Moshi to Mbulu – Local Love Proposals and Chasing Tires with Sticks

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    Stuffed in the corner of a very crowded bus from Moshi to Arusha.
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    Loading the Landcruiser for our journey.
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    Massai tribe and their cattle at the water.
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    Now, that is what I would define as an African tree.
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    Massai tribe.
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    Look at those huts! Wow!
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    At this point, just before crossing, I really felt like I am in Africa.
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    Radiator troubles. I was his right-hand-man.
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    Kids having a blast.
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    Along, rough, rutted, road.
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    My driver liked me so much he let me sticker his Landcruiser.
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    'A Hard Life'

Moshi to Mbulu – Local Love Proposals and Chasing Tires with Sticks.
Jan 4
Time to get out of Moshi.  One day of a return was enough.  I said goodbye to my Danish friends at breakfast and caught a dola-dola to make a trip from Moshi to Mbulu.  The first stop was Arusha.  Arusha is a big city that I did not want to be near, yet have to use it somewhat.  There was a crowd of people waiting for the dola dola at the bus station, and when the bus pulled in and people emptied off of it, there was a battle to get on it at the same time through the tiny door.
[su_pullquote]People were climbing into the bus through the windows.  I had to big of a bag for any of those kinds of acrobatics, so I to wait until the last person unloaded to get on as I am huge with my backpack and not very sleek.[/su_pullquote]
At that point all that was left for seats were the four in the very back row, and four seats means ‘five’ people.  I took back right-hand corner.  Four others followed me and we all squeezed in.  I was the only foreigner on the bus.  A boy in his late teens with terribly un-fresh armpits was next to me and his older sister was next to him.  The bus headed off.  The brother/sister combo asked me a couple of questions in very broken English about where I was heading.  I told them to Mbulu.  The girl asked me if I had chocolate?  Sorry.  Soda?  Sorry, I do not drink it.  I fell asleep with my head on my heavy backpack that was on my waist and standing to neck height.

Stuffed in the corner of a very crowded bus from Moshi to Arusha.

Stuffed in the corner of a very crowded bus from Moshi to Arusha.

[su_quote]I awoke when I heard a voice saying, “Mozoongo?”  Mozoongo is Swahili for ‘foreigner.’  I heard it again, “Mozoongo?”  I opened my eyes.  “Mozoongo, I come you Mbulu?”  It was the sister of the boy beside me.  She was pretty, about 21, with black and purple dyed hair, but she was missing a front tooth.  I smiled and said, “No, I don’t think so…”  She said, “Mozoongo, I love you.”  I laughed and replied, “I don’t think you do.”  She stated, “Yes, I love you.”  I told her, “You don’t even know my name…”[/su_quote]
When the bus arrived in Arusha, the brother/sister team had got off the bus immediately, more likely because they were in a hurry and less likely at her embarrassment of rejection.  When I got off the bus a tout was on me immediately asking me everything he could.  I ignored him for about 20 meters until he quit talking and gave up on me.  As I went to enter the area where the bus ticket touts wait, another man was all over me, trying to guide me into a room for his bus company.  I kept on walking as he kept on asking questions.  When I felt like I was finally left alone, I approached a ticket man to ask about Mbulu.  He said there were no dola-dolas.  He informed me that a big bus would go in the morning, or else I could get in a Landcruiser today.  I asked the price.   He said between 10,000 and 15,000 shillings ($5-$7.50).  I went to another agent just out of view of the first to compare prices.  It was the same, so I said, “Let’s go,” and a man lead me about four blocks to a small bar where a man sat at a desk on the terrace and sold tickets for the Landcruiser taxi.  He wanted 12,000, and I tried to get him down, but he was not moving.  I paid my fare and was walked to a very rough looking Landcruiser where we loaded 15 passengers worth of luggage, boxes and purchased goods on the top racks.  I requested the front passengers’ door.  We were three in my row with a man in the middle between the driver and I.  Then there were three rows of four behind us.  We headed off.

Loading the Landcruiser for our journey.

Loading the Landcruiser for our journey.  15 of us in here!

Just was we were heading out of town a cop stopped us.  My driver was wearing his seat belt but I was not.  The cop did not care about me, but for reasons I do not know due to my lack of Swahili, my driver bribed the cop for 20,000 shillings after the cop pointed out something on his license.  When he let us go, we headed down the highway.  My window was stuck open at about 10 cm and could not go up or down.  The driver had to use a lot of steering wheel to keep the tired Landcruiser in one lane.  A lot of Massai people were herding cows and goats on the side of the road.  There were little grass huts everywhere, desert landscape, mountain landscape, and very African looking trees.

Look at those huts! Wow!

Look at those huts! Wow!

I had no idea where I was going, other than to a town on a map.  Moshi to Mbuluis basically all I had planned.  The highway was great for about 90 minutes.  Then we turned onto a dirt road and stopped at a rest area.  The earth was red where we were parked.  My driver opened the hood so I got out.  Water was squirting from the cracked radiator into the fan and the fan was sending it everywhere.  He left the vehicle running to let it cool down and eventually got the rad cap off.  I helped him fill the rad with water.  In the meantime, a large truck beside us would not start due to a dying battery and two guys began to try to push the truck.  I ran over the help push.  There was a lot of talk from the locals and they seemed amazed that a foreigner was willing to help out.  The other two guys pushing the truck were smiling at me as we pushed.  The truck fired up when he popped the clutch and he took off.  I got back in the Landcruiser and we headed down a windy one-lane red dirt road with massive potholes.  We had to cross rivers to get to the road on the other side.

At this point, just before crossing, I really felt like I am in Africa.

At this point, just before crossing, I really felt like I am in Africa.

Eventually we headed up into the mountains on very steep and deeply rutted roads.  Our driver ran bicyclers off the road as he was king in the huge vehicle on the one lane.  After another 90 minutes, on top of a mountain, we arrived in Mbulu where children were chasing tires down the road with sticks.  I had no idea I was heading up into the mountains when I left this morning.  Moshi to Mbulu was a bit of a surprise. 

My driver liked me so much he let me sticker his Landcruiser.

My driver liked me so much he let me sticker his Landcruiser.

My driver liked me so much for helping him twice to fill up the radiator on the road that he let me put a Beaver sticker on the drivers’ door of the Landcruiser.  I shook his hand and went to find a guesthouse room for $2.50 with two very sweet young women running the family business.  When I went to find dinner, children ran behind me in the streets giggling at me.  There are no foreigners here, and I guess they do not come often.  Everyone follows me with their eyes in the streets and everyone smiles and says hello.  I am really glad that I came here.

I found two mangoes for $0.10 for both of them, and then dinner cost me $0.50.  Awesome.  Oh, I sure like it here so far.

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2 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    love your article on trip to Mbulu.. I was born in Mbulu but now live in canada. Your article brought back memories.

    Thanks for it.

    Best wishes

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