2011 Fall Africa Esther Needham External Programs Tanzania

Dar Es Salaam

I’m back! Sorry for the absence of a few weeks, things have gotten a little hairy around here.

So we had midterms in October and left for our mid-semester break trip around the 12th. I had asked previously if our hotel would have internet (so I could blog, register for classes, and work on a big project coming up) and was given an unequivocal “yes, wifi will be available!”. Awesome I thought to myself foolishly, I’ll get all this work done, I’ll blog about the great times we’re having, it’s definitely worth bringing my laptop on this adventure.

You may have guessed that things took a dire turn for the worst…

The morning we were set to leave (at 6 am) we all trundle bleary-eyed and full of hope out to the waiting bus in our driveway. My roommate Molly and I take a seat together near the front as the bus slowly fills up…with more…and more…until we realize, there are three or four people left and not a seat to be found. I’ve never felt more like an early bird snagging the worm when we realized that the left over people had to sit in trundle seats that folded down into the aisle. The seats were ok, you had more leg room, but they were only attached on one side, so they were slanty and had very low backs and actually ended up being extremely painful to sit in, this might not have been so bad if it was just a few hour ride, not the case.

So began our trip to the great Dar Es Salaam!

Dar is located about 10-12 hours south of Arusha along the coast of Tanzania. The original trip was scheduled for Zanzibar, but much to our frustration, was cancelled due to the Somalian pirates. So Dar it is, along with a two day stay at a little sea-side town called Bayamoyo.

To say that the bus ride there may have been in the top three worst days in some of our lives would not be an over-exaggeration…actually its a quote. Besides the trundle seats and the fact the bus was just generally much too small and we left an hour late it didn’t start off too badly. As the day progressed however, and people began to wake up from their naps, it started pouring rain, leaking in through the windows making it impossible to get any fresh air on a bus crammed with people without airconditioning. We took a “short cut” which may or may not have been shorter, but consisted of 3 hours at least of the bumpiest, muddiest, unpaved road you could imagine.

Arriving at the hotel at last the relief was almost palpable but not to last for long…brown water in the showers, out-of-order toilets, holes in the walls, no mosquito nets, no internet…the gym counted as the pool which counted as the green scummy concrete pond in the center of the hotel with organic sea-life growing from the floor and god-only-knows what else swimming around beneath the murky depths and worst of all…it was not beach-front as advertised (which would have almost excused all the other grievances had it been so). All was not last however, we rearranged rooms to find ones with suitable amenities (me and two other girls squeezed into a single with one queen bed…but with a balcony!) and found a way to use the beachfront at a hotel about a mile or so down the road. Turns out the hotel we had seen advertised online was actually the sister hotel to the one which the organizer of the trip had unknowingly actually booked.

After we all recovered from the bus ride and disastrous first night at the hotel the rest of the trip perked up a bit. We were able to go to the beach two days in Dar at two separate beachfront hotels that were very nice, a water park (with 500 elementary schoolers), walk around downtown, EAT AT SUBWAY (the source of great excitement for us sandwich loving Americans, especially us vegetarians, and quite amusing to watch the Africans not understand the ordering process.), go to an actual mall where there was a trampoline we could jump on (!!!!!), and see some traditional dancing. All in all despite the setbacks it was nice to see Dar, a much much larger city than Arusha, and get a feel for the country side on the drive down.

We stayed in Dar for the majority of the trip and then on to Bagamoyo for the last two days…

Outside the Waterpark…with hundreds of children in the background

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