A Trip to "Hobby Lobby"
What followed was quite an experience! We met at the bus stop a little after 10 am and waited for the right bus. They were all full and we had to wait a while before catching a bus with enough standing room. I have often taken public transportation here in Tanzania and the Philippines, but this definitely topped them all. For an hour I stood on my toes on the edge of the step by the door while holding onto the ceiling bar. I could not even turn around with so many people packed together! There I was, just another sardine in the can.An hour and a half later we arrived at the market. It was much bigger than I had anticipated. I was immediately thankful for my newfound Tanzanian friend. Sprawled out before me, as far as I could see, people, cars, buses, little roadside stands, and shops were crammed between the concrete buildings! Literally thousands of people milling around in a maze amongst multiple city blocks.
At one point, in the middle of this crowded market, a large military transport vehicle came barrelling down the street with it horn blaring at people as they scrambled to get out of the way in time. Later on, I almost got pinned between a parked car and bus that decided to back up. Needless to say, I had to be very aware of my surroundings to prevent being run over or robbed.
My friend, seeing the surprise and minor concern on my face asked if I wanted to wait for the next bus. I asked if this was normal. When she said yes, I said, "well let's just do it now rather than later". And so we allowed ourselves to be swept up and into the bus to be once again packed in like sardines.
For the next two and a half hours the bus crawled through the mass of traffic at an average of 3.5 mph. I was crammed so tightly inside the bus I couldn't even move. Sweat poured down the faces of everyone on the bus and the absence of air movement created an intense aroma of sticky sweat and body odor. My friend asked if I had seen a crowded bus before. I tried to explain (in Swahili) that I had been on a full bus with only standing room, but never on one where you are pressed against someone on every side. The man behind her laughed and said, "This is Africa!" Yes, this is a side of Tanzania that I had not yet experienced. Definitely a good one which opened my eyes to a part of their world.