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!
We’ve reached Watamu! I’m not sure if it actually means “sweet people” or not, but in Swahili tamu means sweet, and the plural form of people is “wa” — like mkenya and wakenya for Kenyan/Kenyans.
I’ve been here before with Sara and some other volunteers. It’s a great little touristy beach getaway with lots of Italians. You can tell there’s an Italian influence because the tuk-tuks say “Piaggio”, the kids shout, “Ciao!”, and there is a gelato shop on every corner. I’ve been longing for gelato ever since we left Nairobi so we plan on eating it at least twice a day. We’ve also been eating a lot of mangos (there is a great apple–mango hybrid that is really delicious and cheap). Randi swore left and right that she didn’t like fresh mango but I guess they don’t make ’em like this in the US. Karibu Kenya (welcome to Kenya)!
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.