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If you've enjoyed reading about my experiences in Tanzania here, check out the new blog I've started on Wordpress as of November, 2017. It's called "Back to Tanzania" and you can read it here. All new adventures in Tanzania from an older, wiser, more experienced expat.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Sunday Drive All the Way to Rainy Season

In my last post, I mentioned three maybe-killer bees that died at my house. (Click here if you want to see it again.) This afternoon when I came home, I heard a loud, cloudy buzzing from somewhere high up. I briefly wondered if the bees were still being disturbed by the honey collectors, but discarded the idea. It was too loud. I figured it must be machinery running somewhere. Then the askari walked by, smiled, pointed skyward, and said, "Nyoki" (bees). It sounded like a million of them, but I didn't see even one. Anyway, last Sunday out wandering around in our new car, I saw a local bee hive. So here are a couple of pictures.

Bee keepers suspend a short section of a log in a tree for the bees to use as a hive.

They're a common sight in rural Tanzania.

But did you catch the reference to a new car? Now that high season's over, K2 has been working in town a lot more. Just like an American couple, we reached the conclusion that we need two cars to accommodate two irregular schedules. How quickly I gave up on the populist idea of riding the dala-dala.

We bought the cheapest used car on a small used car lot here in Arusha. When we parked the Suzuki (our first car) outside the lot, the proprietor introduced himself as the original importer of the Suzuki and we recognized his name from the paperwork. That's because the Canadians who bought the car from him and sold it to us never transferred ownership and we had to pay a large fine in order to license it! Anyway, it wasn't his fault, so we went on inside the fence to see the cars.

We both laughed when we saw this little Nissan Rasheen. It looks like a teeny tiny Land Rover low-rider. We test drove a Corolla, too. Even though we just managed to sell K2's old Corolla to his brother, who took it to Dar es Salaam (a one-day trip that took four days by the time he finished making repairs at major stops along the route). But we couldn't resist a car that makes us laugh, so it had to be the Rasheen.

We started our Sunday drive with a stop at the fire station to buy the required fire extinguisher and get a sticker for the windshield. See the column of stickers on the right? Tanzania requires stickers for insurance, road license, fire extinguisher...and maybe some other tax, too. I kind of lose track.

Stickers firmly in place, we headed out of town to Lake Duluti and the little restaurant/ resort on its shore.

Approaching the Lake Duluti Beach Club

Several large Indian families were settling in for Sunday picnics and games.

This little cutie is clutching the tomato slices she picked right off of K2's chips mayai (kind of a French fry omelet). She then plucked up a couple of chips (French fries). Her big sister made her put down the tomato slices and move along.

It's a small lake, very pretty and surrounded by forest. The owner of the little resort charges about $7.50 for access to the trail around the lake. We talked about walking it, but were both feeling lazy. So we hopped back in the Rasheen and hit the road.

The jacararanda trees have finished blooming, which breaks my heart. But here's the beautiful consolation prize: flamboyant trees. (I think they're also called flame trees here.)

We drove back through town and out the other direction to the small town of Monduli.

Monduli sits at higher elevation than Arusha, so the jacarandas were still blooming there along one of the main roads.

I didn't take other pictures in town, because Maasai (and other people) were everywhere and if I pointed my camera, I would have been pointing it at someone who didn't appreciate a stranger taking his picture. The town is tiny and charming, with three or four main streets lined by little shops and pubs.

We drove on through and headed to Monduli Ju, up a dirt road into the hills.

We drove the Rasheen because it's new (to us, anyway--really it's from 1997). The Suzuki would have been a better choice for the mountain road, as evidenced by the Rasheen's flat tire the next morning back at the house!

When I stepped out of the car here to look at these acacias, I heard cowbells ringing all around and Maasai calling to each other, and dozens of birds singing. Magic. But all I could see was this little piece of forest.

This is very much Maasai country. We saw many Maasai wearing traditional clothes and many traditional round houses with thatch roofs.

Maasai huts and electric lines. I couldn't see any connecting lines to the huts.

Beautiful East Africa.

Not Utah. Not Nevada. East Africa.

See those  shrubs in the foreground?

That's Mexican Poppy, an invasive plant that's becoming quite a problem in Tanzania.

We crested a ridge and saw all the way to the Great Rift Valley.
Great Rift Valley

At this point in our Sunday, it began to look like the start of rainy season. In Arusha, we've all been holding our breath waiting, hoping, for the rains to come and beat back the clouds of dust in town and to recharge the city's water system. K2 was in favor of continuing all the way out to the Rift Valley because he was so enjoying driving the Rasheen. I convinced him to turn around and head home, because I was scared the Rasheen would not climb back up out of the Rift Valley on wet clay roads.

Hmmm...looks like rain.

We gave short rides to two Maasai women, one young and one old. Both left bits of straw in the back seat. The older lady was carrying a heavy rice bag full of something and was quite happy for the ride. We were not quite back to the tarmac when the rain poured down, but we made it back to Monduli in a downpour with no problem. Except when we got to Monduli and searched the town for a restaurant to serve us chapati and hot tea, since we were a bit chilly. All the pub owners laughed and said tea is for breakfast and wouldn't we like a nice cold soda? So back to Arusha and dinner at home.

Rain clouds gathering on Mt. Meru, as seen on the way home.

And yes, it was the start of rainy season. Monday night and early Tuesday it rained hard! So, no more dust, and I'm delighted about that. Now we're into mud. Deep into mud. Here are a few shots of the road right outside my house on Tuesday. Earlier that morning, three cars were stuck. Several more cars, including SUV's with four-wheel-drive and one dala-dala, were stuck out on the main road to Njiro. (You can read about the road to Njiro during the last rainy season here.)

Yikes! But it was fine in the Suzuki with four-wheel-drive turned  on.

 Reaching the gate of Nyumba Sita. Home Sweet Home.


  1. Hey Barb - those photos of East Africa look amazingly like Utah and Nevada. Don't get that new car stuck in the mud! ~~ Carol ~~

  2. K2 successfully drove it out through the mud (past the SUV's that were stuck) by going reallly slow the first day. But the second day, after the mud was drier, the mud built up inside the wheel well around one tire, causing the tire to rub against it and send out smoke! It took an hour to dig all the clay out of the wheel well...