Travel Journal

Dar Es Salaam

(Tuesday 25 January 2011) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 153-5 1-4 to 1-6-11
It was a long bus ride to Dar, as the locals call Dar Es Salaam. I can see why foreigners are so taken by Tanzania as the countryside is so vast, green and beautiful. The bus station at Dar, however, is not. Since it was almost dusk and we could not fit our backpacks in the local transports, we hired a cab after much negotiating to take us to an area of budget hotels. Once there we pounded the pavement until we found a suitable hotel. The clerk told me of a dental clinic around the corner which I checked out the building and opening times. It was a Muslim run clinic next to a mosque but it looked like they would be able to re-cement the crown back on so I planned to visit it the next day.
The next morning I visited the clinic and after waiting a short time, was informed the dentist wouldn’t be there until four in the afternoon. Julie had made the decision to cut her hair – not just a trim but the full Monty on her head and was shaved by the time I got back. We did laundry and tried to use the internet which was slow again before returning to the clinic that afternoon. Julie also had a problem with her denture as one of her teeth had fallen out so we went together. I bravely let her go first to see if the doctor knew what he was doing. He made a few “short cuts” to fix the denture and Julie was pleased with the results. It didn’t take very long to re-cement my crown. Total cost for both procedures was 30,000 Tsh or $20!
We had left Madagascar transportation till now and a travel agent offered tickets to fly to Madagascar from Dar via Nairobi when we returned from our Zanzibar trip and then leaving Madagascar and ending up in Lusaka, Zambia which would be near Victoria Falls where we could continue our southern excursion. Problems were they were Air Kenya which would not get us discounts on domestic Madagascar flight which we would need to take and would be expensive, and at 1,070 USD each they were in itself expensive to begin with. Julie persevered and found a travel agent that could get round trip Jo-burg to Madagascar flights for $420 each on Air Madagascar so we booked tickets for February before I was to head to South America and Julie to Philippines. We got the economy tickets for our flight out and were put on standby for the flight back which should clear and be booked in a day or two.
We ate at a restaurant that Julie found and it was pretty good food. The next morning we walked to the fish market which was fairly good size. The smell was spectacular! The area was divided into sections, where they cleaned, prepped and then sold the fish and seafood and these were also separated by type or size of the fish. Across the street was a large area for cooking and selling the freshly caught seafood. Around this time, Julie began to feel queasy and broke into a cold sweat and got dizzy. It was probably from the food she had the previous night aggravated by the smell of the fish. We got a taxi home so she could lie down and fortunately she got better quickly. On the way back I noticed a stand selling signs and license plates and returned to pick up a couple for Richard.
We went down to the ferry dock to purchase tickets to Pemba for the following day. It’s a strange set up in that there are several ticket offices in the departure terminal and they all sell tickets at the same price and they wait in their office for you to come in. A local will take you to one where he gets a commission from the agent which doesn’t affect the price you pay. So even if you try to enter an office alone, someone outside will go in with you to collect a commission. It is an interesting setup. Anyways, we got tickets for the 7:00 AM ferry and then headed to the National Museum.
The museum was rather unremarkable but it did provide some information on the history of Tanzania as a colony of which I was quite ignorant. Also there was much information on the slave trade out of Zanzibar, the fossils of prehistoric man found in the region, and some background of the independence of Tanzania. I had thought to also visit the Village Museum which is located a bit out of town but Julie wasn’t interested and the idea of jumping on a crowded mini-bus wasn’t appealing so I ditched that idea.
I ran into an employee of the hotel on a beer hunt and we stopped at a local beer garden for some suds and talked about life in the country, the government, frequent power outages, and raising a family in the city. He provided some interesting viewpoints on his country and ours. As I’ve found through most of our travels, especially the Middle East and Africa, that if foreigners could vote, Obama would win reelection in a landslide. When I say I’m from the US, the remark is usually “Oh, Obama-land” with a smile. I usually decline to state my position politically in my country, or if pushed, usually say I don’t trust any politician which is accepted with a knowing nod from the listener.


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