Saturday, June 26, 2010

Journey to Saadani

Wow… what a day that was. On Thursday, we arrived at the bus station-area to find a bus to go to Saadani. We had a lot of items with us because we were ready to spend the next month in a village with limited resources. When we arrived, some local entrepreneurs saw the wazungus and knew they could make a buck or two, so they decided to graciously help us. (If you can’t tell, I’ll make it very plan – I’m being a little bit sarcastic right now.) Their help caused quite the headache, and they were insulted when we didn’t trust them. After about an hour with their assistance, we over paid for a bus ticket to a small village that was not Saadani.

When we arrived at the village, motorcycles offered to take us the remaining 30 kilometers. We would’ve had to hire three – not worth it. But the assured us that the bus to Saadani was coming, so we sat there and waited. A few hours later, we were kind of nervous, so Logan, in his broken Swahili asked about the bus again. They told us it would come at 11. Logan asked if they meant 11 PM (approximately 6 hours later) – they said: “No, in 30 min.” It was 4:30 pm.
AND THEN Logan remembered that the interior of Tanzania has it’s own time zone that isn’t really recorded. They are 6 hours slower than the cities and the coast. He remembered learning about this from his Peace Corps Swahili book. They start time when the sun rises. So, 11 for them, was 5 for us. Sure enough 10 minutes after 5, the bus showed up, and we ssssqqqquuueeeeeezzzeeeddd (squeezed) on to the bus. There were A LOT of people on that bus.

Night is starting to fall and Logan and I are both getting kind of nervous about trying to find the guest house with all of our bags in the dark in Saadani, where there is no electricity. However, before we get there, we have to enter the national park. We pull up to a gate, and it doesn’t appear as if anyone is around. The men all get off the bus, and one runs up to the gate house. Fortunately, there is a man sleeping inside, and he comes out to the bus with his gun. He walks around to the other side where Logan is sitting, asks his name, and then asks him to go inside. It turns out, the Saadani National Park staff were expecting us, so we had to register.
Finally, we’re on our way to the village. We are driving for about 10 minutes, and start going down a little hill, when all of a sudden, the bus stops, and everyone is staring at a truck that is blocking the road.

There is a 18-wheeler that had apparently been trying to go up the hill we were going down, but failed, went backwards and jackknifed, slamming the bag of the chassis into the bank on one side of the road, and the from on the other. There was no way our rickety bus was going to be able to get around.

Now, here comes the other problem. Our contact in Saadani is on vacation, and we don’t have the phone number to her coworker. We end up calling our contact while on vacation in Arusha, and she calls her coworker and then the coworker calls us back. By the time all of this happens, there is another park official that Logan has found, and he is going to take us in his car the rest of the way.

While sitting in the truck, Logan and I are talking about how ridiculous the entire day has been between paying too much for bus tickets, sitting in a village not knowing if we’re going to get on our bus, to the truck blocking the road to Saadani. I told Logan that this would make a good story when we returned home. And Logan said: And then a bunch of elephants stampeded across the road while we were driving. To which I responded: At this point, that wouldn’t be too far from the truth. We didn’t get elephants, but we did see about a dozen giraffes right before we got to the village, which was very cool.

We decided to stay in the Tanzania National Park guest house for the first night. When we arrived, we realized that we had eaten neither lunch nor dinner. We had been periodically snacking throughout the day, but we had been too stressed to realize how little we had eaten.
This is when I learned a valuable lesson: Do not give me a Leatherman and a can of tuna when I’m hungry and lack the knowledge of how to use a Leatherman. That was the most delicious can of tuna I have probably ever eaten. Then we went to bed.


  1. Bahaha! I kind of thought that you would be a "tuna" snob, Monica. Growing up with all the delicious fresh fish in Alaska.

    I'm so proud of you both. I would have been positively freaking out by this time, if this were me. You two are made out of stronger stuff than me.

  2. Haha.. no no, I love canned tuna. Was basically raised on it.