Lindsay kind of glossed over this bus trip from Arusha to Mwanza in her post, I however felt it was neccessary to share the experience as it is not one I shall forget anytime soon…
Today was a day that I do not wish to repeat anytime soon, although it had many moments that are fun to share as long as I’m no longer in them. After getting up at 5 am, saying goodbye to Boots and taking our special hire taxi, we arrived at the bus station a bit before 6 to catch our 12 hour long bus journey to Mwanza on lake Victoria. Lindsay hopped on with her bag and I was led around the bus to stick mine in the bottom luggage compartments at which point the guy who led me around wanted the “luggagge fee”. I laughed and told him it doesn’t exist, which it doesn’t so don’t pay one on any bus unless you’re bringing 6 bags of potatoes with you. Got on the bus and it started our trip, only 20 minutes late, very good by African standards.
We happened to have gotten the last two seats on the bus the night before so they had put us right in front of the door in the two staff seats. Beans was excited for us as this meant easy access on and off the bus for bathroom breaks and picking up food, however it came with a whole other host of problems. The two staff people, or bus conductors, that we had taken seats from were a guy and a girl in their twenties. The guy wore the bus companies yellow safari shirt “In God We Trust – Safari Za” and had a very oddly shaped skull at the back, which we saw lots of since he stood in front of us on the steps. The other conductor was the woman. She had massive hips, wider than the bus aisle, and of course a butt to go along with them. This was somewhat problematic for me and it turns out she was rather cranky after intially helping Lindsay to put her bag under the bus so she had more room.
So we saw a lot of Cranky Hips and Weird Head throughout our 12.5 hour journey. As the trip started they turned on the onboard entertainment. Christian African music videos. The first one had english subtitles so we thought this might be interesting, but turns out the rest of them didn’t and were all in swahili. The worst part was that essentially they were all the same; random shots of people dancing next to a tree, next to a wall, on the street, in a church, you name it and then each video, I kid you not, went for a minimum of 15 minutes, some maxing out at 25 minutes. So we forcefully listened to the quite hilarious but horrible Christian music videos for 5 straight hours before they finally started repeating. At that point Weird Head put in a different USB stick which had African top 40 music videos instead. This now meant that instead of african gospel the music was slightly more hip hop, slightly, and the dancing became even more hilarious. It turns out african’s LOVE their butts. An average video started with singing and then a woman shaking her butt as much as she could. Then she’d be joined by 5 of her closest butt shaking friends. Then shot change to her mom shaking her butt, then her grandmoter shaking her butt down the street as well. After about 8 minutes or so the guys would get involved and so it would be a bunch of guys in shiny silk shirts shaking their butts in all manners possible on the street, in front of cars, in the park, where ever they could put a camera and have people dance. 18 minutes later the video ends and if you’re lucky the next song uses a different set location, if not, you see/hear the same thing again for another 15 minutes. Fricking hilarious, 7 hours later, repetitively annoying. 7 hours later, repetitively annoying, 7 hours later, repetively annoying 🙂
About 2.5 hours in it was apparently beverage service time, quite fancy and unexpected, and not helpful when you have no idea when the bathroom breaks are. So Cranky Hips got up and proceeded to hand out bottles of pop from 3 crates that she kicked down the aisle taking up all the aisle space. I got my new fav, Fanta Passion, and sipped it for a very very long time. Once the drinks and biscuits were handed out Cranky Hips decided to use the crate as a seat by putting a cushion on it. Of course she decided to set the crate up in the aisle right at my feet. Did I mention she was wider than the aisle? So I spent most of the day sitting under Cranky Hip’s hips and gudunk-a-dunk, well at least her left side, the guy on the other side of the aisle got her right side. Periodically she got up to get empties and do other tasks so I got repeatedly butt checked in the shoulder by Cranky Hips and her giant caboose. Thank god she wasn’t any taller or I’d have a concussion.
The countryside out the window was very nice to look at with many baobob trees and massive rock kopjes. How those rocks got ther would be nice to know, I’ll google it. Eventually we stopped for a bathroom break at one town and I got out to pee and stretch my legs. Lindsay got suckered into paying to use a bathroom whereas I watched where the entire bus of people went to pee for free. I went and used it, it was gross. These folks could learn to take a little pride in cleanliness, and as a byproduct you stay healthier, who knew. Advice, try not to shake people’s hands, period. While milling about some guys tried to sell me sunflower oil, which all the locals were buying up as they use it in most of their cooking. One fellow took an interest in my carabiner pocket knife so I showed it to him and he popped out the knife and pretend stabbed the air, interesting. Got back on the bus and continued on.
Turns out that Weird Head is in charge of bus maintenance and money/tickets more or less. So saw him out and about at every stop checking on things, moving luggage, etc.. He helped us eventually make it to Mwanza. We got off at the Ngezi bus station, only to be told by a helpful man Ellis, who had been supporting Cranky Hips ride buttocks earlier, that the bus would still be going into the centre of town where we wanted to go. So back on the super long bus we got and made it into town. Finally arriving and picking up our bags, Ellis walked us down the street to a taxi driver and that is where we met our charming con-man cabbie, Remmy. He is very good at being helpful just a little too late and charging you too much but coudos to him to pulling it off and making the experience somewhat enjoyable.
He took us to our first hotel, full, then our second, full, then to a third that he suggested, Mayi hotel. We checked in and went to our room up on the first floor, floor zero is the lobby, which makes sense. Our room was very nice but the strangest corner room I’ve ever stayed in. There were 7 different ways to get into the room so not overly safe. There was the main door and across from that on the wall was another door that looked like it led out onto a balcony, instead it was actually the hallway having come around the room. There were 2 massive sliding windows on these hallway walls that of course didn’t lock properly and two smaler sliding windows above each one. I had to take the locking mechanism off with a screw driver I had and readjust it in order to make the windows lock. There was also a window in the bathroom which would not be fixed so I used Lindsay’s hair brush to stop the window from opening. That done we could finally relax, shower, and enjoy the DSTV. Nicest single room we had while in Africa, if a little strangely layed out. Get a room not on the corner.
What a very long bus day that I will never forget. I shall never look at a butt the same way ever again.
I still have not had to use a Squatty, keeping my legs crossed 😉