Thursday was scheduled as a travel day to Dar es Salaam and Anna was joining us. Jim & I met early for breakfast before paying our bills and checking out. I tried to find the sweet waitress we had had on the very first day (when she forgot about us). She had become very attentive during the course of our stay so I was hoping I could leave her a cash gratuity; I had no luck so that was disappointing.
We had a new car and driver from VETA. One of this things that has struck me during my time in Tanzania is the relaxed attitude toward safety. We left Morogoro at exactly 10am for a 193 km drive. Jim was in the front, while Anna & I and all of our luggage were in the back. I had no seat belt which felt awkward – and scary in a few situations! The drive took four-and-a-half hours to complete, with no stops. The road we travelled is a main road for transportation from the Port of Dar es Salaam to the interior, land-locked countries of Africa so there are all varieties of vehicles and pedestrians sharing what we would consider a secondary road.
There was so much to see during the drive as we left the Uluguru Mountains area, travelled through some government plantations, some farm land, and many villages. There are cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians everywhere – and even the odd herd of cattle who tried to head-butt the vehicle! You can see in the photo, the deep ruts in the roads made by so many heavy vehicles driving in the hot sun. I joked with Jim that a prerequisite to traveling to Africa in the future should be that you don’t suffer from motion sickness. Luckily I don’t, but can imagine many people would!
About an hour into our journey, the air conditioner broke down so we had to drive the rest of the way with the windows open in the 34*C heat and humidity. I am having trouble finding words to describe the sights, smells, sounds, and feelings I experienced during that drive. I tried to inconspicuously take some photos out my open window with my phone, so they’re not the best quality.
When we got closer to the city, Anna told me to roll my window up because people would come to our car windows and try to sell things while we were sitting in traffic. The worst was when the small children peered into the windows, rapping on the glass, looking for a handout. Jim sensed my dismay and from the front seat told me to look away.
We eventually made it back to the Oyster Bay Suites in Dar es Salaam, where this journey had started. I joked with Jim that I was ready to kiss the ground after that drive. Anna & the driver were staying at another hotel, so we said goodbye for the evening and made arrangements to meet for our interviews at 8am on Friday. We had three scheduled in Dar.
We went upstairs and got cleaned up, before trying to decide what to do. We were both recovering from the drive, so decided to take a walk over to the beach to check it out and I put my feet in the Indian Ocean for the first time. It was so warm (29*C); not at all refreshing… We had been warned of thieves at the beach, so I had left my phone, money, etc. in the room; Jim had the bare necessities with him.
From there, we stopped at a convenience store to see what they had to offer. We walked back to the area around our hotel and discovered a wonderful courtyard with deli, grocery, and ice cream shop. Everything was about to close for the evening, but we had a quick beer and while we were sipping it, another customer approached us to chat because she heard we were Canadian. We had an interesting conversation until we got kicked out (because they were closing, not because we were rowdy!). We got her information because she identified a number of things as a new business owner that are key in our curriculum.
We were both hungry because we hadn’t had anything substantial since breakfast, so took the recommendation of the concierge at our hotel and grabbed a cab to Shooters, a roof-top restaurant and wine bar for dinner. On the way, Jim had made a comment that the restaurant may be pricey since the employees at the hotel would consider us to be “rich”. I reminded him that, comparatively, we are!
Shooters turned out to be wonderful! There was a beautiful breeze, modern atmosphere, attentive service, delicious food, and happy, energetic vibe. It was a really nice evening. I was happy to be sitting outside where I could see the stars. No St.Patrick’s Day celebrations in Tanzania, but the chairs were green, and we had fun! (I also had wine for the first time since the awful red on the airplane!)
Again, we had an early night with three interviews scheduled for the following morning. With the six-hour time change (daylight-savings), it was easiest for each of us to connect with home before we went to bed. From what I can tell, although they miss me, I’m pretty sure my kids have had more fun on this March Break with Dad than they would have had with me at home!