Sunday, 18 September 2011

In the "House of Peace"

Disaster!  Ireland beats Oz in the Rugby World Cup, and our Irish contingent (the TR4, half of, the MGB GT, all of) won't let us forget, so I've declared a time limit on gloating.....

We're now in Dar Es Salaam, capital of Tanzania, and my rudimentary Arabic suggests it means "House of Peace".  My mum and dad were here in the Australian High Commission in the seventies, (see Mutti's comments here), but sadly I won't have time to visit Rita Hayworth's old house.

Rewind to a few days back: the 734 km trip brought us to Kapishaya Lodge in N. Zambia, where we thought we'd have to camp, but found us a couple of rooms.  The main feature: hot springs, which well up from 6km down, the water arriving at the surface a perfect 41 degrees celcius.

Next morning we visited the Edwardian pile, Shiba Ngandu ("Royal Crocodile') built in the early 20th C by the Gore-Browns, minor English nobility, who trekked 350 miles to find the most remote place to build it: something of the best of British Victorian-Edwardian spirit there, the colonial and his trusted servants, to this day working with the family's descendants, in the shape of Bright, who showed us round the place that his grandfather also worked at.  Showing also some of the best of the British notion of fair play, as Gore Brown the granddad fought for Zambian independence, and was honoured at his death with a full State Funeral and a weeks' mourning, and buried in a cemetery for African Chiefs.

The story of the Gore Browns is told vividly in "The Africa House; the true story of an English Gentleman and his African dream", by Christina Lamb.  See also here for more on the estate of Shiba Ng'andu.

Next day brought us to Utengulu Lodge via a border crossing into Tanzania, and thank goodness that Roger in front SMS'd us to say that the "border is chaos", otherwise we wouldn't have noticed...

And yesterday, the 650km drive down into the Baobab forest, along a spectacular road, winding down the Rift Valley bringing us from 6,200 ft above sea level to around 2,000 and the town of Mgorongoro, via the eponymous Game Park -- vultures, zebra, elephant, buffalo, impala....  Gordon at the wheel, giving the mighty Mustang a bit of stick, we drifted round the corners, like a nice ski run down a groomed slope.

Highlight of the driving: we were stopped 9 times by police checkpoints, and fined three times: that's just Gordon and me in the Mustang.  Every other one of the classic cars was stopped and fined for something, including one for not having a fire extinguisher.  I didn't realise driving here hewed to Category One offshore rules.  Basically it's a squeeze on anyone who looks like tourists, and it's either a direct cash payment to the cops, or a higher payment with receipts... in the range 15-20 US $ per.  Our fines were: Gordon 56 in 50 zone, crossing white line and me 89 in 90 zone (don't ask....).

Car damage report: the Triumph TR4, clutch problem stuck in 3-4 gear, having to drive into town without stopping, making left turns instead of coming to rest; Dave's Merc alternator blew; our Mustang, another flat tyre.  All fixed.

And so the drive this morning to here to Dar es Salaam, the Southern Sun Hotel, where I'm sitting in the lobby blogging this, waiting for the others to arrive, and for the bus to then take us to the ferry for Zanzibar, where we're going to spend two nights with cars remaining here at the hotel.

Photos later (it takes aaaages to upload on these African connections).