Knud Henrik's diary 15 May 2006: Arusha

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Last updated 2007.11.21

We have reached Arusha with no problems. The flight from Copenhagen to London Heathrow was ordinary. In London we had to wait for almost four hours, boring as all airports. Lea managed to get lost but was soon found again.

It was almost 9 o'clock in the evening (London time = UTC) when we left London, a little behind schedule. That means our "stomach watches" counted it really late in the evening for dinner. Lea was so tired that she fell asleep before dinner was served. Arrival in Nairobi was scheduled to 7:25 in the morning (East African time, that is UTC + 2:00). Even though departure was about 15 minutes late the flight benefited from a heavy tail wind so we arrived about 25 minutes ahead of schedule.

At the airport in Nairobi we were soon attacked by swarms of taxi and bus "agents", people trying to catch customers for their business. We tried to get in contact with a more regular bus service but apparently they were not really interested so in the end we made arrangements with a company called Davanu, not very cheap, not very expensive. The bus was only a little overbooked. Unfortunately, we were the last passengers being booked so we had the least comfortable seats - some folding chairs in the aisle, one of which had a heavy inclination. It was quite amusing watching and listening to the kids and their reaction to the experience. The trip from Nairobi is about 265 km. Including about half an hour at the border the whole trip took five and a half hours. The road was actually quite good but the suspension of the bus was completely worn out (expectedly, of cause) so every minor corrugation was felt to the full extent. The engine appeared to be quite worn as well and the bus had a hard time climbing even the slightest slopes. The worst thing about the bus ride was the interior climate. Actually, the weather in Nairobi was nice with comfortable temperatures. However, most of the passengers were more local people and apparently they perceived it as very cold. So whenever someone opened a window it was closed again after just a few minutes. With absolutely no ventilation the temperature and humidity inside the bus soon became rather uncomfortable.

We had booked a hotel here in Arusha in advance through our tour operator. The hotel, L'Oasis Lodge is just about two km from the point where we were dropped so that was just a short ride in a taxi. Of cause, getting of the bus from Nairobi was like throwing meat for the lions, the lions being the taxi drivers awaiting customers. One of them appeared trustworthy. We warned him that we had a lot of luggage but that was no problem, he said. Fortunately, the ride was so short. It was not very comfortable! Only half the luggage would fit under the hood, we had to sit with the other half on our labs.

The hotel is a very nice and calm place. The rooms are in separate huts complete with toilet and bathroom. We  are accommodated in two huts, Aske and Lea in one and Theis, Mai-Brit and I in the other. Only a very few people stay here presently, it's still low season. So we have both the pools (the swimming pool and the pool table) for our selves.

The rainy season started late this year here in Arusha and it is just about to end. That means we are still experiencing occasional showers and fairly low temperatures. It had been raining just prior to our arrival at the hotel so the humidity was very high and the temperature was quite low, just 19 C. Actually it was warmer in Copenhagen when we left. Today Tuesday started out just as chilled as yesterday. After a few hours the clouds cleared a bit and it got somewhat warmer.

We had made arrangements with a tour operator called Scan-Tan Tours. Scan-Tan is owned and run by Geert Lassen-Holm, the Danish consul here in Arusha. We have chartered a car with driver for the most of our journey here in Tanzania. This morning Lennie from Scan-Tan came around to greet us and to discussed some details. Shortly after the driver, Japhet turned up with "our" car. Soon we were on our way downtown Arusha. After a few errands, a visit to the marketplace and a traditional Tanzanian lunch we went up to see the drivers home about 10 km out of town. He has a plot of about one acre with bananas (cooking bananas, that is) and a few other crops. He also raise pigs but due to fodder shortcomings prior to the rainy season all the pigs were sold off. The place is very nice with some very fertile soil and very close to a river. It was an interesting experience to see the house of a "normal" Tanzanian though he is probably better off than the majority of the population.

Back at the hotel we checked out the swimming pool and wrote our diaries.