Dar Es Salaam – part one

Dar es Salaam, or Dar as the Tanzanians call it.

We start our tour of this chaotic, but full of surprises city. First point: it’s huge. The hot is unbearable: I don’t want to think of how is it during February and March when summer is at its best. We start our tour with an unusual place: the Village Museum. It is an open air museum in which a dozen tribes homes are collected.

Homes and tools. The aim is to allow visitors to get in touch with the most inner parts of the Tanzanian culture, the ones that tends to be usually undervalued by tourists. Undoubtedly a mistake. A safari in any of the national parks puts you in touch with nature, but culture puts you in touch with people.

And Tanzanians are great. They are divided into more than 120 tribes and each one has got its own home, tools and rituals. Most of it depends on what part of Tanzania they come from, so we have the Wachagga tribe from the Kilimanjaro Region, or the Wazaramo from Dar es Salaam, or again the Wahaya from Lake Victoria.

The houses can be round or square, with or without windows. Their tools thought for cattle, hunting or fishing. Really very far from a western vision of life, but interesting and addictive.

The visit ends with a typical dance.

The lunch at the Nameless Bar gives us new strength: kuku (chicken) cooked with carrots and green peppers. Even the street cat we have been feeding for days is very thankful.

We are ready to continue our tour of the city and we head towards the fish market, Mzizima Market in Kiswahili. A real adventure. The smell is very intense. The place is divided into 3 different parts: the port in which the fishermen’s boats arrive every day, the selling zone, where people bargain to buy fish and seafood, and the kitchens, where you can bring your purchase and have it cooked. An incredible number of frying corners covered by smoke with cooks ready to prepare anything you want.

We are not still too tired so we decide to go to the Botanical Garden.

It’s almost closing time, but the old guide agrees to escort us through for a quick visit. He is very welcoming. I feel very comfortable with him while he points at tree after tree for us, very proud of his knowledge. He waits patiently that I write every name on my notebook: palm tree, baobab, christmas tree, bamboo, mahogany, teak and even a cactus.

I appreciate very much his kindness. He seems to appreciate a lot our company.

Now we are tired and need a rest. Dinner is not so necessary: a cup of coffee with some biscuits is more than sufficient.

The evening arrives: it’s time to sleep. Tomorrow we will be out again looking for something to discover.