Reality: My last days in Dar were really fun. Ran 5 miles through the city in the blazing Tanzanian heat right on the streets dodging the crazy drivers while my friend’s dad- who does full marathons UP Mt. Kilimanjaro- sets the pace. Add in seeing monkeys on the side of the road, her dad clapping for literally every runner/walker we saw and a sprint at the end= one of the best runs ever! Really had to mentally push myself.
Did a few solo trips on my own using bajajs ( motorbike taxis) and Uber ( yep Uber has made it to Tanzania!), and didn’t get lost even with the language barriers. ( I felt victorious after that!) Only minor crisis was when my cell phone died while I was at the market and couldn’t communicate with the taxi I had called. Found a bookstore to charge my phone in thankfully! In fact it is the taxi drivers who usually become victim to a sudden Swahili lesson, with me the eager student badgering them with language translation questions. My Uber driver Godfrey and I probably only had about 20 common words between us, but human connection transcends language and our attempts at each other’s languages had us both doubled up in laughter and high fiving whenever the other succeeded.
Checked out the national museum of history ( I think some museums here would have been appalled at how items were being preserved, but I still learned a lot!) It was crazy to see the neck cuffs and chains used to connect slaves in the past, and seeing it up close you can see how rough and jagged the edges of the metal were, and that’s something I had never thought of before.
One interesting thing is that the Masai tribe members are often used as guards for buildings and homes in the city due to them being from the warrior tribe, so that was really cool to see men dressed in traditional tribal garb with their walking staffs contrasting with the suits and bright colors of people in typical clothing. After getting my fill of history I had some great veggie sushi on the water and even found a vegetarian/vegan restaurant! Definitely going back there on my flight back out of the city on June.
Butttttt… the reality is my pictures will never do anything justice, both the beautiful things I see and the bad. Though it may not be apparent in my photos, poverty is everywhere and the constant juxtaposition between extreme poverty, wealth, and working class is so constant and sudden it can be almost dizzying. There are beautiful well maintained houses and places and stores but mixed in between are shacks and essentially Lean- to dwellings made of a variety of discarded materials. And there are other places of business that still function normally, but structurally have fell into real, real disrepair. Over half of Tanzania survives on only $1 a day, and in a new political climate unemployment seems to be rising daily and I can really see it in the streets- lots of people just milling around, with no jobs to go to. Even large successful companies are laying off staff and as I visited my friend at work, it was evident- the office desks were half empty and talk of more layoffs was a constant stressor. The dollar is extremely strong right now in comparison to the Tanzanian shilling so while I was able to do fun things, it was sobering to know what I spent on a piece of cake -3,000 shillings equating to a little more than one US dollar- is more than most families will have to spend on food in a day. Here I can get a fancy meal in a restaurant for $7 and a very big house or villa could be rented for about $1800 a month, and apparently prices are dropping as the economy struggles.
Much of Tanzanias streets are lined w tiny shops and stalls and that is where you can find literally anything. A soda, snack, butter, eggs, toilet paper, butcher shop, stationary store, you name it. One thing I experienced in Dar Es Salaam was traffic!!! It took us 2.5 hours to get home on a drive that should have been 30 mins!
A piece of advice I was given before I left was eat everything. I sure have been following that advice! So far I haven’t gotten sick and have even had street food so I think I have a strong stomach or it’s adapted! Sometimes I have to just choose not to think about where my food came from or the kitchen conditions it was made in. 😉 I am very careful about drinking water though. Eggs aren’t refrigerated here which is interesting. It was a shock at first to see crates and crates of eggs sitting in the sun in the markets but now it’s become normal to me. I do love it here! Tanzanian culture is as vibrant as the clothing you see in the streets and I’ve experienced only kindness from the people, along with some curious stares. I’ve made it to Usa River, Arusha and have been here for the past 3 days and soo much has happened!!!
All mostly good! You’ll have to wait for the next blog to hear about it 😉
Much love and stay irie,
For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Literally kept repeating this to myself as I did that 5 mile run through the city! Haha not that I was afraid of the city, but of not being able to complete the run!
Remember we’re God’s children and He can help us do anything anddd give us a spirit of courage. Often times the battle starts in our mind, we first need to convince ourselves we can do it, so instead of even saying “you can do it” I just kept saying “you will do it” because honestly I think we’re aware we have the potential to do so many things we’re just nervous to actually make ourselves do it! Just replacing “can” with “will” helped my brain get past the fatigue.
So if I can complete that run, you can battle whatever challenges the world throws at you today! Just tell yourself you “will”. 🙂