In Arusha, the area beyond Njiro Korona is dry and dusty especially during the dry season. It looks wasted because the land was once cleared to provide for sisal plantations. The prominent geographical feature of the landscape is Mount Meru, a product of a violent volcanic eruption in the past that also tore deep gorges in the terrain. This unique beautiful landscape is where I spent four days with Ma Tuliza’s family at Njiro Korona. On the 10th of January, with hugs and tears, I bid them farewell and headed for Dar es Salaam, a journey of approximately 651km.
Farewell to Ma Tuliza
Arusha-Moshi Highway is congested with traffic during the morning hours. So I took it easy. As I quickly covered the distance to Moshi, I had hoped to see Mount Kilimanjaro imposing majesty; unfortunately, it was cloudy so that the horizon was one dreary seamless skyline. I stopped at Moshi to refuel and to lubricate the chain which by now had developed a ‘clinging’ sound. I paid attention to the chain to ascertain that it could still deliver me to Johannesburg without the need for a replacement. It is necessary to mention that it is then I came to dislike chains on a long touring bike. Firstly, wear out so that they must be replaced together with both sprockets. There was also the inconvenience of having to lubricate the chain every 400 or so kilometres. I was firmly convinced that my next touring bike would be shaft driven.
Although it was still mid-morning, the sun was blazing angrily on me. But as long as I was riding the breeze cooled me. I had replenished my water at Moshi. It was my custom that as long as I was riding, a Carmel two litre hydration pack rode on my back with the mouth piece firmly wedged between my teeth. I drank up to four litres or more a day to which I always added some glucose, lemon or Sprite. For this reason, I never had a headache for the entire duration of the odyssey. Therefore, I cannot overemphasise the benefits of drinking a lot of water, which is easily available as bottled or borehole water.
Mt Kilimanjaro in the Background
The journey from Moshi to Mombo was uneventful. I covered miles and miles of asphalt with nothing particularly interesting on the horizon except the beautiful Usambara Mountain Ranges riding on my left. Today’s ride was a hard ride. I did not stop for my usual rests. Instead I rode standing or sitting until Mombo where I stopped for lunch. Lunch was a plate of Pilau (sweet tasting rice cooked with meat). I meet some South Africans who were touring this part of the world. Within 30 minutes I resumed trip toward Dar es Salaam.
Soon I reached the junction to Tanga; it was drizzling. But rain never bothers me. I would not stop unless it was windy or it was thunder storm. But riding in rain was not a very good idea so I throttled down. I was still mourning my rainsuit which fell off the bike on my way to Uvinza. In spite of the rain, my Kilimanjaro TPG touring suit (rather a curious name) was adequate. It kept me dry as a bone because of the membrane underneath, but importantly it would dry within 20 minutes after the rain stopped falling. So I continued to enjoy the scenery and rode on until Chalinze where I arrived to find a long distance bus was burnning. I was feeling very tired; I did not stop to ask what happened. So I rode on dreading the remaining 90km ride to Dar es Salaam. It is never a good idea to ride whilst you are tired. But this distance was managable. I turned all my attention to the task of taking myself safely to Dar es Salaam.
A Rest On the Highway of Arusha to Dar es Salaam
I do not remember much except that I stopped over at Ubungo in Dar es Salaam at Mr. Assenga’s home. He was the father of my ex-girl friend. It has been two years since we saw each other. He was someone I had great respect for; hence, this was a courtesy call. Inevitably, there was plenty to talk about, but as you might guess, it was all about the odyssey. In conclusion, we spent some time drinking coke. Sadly, Mr. Assenga passed on two years ago. May his soul rest in peace!