Day 23: Nairobi, Kenya to Arusha, Tanzania – Big Brother’s African Brother

Nairobi, Kenya to Arusha, Tanzania

Day 23: 20 August 2002 8:30 pm

Three truck mates leave in Nairobi and three new truck mates replace them.

(US $1 = 970 Tsh)
At last, I feel strangely positive this morning even though it is another
miserable, grey, drizzly day. At 8:15am, running late as usual, we were off
to the dreaded Sirona Hotel (as Amy put it, "a shiver ran down her spine at
the mere thought of returning"), to pick up the new truck mates.

As predicted, it was a case of ‘huggie, kissie’ farewells to the three that
were leaving, but neither us nor Roberta and Beth participated in this. We
have more in common with them than we thought – how scary!

I am in a new cook group starting from today, so we popped into a plush
Nairobi supermarket to obtain supplies, but the veggies were in a woeful
state and we only managed to buy a cucumber and pineapple for lunch. Back
to rations again then.

On the way to the Kenya/Tanzania border, we got our first glimpse of the
Maasai. They really are strikingly different from other East Africans – the
women are bewitching, wrapped in colourful red blankets, their ears
contorted by technicoloured, beaded earrings that dangle to their shoulders.
There were no hassles at the border – we just had to part with US $50 each
for a single Tanzanian visa.

The truck was in a jokey mood – our tour leader wanted to set up a
sweepstake on who our driver would sleep with on the next leg of the
journey. (That’s a whole other story waiting to be told).

The changing face of Africa’s landscape continues to fascinate me and
Tanzania is a burnt yellow with occasional flashes of green. I feel as if
we have entered the real savannah, as we watched the odd Maasai, robed in
ruby red, herd his cattle across the vast, uninhabitated plains.

Our group amused itself in the latest sport of winding Roberta up about our
new male truck mate. She immediately asked to be in his chore group,
telling us that her main objective is to find good husband material, get
married and have 4-6 children and a herd of dairy cows. She commented
that it was difficult to find eligible men back home in their farming
community, as you always needed to ask their surname first before you
snogged them. Apparently, everyone is distantly related to everyone else;
we even discovered that Roberta and Beth are related in some convoluted
way. Little did she know that he was 41!

Yet again, as we approached Arusha, the landscape transformed from flat
plains to rolling barren hills. Now I know how over-grazing results in dust
bowl erosion – Africa makes all those geography lessons come alive.

Arusha is a bustling town filled with UN landcruisers and personnel. At
Arusha International Conference Centre, the Rwandan war crime tribunals are being hosted, hence the UN prescence.

As I was on cook duty, I had to go shopping and plan for three different evening
meals. The other truck has no particular dietary requirements, but our truck
has a full range from gluten/wheat-free to vegan. When I’ve been desperate,
I have eaten red meat and tried to be flexible. It is quite a challenge to
cook for 17 people in one sitting and produce a gluten/wheat-free,
vegetarian, vegan and meat version of the same dish.

We had no time to browse the interesting curio/craft shops in Arusha as we
dashed off to Snake Park camp site. This was the camp site that our tour
leader had raved about all trip and it was the worst camp site we have
stayed in so far. Only two showers that barely dribbled ice cold water and
three toilets to share between seven overland trucks. I was not impressed
as I waited over half an hour in the queue to have a shower that made me
gasp whenever it dribbled onto my skin.

We cooked shepherd’s pie, vegetarian shepherd’s pie and vegan shepherd’s
pie. After dinner, everyone raced off to get blotto on spiced rum served by
our tour leader in her barmaid outfit (don’t ask), but we snuggled down in
our tent.

There were two Absolute Africa trucks parked here and we were glad that we
had not booked our trip with them. The crowd aboard were rowdy, loud and
younger, nursing hangovers already (far worse than the Aussie vets), so it
would not have been our scene. At least the Aussie vets are well organised
when it comes to leaving on time in the morning.

Positives: Landscape contrasts between Kenya and Tanzania are fascinating
as are the Maasai, herding their cattle across the plains.

Negatives: Snake Park camp site is the absolute pits!



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