Tuesday, July 20, 2010

19th July Fiona's Perspective

Up early this morning as we wanted to try and make it to Mbeya. Overnight there and cross over to Malawi Tuesday.
This means at least 8hrs driving today.

Alan started collecting number plates from countries we visit a couple of years ago after I managed to purchase old plates in Cuba (essentially illegal). Since then we have managed to purchase them in countries where you have number plates assigned to you for life.

On this trip we have only managed to get a Kenyan plate so far. In Tanzania there is not a lot of English spoken, so it is a bit of a challenge. In Uganda we may still get one.

In the last 2 days we have passed 8 trucks that have gone off the road and rolled or collided with other vehicles and gone off the road or are burnt out.
This is hardly surprising as they drive these roads at high speed.

We have also passed a couple of foreigners who are cycling through the country with their sleeping bags etc all strapped onto their bicycle. Very brave, the roads are long, steep at times and treacherous. The buses and trucks give way to NO ONE!!

Driving through little villages or just in the middle of nowhere you see a mud house with no windows, but a huge satellite dish on the roof, held in place by bricks and a small solar panel. It just goes to show everyone watches Sky news or CNN, wherever they are.

The car seems fixed and is going well, this is a good thing as our back up vehicle (Gav & Jen) is 2 days behind us. They are off to the Ngorogoro crater whilst we want to spend a bit of time in Malawi. I am sure we will touch base with them in Mozambique.

Every time you go near a village, the speed limit drops to 50km/h. We are always careful to obey the set limits, but despite this, we were stopped and fined for going 96km/h. I think they were pulling a fast one, so Alan negotiated them down from a R260 to R100 fine, with no paperwork! The police here are at all times very freindly, especially whilst taking your money.
We have subsequently discovered that the maximum fine they can give legally is R130.

On the way North, Alan and Jess handed out almost 50 soccer balls to children in various villages. Imagine our surprise when driving back through one of these villages, we saw the school children playing soccer with one of them!

We phoned ahead and booked into the Utengulu Hotel on a Coffee Plantation 15km out of Mbeya. The team stayed there on their way up. I think Alan is going to need a hot bath and a stiff drink after the last couple of days driving.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised by the accommodation. It was really stunning.

We met a South African guy who is on contract in Dar es Salaam and two Bulgarian bikers who had ridden from Bulgaria all the way to Egypt and down through Sudan to Tanzania and were ending their 10 week trip in Cape Town.
We had a great evening, chatting, drinking and eating with them. We also gave them tips on where to stay and got some idea from Alex the South African on where to stay in Malawi.
Simon, one of the Bikers organises adventure trips through Bulgaria, so guess where our next trip will be....

We got a tip that a South African running a Tyre dealership in town could help us with a number plate. As he could not locate one, he saw that his own Tanzanian plate was about to fall off, so he helped it along. We left town for Malawi with our Tanzanian plate, exchanged for some biltong.

Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom - let your email find you!

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