Christmas 2000 — My First Swahili Adventure

The big bus bound for Mombasa had already left .

So, here was I in dusty , sleepy Tanga Town , being hustled into a small minibus ,or DalaDala as they are called in Tanzania . They are usually very old Toyota Hi-Ace vans which have been imported from Japan. The standard configuration should be to seat 12+driver in relative comfort.

But not here in East Africa , where 20 to 25 people plus assorted luggage and livestock can easily be squeezed in, along with cases on a make shift roof rack. I watched as my small wheely case was put up and prayed that I would see it again on my arrival in Mombasa.

It was a sweltering hot day , people were literally bagging their seats. I had wanted to be at the front single seat as that would have at least made the journey a bit more tolerable.

It was not to be , as an elderly lady came onboard, so i graciously gave up my premium position and climbed over the other three rows of seats to the remaining square inch of space on the back bench seat. The DalaDala owners having put extra rows of seats into an already small space , the driver and at least two others in the front , with three rows seating five or six facing forward and two or three sitting with their backs to the driver on what should be the footrest for the second row passengers.

The totally absurd was about to happen!!. With the bus already full of passengers, the driver decides that one of the rear tires needs to be changed.

We all start to get out , the driver and the bus boy beckon us to sit still, while they raise the bus , with us in it and change the wheel.

It was 3.30pm before we left , I hoped that we would get to Mombasa before night fall , as I had never been there before and had no accommodation booked for the night.

( To be continued)

For more about adventures in Tanzania please see

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