Wednesday, August 14, 2013

July 19/20, right around midnight - Dar Es Salaam

(As written in my journal that day; grammar and minor edits only.)

Drive from the airport to the hotel... so many people out at 9 PM, running between speeding cars without any streetlights or crossings... the frightening lack of sidewalks... blowing dust everywhere, in our eyes through open car windows... little strip malls that remind me of San Jose, Costa Rica. Motorcycles have a surprisingly high number of helmet wearers - but most of them have no brake lights!

There are Karibu Obama banners on every pole (Welcome, Obama) from his visit two weeks ago. Then my Portland credit union debit cards works at the ATM! Yes! Digital travel alert win. Rebecca said to touch the ground when I land - with my feet or my hands - since it's been so long since I've been connected to the earth. I do so with my hands in sight of the Indian Ocean. I'm amazed the long transit was bearable; I am a little buzzy when I sit still right now to write, outside our hotel on the plaza. It's warm - 80s - but breezy. So many billboards are in English and we pass a huge mosque of praying faithful; it's Ramadan.

I have been glad about twenty times already that I chopped my hair off.

Meggie and I spent a lot of time observing a couple with two young kids on the plane. Incredible teamwork. I commented to her (the mom) on it when deplaning and they both sort of smiled, flustered, but at Customs we were standing by each other again, and she told us how much it meant to her to hear that, and it made her feel they were doing something right.

Waiting for my bag to come out on the carousel, I gasp. I left my beloved pink hoodie on the plane! I have no choice and no language; I rapidly accept losing it - only to glance over at a man walking by, who has it over his arm! I get it back from the older man, shuffling through the baggage claim, headed for Lost + Found.

Note from Future Me: This pink hoodie will be highly valued, I'll come to find out, as it will be much, much colder than anyone expected once we get to the village! 

This reminds me of the iPhone back at O'Hare in Chicago... I was sitting at a charging station and having my oatmeal, when a woman next to me continued to unpack her bag, increasingly frantic. She mutters that she can't find her phone. Digs more. Realizes she left it at the Starbucks and asks her kid to watch the luggage - aggressively asks - and goes over to the kiosk. She comes back and says to her kid, her neighbor at the charging station, and anyone in earshot, "Wow, the employee said it was not there, she was sorry. She was totally serious and then a customer in line spotted it on the counter! Tucked away! She asked about it and I got it back! What a sneak! I almost didn't! Can you believe that?" (Actually, I can.)

So there's a moment from hours ago to contrast how another person's possessions are treated in the U.S. and here. And I know that it can, and will, go the other way in a heartbeat. Because what does an old man need a hot pink hoodie for? An iPhone on the other hand would probably be welcome.

However, it is still my memory of welcome (karibu!) to Tanzania.

-- -- --

Two photos below of the view from our hotel room door, toward the ocean and toward the lobby. 

It's hot, humid, and smells of disinfectant mop water. We have air conditioning and a hot shower here. The hard and squeaky double bed was a welcome sight to us both! So happy to share it, and to dig out our toothpaste... but NO brushing with tap water we decided. 

Time to take our malaria pills on the new time zone; mine at night and hers in the morning. 

It's a nice hotel by Dar standards; the Western toilets flush decently if not perfectly, and there is slow wi-fi to use. It's in a very safe little public compound with shops, a grocery store, a restaurant, an ice cream parlor. We find out later that this was the first transition point to the village life we'd be in. The first night, we paid for our room and crashed into a bizarre, jet-lagged sleep. 

We awoke at 7 AM to construction outside the room; the second night was officially part of the Global Volunteers program, when all our food/water/lodging/transport was covered by the program fee.

1 comment:

  1. I am loving keeping up with your travel diary. Especially since it feels like in the next few entries the excitement is about ready to begin! Keep the posts coming...