I managed to dig my seat belt from within the cracks and cinched myself down as best I could. We were all crammed in like salt in a shaker waiting for the next bump in the road. Sitting over the rear axle was simply a very bad idea. The roads in rural Tanzania might be what you'd expect - dusty, narrow and full of massive potholes. The bumps felt more like craters and in my mind's eye they were big enough to have been created by mortar rounds lobbed carelessly from the Congo, but then again what do I know. I can tell you with certainty however, the driver was a man possessed who launched into each bump, hole and curve like he was hell-bent on reaching the afterlife far sooner than natural selection would allow and taking us all with him. Each bump bounced us uncomfortably high from our seats, jarring my lower back and shortening my fuse. To make matters worse, I couldn't see the road ahead so I was both completely at the mercy of this boy-turned-bus-driver, and blind to the impact of each unpredictable blow.
When I say we were crammed in...I mean it. The seats were 3 wide on one side and 2 on the other and separated by a narrow walk that resembled more of a gauntlet than a pathway. The chickens were even squawking their disapproval. I would talk about the odor - a pungent combination of sweat and undesirables - but to be honest, I don't want to paint a picture to my western brethren that these people lack hygiene. I think what is closer to the truth is that western culture is obscenely anti-bacterial and is largely oblivious to the realities of life around the world and all its challenges. Not to mention the cost of a stick of deodorant might mean an empty belly at bed time. The place was ripe though and I'll leave it at that.
Those unfortunate enough not to acquire a seat were forced to stand for hours on end while the driver fishtailed around blind corners and quickly darted onto the down-sloping shoulder narrowly missing oncoming traffic. Danlee, who can sleep almost anywhere, anytime, was even wide-eyed and asked, "If you knew it would be like this would you have booked the flight despite the cost savings?" To which I replied, "Hell yeah!"
Eventually however, and much to our relief, the locals eventually became intolerant and started in unison yelling what was obviously angry Swahili up to the the ears of the driver. "Are you blind!?" one man a row behind us yelled. I surmised when the driver finally realized he might well indeed have a mutiny on his hands he gave up his thirst for speed and slowed. We clapped enthusiastically our approval every time he got it right and eased into a bump as smooth as a baby's back end.
Another day in paradise I wouldn't trade for the world.