At nightfall on December 12 our blue Land Rover 90 with her four human occupants might have been seen by satellites of Google Earth scurrying west toward the little town of Same (pronounced Saamay) which is midway on the main road which joins Dar es Salaam, on the Indian Ocean, with Nairobi high on Africa's ancient plateau.
To her left a deep red sun had just set, sinking beyond the horizon of the Maasai steppe of central Tanzania, drowning in a saturated collage of cloud, of the most soft and fragrant hue. Whilst on the opposite side of the road mighty galleons of cumulus lay moored at gaunt piers vaulting out of the savanna plain - outliers of endemic-rich Eastern Arc mountains. The lofty billowing thunderheads a gorgeous exuberance of warm and gentle colour retained, far above the quickly deepening dusk, all the blessings of waning daylight's fruits and flowers - of peach, saffron and tangerine.
A tingling animal apprehension quickly dispelled such reverie; for quite suddenly a tube-wave of cloud, silent and ominously white, was surging eerily through the serrated crest of indigo mountains all along our night-side flank.
The ghoul cloud seemed sure to engulf us in a hammering torrent of rain before we could make landfall in the still distant fluorescence on the eastern edge of Same town. In fact we reached the lights of the Elephant Motel under inky darkness just as the heavens cracked open; a mighty roar, the first thunderous salvo of a bombardment which pounded town and mountain at intervals throughout the night.