462 km, 4550 km from Cape Town
Completely overcast conditions with what looked like to us a definite threat of rain, was discounted by the locals who promised no rain. Of course it started to rain almost immediately we set off. We were soon soaked and as we were climbing up a plateau and were then in thick mist, we could not appreciate any view.
We stopped for a cup of sweet hot tea at a small shop, the first we have seen like that and it showed that we were aproaching Tanzania.
The sun came out for awhile and we were greatly cheered but just as we could see Nakonde in the distance, which is the last town before the border it started to rain again.
One can tell when there is a border ahead because the trucks start to line up on the side of the road in endless queues, waiting their turn. The border here is still the old style and has not been modernised at all and so is a cluster of decaying buildings and outhouses with trucks parked every which way, some broken down, some stuck in the quagmire.
We parked on a pavement and got to the business of identifying which of the cluster of people around all talking at once was; the money-changer and which is the fixer, whose help is needed for the whole process, which is slow but always pleasant as all the officials are friendly and inquisitive to our mission. We chose our personnel and followed muddily from building to building and an hour and a half later we were escorted to the gate and wished a good journey – and we were in Tanzania – a completely different world, just twenty meters from the last.
Now there were cars and taxis and motor cycles everywhere and three wheel tuk-tuks and trucks, so many trucks, and vendors and people standing in the road talking and laughing and general noisy chaos.
We needed fuel and so turned into the first garage, which had old style fuel pumps marked in khoki; petrol and diesel! Don’t bother asking for unleaded!
We filled up amid the small crowd who had gathered around us and eased back into the rain and down the muddy street and through the border town of Tunduma.
The rain finally abated further on and we made it to our lodgings at the very comfortable but strange Ifisi Community Centre, just short of the town of Mbaya where we appeared to be the only guests.