You guys. We’re really doing this. We made it to Tanzania. Both of us and all our stuff. We were worried some of our luggage might not make it and we would end up without our climbing gear. But we worry no more. After what feels like a million hours, but is really only 24, we land in Dar es Salaam. We flew Emirates Airlines to Dubai, almost directly over the North Pole, had a 6 hour layover which I slept for most of, then flew to Africa.
The crazy people in Dubai had us board our flight from the tarmac…in 115 degree heat! It was awful! Then takeoff was delayed which meant the AC wasn’t turned on until we were airborne. Sometimes I wonder how people managed to live in extreme heat like this, but manage they do. They probably wonder the same about us and our cold weather.
Anyway, we land at 10pm and have to go through the most convoluted visa process. We pay $100 for a US visa, which is $50 more than everyone else, though ours is good for 1 year. They take our passports to stamp them and apply the visa (which is hand written onto the page), then everyone herds around a customs agent who calls out names to return them. Everyone is pushing and shoving, trying to get closer, as if this will make the guy call their name quicker. It took probably 30 minutes to get ours back.
Finally we’re out the door with our luggage and on our way to our hotel, Tanzanite Executive Suites. We immediately pass out. The next day is our only day in Dar es Salaam, and we have until 4 pm until we need to be at the hotel to go back to the airport. The sunrise is quite lovely, but a stark contrast to the city itself. Dar es Salaam is the capital and wealthiest city of Tanzania, and the most populous in east Africa, but it’s still quite impoverished, compared to the west. As such, the buildings seem to constantly be in need of repair, though we do see a few that looked brand new.
We don’t really have much of an agenda, so we decide to walk towards the bay and see what we see. The turquoise blue of the water makes you want to jump right in, but when you see how much garbage is actually floating around and washed up on the beaches, it suddenly becomes less appealing.
Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot here. It’s a big, busy, dirty city. We’re constantly accosted by men trying to sell us tickets to Zanzibar or safaris and they don’t take “no” for an answer. But we manage to leave them behind and end up at the fish market. You don’t really need to know where it is, you can easily smell it (but it’s further north along the water, from the main part of the city).
It’s an interesting look into everyday life for the average Tanzanian. When we walk in, there’s a guy carrying a giant fish over his shoulder, and you can hear a steady ‘thwack, thwack’ of knives carving up the best filets. There’s all kinds of sea food on display for anyone to buy, and fishermen just off the shore, catching more. We see octopus and baskets full of the tiniest fish you’ve ever seen. Women gather around tables to haggle with the sellers over the price. It’s loud and crowded and really interesting!
As we leave the market, we see a peacock walking around the side of the road. I go to take a picture, but get yelled at by a guy standing nearby. This isn’t the first time today that I’ve tried to take a picture and been yelled at. Apparently people here do not like pictures to be taken, even of birds!
By this point, we’ve come a long way and it’s really humid out, so we decide to look for a nice resting spot. We see the beach just a ways further up the road. When we get there, it’s not very clean, with trash almost completely covering the sand, but the water is beautiful and the boats charming, so we walk along the beach for awhile, before turning back inland.
Finally we spot a pleasant and shady botanical garden park and sit to rest awhile.
I loved this little bird hopping around, looking for bugs. I’m not sure what he is, but he reminded me of a heron or a crane.
At one point, a police officer comes over to us to talk to us about the city, how to stay safe, and ask us about ourselves. He seems really friendly and eager to chat, so we tell him a bit about ourselves and where we’re from. He also has us sign a book explaining that we think he did a good job. It was a bit random, but hopefully it helps him out at his job, and it’s nice to know that there are people in the city looking out for the safety of us foreigners. Especially because Dar es Salaam is a bit off the beaten path for normal tourism.
A little after 3pm, we head back to the hotel. Thank goodness we bought more water because it was a long, dry, dusty walk. We get there just in time to catch our shuttle to the airport to fly to Kilimanjaro and Moshi, where we’ll spend the day tomorrow. More on that to come later!