I am always one for road trips. Near and far, count me in. My longest solo trip being from Kampala to Dar-es-Salaam (Dar) via Nairobi. At the time, Kampala to Nairobi wasn’t new to me as I’d made that journey multiple times. I hadn’t been to Tanzania so, the real thrill was the journey from Nairobi to Dar. I had intentions of beating that personal record last year, but oh well, lockdowns have us in a rocking chair.
With an open invitation from a dear friend, I ventured on this maiden journey many years ago. I was eager to drive through all these towns I’d heard and read about: starting at the Namanga border post, to Arusha, Moshi, and finally Dar. All the other towns in-between were new to me.
It was a long, tiring 16-hour bus ride from Nairobi to Dar. I couldn’t wait to jump in the shower and freshen up, but that was before I understood how defeatist the humidity was. But even then, I was yet to comprehend it. It was when I attempted to wear make-up before our morning walk that I finally got the point.
Dar was a breath of fresh air, the allure of the ocean, walks along the beach, insanely delicious food, different fruit selection (from our usual tropical fruits), and the new people. And this is how I experienced Dar:
I had purposely kept my hair unplaited because I wanted a touch of Swahili magic, and voila! The host was gracious enough to hook me up with a skilled neighbourhood hairstylist who did a magnificent job. I flaunted my new look at the beach and the waves were pleased. How do I know? Well, the wind made multiple wild attempts to blow up my skirt in broad daylight!
Next on my list was Kanga shopping. With an endless selection to pick from, I was spoilt for choice. They also make easy gifts as they are lightweight. That wasn’t all on the shopping scene. With thriving tourism, there were lots of locally made crafts to admire and purchase.
The city drives and walks through busy streets with new friends made me come alive. Rows of sea vessels scattered at the port, towering cranes lifting containers of goods delivered and those ready to be shipped off. These were not everyday sights for a landlocked Ugandan girl. My scene is more of container-laden trailers causing mayhem on the highways!
At the time, the trip wouldn’t have been complete without a day at the water park: the excitement of being in the water to combat the day’s heat. I still remember the thrill as we cruised down those water slides. Good times!
We might have crushed a kid’s birthday party! I’ll leave it at that, but only after telling you how it was worth it because of the mouth-watering home-cooked pilau.
The nightlife was a whole other vibe. We got a good dose of it and wouldn’t mind another round on my next trip.
There was no way a trip to Zanzibar was going to escape us. But that’s a story for another day.
I plan to experience Dar and other parts of Tanzania again through the different lens of wisdom I’ve gathered over the years. It will involve; motorcycle rides out of town on the endless stretches of smooth tarmac highways, plenty more beach time, and whatever else tickles my fancy.