Last weekend my host’s friends, an American and Japanese couples who volunteered in my host’s NGO ten years ago and now came back with their kids, mentioned Simba Farm was one of their favorite places in Tanzania. It’s not far from Boma, the town I live so I decided to check it out.
Based on Google map, I can get there by car in an hour, if I had a car. Since I’m here volunteering, have very low budget on everything and sincerely prefer living in the local way, walking, taking dala-dala and boda-boda was the way to go.
It was an adventure. That day was a movie.
I walked to Boma standy (“station” in Swahili) for about 30 min and took a dala-dala to Sanyajuu which my host, John, suggested. 8AM it was chilly; may be cold in Tanzanian’s pov. Squeezed in dala-dala - not so surprised since it’s how it is in T- 12 people in supposed-to-be-7-seated van. I enjoyed the breeze from the slightly-opened window blowing on my face. My face resembled the facial expression that a dog has when it sticks out of the car window. The dala-dala slowed down and the sound of turning key and the reluctant crying from engine repeated. People hustled out and kept babbling. Despite knowing nothing about what they were talking, I got the hint that I should move out and wait along the side of the road. Another dala-dala came with full, some people got in and sat at the back of the van. Before that moment I didn’t realise the space was enough for human being. Luckily the waiting was not long- our dala-dala somehow worked again. But the number of passenger somehow remained the same even though some of them were already shipped away.
Anyway, I got to Sanyajuu. Then another dala-dala.
Second time I got off, I arrived Engare Nairobi, a sandy town.
Negotiated with the rider of boda-boda with gesture, got on the motorcycle and started the bumpy journey. My nose bump on his helmet once. It started to drizzle. I got my raincoat in the courtesy of John’s suggestion. Finally it turned left to the small road where the Simba Farm sign stood. After few minutes of riding uphill, we stopped at a gate. A guy led me into the farm, then another woman led me into the house.
What the…. This place is not Tanzania!!
Westernized lush garden decorated with numerous different kinds of blossoms created a stark contrast to the places I just went through. Two big dogs welcomed me full-heartedly. I ordered a coffee only because I was shocked by how nice the place was and afraid that I would also be shocked how high the price is.
Surprisingly, coffee with cookies was only 2000 shilling (1 USD).
I couldn’t help imagine myself a princess in my own private garden. I was the only visitor since it was Jumanne (Tuesday). That was the only day I could read more than 20 pages of Infinite Jest, a book more than 1000 pages. Lying on the chair, I figured out why this was the American couple’s favorite. This place is perfect for mzungu honeymoon. If your gf was crying, bring her here.
After chilling 3 hours, I had to head back for class. Dogs accompanied me going down the road and happily ran into vegetable farm. A woman called me when I almost arrived at the main road. She just wanted to find the dogs.
Kept walking down the road, a boda-boda stopped and asked where I was going. “Engare Nairobi.” He gestured 5 (5000 shilling). I shook my head and gestured 3. He insisted and I decided to keep walking. Walked not too long then found a dala-dala going to Engare, 500 shilling. Driver opened the back of the van, there were already three people. I crammed into and pulled my foot when the door was shut. My face was only few centimeters to the door. Breathing the stagnant air, riding on the bumpy road, sweating in the raincoat, seeing the dust blew out at the rear of the car.
Got back to the dusty Engare. Couldn’t see any other dala-dala. People stared at me and a girl laughed and yelled “mzungu!”.
Feeling extremely hungry, I squatted at the side of the road waiting. Dust kept coming up when boda-boda passing by.
A big truck was loaded with some people and big bags of vegetables. Some people standing on the ground were asking for something. Somehow I got the hint that the truck probably could take me somewhere. I approached one guy and asked “Sanyajuu? Boma?” “Boma!”
YES!!! It will go to Boma!
He took me to the front seat of the truck. Based on the German spec and dark green paint, I assumed it was an old German military truck. It was another bumpy and strenuous journey since I had to hold the bar on the door to support half of my weight while half of my butt was out of the seat.
Truck stopped and some people dropped off. Some people got on from the middle of semi-desert. My right arm got a little relived whenever the truck stopped.
Finally it dropped me at Boma. Jumped down the truck and found myself exhausted. Walked for a while until I found a share tuk-tuk. Got home and went to the neighbour where my host asked to keep the key. They said the kid, who was also my student, had the key and he was gone.
He was GONE.
I almost fainted by low blood sugar. After calling my host, who promised to come back asap, I desperately looked for food. Directed by some local people, I found a doorway with curtain where they said the food was. It was like part of a family house but also served other people. Rice and beef they asked for 2000 shilling. I felt it was overpriced based on what they served but at that moment I wouldn’t care!!
7:30pm I finally got home. Long day.
I would love to go back to Simba Farm if I'm ready for an adventure again.
*I'm currently doing volunteer project about design education in Tanzania. For project details: liatanzania.com