Wilkommen zu Two Thousand und Neun!

January 6, 2009

27th December – 6th January

Well, our New Year was different!  From Tanga, we crossed over the Pangani River on the ferry which was a laugh as we had to disembark backwards for some reason.

Rusty, but effective

Rusty, but effective

 We drove down the coast a bit and found a place, The Beach Crab Resort, Pangani where we were lucky enough to be parked yards from the sea again

Castaway at the Beach Crab

Castaway at the Beach Crab

We spent another couple of days swimming and reading, before the final day of 2008 loomed.  Those of you that know me will already be aware that I’m not a fan of New Years Eve, it tends to bring out my (not so) inner curmudgeon, however I figured that being 11,500 miles from home might see a relaxation of my normal state of fear and loathing.  Hmmm……..

Imagine my horror when we turned up for dinner to find that all the tables had been pushed together for jolly communal dining.  Virtually all our fellow dinner guests were German.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against our European chums, after all, they do make good cars and beer, but being so outnumbered was a little overwhelming.  

We actually ended up sharing a table with some charming people, Theo, a German  and his outrageously beautiful Zambian wife, Annette, by whom we were both transfixed all night (its not fair!) and a solo Belgian, Phillippe, whose girlfriend and children seemed to have decamped to Norway without him for Christmas.

Fortunately Sean had anticipated my frosty British reserve, and mixed up a cocktail to be forever know as the ‘Cherry Hoff Drop’ (vodka, coconut milk, and cherry juice, for those of you that might wish to try this at home), which served to lubricate my social skills until fireworks at midnight when I scuttled off to the privacy of the Hotel du Van, relieved it was all over – (it is now!!). 

Answers on a postcard please.....

Answers on a postcard please.....

Anyhoo, moving swiftly on, there are a couple of other stories to tell. 

Firstly, Elsie’s bust suspension.  Back in Ethiopia we hit a pothole at some speed and with a fair crunch.  Yes, Sean was driving.  In spite of the assurances of Ndovo Garage in Nairobi that it would last one of our rear shocks has given up the ghost, with the result that Elsie is now shaking her ass like a crazy thing. We must seek a replacement forthwith which means that we will be stuck in Dar until we can source the right part and get it fitted.  So much for our plans to scoot through Tanzania.

Secondly, revisiting Tent with a View.  Back in the distant past when Sean and I came to Africa for the first time we were lucky enough to stay at Saadani Game Reserve, which is Tanzania’s only park on the coast.  The owner of the lodge, David Guthrie, is in part responsible for us falling in love with the African bush.  There is a story about a bottle of JD, and a drunken stumble around a game reserve in the dark here, but I’ll save that for another time. 

I’d tried to text Dave to let him know we were in his ‘hood, but suspected that he was spending Xmas in the UK, however, as we were only 30 miles up the road we thought we’d drop in anyway to have a look at the old place.  Having gone there and not recognised anything we decided to press on and head for Dar es Salaam.  And that’s when it all went pear shaped.  For the first time on this whole trip the Garmin let us down, the maps were senseless and we couldn’t find the road we needed.  The upshot is that we crossed the Pangani River again, and are almost back where we started in Tanzania after driving around for 5 hours looking for the road.  The interesting thing is that we still didn’t kill each other.  I must be relaxing!

Having said all that the place we stayed, Peponi Beach, was very nice, and gave us some good advice for further down route.

The next day we pressed on to Dar.  It was a long drive, but on a good tarmac road which was a blessed relief after having to coax Elsie over gravel & corrugations.  Every silver lining has a cloud however and I managed to score my first EVER speeding fine.  We had been warned about the Tanzanian Police and they didn’t waste any time in extracting money from us.  The official fine for speeding is 20,000 Tanzanian Shillings, however Sean suggested 10,000Ts as we didn’t need a receipt, and they seemed happy.  Funny that.  By the way I was allegedly doing 66kph in a 50.

Ten miles down the road the next patrol had a go, obviously having been radio’d about the loaded Wazungu heading their way.  I gave them some feedback and they quailed.  Then, when we reached Dar, I took a wrong turning and ended up going down a one way street to the ferry the wrong way.  Bless them, the police finally had a legitimate reason to fine me for something but I went so mental, telling them that they were a disgrace to African policing, that they gave in and helped us push in on the ferry queue.

Ferry at Dar es Salaam - one of many trips

Ferry at Dar es Salaam - one of many trips

After yet another weekend on the beach we went into Dar yesterday, and spent a day sitting around the Toyota Service Centre.  We emerged a whole £14 lighter, with a welded something, working handbrake and a much, much cleaner car.  Today our pursuit of a new shock proved fruitful, we have some new ones coming South from Arusha (on a bus on their own, aren’t they clever?).  With good luck and a following wind we should be able to leave Dar tomorrow and continue our safari. 

I know it’s really cold at home and that you will all hate me unreservedly for saying this but I’m fed up of sea ‘n’ sand.  I don’t feel like I’m on a Big African Adventure anymore, I feel like I’m stuck on some interminable beach holiday.   Oh boo hoo, poor me, I can hear your hearts collectively breaking. 

Till next time XX

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