GETTING AROUND LIKE A LOCAL
Updated: May 28, 2020
To start exploring a new place, you have to figure out how to get around. Transportation in Arusha is easy. Just about any mode of transportation is available and each one is a unique way to view and get to know the area. WALKING OR BYCICLE
Walking is of course the easiest way to get around and the best way to interact with locals, practice some basic Swahili greetings and really take in all the tastes, smells and sights. Walking through the city offers up scenes of the usual hustle bustle of people on their way to work, meeting friends and neighbours, street vendors selling various fruits and vegetables from bananas to giant avocados and everything in between. Shoe vendors, book stores, hardware stalls, places to stop for a chai and chapati - its all here. Need something to carry all your fresh produce in? No problem. There are handmade, woven grass baskets for sale steps away.
There are also many foot paths leading up the mountain through lush greenery (it’s rainy season here now) and to my delight, some pretty fantastic little creatures - the dung beetle hard at work has been the best one so far!
These make you feel like a kid again, trying to stay steady while your friend peddles around and you try not to fall off the bike that two clumsy kids definitely should not be trying to ride together. These guys however, have it down pat. Jump onto the little padded seat on the back, tuck up your feet and they will get you to where you need to go. Kuddos to all of these guys for being in great shape and also doing their part to be a little more environmentally friendly than the other transportation options.
BODA BODA - MOTORCYLCE TAXI
These guys just look cool. They’ve got style for days and usually hang out in little packs on busy corners, sitting on their motorcycles and scouting for customers. Having only ever been on a motorcycle once in my life up until I got on the back of one of these, I was a little more apprehensive about this particular mode of transportation. I, of course did not mention this to anyone. Where am I supposed to hold on? Is there an extra helmet? How is that one that just drove by fitting two people, a case of drinks and load of produce?! So many questions. Overall, I have to say I do kind of like them. They are quick and it feels pretty good to be zipping around with the wind in your hair. Spend long enough here and you will probably have a favourite driver on speed dial.
DALA DALA - THE LOCAL BUS
The big bus to Moshi
Dala Dala waiting to go
The local bus is a good way to get up close an personal. Unlike the buses at home where people will avoid sitting next to each other if possible and there is a good amount of space (maybe other than the Bathurst bus at 3am), these ‘buses’ are more like minivans and they aren’t leaving until as much space as possible is filled. I don’t mean seats either. The drivers get paid a percentage of all the riders they move in a day so they want to move as many people as possible. They usually seat about 18 in close quarters. Around mid-day, there may be a seat or two available. If its not busy, they will stop and move passengers to the next waiting Dala Dala to fill space and those customers are ‘sold’ to the next driver so everyone is still getting a fair deal. If they are really busy, they aren’t leaving until every bit of sitting and standing space is full.
Maybe there are 25 people in there. Maybe there are 30. I imagine that this is what sitting in a clown car feels like with different clothing but often, the same amount of colour. No one is really upset about it though, it just is what it is. It’s just accepted and we’ll all get to where we are going eventually. They’ve become my preferred method of getting to where I am going.