Randi and I are back from our East Africa safari but, other than the few pictures we uploaded along the way, we have nothing to show for it! My fancy Nokia camera phone decided to eat all the pictures we took. There are lots of great stories to be told, though, like the day I swapped t-shirts with some dude on the streets of Dar Es Salaam.
It went down like this: Randi and I had decided Dar Es Salaam was way too hot and humid, and we hadn’t had a cup of coffee in a couple of days. We noticed a sign saying “Coffee Lounge” outside a fairly classy building in a nicer part of town (read: probably had air conditioning), so we went inside to investigate. It was there, climbing the stairs, that I saw a dude coming down the stairs with a shirt that said “Niko Juu!!” (slang, literally “I’m up”). He kinda paused when he saw me, and then I told him, “Wee, shirt yako iko poa. Tubadilishane?” (dude, your shirt is cool, let’s trade). To my surprise he took his off immediately and we traded right then and there. So if you see some dude walking around Tanzania with a Ramones shirt it’s probably the same guy. Hopefully he enjoys telling the story as much as I do!
Tumefika salama lakini tumechoka, tumekuwa chafu, na hatujala all day! Dar Es Salaam ilikuwa poa kwasababu tulitembea kila mahali mpaka tulikuwa wenyeji wa huko. Leo ni mwaka mpya halafu tunajienjoy kwa chumba na maembe na maji safi ya kunywa.
We have arrived safely but we are tired, dirty, and we haven’t eaten all day! Dar es Salaam was cool because we walked everywhere until we became locals of that place! Today is New Year’s Eve so we are enjoying ourselves in our hotel room with mangos and clean drinking water.
That’s my bit of prose in Swahili. It’s all most people speak in Tanzania, so I had a lot of practice. I guess now I speak Swahili at the level of like a two-year-old kid (I think my vocabulary needs to improve a bit). I’m glad to be back in Kenya, though, because now I can use English and just the fun parts of Swahili: sheng! We spent our last day in Dar Es Salaam walking around the docks investigating smelly fish and eating fresh mangos by the bay. We happened upon a really nice hotel and decided to go in for a cup of coffee and a slice of mud pie. Marble floors, air conditioning, and everything. Very relaxing!
We treated ourselves to a nice dinner for our first night in Mombasa. I know a few nice places around and I’m kinda sick of being on the road so I’ll probably indulge a bit more. I’m talkin’ coffee and brownies, people! We’ll probably stay here another day or two before we head up the coast to Watamu and Malindi in search of smaller towns and fresh waffle cones full of sweet, sweet, Italian gelato!
On a side note, Mombasa doesn’t seem to be as hot as Dar Es Salaam, despite being more north towards the equator. Whatever the reason, it makes everything much easier — Dar Es Salaam was almost unbearable. For example, from our two days of wandering around the city for hours on end I’ve got a gnarly farmer tan on my neck that will take me years to get rid of.
We’ve arrived in Dar Es Salaam. Dirty, hairy (my face), and with a little girl on our lap (Randi’s lap). Now that I’ve had a shower, a decent night of sleep, and gotten a shave at the local barber, I guess it wasn’t that bad (and actually, the longest ride goes to the thirty-hour Kenya-Ethiopia trip, and worst was probably the four-hours-on-a-bumpy-ass-dirt-road-stop-in-every-village Malindi–Lamu ride Sara and I took in 2007). Our bus from Moshi — the main backpackers’ town near Mt. Kilimanjaro — to Dar Es Salaam took longer than we expected, and by the time we arrived last night it was late and we were tired, hungry, and dehydrated. We must have been not too-bad off (or just in survival mode) because I still managed to navigate us to the YWCA hostel where Anique and I stayed last year. For future reference, out-of-town buses will drop you off at the bus station. As soon as you get out a million taxi dudes will be harassing you. Tell them this: “Wee, bwana, dalla dallas zipo mingi! Siwezi chukua taxi!” (dude, there are so many dalla dallas. I can’t take a taxi!). Just grab your bags and follow the locals outside the bus station and pay your two or three hundred shillings to get to the city center.