Up at the unearthly hour of 4:45am for a quick shower and then up for 5:15am breakfast as we’re off to the ferry at 6am. Luckily, it’s only a short walk. I’m glad I stopped shaving on this trip as this saves me a valuable few minutes on these early starts, especially when camping. I’ll have a long white expedition beard on my return.
I’m getting used to these early mornings as we generally go to bed early. Once we have eaten our evening meal and tidied up, it’s almost 9pm so we generally go to our tents. I read to about 10pm and then go spark out.
We had breakfast in a roof restaurant in the semi-dark but none of us were in a particularly very chatty mood. Then off to ferry to Dar Es Salaam.
The journey took about 2hrs or so. The ferry was like the one I used to catch a few times a day from Hong Kong Central to Lamma Island a few years ago so I had no desire to sit on deck. Instead, I had a snooze. We berthed and there was no immigration or control, just walk off. Chui, our mellow yellow truck, was parked a hundred meters or so away so we gladly got back on board our mobile habitation, for which we have feelings of fondness.
Back on the road for a few hours and then stopped for 2 hrs at shopping centre for lunch and to buy provisions for our meals for next 2 days. I went to a Subway because I was in a rush. I never use Subway in Ireland and am no fan of their bland cardboard food but needs must etc etc.
Back on the road again for a familiar journey of passing initially through Dar Es Salaam and shortly the now familiar African scene of farms, woods, wilderness, villages, stops to answer a call of nature or view an interesting site or sight etc. One unusual stop was to rescue a large chameleon who was halfway across the road and about to be mashed by oncoming traffic. They’re strange creatures who advance a few centimetres and then freeze and bob forwards and backwards or do a little tap dance. Our resident hero picked it up and relocated it to safe ground. Then we repeated this about 100 metres down the road. Gas.
As we were nearing our camping place, the sky got very dark and a massive storm front started forming. It soon got dark and the heavens opened and the rain lashed down. It stopped after about 15 or 20 mins and blue skies returned again.
Soon we reached our campsite, level spot about 100 metres in from the road. As usual, first thing we did was pitch our tents. My tent is a fairly complex one with a sprung frame. Just extend the frame and the whole tent erects, pretensioned. Taking it down us a bit more complicated but can be done in a minute
At our last stop, before 4 days in an hotel over Christmas, we were asked to leave our tents up so they could dry out. The guy who took mine down didn’t do it property so it no longer works. There was one spare regular tent left so I used this instead. To my surprise, it was much better, bigger and higher, so I’ll use this in future.
By the time we got our tents up, it was time to prepare dinner. I was in the cook group so happily grated carrots and mixed together, with my hands, the ingredients for hamburgers which I then cooked on a gasring on the ground while sitting on a small stool. Great fun.
By this time, darkness has fallen and a plague of flying insects of almost biblical proportion homed in on our lights and on our scent and sweat. I think we got most of them out of the food. We sat in darkness as we ate our meal but there was the occasional unaccustomed crunch as we chewed. Free protein.
Tidy and wash dishes and pots, pack everything away and retreat to our tents.
My new tent consists of an inner tough mesh and a removable outer waterproof layer. I left one side opened and lay in bed looking at the stars and the distant lightening flashes. It was cooler too than my own tent because of this design.