|"No you don't! Just bugger off" said Lynitta as I suggested that perhaps I should just check my tyre pressures before I left. Alan and Lynitta are an Ozzie couple who own Wildebeest camp and we had had become pretty good mates over the last few years of staying there. I was ready to go and felt nervous and Lynitta's command was what I needed to prevent any further procrastinations. So fond farewells were said, luck was wished and I was off.
The drive to Namanga on the Tanzanian border was uneventful although the roads were busy with trucks, buses and matatus which seemed to aim at me like guided missiles. But I was quite used to that now and took comfort from the fact that if I could drive in Nairobi I could drive anywhere in Africa.
I felt anxious approaching my first border crossing expecting mayhem and the need to fight being ripped off. But it was quiet and both sides of the border were polite and helpful. In fact, when I gave my passport to the Tanzanian immigration they forgot to give me a visa and I had to go back and tell them that they need to give me one and I need to give them U$50. I also managed to persuade the Kenyan customs to let me keep my logbook, suggesting that they did not need the responsibility of having to look after it for a year.
And then I was in Tanzania. What struck me immediately was how empty the road was. I might pass a truck every five minutes or so. It made me wonder if I was on the right road but both my GPSs said I was fine. Also the roads were in brilliant condition and not mangled and potholed like most of those in Kenya.
I reached the first town of Arusha and found that driving no longer followed Darwinian rules of survival of the fittest. Traffic lights were obeyed and not just flashing decorations and roundabouts actually had rules. It took a while to get used to 'normal' driving and shake off the defensive/aggressive behaviours I had become accustomed to.
I continued up to Moshi where I was going to stay for the first night. The lower slopes of Kilimanjaro filled the horizon although the peak was covered in cloud. As I approached, the cloud began to break and glimpses of the summit appeared revealing its depleted snowy cap. It was heart warming to see as the last time I saw it I was still in my teens.
The Hotel Kilimanjaro Crane was friendly. My room was basic but clean and quiet. I went for a walk around Moshi for an hour observing and listening to the bustle before sundown. As I walked down a side street, two motorbikes collided in front of me sending each driver somersaulting into the air in an almost uniform display of acrobatics. Amazingly they both got up unscathed to argue, adding to the general bubble of the place.
I felt tired and ached a lot after the first days drive, probably more to do with the tension I was holding than anything I had physically done. I contemplated sorting out the terrible squeaking that came from the jerry cans on the roof that sounded like a heard of mice having an argument. However, the prospect of an early supper and a good night's sleep won that debate hands down.