African Adventure: The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round
Sunday - July 23, 2017 Dear Diary, Today's bus ride absolutely sucked. The End. We had to say goodbye to Tanzania today and say hello to Rwanda, but not without a 26 hour bus ride split between two days! With no air conditioning!!! And only snacks to keep us full until dinner!!! Who else is excited!!!! At a lovely 5:30 a.m., we all rolled our bags into a coach bus but not without the creepiness of a hundred men trying to offer to take our bags (but it means we'd have to pay them - so we kept on having to decline). These men would not only hound us, but blow kisses and say Mzungu amongst whatever else they were saying about us. There's something calming about knowing that bus stations and men internationally, are all pretty creepy. Finally on the bus, the drivers were blasting music at 6 a.m. and kept getting mad when we'd ask if they could turn it down. Anyone else want the African version of reggeaton blasted into their ear right as they wake up? My version of a wake up call. The bus ride overall wasn't so terrible - no one threw up (the standards are real high over here.) Each seat had a charger, which was nice, but we all had to open our windows from how blazing hot it was. The funny part was that no other local had their window down, just us. It's actually winter for them, one even had a scarf on. Ma'am, you're going to get sick from being so warm.
Instead of stopping and getting down the bus to buy snacks and/or drinks, the vendors would come to your window. With buckets on their head, you'd peep out yours from the window and pay them for Sprite or cookies or apples.
At first, this was incredibly entertaining since we don't have this back home. Sitting at a window seat, I'd take everyone's orders and that would be my unofficial job for the day. Now, this job of mine took a turn and even made me kind of get in a fight with one of the guys... (emphasis on the guys because the female vendors were all incredibly nice.) Maddie wanted two apples and so I got them for her. Turns out one was a bad apple, all mushy on the top and really brown in other places. When I asked to switch the bad apple, they all started laughing at me and saying it's not bad. The guy who's bucket I bought the apples from somehow disappeared. The more I said I wanted another apple, the more they laughed. I don't need to know Swahili to know they were basically laughing at this little white girl who's so dumb about her stupid bad apple. I was getting annoyed and frustrated so I yelled a few words in Spanish that I can't write on here and said "I want my money back, this is a bad apple." Finally, the guy returned and I switched the apples. Afterwards, the vendors thought it was funny to keep blowing kisses, call me mzungu and even threw a flower at me when I wouldn't look back. The rest of the OG group was dying of laughter because they hadn't heard me ~compliment~ someone in Spanish yet and Maddie, the original apple owner, threw out the flower as the bus kept rolling. "Anyone else want to fight, I'm really hyped up right now," I said. I looked back at the other locals in the bus and they were also giggling but who knows at what. I put in my headphones and kept on writing. We finally landed in Kahama, Tanzania to stop for the night; the buses don't do overnight rides because the roads are too bad and there's no light on the street. Our program leaders, Lindsey and Jordan, kept saying how it's a dusty little town with nothing to do. We were surprised seeing how much life there was on the streets and how many lights there were; how is this supposed to be a dusty little town? And so the worst part of the day began. The bus drivers started arguing with us about getting off or not getting off or not being able to take us to our hostel or being able to and I don't even know what was the commotion, but it took forever. All we wanted was to get off the bus - the standards are real low here. Then we got hounded, surrounded, bothered, any other annoyed adjective by hundreds of men "offering to take our bags" and wouldn't take no for an answer. A few even touched our bags and our arms and getting really in our faces about it. Good to know men are creepy and weird internationally. Getting our bags into the dala dala that would take us to our hostel was also a mission and a half because we not only had to load the 50+ pound bags but because the guys kept trying to take them so it was loading and fending for ourselves. My goodness. We all rode to the hostel in silence from tiredness and general "what the hell just happened-ness." This dusty little town was annoying and it wouldn't stop there! Apparently our original hostel said they didn't have anymore accommodations so we ended up at the Gelle Grand Lodge. There's nothing grand about it. There were wires everywhere in their central area so you had to be careful or else you'd get electrocuted. The rooms were so gross that everyone slept on their sleeping bags. The bathrooms didn't have toilet paper or trash bags; Sarah and I made our own for the night with our snack bag. Everything seemed generally dirty. They even provided us with flip flops to use in the room but they weren't matching, in either size or color, and were visibly dirty.
We all just left our bags to go eat some food. At a nearby "Food Court," we got a pleasant surprise of food. There was pizza and ready-to-go hot food. And there was wifi! And a tv playing music videos! And a wonderful bathroom that we all took advantage of before we went back to our little dusty town of a hostel! What a little relief. Except when we went back to the hostel, Sarah and I decided to journal and sleep with the lights on because a mouse escaped the bathroom and out of our room... I guess this trip is about making friends? We couldn't wait to get the hell out of here.