Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back in the Dar Es Salaam (sing it like the Beatles, it works)

Well, that was fun. I must say I always enjoy spending the best part of a day sitting in a metal tube with poor air circulation hurtling through the sky at over 500 miles per hour.

Not as much as I enjoy my cup lid popping off and covering me with coffee at Dubai airport, of course, but still... close run thing.

After having been back in Tanzania for nearly a whole day, I can safely tell you that traffic jams in Dar Es Salaam are almost as uninteresting as their UK counterparts.

Vende met me at the airport yesterday afternoon, and then we spent ages sat in swelteringly hot traffic in a taxi that's seen better days. We did, however, whilst sat in traffic, have the opportunity to buy some very large and very shiny-looking knives and meat cleavers. I did feel slightly nervous about that particular street seller.

Thinking it would be quicker to sneak through some back streets to Vende's workplace, we then proceeded to get stuck behind a funeral procession, apparently of the Muslim variety. The coffin was covered in a white sheet and carried by many many young men. As they passed, other men would take a turn helping before dropping off the group again some way up the road.

What was slightly disturbing about it was that it was almost entirely young men taking part in the procession, which implied to me that the person in the coffin was probably also a young man.

We stopped at a bar by Vende's work for a beer, and were joined by Vende's next door neighbour Paul, who is from the same tribe (Chagga) and also even the same family clan (Silayo). And more importantly, he owns a car.

After having food and talking in depth to Paul's brother Amos about English football, it had begun to go dark, and then got stuck in an incredibly boring traffic jam, which involved going in one direction to drop Amos back at the university, searching around for petrol and to check the air in Paul's tyres, then heading back through the traffic in the other direction to go back to Vende's.

It took nearly 3 hours and I went to bed very very tired.

Today has been rather more leisurely. A nice lie-in, followed by shower and then wondering where Vende left his key so I could lock up. I turns out that he doesn't lock up in the day any more because he now pays a lady who is supposed to come and clean (but often doesn't).

So all my valuables are spending the day in Paul's car which he's driving around sorting out issues about a plot of land he's bought. Earlier when we got breakfast he told me how lots of people like to break into cars like his.

I'm going to have to get used to this sort of thing again.

Later we're going to the beach, which I'm told is completely safe.

Dish of the Day: mtori - a plantain soup with meat, which is traditional to the Kilimanjaro region, where Paul and Vende are from.

[Also, I think I'm going to change my plans slightly, stay in Dar an extra day, and go to Songea all in one go. That's one long bus journey.]

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