86 – The Streets of Dar Es Salaam

Sat 20th Feb, Kibodya Hotel, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Dar Es Salaam is the unofficial capital of Tanzania. The administrative capital is in boring Dodoma, but Dar is where everyone else comes to for everything else. Today’s agenda was simple. Go to the northeast of the city centre to soak in the Asian quarter around India and Mosque street, try to get connected online, and pick up ferry tickets to Zanzibar.

But first, i moved to a cheaper room in the hotel. Less jazzy, no mosquito net, no aircon, and i see cockroaches. What a big difference. The tv is there though, and the hot shower was working, so i’m set.

Wandering the streets of Dar, i noticed the locals are multi-ethnic. Sure, there were the east africans i’ve seen elsewhere over the past 3 weeks, but here were also ladies clad in indian saris, masai dressed tribal people, kanga clad ladies, kids with arabic features.This, as well as all the towns along the coast, were the result of centuries worth of trade along the Indian ocean, intermarriage and migration. The Swahili coast is where i will be spending the next week or so, and this is going to be very interesting.

As for the buildings, they were grand structures, and each proudly stated which year they were constructed.

I cannot find an Internet joint anywhere, the few shown in the 2008 revision of LP have all closed. I finally found one, the post office. Old machines, with no working flash drive slots (i didnt bother asking if i could plug in my laptop). But there are wireless connections elsewhere, i found out later, and i think everywhere you could get connected by paying a subscription fee.

Next i walked down to Sokoine Drive, parallel to the sea, where the rain of touts immediately fell upon me, asking me to buy from their ferry ticket shop. I ignored them and looked for the Flying Horse office, the cheaper option taking 4 hours, instead of the many faster 1.5 hour ferries. The Flying Horse (20 USD, locals pay less) departs from Dar daily at 1230 pm (arrive early so you don’t get squashed). Despite ignoring the touts, i still got conned. I paid 25 USD (LP says 25!) instead of 20 USD. When i asked why the ticket was handwritten 20 USD, i was told 5 USD was port tax. This was true, but it was inclusive! That will teach me not to completely trust guidebooks.

Dinner was self-catered. By now, i am so well equipped i could do a pasta dinner with cream of mushroom. One last thing, the coast is hot and humid. I am drenched with sweat the whole day, and i don’t know what to do with my shirt. I’ll keep on wearing them since changing into new ones will mean that new shirt will need washing again.

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