Thursday, May 5, 2011

Welcome to Dar

       And welcome to the most disconnected from life I have ever felt. Not from life at home, I have internet so I know what's going on there, but from life here in Dar es Salaam. I've been in Tanzania for four days now and only now am I beginning to feel like that's actually where I am. I've been living in a house behind a gate in a wealthier part of the city with a bunch of Canadians, taking taxi's everywhere, shopping in Western style stores, eating at Italian restaurants and sunbathing at fancy beach resorts. This is not how I travel. Usually when I arrive somewhere I grab a map, walk out the front door of my cheap hostel and wander. I go to local markets, barter a little, eat mystery food from carts on the side of the road, maybe get lost a few times. And I always use public transportation like buses, tuk tuks, motorcycle taxis, ferries, etc.  
This is not the Tanzania I came here to see. 
      Because this internship was coordinated through a university I have to play by the university's rules. And their rules say safety first. This means taking taxis everywhere, always in groups of at least two. I am not even allowed to use a tuk tuk (or bajaj as its called here), despite the fact that it would be much faster and cheaper. And no ferries because, oh no, there may be pirates (there are Somalian pirates around, but they've never attacked the ferries). Everything I do has to be planned and approved. Its incredible how hemmed in and typically North American I'm feeling. And I hate this feeling. 
       If things continued this way I may have gone crazy.  But today, for the first time, I walked down the street to a bakery and a fruit stand and it was like being given a day pass from prison. I can't believe how freeing that was, just walking down the street and buying fruit. I realize safety measures are there for a reason, but seriously, I have no more chance of getting mugged on the street or hit by a bus here than anywhere else. Today I also met with Mary and Brian from Women Fund Tanzania and I was reminded of why I'm here. Mary seems like an incredible woman and she is so excited to get this fledgling NGO off the ground. After talking to her I'm excited too and I can't wait to get started and be a part of herstory (as she calls it). We're still waiting for Immigration to approve our resident visas so I can actually start my internship, but on Monday I'll be meeting with them again to go into deeper detail on what my project will entail. I also met two CIDA interns who work in the office just above where I'll be working. It sounds like they are working on really good projects that I can't wait to learn more about. These two have been here longer than me so they also have a lot of really helpful information on life in Dar. 
       Simply getting out of my gated compound and meeting people that live and work here has made me feel so much better. And I'm sure once I start working I will feel more like I'm actually in Tanzania, not just a humid version of North America where I can see Africa through the windows. 


  1. I've never read any of your writing before sis. Excellent ramblings... miss you already:)

  2. Why thank you :) I miss you too!


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