Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 145 - Mbeya to Mikumi National Park, Tanzania

Woke up this morning to some sort of Arabic morning prayer that sounded like it was being announced over loud speakers.  It was 5am!! 

8am this morning I was pulled over by the Tanzanian police.  I saw the road block ahead and the officer in the middle of the road with his arm in the air.  Figured it was just another routine check.  No pleasantries as was customary, he just told me I was doing 72 in a 50kph zone. I didn’t see any sign but I have caught myself several times in the past going over the speed limit so I wasn't about to argue.  He told me to pull the bike to the side of the road and park it properly.  Properly?  What does that mean?  I obliged thinking here we go.  He then motioned for me to go over and talk to the officer in the truck, so I walk over.  We exchanged some nice formalities and then he stated the fine is 20,000 schillings (about 15USD), said it was merely a few dollars all the while looking at my jacket pocket. I can only assume he was looking where he thought my wallet was.  Another "victim" approached the truck and pleaded that he was only doing 52.  The officer sternly told him it was a 30kph zone (what?) and that he either pays or in 2 hours he will be at the police station and tomorrow in court and with that he was motioned to the other side of the truck.  I reached for my wallet and the officer told me to step back while he opened the door and then motioned me inside.  He didn’t want anyone to see me giving him the cash.  I handed over 10,000 saying I needed the rest for gas.  He laughed, slipped the bill into his shirt pocket, thanked me, shook my hand and told me to have a safe journey.  I have officially been initiated into the realm of police bribes.  Needless to say I was more aware of my road signs and figured that my day would go somewhat slower as these 50kph zones appeared every 20km. So much for my paragraph on the police in the last post.   

As the I rode on, the scenery increasingly became more beautiful.  Mountain roads with very nice tight twisties but the road was not perfect not to mention the baboons.  Ya, I forgot I was riding through a National Park, one of the few you are allowed to ride through on a motorcycle as long as you’re in transit. The sky looked vey daunting up ahead and I had 300km to go so I decided to pack it in for the day.  I was told the Vulmo Lodge inside the park was very nice so I set my course for it until I found out you had to pay park admission (30USD), arrange a vehicle hire as motorcycles were not allowed to travel the 7km to the lodge due to the dangers of animals plus the room was 105USD.  I turned around and went back to town, found a campsite for 5USD and pitched my tent. 

Side note No 1:  RobC would appreciate the speed bumps here, first, 2 sets of 4 tightly spaced humps, each of which are 4 to 6 inches high (kidney jarring kind), then one that was 6 inches high and 5 feet deep, nice and leasurely unless you happen to hit it at 80 then a massive one that would send you into a tank slapper if hit at even 60kph and the sequence repeats in the reverse order.  Explains why there were no police at these as you are forced to reduce your speed not to mention the fact that they wouldn’t make any money hanging around those.

Side note No 2: Internet and WIFI seems to be non existent unless you find yourself an internet cafe and then you are using one of their 486s with a keyboard that you can barely make out the letters on.


  1. Rob, I'm really glad to see you "back on the air." I was starting to wonder (and worry) about you.

  2. Thanks for catching us up!