Short But Sweet

My time in Dar es Salaam ended a little too early for my liking. A recap of each day would prove to be mundane – Dar is like home where activities happen, sleeping in is a luxury, and friends are ample. There was not a night I spent at home or a day I stayed in my PJ’s till the mid afternoon, a common occurrence in Victoria BC.

I helped make dinner one night, snacks another, and (re)learnt that the kitchen is not my favourite place in the house. Every morning the house helpers at my host families would ensure that I had chai, had some kind of fruit, if not two, and that I slept well. If I sat in a room without the fan on they would quickly swoop in, turn it on without giving me much choice, inform me that it is not healthy to sit in the heat, and then continue whatever task they were engaged in. It was not until I was on Skype with a friend that I learnt of their ability to speak English, limited but accessible. After that moment our conversations were a mix of English and Kiswahili with grand miscommunications that left each of us assuming we agreed with the other.

My adventures took me to various spots. Without fail, I had to go to Snoopy’s, an ice-cream shop that has more choices then you would think of, the best waffles I have ever tasted, and feels a little like a Canadian shop tucked away in the busyness of Dar es Salaam’s downtown. I may have gone four or so times during my ten day period in Dar.

You can never visit Snoopy's too much!

You can never visit Snoopy’s too much!

Another night, one where I became witness to perhaps the largest prawn I have yet to see, was spent at family friends of my host family. It is currently the month of Ramadan where many Muslims around the globe are fasting, so iftar is a significant time for many. We started our evening with a heavy biting to break fast, then attended prayers, and followed prayers with a mighty meal. I have to admit, I forgot how little people sleep, how much food is consumed, and the sheer joy that people have when constantly engaged in community activities in Dar. There is something to say about collectivism versus individualism.

Iftar time prawns

Iftar meal

This prawn was confused by his fish siblings...or is taking some serious doses of protein!

This prawn was confused by his fish siblings…or is taking some serious doses of protein!

The rest of my time was filled with meetings, returning to Karambezi Cafe with a friend, eating at BBQ Village (they have some pretty amazing seafood dishes), drives along the beach, and so forth. Words cannot do my time there justice. While I feared walking around with my camera, I did take a few pictures with my phone to share with you.

A trip to the town market. Keep your purses close, make friends with the retailers, and act like you know what you are doing. Survival tips from one mzungu to another.

A trip to the town market. Keep your purses close, make friends with the retailers, and act like you know what you are doing. Survival tips from one mzungu to another.

No shortage of fresh, seasonal, and affordable (for many) fruit on these streets

No shortage of fresh, seasonal, and affordable (for many) fruit on these streets

I had not made it to the market during my year living in Dar, it was something I did not need to do or had the opportunity too. My new desire for mass vegetables and fruits had me excited to go to the market. I was expecting something similar to what I saw; what I was not expecting was the live chickens in cages, the respect and care for customers, and the variety of vegetables available. More excitingly, across Dar es Salaam, stores, market stalls, and street vendors have started charging individuals for plastic bags and are encouraging individuals to use reusable bags. Kikapu’s (straw weaved bags) are readily available and perfect for groceries and goods.

Return to old stomping grounds

Return to old stomping grounds

I also made sure to return to my previous lunch spot. Just beside the Aga Khan University – Institute for Educational Development was a mishkaki spot that my peers and I would eat at almost weekly. The meal tasted exactly as I remember it, the seating has not changed, and the staff are the same.

Watching the Aga Khan Club play football

Watching the Aga Khan Club play football

Risking bug bites meant that I also got to watch some friends play football. Here, in East Africa, from my experience, most sporting activities occur later in the day, after sunset and post prayers. Their game did not begin until well after 22:00 as scheduled but no one seems to be thrown by delays here, it simply is what it is.

Now, after my time in Dar es Salaam, I have arrived in Mombasa, Kenya. Upon arriving I connected with my aunt. Only a couple hours later, my cousins, their children, my aunt and uncle, and I went out for a family dinner. It still surprises me that within minutes thirteen of us were able to come together and fill multiple tables at a restaurant. After a good nights rest, I attended my cousins celebration of learning, did a little bit of work for a camp that I am participating in over the next couple months, and then returned home to spend my last night with my aunt and uncle before moving in the residences of the Aga Khan Academy. It has been seven years since I have lived in a residential setting nor have I ever shared a bathroom with more than four other individuals but I am excited for Global Encounters to begin, the ultimate purpose of my trip to East Africa.

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