Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Thursday, April 02, 2015

14. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa

Finally, after all those days at sea we see land, we enter the harbor of Dar es Salaam (Dar). Immediately, we see hundreds if not thousands, of bustling people on the shore line. Men in dugout canoes wave to us. Young boys swimming in the harbor water wave a greeting. People on the low title flats, seeking mussels or other crustaceans, straighten up from their bent over body positions and smile and wave to us. It seems
Busy Beach in Dar es Salaam
Dar is happy to see us. It is a Sunday yet the market is open, shoppers are everywhere alongside the beach. The ferry is full of people. We dock and naturally vendors are there to sell us souvenirs but they are not pushy.

Carol and I take the shuttle into town, especially since the instructions last night told us that this shuttle would make a large circle with a few stops along the way. We are on a mission in Dar.

Local Sampans
While getting Carol’s China visa in Toronto she met this young man, Rahim, at the visa office who is native to Dar. Carol took some pictures of Rahim and wanted to give those pictures to Rahim’s parents who own a small restaurant in Dar. So being on a shuttle with a circular route is a great way to ask people where the restaurant is. Our instructions from Rahim were that the KT shop, his parent’s restaurant, is well known. All we have to do is ask anybody and they will point us to it. Sounds like a plan.
Rahim from the Visa Office in Toronto

We stepped off the ship, asked someone local and got just a stare. They had no clue where the KT shop was and even asking their friends we got a “never heard of it”. We even tried to Google for KT shop with no success. According to Rahim the shop is only 10 minutes walk from the pier. Well, there are many piers in Dar, which one is it?

So we thought of taking the bus shuttle from the ship and get off on the first stop of the circular route (a large hotel) and ask again. No such luck, the shuttle bus did not make a circular route but drove us to a shopping center about an hour away from the ship. Naturally we asked, hey! Why don't we stop along the way? Why are we being driven to this shopping center? On a Sunday to boot, when most stores are closed and only the small souvenir stalls, the sheds, are open?

A few phone calls from our “host” on board the shuttle confirmed the bus company changed the route. The ship knew about it, quickly printed a flyer and even sat the flyers on the destination desk but forgot to inform anybody via the public address system of the route changes. People on board the bus were not happy. A small, growling revolt could be felt and heard within the shuttle bus. We all felt we were being led by the nose and told to do as the ship dictates. Nobody really wanted to go to the shopping center. Most, if not all, wanted to use the circular route as a “look and see” sight seeing tour. To just go from point A to point B seemed useless, especially when there is nothing open at point B. Like I said, it is Sunday, most shops are closed. Even the KT shop, the place we were looking for, closes at noon on Sunday. Rahim told us that, so we made it a point to get up early to be at the restaurant mid-morning.

All this preparation on Carol’s part, taking the pictures, having the prints made, carrying them carefully from Toronto to South Africa, even protecting them during the Safaris from being bent etc. just so we can deliver them to Rahim’s parents, now came to a grinding halt. The bus does not take us on the promised circular route and other folks are arguing to be let off at the promised hotel which is now not on the schedule. The time ticks by, the confusion increases and we are left holding the pictures but never get to the KT shop.

We boarded the bus at 8.30 am and stepped off the bus back at the dock a little after 11 am. We were close but could not deliver. Carol was deeply disappointed. There was no easy answer to our dilemma. Sending the pictures by mail is impossible in Dar. We do not have an exact address. Remember, this is Dar, things are not that organized. Besides, it's Sunday, all is closed. Slipping the pictures under the door? Again we do not have an address.
Only Saw Men Out Walking

Most stores and restaurants have iron shutters in front, totally locked up. Dar is not a very pretty town. Too much poverty and too many young men with no work and too much idle time on their hands do not make Dar a very safe city. We had no choice but to call it a defeat. We could not deliver the pictures. We did see Dar es Salaam from the safety of the bus; we even saw the embassy district, supposedly the nicest part of any Capital. Believe me; you would not want to even live in that part of it. High security fences, armed guards, electrified perimeters, etc. tells you the story.
Not a Pretty Town
Dar could have been a nice human touch story yet it was not to be. Call it fate. 

No comments: