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Dar es Salaam Tarangire National Park

23rd February 2013

Reunited with Sally in the Shadow of Kilimanjaro

Dar es Salaam Skyline      (please use scroll bar)

A Renovated Dar es Salaam Street
    I slept soundly, the first proper sleep in 40 hours. Once I'd enjoyed a lukewarm shower, I was set up for the day. The view outside my window revealed a concrete world, seemingly devoid of all planning, and bristling with a veritable jungle of aerials and masts. None of the colour and razzmatazz of the street life was visible from my perch.
    Breakfast wasn't a complicated affair: a selection of fruit, a wide variety of Indian food, hot and cold drinks plus biscuits. A small stove stood on a surface, on which stood a little frying pan. A huge bowl of eggs stood next to it. Behind these stood a jovial wee chap beaming proudly from under his crooked chef's hat. "Would you like some eggs? Boiled, fried, scrambled or omelette?" he asked, desperately hoping I would make his day. I obliged him and opted for scrambled eggs on toast. Immediately another chap, who resembled the height disadvantaged fellow off one of the Bond films, took it upon himself to make the toast. Yet another bloke delivered the serviettes. Just as in the bar the previous evening, there was a large surplus of staff in the breakfast room, all with their minute niche. They were a delightful bunch, all with friendly, ready smiles, and all were over the moon that I made an effort to try and communicate in Swahili with them; I got the impression it was a novelty.
Coconuts for Sale
    We soon checked out, leaving our luggage at the hotel while we explored a little more of the city before leaving for the airport. Within a few minutes, Dan found a problem with his camera; the zoom lens was permanently extended out of the camera, rendering the device impractical. A quick check in some camera shops revealed it could not be fixed, or more likely it would cost more to fix than the camera was worth anyway. The poor lad was hopping mad, but knew he had to bite the bullet and buy another camera, preferably before the imminent safari. It was a pain, but at the same time he was fortunate that the failure occurred in the city where the problem could be overcome. In Moshi, and certainly on safari, there would be no chance of replacing the apparatus.
    We found our way down to the waterfront again, and even managed to find a way through the wire fence and rubbish onto the beach. As I was taking a series of photos from the beach, a young, unkempt fellow approached, and menacingly in broken English, told me that I had caused great offence by trespassing on his private beach. He turned and referred me to an old man in rags who was shuffling towards us. "He is the commander of the beach," the young man told me. Vagabonds or fishermen trying to rip me off, I thought, and I hastily made my way back to street level, pushing past the young hopeful who tried to block my way.
    Dan and I headed off in the direction of the fish market, soon accompanied by a new "friend" tagging along. However, time was pressing, the traffic was horrendous, so we took the decision to grab a cab to the airport, getting the cabbie to call at our hotel first to collect our luggage. This seemed like a logical move, which soon started to stutter when we realised that our driver didn't really know how to get to our hotel. It took him a succession of stops for directions before he could locate it. The Calcutta like traffic also helped conspire against us. Dan and I were by now silently cursing. We finally we got to our hotel, and picked up our kit. Dan's had a mysterious white powder coating, which the hotel porter explained was from a cleaning powder. Crumbs, is there potential for us being nabbed for drug smuggling now?
Shawls and Kummahs for Sale
    Traffic to the airport was busy, to say the least. We overtook busses brimming with people - standing room only. People congregated on the side of the road, silently waiting to take their gamble with death as they quickly sprinted across to the other side, dodging traffic as they did so. The traffic lights seemed to operate on a different code here; red didn't appear to mean stop! At times we crawled along at a snail pace. Cyclists passed along inside us, miraculously balancing all manner of goods on their machines. One young lad was bent double pushing his old, black, sit-up-and-beg bike up the slight incline. Attached to his machine was a small trailer, on which he had two huge oil barrels, obviously full to capacity. It was a back breaking exercise, and I was amazed at how his spindly arms and legs could handle this, but if it was a choice of undertake this task or starve, there was only one option. But he had an air of nobility about him; far better this than begging like those down town.
    What I found incredible was the lack of a single direction sign all along the route, perhaps an extension to the logic of minimal street names in the city. A stranger would need to be sure he was travelling on the correct highway. The turn off to the airport was indicated through telepathy only.
    We arrived at the airport as sweaty wrecks, but were stimulated back into reality when we read the flight boards in amazement. Precisionair, our carrier, indicated a departure time of 15:30. So, my ticket informed me the departure time was 14:20, Dan's departure time for the same flight was 16:00, Precisionair website had indicated 16:00 when I checked it on 20th March, and the actual time on the day was 15:30.
    I sat next to a Dutch family on the plane. They had been on safari, but unfortunately they had all been so ill with diarrhoea that they had to curtail it and spend a few days in a lodge to recover. Just as well I brought Imodium with me, I thought. I joked with the father about the crazy flight times. "I have a friend who lives out here and often travels on Precisionair. He calls the carrier Imprecisionair. Often, when the carrier thinks they have enough people on board, they will just go. Today, some people who turned up for a 16:00 flight time were being left behind," he told me.
A Couple of Interesting Architectures in Dar
    As our plane swept down towards Kilimanjaro International Airport, we were treated to magnificent views of the spectacular mountain that gave it its namesake. The colossal mountain dominated the plains over which it towered, both physically and figuratively.
Dar es Salaam Harbour View      (please use scroll bar)

Typical Dar es Salaam Bus
    Baggage claim was a quick, simple affair at this minimal airport. We found ourselves standing in the little shade there was to alleviate the 36 degrees furnace. Other small groups clung around precious shade. We had all landed 30 minutes earlier than expected, and our pickup vehicles were still on their way to the tiny airport.
    Then a vision of loveliness caught my eye, and I soon registered it was Sally. I had not anticipated seeing her at the airport. We quickly converged on each other, and then we had our arms around each other in a warm, watery-eyed embrace. After a long hug and exchange of greetings, I had a chance to take her in. She had obviously acquired a golden tan, her hair had gone a shade fairer, and gave the outward impression of a young woman totally at ease with herself through her confidence.
    Dan received a warm, sisterly hug. At last we were reunited. It was a pity Katie, my other daughter, couldn't make it, but she had her hands full with her little boy, Oliver.
    A young woman joined us, Halumi, who, with a young chap, would drive us to Moshi. Sally had travelled overnight for 9 hours on a bus from Kisumu to Nairobi, then another long bus journey down to Arusha, followed by a final bus journey to Moshi; over 19 hours spent on busses and long delays at border controls. She had arrived in Moshi around 15:30, and the safari company had offered to bring Sally to the airport to meet us.
    On our journey back to Moshi, I caught up on Sally's news. When she first moved to Africa, she had found it a bit of a rollercoaster experience, what with learning how to cope with being a newcomer to the village she was living in, and the scope of the work she was taking on. I had not appreciated how much we take for granted our health facilities in the U.K. In Kenya, if you can't pay for drugs or treatments, you go without. For most people, life expectancy is very low. She told me of a harrowing tale of a child client she had, Gertrude, who became ill, and waited for a very long time with her mam in a queue outside a clinic. Sadly she died in the queue. It clearly had a profound effect on Sally, and that was one of many stories.
    Sally was now one of the eleven Speech and Language Therapists that serviced the whole of Kenya. She had matured greatly, and had a quiet confidence about her, easily striking up conversation in Swahili with the locals. She loved Africa (she had visited other African countries during her stay here), she had settled in well and accepted the laid back lifestyle. As she put it, "Africa has got under my skin". Now I was finding myself in a role reversal position, with daughter teaching father about a whole new world.
    At last we were approaching our destination. Moshi is a small town nestled on the southern slopes of Kilimanjaro, a quiet, strangely pious centre of the Chagga homelands, which serves as a tourist capital of the region. The town derives its name from the Swahili word for "smoke", a reference to the cloud that shrouds the mountain for most of the day. The snows on the summit are visible in early morning and late evening.
    Catholic missionaries introduced the Arabica coffee seeds in Moshi at the end of the 19th century. It is now one of Tanzania's major coffee producers. By force, Germany established a military camp in Moshi in August 1893. Moshi attained the status of a town in 1956, and in 1988, it became a municipality under Tanzanian law.
    We were warmly greeted in Moshi by Gladys, the lady who owned and ran Gladys Safaris. It was good to meet up at last, we had exchanged many emails sorting out the details of the safari over the last few weeks, and she had indeed been extremely patient and helpful. With a friendly, beaming smile, she made us feel at home and explained what would be happening over the next few days, before going over the administrative details. Then, Nelvin showed us our overnight accommodation next door, and the Union cafe where we could get an early breakfast in the morning.
    We checked in at the hotel reception desk, really a table and chair on the first floor, with a small drawer for room keys, and a signing in book. The chair also served as the reception man's bed for the night. Three quick showers later, we enjoyed a pleasant evening meal at the Leopard Hotel, enjoying a couple of Kilimanjaro beers to chill out, and then settled down for an early night; we needed to be up by 6am and Sally was totally whacked from her mammoth journey.
Street Outside Hotel in Moshi      (please use scroll bar)

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Dar es Salaam Tarangire National Park
Last updated 28.3.2013