From Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Seven hours from Madrid and you are smack dab in the middle of the Islamic world.  It hardly looks it from an air traveler’s point of vierw.  Dubai is flooded with oil money and the large modern steel and glass buildings strut out from the coastal landscape as you descend.  The world’s tallest building seems to zig zag its way into the clouds.

Three hours and a $15 quiche for one lunch later we were on our way.  It’s about 5 hours to Dar Es Salaam.  Fortunately we slept a bit along the way.  In my case, I struggled with much pain in the coccyx.  It seems I need a special pillow as not even the ibuprofen worked.

Once at the airport it took an hour to get the visa and $100 each.  Quite expensive for a three day visit.  Fortunately our ride was still waiting as we emerged and we got into a small van, only slightly beat up.  It took another hour to get to the hotel we’d booked.

Along the way people offered a wide variety of goods for sale to the drivers stuck in the traffic.  Women wearing brightly colored dresses carried a root vegetable on their heads, their skull cushioned by a round cloth.  Men carried sporing goods, traffic warning triangles for when you break down, bright plastic watches, and large bags of cashews.  Local buses lumbered in and out of the lanes.  These buses have been around a while.  It’s hot, about 92f/32c and the bus windows are all open.

Our downtown hotel sits on an unpaved street.  We are warmly welcomed, ushered everywhere from the front door to our hotel room.  A gorgeous huge bed is also very welcoming, as is the fully tiled bathroom.  You have to wait for the hot water tank to warm up, but once that is done, it’s a great shower with room for a pony.

Our traveling companions are in the hotel next door.  They have made the trip from Texas, arriving the day before.  We had a very spicy curry, a decent pizza, some tomato soup.  Nary a fried grasshopper in sight.


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