As I’ve mentioned previously, I really dislike the city of Dar es Salaam. It’s hot, humid, mosquito-infested and crowded. However, I must say the food in downtown is better than anywhere I’ve been. The Middle Eastern and Indian influences are obvious. I feel like I’m back in Cairo again, not only because the food actually has flavor but because I see more Arabs than black people.
This experience of traveling alone in Africa is stretching me in incredible ways. It’s not without its challenges but I know that it’s ultimately making me grow. Today I was doing a focus group outside Dar and literally thought I would melt. I was doing a survey inside this woman’s house in the middle of the day. The house was humid, dark, and smoky with tons of people inside. I’m not claustrophobic but I felt like I had to escape and catch some air before I passed out. Climbing into the air-conditioned car afterwards felt like heaven. I fell asleep for the entire ride home because it felt so incredibly good.
To escape the heat on Sunday, I went with a couple Tanzanian guys to a waterpark outside the city. I met these guys a couple of weeks ago when I was watching a football match at a restaurant in town. They told me we were going to the beach and somehow we ended up at this waterpark. I didn’t have a bathing suit and neither did they so we just ended up swimming in our boxers. It was a little strange swimming in boxers with women in full hijabs sitting outside the pool. Dar es Salaam is a fascinating mix of cultures and religions that somehow manage to get along.
Speaking of cultures, yesterday I did a walking dinner tour of downtown Dar. No tour company offers these, I just decided to walk around and try everything that looked interesting. I bought bananas, sugarcane, an organge, chicken, naan, chips, salad and a coke. The price? Less than 6 US dollars. I got ridiculously lost and walked forever but the electricity was out so what else was I going to do? It was super interesting how each street had a different feel. Some streets had more street vendors, while others were quiet. One street held at least 4 or 5 Hindu temples with people chanting inside. Mosque street obviously houses a lot of Muslims. Despite its unwelcoming qualities, Dar es Salaam really is an interesting blend of cultures that makes for an interesting experience.