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Sunday, June 12, 2011

That's not yofu, it's myfu. Wait...maybe it's Tofu.

I have finally made it to Dar Es Salaam!  For those of you who are a little unsure of where that is…it is on the eastern coast of Tanzania.  The bus arrived later in the day and as I didn't have a lot of light left to walk the 10km to my hostel, I had to get a taxi.  Upon arrival to the hostel located in an area called the Indian Quarters I was met with a warm welcome and a much needed room key.  The daylong bus ride was rather crowded and all I wanted to do was lie down for awhile.  

Following a quick nap I ventured out into the city looking for an atm and an adequate place to eat.  Who am I kidding, I would eat pretty much anything at this point.  I had to be quick however, the sun was setting rather quickly and I if you know anything about ordering food in Africa…it takes forever.  The menu oddly enough was foreign to me, a first, so I figured ordering something that looked familiar was a safe bet.  Ha…a safe bet if you like tofu!  I am not sure how it happened and why, but I sat there and ate it all-surprisingly it was good.  

The next day after the best nights sleep I have had yet was spent visiting the city, famous Dar Es Salaam fish market, and getting lost several times along the way.  At one point I managed to cross the busiest intersection in the city, don't really know how, but only to have to go back the over way in search of my hostel.  Now, I am usually pretty good at directions but this city has a way of taking out any aptitude that relates to directions.  Thankfully, I found my way grabbed dinner and made it an early night.  My second day in Dar Es Salaam was even more eventful than the first.  I booked my ticket for the Tazara, managed to see where the city gets its' electricity and met some new friends.  Somehow I always manage to befriend the taxi drivers where 10min conversations turn into hours and hours of talking about life and family.  

Finally, after two long weeks in Tanzania I was able to board the train to Lusaka, Zambia.  I heard that the train was only supposed to take a little more than 24 hours but let me tell you…this was not the case.  The train took nearly 3 days.  Usually this wouldn't be quite so bad, however, due to first class being booked I spent the first two nights in second class cramped in a little tin box with 5 other gentleman and a kid.  The Tazara is a little old fashioned in that men and women can only bunk with each other unless you want to buy a complete cabin and in that case you can have either a 4 person or 6 person cabin to yourself.  I was surprised at how cold it became during the nite…for some reason they do not shut the window as well.  As cold and cramped as it got I would do it all over again.  The views were out of this world.  The train passed through mountains, climbed valleys, passed over decades old bridges, all the while provided entertainment for the many Zambians and Tanzanians we passed each day.  Who would have thought that a train would bring so much excitement and joy to so many.  The train is nice in that you meet new people but always have to keep your guard up-you never know who is just trying to gage what you have so at the most opportune moment it will become theirs.  Luckily, this didn't happen.  

Riding trains always has a way of clearing your mind-bringing it back to the most simplest of stages in your life.  Especially when you have countless and countless things to look at.  In all the articles I read concerning the train, almost every one of them said you can see wildlife along the way (ie. giraffes, elephants, lions, etc.).  Cough, cough…a baboon.  This was the only sign of life apart from the fruit vendors, fellow passengers on the train and occasional bugs that crawl on you while you attempt to fall asleep at night.  A little disappointed, but it was one very large baboon!  

The final day on the train went by fast-breakfast came and went, a quick, very delicious lunch followed as we pulled up to our last stop.  Following the crowds departing the train I ended up on a bus to Lusaka-another 4-5 hour journey; this trip was more cramped than the last due to two kids who somehow fell into my lap.  I didn't mind much, they were quite cute and managed not to pee on me.  On the bus ride I met a kid from the UK.  As everyone was paying for the bus he fell short on cash and asked to borrow some-without reservation I gave him the difference, hopefully I don't end up in his position.  Once we reached Lusaka-well after dark…a taxi was the only option.  I try not to do this for two reasons: first, most taxi drivers know you are in need, especially at night, so the prices increase and second, did I mention how expensive they become?  After some haggling for the price I made my way to ChaChaCha backpackers.  

At Chachacha backpackers I met some really amazing people...

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