just another blog, written by Finja Charlotta Ohm

Final Destination: Mtwara

Our journey from Dar Es Salaam to Mtwara on the 14th of January started early in the morning at 4:30am. After packing all of our stuff together we were ready to drive about one hour from the transfer house to the bus station, again in a bajaji. 

Usually when I think about a bus station it’s rather small, organized and easy to find your way around. The bus station in Dar is the complete opposite of this and therefore a shock when you see it for the first time. The place is completely crowded, people are everywhere and there’s one bus after another to any destination possible. There’s not only the parking area for busses but also for usual cars and when you’re there for the first time you definitely won’t know where the end of the station is and how to find your way around.

Once we got out of the bajaji we were already surrounded by boys with hand barrows that wanted to take our luggage to the bus. We gladly accepted this offer, knowing that paying 2.000 Tanzanian Schilling (less than 1€) and not having to carry 40kgs each around the whole bus station (that is obviously not tarred and therefore even harder with suitcases) wouldn’t kill us. About 10 minutes later we arrived at the bus that was supposed to bring us to Mtwara. We stored our luggage in the bus, said goodbye to the driver from our organization and went into the bus, excited and nervous about the upcoming hours. Right on time at 6am the bus started it’s journey. Still being in Dar the bus stopped at every station possible. As soon as we were at a stop the bus was surrounded by street sellers that wanted to sell us everything you could possibly think of, food, drinks, sunglasses, headphones, watches, shoes, … and even though we were hungry, as we didn’t get any breakfast, buying something from one of the sellers was still too much of a challenge for us. 

The bus continued it’s way through Dar until we left it behind us and reached the road that goes straight to Mtwara. We passed small villages, one palm tree after another, small lakes and rivers, the ocean and mostly untouched beautiful nature! We spent our time either sleeping or soaking in all the different and new experiences. In every bigger village the bus stopped for a few minutes, leaving us time to observe the street sellers and villages, that all looked the same to us and were still somehow different. 

After about 5 hours of bumpy roads and countless police controls later the bus came to a stop, the bus driver announced something and almost everyone got out of the bus – it was time for a pee break. We were too scared to get out of the bus as we didn’t understand a single word the driver said. But we soon continued our ride knowing that we already made half of it! 

The bus stop in Nangurukuru, half way between Dar Es Salaam and Mtwara

At about 4pm we finally reached our final destination, Mtwara. Our nervousness slowly reached it’s peak as we didn’t know what would expect us when arriving at the bus station. Once we were there we got out of the bus already having the first people running towards us asking whether we need a bajaji or wanting to help get our luggage out of the bus. We got our luggage – more or less without any help – and looked around for any sign of someone waiting for us and picking us up. Just a few seconds later one boy and two girls walked up to us introducing themselves as Lona, Nici and Moritz and welcoming us in Mtwara. They are three of the four other volunteers living with us in the Student House and were coincidentally nearby when our bus arrived. A few minutes later Joshua – the house keeper – came and quickly found two bajajis (one for our luggage and one for ourselves) that brought us to Mbae, where our Student House is located at. It’s about 25 minutes away from the bus station which gave us enough time to observe the area where we are living in. Finally arriving at the student house I was relieved to be at the place that would be my home for the next seven months.

Joshua showed us our room, that Yara and I are sharing with Lona, gave us a tour around the house and introduced us to a handful of people that are living with us in the Student House. We unpacked our stuff, took a well needed shower, ate dinner with the others and went to bed rather early as we were still very tired from the first day in Dar. 

Our room – view from my bed

The next day we had our Orientation Day in Mtwara with Tembo, the Swahili teacher and kindergarten manager of the Day Care we work in. He first introduced us to the two teachers from the kindergarten and showed us around. The kindergarten basically consists of two classrooms and one playroom. It is newly build and just opened this past September. Therefore it is rather small yet but the other volunteers – Lona, Moritz and Mario – who are working in the construction project are midway of building new classrooms right next to the finished ones. 

After showing us the kindergarten we went through Mbae, getting to see the water fountain, the local restaurant, the market, small shops, the bar and the bus station. We then went to Mtwara by daladala. There Tembo showed us the bank, supermarkets, a bakery and the huge market. After getting to know the important things in Mtwara we took the pikipiki to go to Mikindani, a historical village right next to Mtwara. We got to go into a museum and visited the “Old Boma”, an old German fort and headquarter of German East Africa, that is now a first class hotel. Then we went into an art shop and ate lunch with a beautiful view at a beach bar. Later that day we went to another beach – the Shangani beach – and then to bed ready for our first day of work the next day. 

View from the Old Boma

See you soon, Finja

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