud right next to each other, making the road totally impassable. There was a second bus from the same company we were with on the other side of the bog that was doing the reverse route from us, so the drivers decided to switch loads and drive the remainder of each other's journeys. This seemed logical to enough so we didn't complain.

We sat by the side of the road in the heat while porters from a local village moved box after box the 50m between the busses. While this was happening a couple of trucks had managed to drive alongside the road through the mud to get around the bogged trucks. Some of the trucks made it themselves, others relying on the help of a grading machine that had magically appeared (but didn't seem to want to actually grade the road) to pull the trucks out of the mud. Our bus driver decided he wanted to complete his leg of the journey after all, so he pulled up onto the mud bank and floored it the whole way to the other side. He made it, but only after coming extremely close to tipping over on a number of occasions. He thought he was extremely cool.

After that they spent another few hours repacking all the boxes they had just unpacked -- talk about time wasting. Our next (major) stop was in Tanga after driving for hours along shitty roads from the bog. We pulled into a dodgy looking encampment and dropped off our load of goods, it took me a few minutes to determine that this was, in fact, the Tanga branch of the bus company. I then harassed the manager into giving me a note to explain the theft of my bag (I wrote the note myself and got him to sign it) which I got just in time before the bus left again.

We stopped again in town and bought some drinks and food (all mine was stolen with my bag) and I found part of my stolen belongings (a bag with my souvenirs in it). We finally left Tanga around 2:30pm and it took another 6 hours of driving along surprisingly good roads into Dar es Salaam. We stopped once to give our spare tyre to another bus from the same company that was broken down alongside the road.

We finally arrived into Dar around 9pm that night and found a hotel with the help of a travelling salesman we met on the bus (Duncan) and it was obviously too late to do anything about my stolen stuff that night, so I left it for the next day. We had some dinner and slept.



Document: 980214.shtml
Published: 26.07.98
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