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A place of great contrast

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View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We weren’t supposed to come here. We were scheduled to be in Mombassa, but the powers that be decided that Kenya was too dangerous, so we shifted southward. No one complained.

Our visit to Dar began with two pictures in stark contrast. On our left, some of the ship’s crisply dressed butlers waved their goodbyes; on our right, a Tanzanian welcome party banged their drums and danced. Dar is a place of contrasts like this. High-rises tower above streets with potholes so large that traffic can’t cross. The President’s House occupies blocks of space in the city center, surrounded by a wall of rusting metal and corrugated plastic. The Ocean Road (now called Obama Road) is beautiful, but dominated by a dreadful electronic billboard that flashes on and off.

The first day here in Dar, we visited two museums. The National Museum and House of Culture displays various ethnographic items, a bed, a chunk of a wall with bowls embedded, and a model of a fossil skull called Nutcracker Man. Also on display in a shed were autos driven by various presidents and an old fuel pump that provided the gasoline. In the garden was a magnificent bodi tree sacred to Buddhists and thousands of years old. No, don’t rush to get tickets, but you’ve got to admire a developing culture that thinks it’s really important to have a museum.

Then to the Makumbusho Village Museum displaying the huts of many different tribes. More dancers. All had red tee shirts, one saying “San Diego Zoo.”

Finally we went to Tinga Tinga, an artists colony that produces an amazing amount of colorful canvasses and ebony carvings.

The second day in Dar we took the ship’s shuttle bus to a hotel whose lobby was loaded with fellow travellers using the WiFi (the ship’s system is absolutely dreadful) and then took a taxi to St. Alban's Anglican Cathedral where we met the Bishop's secretary, pauline. Pauline is about 4'11" tall and formidable woman who knows a lot and makes sure everything is done right. St. Alban's nestles beneath one of the new high-rises, but it is not small. In the close are a Mother's Union Cafe, a church school building, parish offices, and an office for a fierce guard who requires face to face inspection before you are allowed to enter.

All in all, we sort of fell in love with this gritty, lively place. The people are kind and friendly, healthy and energetic. Everyone is working at something and they all are proud of their country. The schools must be doing something right because most everyone is proficient in English and wants to practice.


Posted by HopeEakins 06:05 Archived in Tanzania

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