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Memories of my travels between 1972 and 1982

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

February 2nd: Dar Es Salaam

On February 2nd 1980 I was in Dar Es Salaam.  I arrived in the afternoon after an overnight flight from London.  My previous effort to get to Africa had died in Morocco in 1977.  My idea this time was to spend three months or so in East Africa, starting in Tanzania and ending up in Nairobi and seeing what I could in between.   The border between Kenya and Tanzania was firmly closed when I left, Zaire was a possibility depending on finding a visa and Uganda seemed to be open again after the overthrow of Idi Amin by the Tanzanian army nine months previously.

The flight to Addis Ababa was fine, filling up after Rome.  I'd been drinking champagne with friends in London and drank brandy with a friendly Italian businessman which helped me sleep.  When it got light we were still over the desert, but then we flew over Lake Tana, blue and muddy below, with the Nile Falls visible.  Ethiopia looked beautiful as it got greener, more rectangular fields and circular compounds and hayricks and huts.  At the stopover in Addis, the air was clear and warm and invigorating after London in early February.  Inside I sat briefly at the bar with a Swiss man working in Washington with the World Bank on  a two day visit.  He talked of fear and suspicion among the people, but he had a hatred of communism and all things red.  Our flight was delayed and I and everyone else seemed increasingly nervous; it was a most unfriendly couple of hours.  I gathered later that there had been hijacking incidents recently.  Kenya seemed more developed from the air, roads or straight tracks everywhere; one large pond or small lake had some animals visible.  Mount Kenya was clouded over and there was a storm over Zanzibar and the blue coral sea as we came down to land from over the ocean.  Most of the other tourists got swept into their rich hotels and I got a booking for the Hotel Mboye from the information clerk, very friendly but after my black market money.  I took the airport bus with a couple of my age American missionaries from Nairobi, who were convinced that the bus was going a long way round just to "shuck" them.  At the Mboye there was a room with a fan and a manager who brought me beer and hassled me to change money.

The next day I walked around, liking the African town around the Kariakoo market rather than the Indian town which took up much of the centre.  The day after, with my bus ticket to Arusha bought, I hung about near the ocean front, liking the sea breeze, the gulls and Nyerere's peacocks.

The bus journey was all night through heavy rain at first when the traffic got jammed, and then the road got worse when we started to climb.  I woke up to the sight of ostriches on the plain and ahead of us was Mount Kilimanjaro.  I transferred to a local bus with some of my money given back, as myself and a Swiss nurse were the only passengers travelling on to Arusha.  The new bus was full of farmers and some Maasai.  The countryside seemed beautiful especially the mountains and the coffee estates with rivers in between, and Maasai groups with their fine cattle and donkeys.  

View Dar in a larger map

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