on the way to Mombasa

another day, another bus ride. today we were traveling from Dar Essalam in Tanzania to Mombasa in Kenya. as usual, we had to get up early, rush to the bus stop, only to get on the bus and have it then sit there for almost an hour at the main bus stop. grrrr, i cant even imagine how much extra sleep we could get if we weren’t always getting up so ear5ly for buses that didn’t leave on time. as we sat on the bus, a guy walked up to the front and put in a movie. nice! we would actually be entertained! and, lo and behold, it was actually a movie in English. of course, our luck only made it that far and not much further. they ended up playing the movie so quietly, that we were unable to hear anything at all. damn! *every* bus ride we’ve taken, they play the music or movies at a million decibels. so loud that your head is aching after a few minutes and you feel your brain start to ooze out of your skull. but the *one* time that they actually play an English movie happens to be the one time they turn the volume down to nothingness. *sigh*.

halfway through the trip, we stopped for a “toilet and lunch” stop. we walked back behind an old and decrepit soccer stadium, to find some concrete rooms that had little concrete partitions. between each partition was just a tiny little drain to pee into. only meant for those w/ good aim, i guess. we then searched for lunch. for some reason, the area we were in had no restaurants. the only thing resembling one, was a small building that had a table with a bunch of saran wrapped plates. in each plate was some sad looking fries, a slice of cucumber and tomato, and a piece of chicken that reminded me of some of the withered shriveled up mummies that we saw in Egypt. we were desperate enough to buy a plate each, and the attendant threw them one by one into a microwave that he had borrowed from next door. if the food was unappetizing before, now it was even more so. hot steamy microwaved cucumber slice?
as we were about to board the bus, we saw yet another guy selling cashews. i don’t know what it is about cashews, but here in Africa, there are hundreds of guys on the streets selling them. everyone is selling cashews left and right. i think we literally get asked if we want to buy cashews at least 30 times per day if not more. i don’t know if there is some huge monstrous warehouse somewhere filled to the brim with cashews and trying to get rid of it’s product or what. the one difference w/ this guy, is that alongside the regular cashews, he also sold spicy cashews. so, for the first time in the last month, we went ahead and actually bought some. they were actually pretty good.

the rest of the bus ride was fairly uneventful. we crossed the border, where everyone got out, had their passports stamped, bags searched, and got back on. we also exchanged some money with one of the random guys wandering around who had a huge wad of cash. surprisingly, he actually gave us the right rate. later, we go to this place where the bus had to get on a ferry to get across. everyone was supposed to get off and take a separate ferry, and then get back on the bus on the other side. well, we and the other tourists were all confused, and in the end, they told us to just stay on the bus. when we go to the other side, i totally wondered what the locals must think of us. here, they had to get off the bus, in their own country, while the rich pampered foreigners got to sit inside and relax the whole way. we must look like such bastards.

finally we go to Mombasa, one of Kenya’s largest cities. we walked though town trying to find a hotel, and looked around at the hustle and bustle. there were a lot of people out on the streets, some of them selling random clothing, others sitting on the sidewalk and frying little dried fish to sell. ever7y few minutes, someone would ask us if we wanted to buy some Cd’s.. probably the next most popular thing to sell next to cashews. as we walked, hundreds of Matatu’s raced by us, making everything even louder and more chaotic. Matatus are minivan taxis and are one of the most popular ways of getting around town here. people must take huge pride in their Matatus, cause they are almost always decorated in crazy neon colors, all glittery, with random slogans written on them or spray painted pictures. these vehicles look like they pulled out of “pimp my ride” on MTV. as they race by you at top speed (death by Matatu is a common occurrence here), one guy will be leaning out of the van and yelling incomprehensible words as loud and as fast as he can, hoping to get customers. we navigated through all the chaos, the people, and the rubbish, and finally made it to our hotel.

our hotel was named “the excellent hotel”, but it actually would more aptly be name the “so-so hotel” or maybe even the “not so great hotel”. the ro0m itself was nothing special, but the real “treat” was the bathroom. the tub looked like it hadn’t been cleaned since the 1500s, and had grayish blackish yellowish streaks *everywhere*. joey was afraid to even let his flip-flops touch it. the toilet had no lid, which wasn’t unusual, but it also had no seat either. funniest of all was that the hotel promised hot water, but later we found out that the hot water is turned on… from 6am to 7am. yes. we only get hot water for *1* hour, and it’s at a ridiculous hour. unbelievable. i always find myself wondering, why is Africa so expensive?? i traveled through tons of countries in Asia, and there a small room would go for 3$, maybe 5$. everything is cheap. yet here, we’re paying a whopping $25 for this room. yeah, yeah, i know that back home you couldn’t find *any* room for $25, but this is a developing country!! there aren’t any nice 1st world amenities.. like toilets that you can actually sit on. and yet, they charge like 5 times what we would be charged in Asia. *sigh*. as we sat talking about this, the power in our room went out. not surprising. ahh Africa!


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