Arusha by Matatu

During the night, each time we wake up, there is a new sound to identify. Barking dogs, crickets, traffic. As it gets light to towards morning, there are new sounds, Birds, voices, the muezzin – the call to prayer for Muslims.

After about 13 hours of sleep we are ready for adventure. We decide to take the ice (matatu) (small vanlike buses) into downtown. Andy’s wife and daughter are going downtown so they volunteer to show us the ropes. The vans are slightly bigger than the ones we rode in Kalimpong, India, but the idea is the same. Cram as many people in the van as possible (there is ALWAYS room for one more) and charge a small amount for bus fare, we pay 300 Tshillings each (20 cents).

Before parting from our two guides, the daughter instructs us to be careful of our belongings, only pay 300 no more and to tell the van driver our stop is “The Happy Sausage” for our return trip. We head down the street looking for the NBC Bank to check out rates to exchange money. We have trouble locating the bank, but we walk down streets where the locals shop.

Parking Meter Lady (in black skirt)

There are no parking meters here. There are women who oversee street parking. Each has a bright yellow vest and oversees a portion of the street. Payment is given to her to be able to park. This photo is taken on the sly as no-one wants their picture taken, even after being asked by Murray in his charmingest way.

We stay away from the Clock Tower as that is where the touts hang out looking for prey. All the guide books and tourist information base use the Clock Tower as the reference point for all things Arusha. Naturally all travelers and tourists pass through the area several times a day. So those that ‘prey’ on visitors will also gravitate to that area. We traveled around the rest of the city today and got hassled very little. My travel tip would be to stay away from this area and enjoy the rest of the city at your own pace without an unsolicited city guide.

We have learned some Sawhili. The most used words so far are “appana assanti” which means “No Thank You!”. We use it to get rid of the touts that want to follow along on our journey. Works pretty good!

(Mur again) I find the town crowded. There are people on the move taking up sidewalk and 2 wide on the street. The infrastructure is in poor shape. Not much is not in need of some repair. But the system seems to work. There is no need for useless signs like ‘watch your step’ or ‘uneven pavement’, I have not seen a single person in distress with a sprained ankle or anyone laying in the bottom of an exposed gutter.

Traffic here has its own rhythm. Motor vehicles rule the roost, beware. Bicycles weave a line about half a meter wide down the side of the road and pedestrians use the remaining 2 feet. There are no traffic lights so each vehicle in its turn squeezes and oozes around corners and through intersections. Peds cross wherever on their own time but the cars are allowed to run them down, except for us stupid tourists. We even had a car stop for us today.

We walk and walk and walk and get our fill of the city of Arusha. Another good nights sleep and we will be ready for our safari.


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One Response to Arusha by Matatu

  1. Miranda and Geoff says:

    Glad you have arrived safely and are off adventuring 🙂 Happy safari-ing this week!

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