Friday, December 14th, Sightseeing in Dar Es Salaam
My tour guides, Paulyn and Dorah and I set out for day’s visit in Dar. Before departing Pere gave me advice to be very sure to keep my travel purse close to my chest. We were taking public transportation and much can happen, I was told. Most of what was valuable, extra cash, was stored away in a money pouch around my waist under my clothes. Armed with bottled water and my camera we set off over the dirt road with its many bumps.
The moment we arrived at the bus stop, the bus came. They are smaller than those in the US – both in length and in width. The driver does only that, drive. There is another attendant on the opposite side of the bus who oversees the loading of passangers, collecting fares and stopping traffic when the driver needs to move into a left hand lane and cars are refusing to let the bus into the stream of traffic. Remember, driving in Tanzania is on the left side of the road. When we boarded the bus was almost empty. Soon it was jammed and jump seats in the aisles were pulled down in the last three rows. Fares are not collected when boarding. Rather, when the bus is jammed the attendent starts shaking coins in his hand which tells us to ante up the money. No one is saying: Tickets, please.
The bus at the outset of our journey
Dorah and Paulyn
We are headed to the Fish Market in the harbor a fair distance from the apartment. It is fun wandering through Dar seeing the bustle of a busy city. There is the usual pushing and shoving, while at the same time being respectful of the space each person needed. We had to change buses to reach the fish market. Dorah was skilled at quietly finding the supervisor at a busy junction to see where the bus to the Fish Market would stop. We boarded and reached our final destination.
My first view of the Dar es Salaam harbor and the Indian Ocean. Fisherman are offloading fish and preparing for the next day.
These are lobsters! Aren’t they gorgeous? It would be a shame to cook them and lose that design.
An hour at the fish market and we are hot (it’s 90 degrees) and sweaty. Our water supply depleted. Off we head for the National Museum which is a four block walk under beautiful trees whose branches and leaves cover the street and give us respite from the sun. This is also where several universities, and the capitol building are situated. It is not permissible to take pictures of any government building – too bad, for they are quite attractive. For some reason this does not apply to the National Museum.
We first head to the outdoor cafeteria for water and a rest. Then we start with our visit in the building separate from the main structure.
There are many items that describe the Zanzibar slave trade, two wooden bicycles and interestingly enough an area devoted to Aids.
In the main building are some famous exhibits include some bones of Paranthropus boisei that were among the findings of Louis Leakey at Olduvai. However, I enjoyed reading and seeing the many photos of the controversial leader, Julius Nyerere. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s he travelled Tanzania garnering support for a separation from England which was achieved in 1961. I had been previously told that one of the reasons that Tanzania today is one of the more peaceful countries in Africa comes from Nyerere’s decision that there would be only one official language in Tanzania – Swahili. This meant that the government paid for the re-education of the entire population – young and old – so that they acquired this language. While the tribal culture still exists and the languages of each tribe still spoken, the common language is Swahili. There also was, I gather, a downside of Nyerere’s regime. The country was economically stressed from an attempt to introduce socialism – collective farms etc. This museum brought to fore some of this history.
In the court yard is a display of vintage cars, including the Rolls Royce used first by the British colonial government and later by Julius Nyerere. In addition, there is an old 1950’s styled battered station wagon that Nyerere used to travel the Tanzanian countryside to gain support for the separation from England.
By now I was ready for a break and we headed to the courtyard and rested under a beautiful tree.
My hat I brought from San Francisco thinking I would find a Tanzanian replacement. Wrong. Tanzanians don’t need to wear hats so there are few hats to buy. I was mighty glad to have this one. Not only did it protect me from the intense sun it also cut the glare. I had brought sunglasses but the adjustable brim was a perfect solution. And, then I didn’t lose those glasses.
The girls weren’t ready to eat yet, so we headed off, past the botanical gardens where monkeys were running freely about, and then on to view the Capitol and other government buildings. No photos.
Our walk ended us in a commercial section. Many vendors were selling on the street. The girls became enraptured with shoes.
I needed to add minutes to my AirTel attachment (for internet access). Into a large store, we went and the goal achieved. Now the girls were getting hungry. They decided we were heading to a Villiage Museum which houses a collection of authentically constructed dwellings illustrating traditional life in various parts of Tanzania. Dorah found the appropriate bus, we hopped on and in a half hour found ourselves in a beautiful outdoor environment with a terrific restaurant. I was glad to discover that they barbecued chicken while we waited. We ordered a whole one to be cut up in pieces. I ordered rice, they ordered chips.
While we waited inhaling cold bottled water we talked about their life, their plans, their goals. Dorah had just learned that her father was sending her to Malaysia to further her studies in becoming a professional tour guide. Yes, it would mean leaving her family for this far off land but she was very excited. Paulyn is still finishing school and intends to head to university. They have goals. One of them, at the moment, does not include marriage. That was an interesting discussion.
Our lunch arrived. Absolutely delicious. I kept commenting on how delicious the rice was. They tasted it and said the reason was there was coconut flakes in it. Needless to say, they helped me finish it! Now it was time to view the different styles of huts.
As my time in Tanzania continued, I was glad I had had the opportunity of view these different styles, for when we travelled about in the countryside we saw them all.
The girls now decided it was time for me to experience a contemporary shopping mall, Mlimani City. Our means of transportation changed. We took a Bajaji.
This is a great way to get around. The drivers know how to move through the traffic and in no time we arrived at the shopping center. I am sure the bus would have been a half hour trip. The shopping center reminded me of Park Royal in West Vancouver. The one difference is this one is jammed with people. I needed a mirror so we headed to a large drug store, found the item and left. Ice cream was our next adventure. There are tons of ice cream carts all over. I decided that this would be my daily treat. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate covering. Yes, I know, it has refined sugar but without fruit and fresh veggies, I need this variety. It was delicious!
It’s now 6 pm and time to head to the apartment. Another Bajaji ride, this time in a blue one. It manouvers the bumps (holes or humps) wonderfully well. Our day is done, we had a great time. I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to experience the wonderful variety that Dar has to offer.