This year, I made it to Dar es Salaam (Tanzania). I say I made it because it had been a 2-year dream to go there. Looking at the African map and pictures of Dar es Salaam, I wondered what being there would feel like. Mostly, I wondered about the food, the people, the weather and the fabrics.
In February when I finally put my feet on Dar es Salaam soil, the heat beat me. It literally beat me! That is when I remembered that everything comes in high doses in Africa. Actually, after 2 years’ worth of research about the place and asking people in and around Dar, I should have expected the heat. Plus, February is the height of summer in southern Africa!
We spent 4 nights and 5 days in Dar, being proper tourists to the T. Here is a list of things I will never forget about Dar es Salaam, Tanzania:
(1) It was HOTTTT!
I fell in love with the heat. Mainly because it is coastal heat, which is moist. I was sweating every day and came back home darker. The heat was the most beautiful thing for me because I grew up in the sun so it was nothing new. The people there don’t even feel the sun at all, they go through the day effortlessly. This heat awards the land with such beauty. It was green and beautiful everywhere, like Bushbuckridge in South Africa, where I come from.
My soul just ate all the heat and its effects up.
(2) The food was beautiful
The food in Dar es Salaam is very similar to what we eat in South Africa, just different terms and ways of cooking. The one thing I noticed is that their food is cleaner, what I would call organic. They cook ‘nyama choma’ with salt only, no spices. Most of the spice dishes they have are Indian-influenced dishes: curries etc. I was having the time of my life finding all the food I know and recognised. My stomach thanked me for the adventure.
My favourite meal is what they call chapati and maharagi.
This is what we call roti and sugar beans. Sugar beans are magical for me; I grew up eating them. Then they have the chicken and chips set-ups on every corner similar to shisa nyama on every corner in all of South Africa. We stayed away from these because well, I mean we have so many of these outlets back home.
We opted for the ‘hard body’ chicken boiled with vegetables and plantain (yes banana). This meal was also similar to what we eat here except for the boiled banana.
Alcohol in Dar es Salaam
As for alcohol, they have a lot of options for men. This must be tied to some or other belief about women drinking less – the lies. The amount of local beer was overwhelming; they also had South African beers and other imports. There were only one or two options of beer for women and I did not prefer any of the options available. Other alcoholic beverages like vodka and whisky were expensive but we still bought a bottle of Johnny Walker Black or as we call it back home Johnny ‘motsamai’ Black.
I eventually discovered a gin called ‘Konyagi’, and my holiday was complete.
(3) There was an aura of peace
One of the hardest things about being in South Africa is the safety issue. I spent the first two days worrying about my surroundings and how safe it was. On day 3, I started calming down. We started using public transport a lot more and walking a lot more. On all our walks, no one tried to stop us, and we were saying ‘Jambo’ so many times. People kept saying ‘karibu’ back; I think I will name someone Karibu one day. People were so helpful; we walked at night in town, on the beach and everywhere else. Instances of violence and anger were very limited, unless they were hidden from us. By the last day, we were walking around as if we owned the place, and my anxiety was very low.
Soldiers at the beach
The only thing that seemed to disturb the peace was the fact that the military is always looking at you. They were a like a replace for the police. Any kind of crime is handled by the military, and that is scary. We don’t have this kind of connection to our soldiers in South Africa.
This meant that there were rules we all had to be aware of and adhere to; the soldiers don’t joke!
Read the second part of this two-part series to find out about the rest of my experience in Dar es Salaam.