Mbeya to Lusaka: Bus Boy
Mbeya to Lusaka: Bus Boy.
I wanted to get on the move from Tanzania to Zambia, so I got going at about 08:00. The hot water shower I was promised lasted for about 90 seconds. Well, that will help save water from shower abuser like myself… 😡
I went downstairs in the hotel for the free breakfast of chapati (African pancake things) at the hotel and then packed my bags. The guy who checked me into the hotel last night told me he was going to escort me to find a bus and make sure I paid a fair fare. As we walked out of the hotel together I noticed that the hotel was called the “Ten Commandments Hotel”. Heavy.
It cost 4,000 Tanzanian shillings ($2) for the 90 minute bus ride to Tunduma, the border-town of Tanzania and Zambia. Tanzanian speed bumps are so rough and the bus drivers hit them so hard that your teeth smash together if you are not tensed up in anticipation of them. Tanzania = speed bumps that chip teeth.
I made friends with a Zambian man of Tanzanian parents on the way. He, Clinton, was very well educated and we had a very good visit on the bus to the border. If you are from Tanzania or Zambia, you do not have to stop at the border and can just walk through. However, he spent about an hour waiting for me to get my exit stamp, my entrance stamp and to wait in line to get Zambian currency at an ATM. Clinton got us on a bus for Lusaka for $17. It would turn out to be a 16 hour bus ride.
Well, Zambia is a country of luxury bus liners. I am talking about buses as nice as buses can be made. That is Zambia. Comfortable seats. A toilet in the back of the bus. Air conditioning. It is the first time I have had air conditioning anywhere in Africa since I arrived. It was quite a treat…
One kilometer from the border where the bus journey started, the bus pulled off to the side of the road so that everyone could get out to stretch their legs. The bus made several stops along the way and I would guess we lost at least 2:30 hours in stops on the 16 hour drive. No one seemed to be in much of a hurry.
Clinton says that Tanzania is efficient. Zambia is comfort. Tanzania is good education. Zambia is poorer education. Tanzania is poor English speaking skills. Zambia is good English speaking skills. Tanzania is well written English. Zambia is poor written English skills. Tanzania is working hard for the money they earn. Zambia is talking much and hoping for money handouts. Tanzania is owning your house, but not having a vehicle. Zambia is owning a car, but renting your home…
So, Clinton comes from a family where he is one of 19 brothers and sisters. His father had 19 children with his three wives. 14 boys and 5 girls. The children range from five years of age to 42 years.
The first wife had seven children: Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 11.
The second wife had seven children: Numbers 7, 8, 9, 12, 14, 16, and 18.
The third wife had five children: Numbers 10, 13, 15, 17, and 19.
Children 11, 12, and 13 are all the same age. Clinton says that they are very close to each other.
Children 14, and 15 are also the same age. Like children 11, 12, and 13, they also went to primary school together and are very close.
Clinton says that all three of his father’s wives are mothers of equal status to his life.
I find the dynamic of it all very fascinating.
The Mbeya to Lusaka bus adventure eventually arrived in Lusaka, Zambia at 06:30. I walked around to try to find a guesthouse and tried three different ones, but they were all full and could not check me in until 10:00. So, I went for breakfast wasted the morning waiting to get into a room to get some sleep. That finally happened at 11:00. By the time the room was ready, I was tired and I was smelly.
I have spent 44 of the past 64 hours riding on a bus…
Nairobi to Arusha – 273 km
Arusha to Mbeya – 923 km
Mbeya to Lusaka – 1,125 km
That is 2,421 km since Nairobi. It is a lot, but that also needs an “African Road Factor” included. No wonder I feel grumpy…