Thursday, November 21, 2013

Saturday in Dar Es Salaam


Hello! Here's a post I wrote last Saturday while I was still in Tanzania...


This is the Azania Lutheran Church in Dar Es Salaam. It was built by the original German settlers of Tanzania.


This is the National Museum of History and Culture, where you can see historical artifacts, ancient fossils, and all kinds of cool stuff.


And this is the New Africa Hotel,  where you can ride an elevator to the top floor, eat Thai food and look out over the city.

 I did not take any of these pictures.

On Saturday morning, I flew from Mwanza to Dar Es Salaam. When I got to Dar, I had 12 hours to kill, since my next flight did not leave until midnight. I would have been happy to just sit at the airport and work on my computer, but the Dar airport is not that kind of place. When you come in off a flight, you have to leave the airport. There's no where to go but out. If you have another flight, you can’t go back in until check-in time, which is no more than three hours before your flight. So I had to find something to do.

Eric and Liz lined up a cab driver who would drive me around the city all day. Take me wherever I wanted to go. I didn’t come to Tanzania to be a tourist, but I figured, since I’m here, I might as well see some sights. I did some research and decided that the places pictured above were where I’d like to go.

I never made it to any of them. Instead, I spent the entire day sitting in traffic.

I had heard that Dar Es Salaam has horrible traffic. I was not prepared for just how horrible. Today is Saturday—it’s the weekend—and the whole city is one big parking lot.

The cab driver did manage to get me to a branch of the national museum (not the one I wanted to see) that is a re-creation of a traditional Tanzanian village. I paid the money and went in, and I saw mud huts with thatched roofs. This did not impress me, as I have been in a real one of those, not a re-creation, and I have sat down and had tea with the real family who actually lives there.

Unlike Tarime or Mwanza, Dar is right at sea level. It’s hot and it’s humid. By the time I finished touring the village, I was dripping sweat.  I headed back to the cab driver and said, “Please take me back to the airport. I’ll find somewhere to sit and get some work done.” After another hour and a half of fighting traffic, we were back. 

Turns out the airport has a nice restaurant just outside of the entrance. Air conditioned! I ordered a Coke and sat for an hour; then I ordered dinner and sat for an hour and a half. Finally I figured I had camped out long enough. I gathered up my bags and headed down to the airport entrance. But, alas, it was as I feared. No entry until three hours before departure time. So here I am sitting outside in the humid Dar evening, sweating, typing this post, and hoping I don’t get malaria.

Next time I come to Tanzania, I’m going to try my best to avoid Dar Es Salaam.


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