Monday, 9 November 2009

Driving to Dar

We had a two day drive to get to Dar Es Salem – the capital city of Tanzania. The drive itself took us through the bustling town of Arusha, by the cloud covered peak of Kilimanjaro and the small town of Moshi, and onwards through the foothills of the Usambara Mountain range. Behind us were the wide dry plains of Northern Tanzania that had yet to receive rains, but as we travelled south the countryside became greener and the atmosphere more humid. Whilst the rains had been late, at least they had arrived here. The ground was redder, thin shoots of green had begun to sprout and dark clouds brewed with the promise of more rain.

On the outskirts of Dar, the countryside changed again. In amongst the banana plantations, fields and gardens, a peppering of gaudy mansions and large estates – the evidence of those who’d been successful in life. The road continued into town and the mansions were abruptly replaced by the typical corrugated roofs and condensed housing of the shanty towns that lie on the outskirts of the city. A small stream filled with rubbish, debris and sewage ran by the small ramshackle huts where children played and out of work adults sat.

The Dala Dalas (small minibuses crammed with people) are king here. Like ants, they’re everywhere, their horns blaring, people yelling, men clinging on from any available hand hold. The roads are at a standstill, it’s sweltering hot, there’s dust everywhere. It can take anything from an hour to eight hours to get through the clogged arteries of the city to the harbor area. Here, mingled with the smell of sweat and fumes, is the powerful scent of fish…and 2pm fish at that! After the heat of the morning, the fish market can knock you for six as you drive past.

We drive onto a large ferry that crosses to the small stretch of sea to the top of the Kigamboni peninsula, we arrive at the Markadi beach camp and here we are imprisoned.

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