Saturday, September 22


The dusty roads of inland Africa are behind us and all that's left ahead is the blue waters of the Indian Ocean and the white sands of Zanzibar.

Not that we haven't been enjoying beaches already. We spent our last night in Bujumbura on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. You head a few miles North of town, past the sprawling UN base, and you get to a series of beach hotels and bars, which I hear are quite bumping on the weekends, but which were mostly deserted when we were there. Except for a group of Bujumbura businessmen, who invited us to partake of their flowing beer and whiskey. One of them owns the hotel I guess, and we were treated to a special performance by some Ugandan dancers/lipsynchers, the highlight being the guy who put on whiteface and a cowboy hat and the Duck Hunt gun from Nintendo, and mimed along to Kenny Rogers.

We also had probably our nicest meal of the trip at hip Swiss-run restaurant in Buj. I don't it was just because they had Duvel and Leffe, but it helped. As in Kigali, you can find Belgian beer in select Buj supermarkets and restaurants. Between the beaches and the beer and the cheap cabs, you could do alright in Buj.

We took a long cramped, but beautiful ride down the coast of Lake Tanganyika, before crossing into Tanzania. No endless lines of cargo trucks or hordes of moneychangers this time. Just curious villagers, and returnees being resettled by UNHCR.

I thought, foolishly, that traveling conditions might improve when we crossed into Tanzania. Instead, the road went from paved to dirt, the minibuses got more crowded, and we had to get out and wait three times for a flat tire and various residual problems. Pretty, though. The red dusty road, mud buildings, dense vegetation, and heat, are probably the closest I've seen to the image I think I would have come up with if pressed to imagine a stereotypical picture of "Africa". Kigoma also gave us another day with Lake Tanganyika.

As going overland to the other side of Tanzania takes either a cramped 40 hour train ride, or a multi-day bus trip (which probably goes through Kenya, defeating the point), we decided to fly to Dar Es Salaam. It's nice here. Downtown is basically like a smaller, hotter, more-laid back, and of course coastal, Nairobi. More mosques, the Indians seem a little more integrated. I guess a more developed Mombasa is another way to look at it.

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