Day in Dar: 22 Aug 2006

22 08 2006

Today, Andy and I are spending the day walking around Dar es Salaam.  We found this internet cafe so I can update these posts.  I will write what is in my journal each time we are able to get on the internet.  If you don’t want this much detail, or the entries are boring, you can just skim the headers to see that we are still alive and intact.  🙂

On Friday we are leaving the city (yeah) and taking a train to Mbeya.  I’m hoping that once we leave the city it will be calmer and slower paced.  Here in Dar, the driving is crazy (anarchy driving), and no one seems very happy on the street.

We are headed back to the hostel now.  I hope everyone is doing well and thanks for reading!

Bagamoyo: 21 Aug 2006

22 08 2006

This morning we had a very nice, free breakfast at the Peacock Hotel. Kagubu and his friend, the driver (Halidy), met us at 9AM. We checked out and did a bunch of errands: check into Luther House Hostel, get cell phone activated for Tanzania and exchange $$. Receipts are mostly written out by hand neatly and thoroughly with carbon paper used to make a duplicate.

We then headed to Bagamoyo and the Kaole Ruins. We stopped on the way to tour the Chuo Cha Sanaa (College of Arts) where Andy and I eqach bought a bead bracelet from a very friendly artisan. I swear I smelled pot, but who knows, maybe it’s just some local herb used for cooking…;-)

The Kaole Ruins contain the remains of a 13th century mosque and a 15th century mosque with graves. It was pretty interesting and we had a very good tour guide. She showed us piles of shells that had the snail removed to eat and how they were broken down over time to make the sand in the area. Also, she showed us the ruins of a prayer room. The person kneels at the door to pray. If the wish comes true, the person is supposed to return to the same place to offer thanks. Inside this prayer room were insence and matches because people STILL use it as a prayer room.

Bagamoyo, on the coast close to Zanzibar, was an important trade port for slaves, ivory, salt and copra (a dried, oil yielding kernal of coconuts) in the mid 19th century. The area looks somewhat like a dry Florida with all the coconut trees planted by the Arabs many years ago for this trade. The city was under Arab control until the late 1800’s when Bagamoyo became the capitol of German East Africa. As a result, both Arabic and German influences can be seen in the architecture. Both groups were heavily involved in the slave trade.

We toured an old German fort and walked through the german barracks and the outside open areas where slaves were kept (open to the weather, but of course, walled in). In 1888, there was a revolt against the colonial rule. We saw the spot where a tree stood that had been used by the Germans to hang the Tanzanians that revolted. The tree was removed, but a large pyramid shaped marker stands in its place. I bought 2 sets of ebony statues at this place (paying too much, of course). The ebony is from that area.

My friend, Miriam J., and I had been talking once about the slave trade and how it seemed that AfricanAmerican ancestors had paid a HUGE price for what many of their descendants have today. As an AfricanAmerican woman, she wondered what Africans thought of that. Since our Bagamoyo tour was about the slave trade, I asked hte tour guide that question. He said, in short, that Africans see AfricanAmericans as family…brother, sister…because of the skin color.; that they are separated by water, but still connected.

Since a group of German tourists were in the area at the same time we were, I asked him his view on other countries and the people that played a role in Bagamoyo’s history. He said that there is a dislike of Germans and Arabs; that being around them is a reminder of what took place and the colonialism and exploitation. He said North Americans are very welcome because they “understand what tourism is about”, the impilcation, of course, being the spending of money. Thanks for the compliment, but…..

Our group of 4 stopped at the Traveler’s Lodge for lunch on our way out of the area. Traveler’s Lodge is this very beautiful camping/cabin resort along the beach. The restaurant is open and very nice, with once again, excellent food. I can see that I will be eating a lot of fish here, but that’s ok. It’s just so good!

After eating, we drove a very sleepy ride home. At one point, only the driver was awake. As soon as Andy and I got to the hostel, we both laid on the bed and fell asleep.

The day was fun and very interesting…and we wouldn’t have had the experience without Kagubu and his friend. I am so thankful to them and Anina for setting up this opportunity. At about $150, the day was expensive. I can’t afford to keep up this pace. At one point I was pretty down about it, feeling that every smile comes with a price. Tomorrow we will have an easier, low keyed day & just walk on our own around the city…without spending $$.

I’m feeling pretty alone right now….realizing that on a daily basis I am fed SO much positive energy and support by the people in my life through those small interactions and that here and now I need to reach into my own reserve. It takes many forms: excitement, responsibility, decision, calm, patience…I need to really draw on what is already there in the coming month.

Tonight I received a text message on my Tanzanian cell phone (cool, eh?) from Kagubu saying to be safe tomorrow. It was nice to have someone here care and brought me out of the funk. Also, Marjorie, Anina’s mama, send a message and invited Andy and I to see her and her organization on Wed and then to have dinner with her family. I’m looking foward to it!

Arrival in Dar: 20 Aug 2006

22 08 2006

We arrived at about 7:30 in Dar es Salaam today.  The travel was incredibly smooth.  I have to say, though, that we are both beyond tired.  We have been 3 days with little sleep and many time zone changes.

Meja’s brother, Ezekiel, and Anina’s brother, Kagubu, met us at the airport.  Ezekiel then drove us around to find a place to sleep.  We are staying at the Peacock Hotel.  It’s very nice, but at 85/night, quite expensive.  Right now, it’s worth it to have a comfortable place to stay the first night.  We showered and then slept most of the day. 

Ezekiel and Kagubu are very nice and it made a world of difference to have someone meet us at the airport and drive us around for lodging.  Their help was the best thing that anyone could have done for us…my brain had pretty much turned off at that point and I was just overwhelmed (new sights, sounds, expectations).  Tomorrow, Kagubu will meet us at 9AM and take us around for the day.

After sleeping for a few hours, I woke Andy up and we walked for a short time outside.  After dinner at the hotel, we came back up to the room.  Andy is back to sleeping already and I am on my way there.

There are many feeling this first day:

Initially it was excitement: Oh man, I’m in Africa!  I made it! Finally after so many years of dreaming of this, I’m here!

At the end of the first day:  What have I gotten myself into?  I’m feeling overwhelmed and lost: not sure what to do, what not to do, where to go, what is offensive, how should I respond, when to give $ and when not to.

Tomorrow we should both be rested and able to get to more of a comfort level.

For now: SLEEP!

en Route: 19 Aug 2006

22 08 2006

Written in my journal at Heathrow while waiting for the plane to Tanzania:

We did London today. Andy and I were both passout tired, andy tired but we managed to take the tube down to Westminster, do a Thames River cruise and ride the London Eye. We haven’t slept much the past two nights and time has somehow shifted on us. It was interesting to see many of the important London buildings from the river perspective, but not enough to keep us awake. 😦 eye The Eye, on the other hand, was neat. I loved being up so high and seeing the same building from above. My favorite part was the Salvador Dali exhibit. We didnt make it inside the museum, but the statues outside were a treat! dali

Processing into and out of Heathrow was slow, but easy. I had expected things to be much more complicated and confusing, but it seems that everything in London is pretty straightforward….well, at least what we encountered.