Africa- Journal 2: Days in Dar

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Dar es Salaam, Tanzania near the harbor

November 19, 2017

The trip is well under way. My splendid time in Dar es Salaam with the Prosper family has come and gone and I now have found my way to Zanzibar island off the Tanzanian coast.

Dar es Salaam (“Dar” for short) was even better than I anticipated. Although the city itself wasn’t honestly anything to fall in love with, it was the company that made the experience one to remember. My stay was with a Tanzania family, of whom are the family of a Tanzanian coworker. I quickly found that they were such great hosts right from the start. Even though I arrived at 3 a.m., they insisted on picking me up from the airport. Amani, the bother of my coworker, made me feel welcomed straight away and got us home so we could both get some rest before the day, because, after all, I have been traveling for the last 21 hours and he was up way earlier than is alarm clock would be set on a Saturday morning as I can pretty safely assume. After a struggled night sleep trying to cope with the jet lag, I awoke and found a hearty breakfast was in the making. Eggs from hens in the coop out back, mangoes from a tree also just steps away, and some of the freshest pineapple I’ve had…and tons of it! I found out quickly that I usually underestimate how much I can eat.

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With the Prosper family

As much as I’d like to just stay and eat all day, I had to the see the city and Amani helped me do just that. After a bajaj (the three-wheeled, compact taxi vehicle, elsewhere as an auto-rickshaw, trike, or tuk-tuk) ride to the bus station and the bus to the city center, we bought a ticket for the Kilimanjaro Ferry ticket to Zanzibar for use the next day. We continued walking to enjoy the path along the harbor glancing by some colonial government buildings such as for the Tanzanian Court of Appeals, their High Court, and the Surveying and Mapping Department, and others. Fortunately walking was very welcomed after than long, seat-ridden flight because we continued to walk and walk that, seeing the National Museum of Tanzania and the fish market at the harbor – even tasting the catch! Amani bought an entire bag full of whole, seasoned, fried, small fishes, and had a couple – eyes, fins and all – and to my surprise, they weren’t half bad!

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The vendor selling fishes that we bought and ate from
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Auction at the fish market, Dar es Salaam

Now that we’ve satisfied our appetite for the moment, we set out on the ferry across the harbor. The ships that file into the harbor are humongous and stacked tall of shipping containers laid one on the other and another. Due to the size of the vessels and the relatively short passage between shores, a cheap ferry runs continuously back and forth during the day. Since it’s a necessity for many locals, rather than a typical tourist attraction, a one-way ticket is a mere Tsh 200 (US$0.10). I wish everything was that inexpensive! After capturing some view of the beach and the harbor, we set back to the side from where we once came.

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Vehicles and pedestrians unloading off the harbor ferry

The day was winding down, and with the thirst derived from being in the hot sun of the late southern hemisphere spring in Tanzania, I was starting to feel a bit out of it. But we persevered, heading to one last museum on the way home. It was the Village Museum, as it’s called, which was a site that recreated tribal huts of the different ethnic groups in all corners of the country. We got to walk in, look at recreated tools, and feel like tribesmen for an hour or two.

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Hut at the Village Museum in Dar es Salaam

No matter what kind of structure you reside in, you need and eat and we once again have another filling meal of the wonderful cooking and preparation by Amani’s mother. After dinner, full and having no need to eat, we go to a local societal club where we, can you guess it?… ate more food. This time hunks of goat, chicken, grilled banana are on the menu and, of course, beer. Though the night started as a chill few beers and food over a projection of the football (soccer) match, it turned into an active night on the town at a couple of the city’s hot spots. It was a welcomed glimpse into local night life as there were few to no foreigners at these places besides myself, which I much enjoy. The night faded into early morning and by the time our bajaj took us home we ran into Amani’s father who was starting his day while ours was ending. 10 a.m. arrived, and I reluctantly got up – I had a ferry to catch.

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Just some of the spread by Mrs. Prosper. There was more before I had something to do with it.

Africa- Journal 1: The Start of the Trip of a Lifetime

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Some of the many elephants spotted on safari. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

November 17, 2017

When it comes to epic trips to do in one’s lifetime, an African safari is certainly one that comes to my mind. It’s right up there with walking climbing the Great Wall of China or gazing upon the northern lights. Since I have a seemingly automatic and natural allure to these bucket list trips, I’m embarking on this very African extravaganza. Safari isn’t the only thing on my mind that this vast, beautiful, chaotic continent has to offer. Although I have done extensive research and planning into this trip, I can’t wait to see it all unfold over these next three and a half weeks, and share my experiences during and following my journeys.

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Some of the fun to come – Atop Victoria Falls, on Livingstone Island, Zambia

As a write, I’m sitting at the bar in the international transfers terminal at the Istanbul Ataturk International Airport. At this point I’m still flush with excitement and anticipation of arriving in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, my first stop along the trip. So far it’s been a comfortable journey. It all got going with a great send-off from my Uncle Bob and Aunt Kim over some drinks at a brewery near the Chicago O’Hare airport. They’re the best hosts around and really know how to help kick the trip off right. Soon enough after, I whisked myself away through the airport security and the journey had officially begun.

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Boarding a jet bound for Nairobi bound for Kigali.

Although the flight was standard with no surprises, I got the same thrill that I have every time I fly, particularly abroad. To me, there’s an incredible sensation about the moment when an airplane’s jets engage, propelling the vessel into motion, accelerating and accelerating to the point where suddenly feel a sudden lift in combination with the quick disappearance of the rumbling of the tire on the runway pavement, followed by the inclination of the plane’s nose towards the sky. There’s just something about disconnecting from where you were and knowing the next time you touch the ground is going to be somewhere totally different. This feeling is the strongest the moment I leave US soil because there’s something about being in a foreign land, and when the tether is severed for weeks at a time, it’s strangely liberating.

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There’s something about reaching new nations. On Victoria Falls Bridge at the Zambian border.

Well my beer is finished here in Istanbul and I have the next leg of my transit to catch. Here we go!