Hurry Up and Wait

It’s time to say good bye to Northern Tanzania. I like the place, felt at home here. There are a couple of things that are annoying. First being the tag along self imposed tour guides. They are literally a pain in the ass. The second being the amount of money we the rich tourists are charged for things like taxi fare. Fare to the airport from our hotel was set out by the hotel owner, Andy, at $20US. I managed to get a ride for 20,000 TSH, about $12.50 US, and it is still way too much. You can ride the dala dala for about 600 TSH, about $.40 US and a short walk. But hey we all have lots of money don’t we. The lady we talked to yesterday pays 60,000 TSH/month, $38 US rent for a two room flat so the cost of living here is not that much and one airport fair would pay for 1/2 a months rent. The equivalent of charging say $600 for a trip from Edmonton to the International airport.

The Arusha airport is a domestic airport and it is very small. The line up at each of the airlines check-in counters blocks the entire entry way to the waiting lounge, so it is step over this bag and around that bag to get to the counter we are looking for. We arriveĀ  at the Precision Air desk and we are asked to leave our bags in the line to keep our place and find a seat. The computer has broken down and the boarding passes cannot be made. When is the last time you could abandon your bag in a airport and not have it blown up. The other worry being you are constantly reminded to not loose sight of your things while in Africa as they may have a tendency to disappear. The lady chosen to organize the line is great, she takes complete charge, makes light of the situation, and keeps a smile on everybody’s face. Finally the computers are working and the line organizer starts to find the owners of the bags as they are lined up. She approaches each bag owner, collects their ticket and passport and returns with their boarding pass in hand. Now that is customer service. Air Canada could learn a thing or two.

Arusha Airport

Arusha Airport

The waiting lounge is quite the place. The area before the boarding lounge is accessible to anyone but there is a chainlink fence between the wait room and the access to the airplanes. All the chairs face the runway and there is not a lot of action to see but that is the view. Once through security you end up on the tarmac side of the chainlink fence and there are no facilities what so ever. You are out of luck if nature calls or you get an overwhelming desire for something to eat. But, it works we all get on the plane we are suppose to and arrive in Dar es Salaam at more or less the time we are itinerary indicates.

It seems that the formality of checking in at passport control is exactly that, a formality. We arrive on the domestic side of the airport and we both are looking for a washroom. There does not appear to be any in the vicinity. So, I ask. We are directed against the flow at the customs desk, passed the incoming international flight luggage carrousels and backwards through the farthest line of passport control to the washrooms on the arrival side of the international airport. We use the facilities and gather our bags and walk right back the way we came past the passport guys, beyond the luggage carrousels, and through customs. Not a peep from anyone???? I’m sure that would happen in a Canadian airport. We were, after all legit, we have had our passports stamped and we are here legally but if you tried that at home even if you were legit some one would have a conniption.

We are staying at the Transit Hotel Airport. Basic is the only word that will fit this place. It is clean enough and the girls working here are great. They have answered all of my long list of questions and been more that pleasant about it.

We knew we would arrive mid afternoon so yesterday we email the hotel and asked if is OK to walk from the airport, would it be safe. Dar es Salaam has a rep for not being so nice. Their response? Yes, it is safe and they gave us directions as to the hotel’s whereabouts. From the airport doors to the front gate is about 2 mins. walk and when we reach the main road we realize that the corner we are looking for, the one that leads to the hotel is directly across the street. Not what Google Maps shows but for the most part those maps are not that accurate anyway. As we cross the highway and start down a shopping street in the Dar suburb a well dressed man in a car drives up beside us and asks if we are lost. We tell him we are on our way to the Transit Hotel. He informs us it is ahead just after the railroad tracks. Another 100M and we pass through the hotel gates. The well dressed man is at the hotel, he had followed us to make sure we were not accosted while we traveled through this alien land. To be frank there are many, many people about and I do not think that if we were held up the honest people on the road side would stand by and watch but I only guess this to be the case and do not know for sure, so that may be the way of things here. It would be sad if it is.

Here we sit in a one star hotel and we are quite leery of leaving the safe confines of the hotel room. It’s OK because we only intended to use this place as a spot of transitĀ  and it will work out to be exactly that. Here we wait until 4am tomorrow morning when we will jump in a cab and spend $5 US to get a 500M cab ride.

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