I had a long journey in the past couple of days. It is worth another story to tell…
I traveled from Arusha to Shingida (a 12 hour journey!) It started at 5:00 am where I was waiting for a taxi to pick me up to take me to the bus station… it never came! So I had to walk about a mile to get one on the road (still dark in the morning). I was accompanied by a maasai so I was safe. I had someone buy the ticket for me the day before, and they had bought the wrong ticket. There are different routs and they bought the ticket for the one I wasn’t going to do.
At 6:00 am I was in the bus station with swahili screams from left and right trying to make me go their way. Finally I found the right bus and when I got in it and sat on my assigned seat I found out that the window right in front of my seat was not there!. So I asked if I can change seats. It was a chilly morning and it was going to be uncomfortable to be there. It was not a problem and so I crossed to the other side of the isle and sat on a new seat.
The bus was packed and soon after we left I realized that my new window was not closing! It had a small gap but it was bearable. At that point I couldn’t change my seat again. I decided to wait until someone gets off the bus and then changed… well, this didn’t happen and I had to stick with it for the next few hours.
The road was a really tough one for the first half of the journey… no asphalt and plenty of potholes.
Half way on my journey the window started to come loose and I warned one of the people who was working with the company. He tried to put it back together, but it wasn’t working so he left it saying “Not worry, not worry”.
It was a long journey and I kept on falling asleep…so I couldn’t check the status of the window.
At one point we hit one big pothole where all the passengers were taken out of their seats (we were all flying) and when I woke up THE WINDOW WASN’T THERE anymore!
Needless to say, the second half of my journey wasn’t the most fun… but that is part of the experience.
This experience was shadowed by a good encounter once I got to my destination. I met a really nice man “Jason”. He works as a security guard at the hotel where I was going to stay the night. In his half broken english he asked me if I needed any help. I told him I wanted to walk around the town and find a place to eat. Not only that he told me where to go, but he came along and we had a great dinner. We also met a friend of his. A 17 year old kid from Dar es Salam who wants to be a pilot. A very smart boy and with a great personality. We walked around town for a bit and finnish the night with a couple of games of pool in the local bar.
Cultural Shock # 2 : TIME!!
There is Ecuadorian time, there is German time… and there is African time.
The former is about 1 hour after the time agreed. The second is on the dot and the 3rd is about 6 hours difference.
Let me explain:
Not only that African time is similar to Ecuadorian time, where people arrive 1 or 2 hours after their agreed meeting time, but the time system is completly different!!
The Swahili time system is quite different to what we are used to. It starts six hours later than the time I am used to. Let me explain. The Swahili clock begins at sunrise, which close to the equator, occurs at about the same time each day all year round (6 am).
The fist hour after sunrise is 1 o’clock in the morning which corresponds to 7:00 am for me! Counting continues until 12 o’clock in the evening, which corresponds to 6 pm.
I know, I know… a bit complicated.
This made me realize of the evolution of a couple of situations… Remember the taxi driver who never came at 5:00 am to pick me up?? Well, now i think that he probably did come, but actually came at 11:00 am (my time) (because that is 5:00 am in Swahili time)
I conversation with other people I’ve heard some strange times… and I thought that it was a language thing, but it turns out it is not… it is a system thing.
I’ll have to keep an eye on this from now on.