We have made it to Chipole! After over 5 days of travel and a few minor setbacks, African ground was the only thing that could spark our enthusiasm. And it has! The cab drive alone to get from the airport to the Bethania House (bishop’s guest house in Dar) was… total chaos. Even the passengers have to be on the alert because you will surely get tossed around or thrust forward if you don’t brace yourself and check your peripheral vision. Our driver was a pro. We figure taxis must have the right of way here at any intersection because he did not stop for anything. And miraculously…thankfully…the other cars, motors, trucks, bikes, and mobs of people stopped for us (when I say “stopped” I really mean they swerved and skidded around us). No worries, in one piece we made it to the Bethania House where we stayed for two nights. I must have been disoriented from travelling because I can’t really remember many details from those few days.
What I do remember and will surly never forget is the bus ride we took from Dar es Salaam to Songea. We were warned about the length, the limited space, the bathroom stops, and the bumps. But honestly, nothing could have prepared me for that. 16 hours on a bus feels exactly like 16 hours on a bus. Boredom, numbness, and agitation cycled through as I tried to conservatively sip water and nibble on food so that I wasn’t forced to participate in the two bathroom stops along the way where women depart on one side of the bus and men on the other. The driver took the bus around corners as fast as a taxi would. This time I purposefully did not pay attention to the traffic. It would have added anxiety and pure fear to the cycle of emotions. Mikumi Park was a saving grace. We saw giraffes, buffalo, zebras, gazelle… supposedly I missed the monkeys and elephants. I’m still upset about it. The national park gave me a boost of energy and probably was the only thing that kept me from going completely insane by the time we pulled into the bus station in Songea.
From Songea the monastery is about an hour and a half away. I guess I did the impossible by falling asleep on this leg of the trip. Maggie said she had to hold my head to stop it from banging against the glass on the window with every bump. “I was actually concerned,” she told me. I was really tired? By 10 p.m. we pulled into the driveway at St. Agnes Convent. So we are here and we are happy and it’s the best feeling in the world.