Tanzania
part 2
 

July 24

Flew from Johannesburg to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where we took a taxi to the Palm Beach Hotel.

The hotel’s name is rather deceiving for it is not on the beach at all.  In 1954, when built, there weren’t any buildings between it and Dar es Salaam Bay on the Indian Ocean; today there are homes, hotels, government buildings and the busy Ali Hassan Mwinyi Rd.

After switching rooms (from a non-smoking room in which the smoke residue was choking to a non-smoking room in which smoke residue just reeked but was breathable) we went for a walk.

It was late afternoon, wheelchair vendors selling almost anything and everything moved up and down between cars stopped at intersections. The snarled traffic, to us at least, was the result of traffic police at each intersection directing traffic in a rather bizarre fashion seemingly oblivious to the functioning traffic lights overhead.

We watched as one motorist beeped his horn when the light went green for his lane of traffic but the officer kept traffic going on the cross street. Not getting any reaction from the officer, the motorist began to yell ... then beep and yell. The officer calmly walked over said something and walked back to position and held up the motorists' lane (and everyone else in it) for another minute or two. All this time, even when the traffic officer was talking to him, the motorist continued to beep his horn and yell. Talk about your road rage!

We didn’t want to venture off the main road too far since we were not familiar with the area and the little side streets we did explore suggested we should turn back.

At one point we could hear high squealing noises. It didn’t sound quite like birds but it seemed to be coming from overhead. We looked up to see a tree full of bats ... big, very big, black bats. It was dark enough for them to be waking up from their daytime sleep ... another good reason not to stay out after dark.

In the hotel’s garden restaurant we selected a table overlooking the main thoroughfare, so we could continue to people watch, and ordered a Mount Kilimanjaro beer. It seemed a very long time ago that Terry and Michael climbed the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. They had reached the summit only 48 days ago. We had done and seen so much since then.

July 25

We had to secure tomorrow’s ferry tickets to Zanzibar and make some enquiries regarding connecting flights for our homeward trip. Our time in Africa is nearing its end.

We walked from the Palm Beach Hotel, into downtown and then to the ferry terminal. We like walking; it gives us time to really look at buildings and people with whom we are sharing the sidewalk.

Dar es Salaam means ‘Haven of Peace’ in Arabic. It is Tanzania’s largest city and biggest port. The entrance channel to the inner harbour is treacherous to navigate in and out, but once in the harbour it offers calm waters affected little by weather.

We stopped at the Mövenpick Royal Palm Hotel to cash traveller’s cheques and stayed to have refreshments in their garden café.

      

Touts around the ferry terminal were overwhelming; they are friendly, well meaning and just trying to make a living, but we couldn’t move without having several people talking at once, while we were trying to gather information on our own. We decided we best try another time. We bargained for a taxi which would take us to our next destination, the Village Museum. Taxi’s are everywhere, most often just a standard car, though a few are marked. Having settled on a price, we got into the back seat of the ‘taxi’ but were a little unnerved when a second ‘taxi driver’ got in. Wanting to get out of the uncomfortable situation, we asked them to drop by the Palm Beach Hotel and once there we told them we had changed our minds and paid them a little extra for their trouble.

We went to reception and asked their advice in selecting a reliable taxi driver. The Palm Beach Hotel has several taxis out front with their name on them so, of course, they recommended one of them. That’s when we met Mr. Pazzi. His car was clean, his manner gentlemanly and his prices fair. He drove us out to the Village Museum and we made arrangements for where and when he would pick us up.

The Village Museum is about 6 km north of Dar es Salaam. It’s an open-air museum showing different styles of Tanzania tribal homes. Taking our own flashlight was beneficial as some of the dwellings are windowless. Signage boards outside each house and by trees were very informative and we enjoyed our time. We could hear drums for the traditional dancing ‘show’ as we neared the exit (there were only three other visitors that we could see) but the few glimpses we saw didn’t warrant the extra cost.

Within the village complex artisans display and sell their works. Two painters had their canvases hanging on poles in one area while Petro Paulo Mayige displayed his clay figurines in another. We liked his work showing everyday village scenes ... simple but very expressive. We particularly liked one of a grandfather imparting wisdom to his grandson ... or was it the other way around.

The cost of getting into the Village Museum was reasonable, but there are extra costs for taking photos. We were prepared to pay a token amount but the rate had gone up substantially from that indicated in our guidebook. We can never understand why a tourist attraction charges excessive fees (for photographs) for what will become free advertising.  If the price to take photos was reasonable and people posted photos on their web sites it just might entice others planning a trip to Tanzania to check out the Village Museum. When we voiced our concerns to the attendant he quickly produced a complaint book which indicated we were not the first to protest over these excessive charges.

We have read that Dar es Salaam wants to become more than a transit point for tourists. We stayed an extra day so we could see what it had to offer; our limited experience would suggest, ‘not much’.

Mr. Pazzi picked us up at the location and at the exact time we had arranged. We had him drive us to the ferry terminal where he gave us advice and kept the touts at bay while we purchased tickets for tomorrow.

We asked him to take us to a guidebook recommended restaurant. He told us it had closed but confirmed another was still operating and was "very nice". He agreed to take us there. It was a little surprising therefore, when he returned us to the hotel. "We thought you were taking us to the restaurant, Mr. Pazzi." He explained the restaurant didn’t open for another couple of hours. Dinner restaurants in Dar es Salaam have later hours.

We were too tired and too hungry to wait, so we made arrangements with Mr. Pazzi to take us to the ferry in the morning, had a light dinner at the hotel’s garden restaurant before calling it a night.  

July 26

Mr Pazzi met us as agreed. Before we parted company at the ferry terminal we made arrangements with him to pick us up at the ferry on the 29th.   You can arrange your own pickup with Mr. Pazzi by calling Dial-A-Cab at 0713-351-052.

  
continue to Zanzibar ...

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