And We Clik!


This blog entry about the events of Thursday, April 29, 2004 was originally posted on May 11, 2004.

DAY 194:  Peter, also known as Goba, a Tanzanian rastafarian I met in Nkhata Bay, Malawi, referred me to the Tin Tin Tours agency in Moshi, Tanzania.  Although he didn’t have one of their business cards with him, he wrote some information on the back of another to show them that I was:

from Goba — Nkhata Bay
And we clik!

(It may be of note that the only reason why we clicked was because I had a brief conversation with him over lunch about rapper 50 Cent.)

AS YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED, my style of traveling is to just let one encounter lead to the next like Forrest Gump (as opposed to those to feel like they have to shop around and be in total control of their destinies).  I decided to go to Moshi to check out Tin Tin Tours to investigate just how far a conversation about 50 Cent would lead me.  And plus, my encounter with Cristina at the ZEHRP house in Zambia led me to her friend Tony, also in Moshi.

MOST OF THE TRAVELERS IN TANZANIA I’d met recommended the Scandinavian bus company with its “Princess Class” service, including sodas, water, cookies and movies in comfortable chairs — no squeezing people in like cattle before departure.  Scandinavian’s fees were a bit higher than the other companies, but you made that money back in taxi fare since their private terminal was in central Dar and not 11 km. out in the ‘burbs like the other bus companies. 

I arrived after a short taxi ride by seven o’clock and they put me on a bus leaving at 7:15.  In the seat next to me was a Mister Akbar who always addressed me as “Mister Erik” — everyone in Tanzania seems to use “mister” as a polite form of address with a guy’s first name.  Mr. Akbar, who looked of Indian-descent, was from Dar-es-Salaam but was on his way to Arusha to pick up his arranged wife from her parents to bring her back home.  Mr. Erik just stuck to his story that he was from the Philippines en route to Moshi to visit a friend, instead of admitting he was a tourist with an American passport.

The seven-hour bus journey through tranquil greenlands and mountains flew by with my book in my hand, some Blog writing and screenings of Six Days, Seven Nights and a really low budget African movie shot on video called Troublemaker, about an old man who lived in a compound and just yelled at people.  (Now that’s entertainment.)  We arrived in Moshi about 2:30 at Scandinavian’s private lot away from the craziness of the main terminal, with its touts trying to sell tours to obvious-looking tourists.  However, both my taxi driver to my hotel and a guy who followed me to the elevator tried to get my business by passing me flyers.

After locking up my bags in Room 14 of Hotel KNCU, I went wandering around Moshi, a mid-size African town with a mosque (picture above) and a Hindi temple on the main road.  I checked my e-mail at a nearby cafe — Tony had written me back and I told him I’d call him since I was in his town of residence.  We arranged to meet after his work ended.

IN THE MEANTIME, I went to check out Tin Tin Tours, the agency Peter a.k.a. Goba recommended.  I asked around for “Precusy” as instructed, but was directed to the head guy there, a Mr. Kimario.

“Do you know Goba?” I asked him.

Names and faces flashed through his mind.  “Oh yeah.  I know him,” Mr. Kimario answered.  “He’s a rasta man.”

“Yeah.”  I gave him the card with the handwritten “And we clik!” on it to show my history with the Tanzanian rastafarian.  “I met him in Malawi.  He told me you guys were good.”

The fact that I “cliked” with Goba didn’t seem to be of any significance.  Mr. Kimario seemed that he knew of Goba a.k.a. Peter, but not know him know him.  In the end, he cut me a pretty good deal anyway:  a 10-day itinerary, five days for Kilimanjaro, five days on safari in the Serengeti for $1075 (USD).  I knew it was a really good deal based on all the prices I’d heard about from other travelers.  (Over a third of that price goes towards steep national park fees.) 

Tin Tin Tours turned out to be a real class act; they were really friendly and weren’t pushy about tips like some of the other companies I heard.  When I mentioned that the guidebook recommends a 10% tip to guides, Mr. Kimario said, “It should be whatever you feel is appropriate.”  I read through their binder of positive comments — checking to see if the handwriting was all from one person; it wasn’t — and eventually just settled on giving them my business without shopping around at all for other deals.  Like I said, others did the shopping for me and I just like one encounter lead to the next.  I was tentatively slated to start my Mount Kilimanjaro trek the next day, but I didn’t put any money down without consultation from Tony, who I was to meet at the popular coffee shop in town.

After going to the local market with the friendly Mr. Freddie of Tin Tin Tours to buy a new water-resistant fleece for my trek (to replace the clothes I lost in Windhoek, Namibia), I went off to find the coffee shop.  I couldn’t find it by the rendezvous time, so I just called Tony’s cell phone at a call center.  He told he’d meet me there. 

“I’m wearing a really beat up New York Yankees hat,” I told him so that he could distinguish me in a crowd.

Spotting Tony out of a crowd of Africans at the nearby bus terminal was easy; he was the only Vietnamese-American within a 500-mile radius.  He spot me right away (the only Filipino-American within a 500-mile radius).  My baseball cap wasn’t necessary at all.

TONY AND CRISTINA HAD ATTENDED GRADUATE SCHOOL at Harvard together and both of them had ended up somewhere in Africa at similar HIV research projects.  Tony, from Los Angeles, was living in Moshi for the past year and a half, with a roommate of five-weeks named Ted, who had roots in Long Island, N.Y. and Rhode Island, U.S.A.  Ted was about to give me shit about my Yankees’ hat when I walked in the door, but thought it was acceptable when I told him where I was from.

“I’ll go order us some beers,” Tony said.  (God bless the American expats.)

The three of us sat around their bachelor pad of magazines and DVD movies, which occupied most of their free time since the Moshi ex-pat scene wasn’t nearly as big as the one in Lusaka, Zambia.  They confirmed that I was getting a pretty good deal at Tin Tin as I finished a bottle of Safari Lager.

Tony and Ted came with me back to the tour office when I went to leave a $50 (USD) deposit to secure my trek the following morning.  (I would buy the rest of the money when the banks were open before departure.)  Afterwards, we went to dinner at the nearby Chagga Grill, named after the local people of the area.  It was a divey sort of place where we really didn’t fit in, but then again, being three non-Africans, we really didn’t fit in anywhere.  Using no utensils (the African way), we had a chicken and beef dinner before hopping into a taxi to meet up with some other ex-pats that didn’t exactly fit in Moshi.

THE MOSHI CLUB, the country clubhouse outside of town, was nowhere as fancy as an upper-class American country clubhouse.  Despite its juxtaposition to a golf course, it was more or less a glorified VFW hall, with a bar, some outdoor lounge chairs and tables, a ping-pong table and a really big pool table with really long pool cues.

That night I met the small group of American and Dutch expatriates who were either working the HIV research project or a nearby hospital, or just visiting like me.  There I met Phillipa and Alyson, and together with Ted and Tony, we sat around with others over Safari and Kilimanjaro Lagers.

“How long have you known Tony?” Phillipa asked.

I looked at my watch.  “About four hours.”

I told them the whole story of how I got mugged in Cape Town, which led to flight cancellations, which led to going overland across Africa through Zambia, which led to Shelle, which led to Cristina, which led to Tony.  They, along with another ex-pat named Jen, marveled at my big global trip and, like the ZEHRP crew in Zambia, accepted me as one of their own. 

“It’s great to have a fresh face,” Tony said.

I’m sure not every fresh face could slide right into the Moshi expatriate clique, but I suppose, as I did with Goba, “we clik!”  And I didn’t even have to mention 50 Cent.  Not even once.

Next entry: Cashless.

Previous entry: Tomorrow in Tanzania

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Comments for “And We Clik!”

  • hip hop does bring people together…when i went to “paris” (epcot center) i chatted with a guy about MC Solar!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/11  at  03:03 PM

  • I beleive those are snooker tables right? ...  tough game

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/11  at  03:47 PM

  • I’m SOOOO envious!  Tanzania has been my dream for like 20 years.  *sigh* Only 2 more years to wait.  I’m so excited to be reading about your adventures there!

    Posted by Liz  on  05/11  at  05:41 PM

  • Yep, that’s a snooker table alright!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/11  at  11:02 PM

  • That pool stick is ridiculously long!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/12  at  10:42 PM

  • I mean that snooker stick is ridiculously long!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/12  at  10:44 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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