Monday, April 7, 2008

Dar Redux

A bit of rejiggering of the timeline is necessary to pull off this entry. We have been to Dar es Salaam a total of three times in the past month, but we decided out of laziness to wait until the end to write an entry. Pretty sneaky, eh?

In any case, Dar is often spoken about as a haven for pickpockets and a denizen of the unscrupulous. Having spent some time here, we may have gotten lucky, but Dar has been a wonderful place filled with cheap South Indian eats and nice people. It may have helped that a guy we met in Hong Kong hooked us up with his friend James, who picked us up when we got into town and took us around for our first night out, as well as our first taste of the national dish, Ugali. Note to any Tanzanians who are reading this: move to the US and open an Ugali joint. We need it.

We felt really lucky to meet James and friends for an early introduction to Tanzanian culture and politics. Thus we were able to learn the two most versatile greetings in Swahili and accept that we'd spend the next month perfecting the important art of greeting people.

We spent much of our time in Dar winding our ways around the old city and enjoying the tightly packed streets of merchants, mosques and intricate mosaic work that can be seen on the most mundane apartment buildings. Perhaps the most striking element of our time in Dar was our coming to grips with what 'rainy season' actually means. At least twice daily, the skies would open up and turn all of the streets into raging rivers and seemingly spawn hundreds of young men selling umbrellas. As far as touts and street vendors go, umbrellas in the rainy season seems downright sweet. And, so too, Dar. Sweet.


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