Landing in Kigoma, Tanzania

I awoke at 7:00 a.m. to the sound of the captain blowing the horn at our newest port of call. After making a few inquiries I found out that we’d made it to Kigoma over three hours early. That must be a new African world record – arriving early! We were so early that even the customs and immigration dudes weren’t around yet, so we had our breakfast and cleaned the teeth while we waited.

Finally got off the boat in the mad rush with all the other locals and queued up for immigration. The mental titans at the desk took ages to sort out the passports and when I finally looked at the entry stamp, I’d been admitted to Tanzania on “13 Dec 1982” Typical African efficiency. We had a local we’d met, Mohammed, walk us over to the Railway Hotel where we’d be meeting the truck that evening. Mohammed is this twenty two year old guy from Dar es Salaam, the capital city, who was exporting teak wood to Dubai. That was, until the Tanzanian government shut down his business. He said that for each tree they cut down they’re supposed to plant two in its place – evidentially that clause had slipped Mohammed’s mind so only after the teak forest had been completely razed did the Tanzanian government step in and shut him down.

We all checked into rooms at the Railway Hotel, for none of us were really expecting the truck to arrive that evening. The courier, Boz had pretty much told us it wasn’t going to be there. Rich and I then went for a three hour walk around Kigoma. It’s a very basic town – dirt roads, dilapidated buildings, your basic Third World type of place. We went to the market and got a pineapple for the local equivalent of fifteen cents, and a mango at least half the size of the pineapple for the same price. After wasting away the afternoon sitting by the lake drinking Primus (inclusive of an afternoon “power” nap) we went out to dinner. Upon our return we discovered the hotel sponsored a disco and they were playing all the music I’d been listening to in London, but had been deprived of for the past five (?) weeks while travelling. We sat by the lake listening to the music while watching yet another lightening storm, as usual, before going to bed.

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