DAR 101: Intro to Dar es Salaam

An entry visa is required to enter Tanzania. Upon arrival at the airport, you hand over your passport, visa application, and 50 USD. Fingerprints and photos are taken and your passport is handed off to a group of employees milling about in a room with half glass walls. You are then instructed to “go stand over there”. There appears to be no concrete system of organization as travelers flutter about in a group, trying to understand what the folks behind the glass are doing (while those behind the glass flutter about, trying to look busy with the passports of the watchers on the other side of the glass). The benefit of flying in at 3 a.m. is that this process goes relatively quickly.

The flip side is that you’re in Dar es Salaam at 3 a.m. It is unadvisable to traipse about Dar at night at the best of times, let alone with your worldly possessions. With a smooth talking security guard (I presume, he was speaking Swahili so for all I know he was talking smack about us) can rouse the security guard at the YMCA to let the three “mzungu’s” with the big bags in. Reception doesn’t open until 6 a.m. however, so we spent our first night camped out on wooden chairs, swatting mosquitoes, eating crackers and cream cheese (compliments of Turkish Air), and being squawked at by an obnoxious cat.

A solid nap later and I was roused by a knock on the door. Not yet awake, I struggled to comprehend why Jacqueline wasn’t in the room with us, where she had acquired a backpack, and why she strongly resembled Jamie. Turns out, it was Jamie! She had come early! We had a quick meeting with her and Melkiory, our In-Country Representative, before heading out to try to exchange some money and get some lunch. A shifty man outside the Bureau de Change attempted slight of hand (after a convincing act of legitimately exchanging money) but Jamie was too quick for him and we avoided a scam.

After a bajaj ride (some sort of three wheeled motorcycle contraption, we sandwiched five people onto – myself going halfsies with the driver in the front), an encounter with chickens, and making friends with a man chowing down on corn we had bus tickets in hand for the town of Lushoto, in the Usambara mountains.

Later, Dar – you’re a silly place.

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