Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tanzania - Dar es Salaam

Hi Bloggers,

I haven't blogged for quite a while. I've probably been focussing on Facebook too much! But actually I think blogging provides a much more coherent and progressive record of events, whether it be travel, politics, family or something else. So ......

The main events for me this year have been the continued trouble here in Bahrain (see below) and my first trip to black Africa since 1970. Tanzania to be precise. The politics in Bahrain have frankly become boring and are well documented in other places, so I'll focus primarily on my April trip to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

Just before that trip, though, all the BC teachers here in Bahrain were fortunate enough to get one extra free week's holiday in Dubai, as the British Embassy decided the situation on the ground was dangerous enough to warrant "withdrawal". I didn't think it was that bad myself, but I certainly wasn't complaining and thoroughly enjoyed looking around Dubai. It really is quite a place, and I'd recommend it to anyone for a visit. However, it's probably best done as a stopover to somewhere else.

So on to Africa. I'd visited Ghana and Togo in West Africa when I was just a teenager in 1970, but really I was too young and green to get much out of that trip. So I was keenly anticipating this one, albeit to a different part of Africa this time, namely the East. As I only went for a week, all I had time for was a couple of days in Dar es Salaam and then about 4 days on the fabled isle of Zanzibar.

I'll take Dar first (see next blog for Zanzibar). Frankly the place was a dump, pretty ramshackle right the way through. It wasn't actually filthy and squalid, like in India, but there was no area that was really upmarket and spic and span like you might expect in a western city. Yet it was friendly enough, even quaint in places and certainly didn't lack atmosphere. But for me Dar's most striking feature was undoubtedly what it didn't have rather than what it did. For example, there wasn't one of those large colourful markets you always expect to see in developing countries. And there were no signs of major development, like a shopping mall or a governmental area with grandiose monuments, etc . In fact, there wasn't even a decent supermarket in the place. The only one I found was affected by the intermittent power cuts, such that most of the frozen foods had melted at some point.

As for the people, they were pretty laid back on the whole. I wasn't accosted in either a positive or negative way. In fact, they semed pretty indifferent to white tourists. They also tried to charge money if they thought they were in one of your photos, which I found really annoying. Nevertheless, I felt reasonably safe, though at night the streets did get eerily deserted. Mind you, I always leave all my valuables in the hotel safe, just taking out enough for the evening. My best experiences were in cafes and restaurants where I got chatting to quite a few locals. But overall a pretty mediocre experience. People in Zanzibar (next blog) were much more communicative.

Anyway, enjoy the shots. They're all of Dar. I think they give a reasonable representation of the place. Next Zanzibar!

Cheers, Robert

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