Africa! [en]

I’m gonna be in Tanzania for the next few weeks. This is my first time in Sub-Saharan Afrika. Let’s hope that I don’t turn into this mamafat guy.

I’ve arrived almost 2 weeks ago and I’ve been staying with a friend in Kigamboni. That’s a suburb of Dar es Salaam, but separated from the city by a narrow estuary. Let me share my impressions so far…

The vibe reminds me of prior trips to places like Indonesia or Sri Lanka. There’s overlap in climate, landscape, infrastructure, traffic, etc. Tuk-tuks are called bajaji here and they are abundant. So are boda boda.

I have not found my favorite local food yet. Most traditional food is fairly simple, e.g. based on rice, beans, and vegetables. Local fast-food has international influences: chips and grilled meat sticks can be found on every street corner. The latter are called sate, but sadly they come without the sate source seen in Southeast Asia. Baked goods are also common, most notably chapati. There’s a lot’s of fish, too, but that category is still not my favorite. Fresh tropical fruits, that’s more like it.

The people have been very friendly so far. On average, they speak better English than I would have expected. Almost everyone understands a few chunks — enough to negotiate prices and agree on goods or destinations. Many shop keepers, waiters, drivers, etc. know way more than that, and will happily discuss a wide range of topics in English. Everyone who is “well-educated” and/or “upper-class” speaks English fluently.

The locals also seem fairly health-conscious. I hardly ever see people smoke. On the other hand, I do see many people jogging at the beach. Speaking of beaches, this is what the nearby ones look like:

There’s also a couple of beach clubs, who watch their particular section of beach and provide amenities to tourists. However, there’s a surprisingly small number of tourists around. At least when it comes to international tourists. Yes, we’ve met a couple of Europeans at one of the beach clubs, but elsewhere foreigners are pretty rare.

Last week I’ve spent all day walking Kigamboni’s center (nearby the ferry terminal to Dar es Salaam), main road, and beaches without meeting another melanin-deficient person — except for the mannequins of tiny apparel shops that is. (Does nearby Zanzibar really have much better beaches? I guess I’ll find out in a couple of weeks…)

Another thing that I notice is, how much infrastructure work is going on. The Kigamboni Bridge, which connects us to Dar es Salaam, has only been finished 5 years ago. Many highways that connect to it are still under construction. Another big bridge is being build across a bay in Dar es Salaam itself. New long-distance railroad tracks are also in process.

The Dar es Salaam port also looks very busy. Many big container ships are idling off the coast though. More than usually I’m being told. Presumably that has to do with the ongoing worldwide supply-chain issues. There’s also a small shipyard in Kigamboni. (I think it’s run by Sorongoro Marine Ltd.) They are building, repairing, and tearing down ships in a rather improvised manner. No proper docks, just hauling ships on and off the beach. Let’s hope that their front does not fall off.