Happy New Years!

Well, I had the best intentions to actually sit and catch up on my blog writing by posting some more about my incredible trip to Tanzania. However, I spent the whole entire day in my bathing suit and pretty much the entire day in the actual swimming pool.

I have had a couple of visitors, one right after the other. A social butterfly never truly rests. Plus, the pool is still containing a record number of occupants who all took the opportunity to make brutal fun of me when I attempted a headstand in the deep area of the pool with no success. It sucks to have such a floaty bum, although it is a good thing in Africa to have a booty. So my whole entire day has passed without me writing a single word. Out of guilt this is all you are getting out of me for today as I have a long evening ahead of me which will include getting used to being out of my swimsuit 😉

I am heading into this New Years Eve the most relaxed and happiest that I have been in as long as I can remember. Looking back on what the last year has brought me, I can only imagine what wonders, new adventures and friends the new year will bring for me! It is a wonderful feeling.

Last year, I celebrated with a house party at my place with some of my wonderful friends! I am so glad that I did that. I miss each and everyone of you.

This year, I am celebrating with all new friends. Peter has been bbqing a turkey for most of the day and we are sitting down to a feast tonight. I think that there will be about 12 of us in total. Dinner will be eaten on the ‘stoop’ which is the African verandah. I am wearing a sun dress, not my swimsuit, although I would likely be welcome in that as well.

If you had asked me a year ago if I would be ringing in 2013 in Africa, I might have wanted to say yes, but would not have thought it possible. So my message to you as you ring in the New Year is to know that no matter what your dreams are it is absolutely possible to make them come true! If you truly make up your mind that you want to do something the only thing stopping you is yourself. Believe in yourself, believe that you always have choices and options and know that anything is possible if you decide you want it enough.

My wish for each and everyone of you is that the New Year bring you the peace, joy, happiness (and adventure if you want it ) that 2012 brought me. Yes, there were stressful times and many  obligations but at midnight tonight I am living my dream and couldn’t be happier. Living your dreams is what I wish for each and everyone of you.

Happy New Year!!!!

Oh, I hear splashing and playing in the pool — I think that I may have to put my bathing suit back on and join the fun!

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Travel Tips for Dar es Salaam

As everyone is now aware, I had a wonderful time in Tanzania. It is a wonderful country to visit and I would strongly encourage anyone considering it as a destination to bump it to the top of their list. The people of Tanzania are incredibly welcoming and friendly. They realize that tourism business is an important part of their economy so everyone in the service industries really do provide excellent service. Right from the staff at the airport, to legitimate taxi drivers, guides and anyone else associated with providing services in shops, restaurants or other businesses.I

However, here are a few travel tips to keep in mind if you are travelling there:

1) If you live in a country that has a Tanzania Embassy or High Commission, get your visit prior to arrival so you can proceed directly through customs. While it was quite easy for me to get my visa thanks to some kind support it can be a wait of an hour or more while your application is being processed while you wait.

2) Arrange a driver to pick you up if at all possible. Most accommodations have shuttle services available and it is definitely worth availing yourself of them. The traffic in Dar is insane and when it is your first visit it really is easier to not have to worry about getting to where you want to go.

3) Don’t bother with bringing large sums of US dollars to exchange at the Exchange Bureaus. Let me save you time and effort. Tanzania loves tourists so all of their ATMs accept Visa and Interact Plus cards. It is so much easier to just pop into an ATM to get your money than finding some place to exchange it. And the amount of Shillings that a dollar gets you makes you feel like a millionaire.

4) If you are going to stay in the South Beach area so you can enjoy the beach don’t plan on travelling back and forth to often to the city centre. While the ferry ride was charming the first couple of times; the amount of time you spend waiting in the line up is a pain in the a** and time away from both the beach and exploring Dar. If you are intent on doing both, book separate accommodations so you can maximize your time in each place.

5) Be very careful  in Dar. For the first time in my life of travelling I wore a money belt. Dar es Salaam is a great city but it is full of people looking to cheat you or steal from you. Never trust anyone unless you have hired a driver or guide for the day, which is something that I would highly recommend. In my case, I had a driver who took me to all of the sites that I wanted to see including shopping. It allowed me to relax and enjoy myself. Yes, you can absolutely get around by yourself on public transportation but if you are travelling alone I would not recommend it in Dar. Trust me it is better to be safe than sorry.

6) Eat! Eat! Eat! The food is specular in Tanzania. Seafood is plentiful along with lots of fresh fruit and coconut. My only regret is that I didn’t eat enough. Due to the heat and a busy social life I actually only managed one meal a day. My breakfasts usually consisted of fresh fruit in my room which I had purchased at the markets. Then I often would not eat until late afternoon or evening. That meant that I didn’t consume all of the incredible food options that I could have…….that is why I need to go back so I can gorge on the many more culinary delights that the country offers.

7) If you have any kind of shopping addiction avoid Tanzania at all costs. I am certainly not a shopper (although some people would now disagree as Africa seems to bring out the shopper in me).  However, I had moments of sheer panic thinking about packing my suitcase for my return home. Not only did I develop a Kanga addiction ( I got two for myself along with ones for my mom and Noelle) but I also fell in love with the hand beaded sandals (two pairs); wooden salad spoons; and spices. When shopping the most common phrase was when you asked how much, they responded with a price followed by the statement “but this is Africa” meaning lets bargain. Magic to my ears, but not great for stuffing a small suitcase.

A Kanga for Mom
A Kanga for Mom

 

 

Peter’s Place

I am safely back at Peter’s Place after my travels and I have to say that my family here has grown exponentially. #1 (aka Miss Barbados – Natasha) is now gone. In her place is a heap of food and spices that she bequeathed me. I am still trying to find spots to put everything as my kitchen is so tiny and limited in storage space.

However, filling up every nook and cranny of Peter’s Place is Peter’s and Jetske’s family, who are visiting from South Africa and one grandson, who has come all the way from Australia. It is a full house (a tent also adorns the parking area so luckily my bed is still vacant for me) and an even fuller pool. Earlier today, Peter remarked that the pool contained a record number of people at one time. Thankfully there was only one rather noisy fart (noise) to disturb the waters! Since they are not really relatives of mine I chose to depart the water shortly after:) Sometimes sharing can only happen among family members!

I am joining the family for dinner tonight – they are making South Africa Springbok and I am going to make a tomato salad that I learned how to do in Zanzibar. It seems that I acquire family where ever I go…it sure is a nice feeling 😉

 

Polepole

I absolutely love the language of Swahili. In fact, I now know far more words in Swahili than Setswana. It is so much easier to pronounce and it reads or is spoken exactly like it is written. It is also very similar to Arabic, a language that I know a smattering of – it is perfect for cursing in if there is no one around who understands it. It is such a gratifying language to curse in 😉

There were a few moments during my time in Zanzibar that I forgot which language that I was suppose to be greeting in. Jambo is the traditional way to say hello and Karibu means welcome. Thank you is the lovely “asante” or “asanteni sana” followed of course by the phrase “don’t crush my banana”. I am not kidding, I even learned Swahili slang!

As I was such a busy little beaver during my stay on the Island, coming and going all of the time my new friends most often told me “polepole”. That means slowly, slowly. Ha! If they only knew that I was in fact going polepole for me!  I was certainly not the normal whirling dervish that people have come to expect. The high temperatures and humidity slowed me down to a normal pace but that was still fast enough to justify the use of polepole.

My final hours in Zanzibar couldn’t have been better spent. After a final morning visit to the waterfront to sit and watch the dhows sailing by and being greeted by new friends. Thankfully none of them had gossip about how I had spent my last night…whew!!! I raced back up our street, no polepole as I had a check out time to meet. As I passed my street corner that had become my hangout spot with my friends Saidi, MD and Maki, other corner residents called out to me. After a quick explanation that I was just rushing to my hotel to check out and that I would be back shortly to have one last visit, I was off again. Soon to return with luggage firmly in hand.

You see, I had made a date with my friends that they could escort me to the ferry terminal and that is exactly what we did. But first it was photo time. Here are my new friends

Saidi, Me, MD and Maki (I don't know the guy on the end with the white t-shirt name???
Saidi, Me, MD and Maki (I don’t know the guy on the end with the white t-shirt name???

Following the picture taking our motley crew took off down the street to the waterfront. Everyone carrying a piece of my luggage so that I had nothing but my purse to worry about. As we polepole made our way, I was greeted with Jambos and exclamations of “oh, are you leaving so soon”. It was a good job that polepole was in full effect as it took a while for me to say my goodbyes as we walked.

Soon we were getting soaked by the rain. Last night I had toasted “pula” which in Setswana means “rain” and is the currency. It seems that my toast had brought rain to Zanzibar. Tabuche will be proud of my rain making abilities. Any ways, we continued on as the rain pelted down and the other faint of heart tourists dove for shelter. My lovely band of merry men and I soon reached Mercury, a restaurant named for the lead vocalist of the rock group, Queen, Freddie Mercury. He was born on Zanzibar and the island is proud to claim him.

Upon reaching the restaurant we settled in for a drink – I had a local soda called Tangawhizi which is a ginger soda – and a snack of seafood pizza. My final two hours on Zanzibar were spent in the company of my friends where we talked, laughed and finally I was delivered to the ferry terminal for departure. I felt bad for my friend MD who owns a local shop that caters to tourists. Instead of being where he could be selling he was sitting with me. I only hope that he didn’t miss too much business as a result. He does have someone to watch over the shop while he is not there but the business is his livelihood. He has a wife and two beautiful sons to support so his taking the time to spend a final couple of hours with me really touched my heart. He is a very special man. They all are!

In fact these men and others that I met while on Zanzibar have completely changed how I feel about the male species. They, in combination with Tabuche and Lawrence, have completely restored my faith in the existence of gentlemen. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and miracles do happen in Zanzibar.

 

Leaving Paradise

Well today I have to depart from Zanzibar on the ferry back to Dar es Salaam. I check out of the Maru Maru Hotel in one hour. I had a hard time packing up my suitcase let me tell you! I have bought too many presents and things for myself to fit everything in, oh well!

My ferry doesn’t leave until 3:30 pm but you need to be there at least one hour prior to check in so you can go through security just like the airport and board the ferry. The ferry terminal is only a short distance away from my hotel on the waterfront. Although I was met at the terminal and driven to the hotel when I arrived, I had planned on simply walking there myself. Check out at the hotel is 11 pm and I figured that I would check out and wander down to the waterfront heading for a lovely restaurant only a short distance away from the ferry terminal where I would have lunch then board the ferry.

Last night when I was spending time with three of my new friends they asked me when I was leaving so I told them. Well course, they would hear nothing of me actually taking my own suitcase and backpack and walking on my own. So you guessed it, I will be escorted by three wonderful gentlemen and I will have not a care in the world. Thankfully Tabuche and Lawrence have been training me well, I have learned to “mostly” graciously accept assistance when offered. I truly am a changed person!

I will arrive in Dar about 6 pm and head straight to my hotel for the night. I will need to be up and on the way to airport so I am there for 5 am. I will not arrive in Gabs until about 4 pm tomorrow afternoon. Then hopefully I can hit the pool for a cooling dip.

When I am back in Gabs, I promise that I will have the time and access to internet that I need to post all kinds of stories and pictures about my travels. I just ask your patience. I have enough stories to tell to fill an entire book!!! Luckily, I still have a couple of days before I am back to work so I can take the time to sit and write.

Okay, I need to go now. It will be very hard to leave the Maru Maru Hotel whose staff have treated me so incredibly well!!!! If or when I return to Zanzibar, I can not imagine staying any where else. The hotel provides the complete package. My room was beautiful, the decor is amazing, delicious food and the staff are the best that I think I have ever encountered in a Hotel. Yes, it even beats my love for the Mowana Resort as here, all of the staff are friendly and treat you like royalty. It was truly a dream vacation and if anyone is interested in coming I can absolutely help you sort out the details as I have lots of friends eager to assist!

There was no escaping Father Christmas! Even at the Maru Maru
There was no escaping Father Christmas! Even at the Maru Maru
Lobby of Maru Maru
Lobby of Maru Maru

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My hotel was a visual treat!
My hotel was a visual treat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The street view from Maru Maru Hotel
The street view from Maru Maru Hotel

 

It is Raining Men!!!!

It started with being picked up and carried over the threshold into my room at Maru Maru to sitting on a street corner for three hours talking to an ever increasing group of gentlemen about politics, religion, the plight of women in Zanzibar and world affairs.

Everywhere I go in Stone Town I am never alone, unprotected or without entertainment. In fact, I am not only spoiled (an ever increasing trend in my life lately) but I cannot possibly do everything that I am being invited to do.  Like a kid in a candy store it is hard to choose from all that is being offered. Never one to simply do the tourist thing, I am being invited to and shown life as the people of Zanzibar know it.

I barely finish one planned activity when I am off to experience something totally different. I know that my hired guide is a little miffed that I am out and about instead of relying on him for tours. But why pay for a guide when I can get chaperoned around by respectful gentlemen that know how to show a girl a really good time. Since Muslim men here are so respectful of women they even explain to me when we are walking at night in crowds that they might need to take my hand so I don’t get lost or separated from them in the crowd.

To be truthful, I have never felt safer anywhere else in the world that I have travelled. A stark contrast to Dar es Salaam where the only time I felt safe was in a vehicle or at my beach resort.

So my advice to any single woman out there who wants to travel somewhere exotic alone and feel safe. Stone Town, Zanzibar is the place for you. The food, culture, history and lushness of scenery make it a must see but it is the men and women who will make you feel incredibly welcome and safe. I am so glad that I chose it as my holiday destination. It truly has been a dream vacation.

What did Cheryl Do Last Night?

I truly love Zanzibar but I would rather not live here. The main reason being is that everyone knows your business. Okay, I know that I am white and a single woman travelling alone but come on! Really! How does everyone know me and what I am doing????

I have only been on the Island for a grand total of three days and already I am recognized almost everywhere that I go. The first incident happened my second night here. But today’s incidents take the cake!

When I met my guide this morning he told me that last night when he was sleeping someone called him to report that I was down by the waterfront getting something to drink at 10 pm. Then this afternoon when I was dropped off by my driver I strolled down to a café on the waterfront to get some lunch as all I have been eating for breakfast is fresh fruit and it was now 2:30 pm. As I went up to the café close to where I had been sitting on the seawall the night before enjoying the crowds, lights and brave swimmers jumping from high roofs into the ocean, I was embraced by someone who recognized me from the previous night. He ushered me to a seat and promised to make me a special lunch.

But it didn’t end there! As I was being ushered to the table in the shade right by the water, another guy came up to me and said he had seen me out dancing two nights before at the Old Fort and started dancing me right there. He wanted to know if I was planning on going out dancing tonight too!

Ah, but that was not the end of everybody knowing my business! After enjoying my lunch, in the company of yet another young man who was happy to tell me lots of history and background about Zanzibar as I ate, I was strolling back to my hotel to shower and change before I set out for more exploring. My hotel is only a very short distance from the seafront yet on the walk to it I encountered two more men that knew me and where I had been. One had seen me at the night market eating fresh fruit and coconut a couple nights ago. The other had also seen me dancing!

The one who had seen me dancing graciously offered to take me to Tabour, which is a place where people from Zanzibar go to dance their traditional dances. It is only a ten walk away from my hotel.  Who knows I might actually go but honestly I have not stopped for five minutes – so much for rest and relaxing!!!!!  Every time I go somewhere, I meet someone and I am off on another adventure. Now we know that this blog’s title is appropriate.

I am really having the time of my life, but please, can I not fade into the woodwork at least a little? The young gentleman who sat with me as I ate my lunch explained to me after witnessing what was happening that Zanzibar prides itself on tourism and making people feel safe.

Well, I can certainly vouch for that! I have never felt safer in a strange town although I still take lots of precautions. And for someone travelling alone I never seem to be alone! At times it is a little frustrating for me but I also appreciate the fact that this Island has a male population, which is more than 90% Muslim and as a whole the way they treat women is second to nowhere else in the world that I have ever been! Although I see plenty of other white tourists including women travelling in twos or larger groups who are not attracting any attention or assistance from the locals that I can see. No doubt that I always have a smile ready and greet everyone in Swahili makes a difference. And I am hanging out on street corners for hours at a time having intense conversations about local life makes me more like a local.

Maybe tonight I will go out in disguise to see if I can escape notice, maybe a burka would be a good choice 😉

P.S. I spent last night on the roof top terrace of Africa House watching the sunset and having great philosophical discussions about African life and culture. I am sure that everyone in town knows about it this morning!

Sunset view from terrace of Africa House, Stone Town Zanzibar
Sunset view from terrace of Africa House, Stone Town Zanzibar

Merry Christmas from Zanzibar!

Okay, at last I have arrived in Zanzibar. The posts will be few and far between until I get back to Gaborone on the weekend. As I am staying in an amazing hotel in the historic (protected) World Heritage site I do not have ready access to internet.

So for now I will wish you all a very Merry Christmas from Zanzibar and leave you with some photos taken this morning. I promise to provide you with lots of stories (I already have a book of them to tell) and more pictures in a few days.

My Hotel room at the Maru Maru in Stone Town, Zanzibar
My Hotel room at the Maru Maru in Stone Town, Zanzibar

 

View from the Hotel roof
View from the Hotel roof
View of the ocean
View of the ocean
View from other side of the roof top terrace
View from other side of the roof top terrace

 

I am off shortly to do a walking tour of Zanzibar. Tomorrow, I will visit a spice plantation and spice market. The day after I am going to the Jozani Forest to meet the rare red monkeys that live there and a butterfly garden. The day after is still undecided.

Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

Dar by Daylight

Dar by Daylight

Well, my first full day in Dar certainly didn’t disappoint. After falling asleep to the sound of the surf pounding and waking to watch the sunrise, I spent the morning walking the beach and enjoying the sea. Having grown up with the sound of the surf and a fog horn through my bedroom window, I love to be by the sea. As Botswana is a land locked country my only access to water has been the Chobe River and the Gaborone Dam. While satisfying in the moment, the chance to swim in the Indian Ocean eclipsed these smaller bodies of water. Like hitting all four corners of the continent, my toes have dipped into many great bodies of water other than the Atlantic ocean which I grew up swimming in. I have dipped them in the Pacific Ocean, the Seine (I know it was rather gross), and the Mediterranean to name a few. My dip into the Indian Ocean did not disappoint. The water was very warm and big breakers. It was lovely!

 

Morning walk
Morning walk

 

Company while I practice serenity
Company while I practice serenity

Following my relaxing morning, I placed myself in the hands of Athomasanu once again. I had been told that the best way to navigate around Dar to all of the best sights and places was in the hands of a taxi driver. Having proved his worth to me last night I knew that he was the man for the job. You see, Dar is not the safest of cities especially for a single white woman. While in my younger days I would have turned up my nose in scorn at not fending for myself, the evolution of Cheryl has meant that I am now happy and content to place myself in the care of someone I can trust. I am learning to love having someone actually take care of me. I know! Who would ever have thought I would not only believe that but actually admit it out loud!!!! But it is true, I am growing very soft in my old age and Africa is certainly teaching me how to not be so fiercely independent. God only knows what changes will be wrought in the next twelve months!

And it keeps getting better – Athomasanu, not only is a great teacher, protector and driver. He also accompanied me shopping and helped me chose kengas (traditional Tanzanian material to wrap around your hips that also have a saying in Swahili on them) along with other items. What is the world coming to!!! I really am getting soft or at least certain African men are gentlemanly enough to be able to coax me into allowing them to treat me like a lady. I don’t know if it is perception or fact, but I certainly feel like there are far more gentlemen here in Africa than back home in Canada. Just another reason to love living here!

A sample of my Dar purchases
A sample of my Dar purchases

 

My first Kenga
My first Kenga

 

North, South, West and now East Africa! Dar Es Salaam here I come!

Prior to leaving Joburg, sitting in the departure lounge I listened as exotic flight destination after another was called and then finally came the call for Dar Es Salaam. I could barely contain my excitement. I have been to North Africa, West Africa, and am now living in Southern Africa. Proving that no continent is too large to daunt me, I am about to hit the only side of the continent I haven’t visited – East Africa. After a smooth flight and even smoother landing, I disembarked into the Tanzanian airport. Walking into the airport was thrilling as here was a real African airport. It looked and felt like I am now truly in Africa.

Don’t get me wrong! I love living in Botswana, but it and South Africa are far more refined than the Africa I fell in love with 25 years ago. At last, I finally know that my love for Africa is not fickle at all! As I filled out my form for my visa in order to be able to pass through customs (there is no Tanzanian High Commission on Botswana) I was jostled about in the crowds flowing through and those filling out forms just like me. After passing the completed form, my passport and $50 US dollars to an official, I was sent to stand in a pen along with the other 50 people waiting for a visa. Expecting the procedure to take a significant amount of time, I settled in for a long wait.

While gawking around and enjoying the feeling of being in the heart of Africa, I noticed an official watching me. He called me over to edge of the cattle (I mean people) pen and asked me my name. After telling him and having a brief conversation about my excitement of being in Tanzania, he introduced himself as the chief official and then proceeded to go behind the counter where a team of about eight people were processing the visas. In a very short amount of time I was a proud owner of a tourist visa to Tanzania and on my way through customs (quicker than some others who had been waiting who were not happy about my quicker service). But first I asked my new friend if I could take a picture of the passport entry sign to prove to you all that I really did visit. He allowed it and I quickly passed through to collect my suitcase and on to meet the driver from my accommodations who was patiently waiting for me.

Tanzania Customs! Proof that I am really here!
Tanzania Customs! Proof that I am really here!
I must be living under some lucky star because once again the universe has sent me into the safe care of a devoted driver. His name is Athomasanu and he is a Muslim from Dar es Salaam. After safely escorting me out of the airport while he carried my suitcase, of course, he even stopped traffic in the parking lot so that I could take a picture of the airport.
Tanzania Airport
Tanzania Airport

As he drove me through Dar (it was about 9:00 pm) the first things that I noticed were

1) there are so many more lights than in Gabs and

2) there is an insane amount of traffic and people.

In fact, it felt strangely reminiscent of Casablanca, Morocco. Safely buckled in, I was simply along for the drive but I was secretly (or not so secretly) thrilled with the madhouse chaos of cars, trucks, motorcycles and bikes. Neither motorcycles nor bikes are popular in Botswana but they are hugely popular forms of transit in other African countries. But the sight that made me the happiest to see were the buses with people both inside and outside. The rickety old buses are equipped with a ladder up the back so you can scramble up it and sit on the roof- literally on the roof and all you have to hold on to is the tiny railing going around the roof. It is insane but living proof that I was entering back in to the Africa that I fell in love with 25 years ago. Nothing says Africa more than a jammed packed bus with people and animals both inside and on the roof. You got to love it!

As we navigated the bustling streets, my driver gave me the complete tour whilst teaching me a few Swahili words. Surprisingly I find it far easier to pronounce words in Swahili than Setswana. The letter combinations and sounds come easier to me and he is a willing and patient teacher. Soon we are driving by the President of Tanzania’s house and boy, it is a large one! Apparently he has three wives and many children. He would need to have lots to fill the place up.

At the bottom of the street we hit the waterfront and enter into the queue for the Kibangma Ferry. We need to take the ferry across the bay in order to get to the South Beach Resort where I have booked my stay in Dar. By now it is close to 10 pm and the street is alive with so much action. Although the queue is long there is plenty of entertainment to capture my attention. Dar streets

Honestly, I don’t know where to look. First, we sit alongside the Fish Market and I take deep breaths of the smells that I miss from home. Now we are talking! At last I am in a land where there is lots to smell! Again, I love Botswana but it is a land hugely devoid of smells (both good and bad!). I am a happy girl as I inhale the smell of the India Ocean and all the fish that you can imagine.

By now, Athomasanu is grinning at me and pointing out all of the sights. There are countless tables and stalls lining the street with everything that you can imagine for sale. There is fresh fish of course but also other edibles being cooked up street side such as chaptas, maize and other things that I still don’t know what they are. As we sit in line (at bit like waiting for the ferry at Borden, PEI during high tourism season) street hawkers tap on our windows trying to sell everything from cashews, sunglasses, DVDs
.you name it.

Athomasanu proves his worth over and over as he keeps the van doors locked and alternatively opening and closing my window so that no one can hassle me but that I can still gawk and enjoy the surroundings. How does a girl get so lucky to find another gem of a driver? While he is not serious competition for Tabuche, he does earn many gold stars for effort. He will never be as smooth of driver as Tabuche but I have come to respect his nerves of steel.

You see, nerves of steel are required to drive on and off of this ferry. While it is only a six minute ferry ride, the boat is jammed packed with at least 1,000 people on foot and numerous vehicles of every size and description. As the queue snakes back through city streets for quite a distance, you must creep along with people, motorcycles and dala dalas ( a three wheel taxi used mainly by tourists) weaving in and out of spaces that you can’t believe they fit into. Motorcycles often have two or more passengers sitting on back and they are constantly cutting in and out in front of the larger vehicles. I soon to come to realize that there is a language other than Swahili spoken here, it is the language of horns. Beeps of varying intensity and length appear to convey messages to the seething crowds.

A taste of the traffic leading to the ferry
A taste of the traffic leading to the ferry

All the while I am grinning like a foolish idiot, so happy to be in the middle of the chaos, yet safe in the hands of Athomasanu. I know! I am the person that Tabuche thinks is crazy for going to the Gaborone Bus Rank on a Sunday just so I can people watch in the market-like throng of people. What can I say, I like a good city, and Dar es Salaam is a prime example of a city that never stops.

Finally, we make it on board after being gifted with a banana to eat from a passing woman who was selling her wares. I had declined purchasing anything as I had not been able to secure any Tanzanian shillings before landing in Dar. She instead made me a gift of a banana which of course I promptly ate so she could see that I honoured her gift. Sitting on board the ferry as foot passengers flooded on, we were again offered cashews for sale. Athomasanu, having seen me inhale the banana, promptly bought me a small bag of cashews to round out my meal. We shared the cashews as the ferry sailed along and I got to take in the lights, sounds and smells of the Dar seafront.

We haven't moved but the foot traffic has. Check out the woman carrying her load on her head! That is very
We haven’t moved but the foot traffic has. Check out the woman carrying her load on her head!

The trip off of the ferry into the warren of tiny streets on the other side was equally nail biting and exhilarating. By now I had also developed nerves of steel as it was simply too much to worry about every body, bike or motorcycle that cut in front of us with no room to spare and no easing of the gas pedal.  My Mother would have been in hysterics by now as this would have been so out of her comfort zone. She was a mess in Paris three years ago when our taxi van to the airport decided to make up time by driving on the sidewalks. Driving in Dar would not be on her bucket list that is for sure.

Loading the Ferry to Dar
Loading the Ferry to Dar
Who gets the right of way?
Who gets the right of way?

Soon we left the warren of streets behind and entered the roadway that took us past equally lively settlements along the road. Once again, I was reminded of the drive from Marrakesh to Casablanca. It is hard to believe that such different Africa’s exist so close together. After turning off onto a long winding and extremely bumpy clay road we finally enter the secured compound of the South Beach Resort.

As soon as I stepped outside of the van I can smell and hear the Indian Ocean. That was the reason I chose this hotel. It is not a fancy place, the price was right and I had wanted to take the ferry ride. But most of all, I wanted to be able to get up and walk the beach at dawn so I could see the sunrise over the Indian Ocean and listen to the surf pound. And so far nothing about Dar es Salaam has disappointed me.

Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean