A Gator in Dar Es Salaam

"Ex Africa semper aliquid novi - Out of Africa always something new" -Pliny the Elder

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Mambo! Today after 4 hours of Swahili, we went to Mwenge Market for the first time. It is the closest market to UDSM and the first time I have been to an African market. You can get pretty much anything you would ever need and more. Many American things are availabe (Mach 3 Razors, Nivea, etc). The Art Market was incredible with tons of wooden carvings, paintings, and all other forms of art. To get there we rode the Dolla Dollas for the first time. They are probably a little bit bigger than a mini van, and about 20-25 people ride in them. It costs TSH 150 to get to Mwenge, which is 15 Cents. There is a driver and a money man, and when it is time to pay he clanks the coins in his hands. Dolla Dollas are the best way to get around Dar and Im sure I will be riding them a lot more. Driving here is an adventure. There are no lanes and at times it seems as though you are about to hit oncoming traffic. A girl from another program here was telling me that a Dolla Dolla she was in hit a man (see Dane Cook for the hilarity of that) and that he got up and was ok. The market was pretty dirty and your not supposed to get food there for that reason. We all stand out as Marekani. Today a monkey (these ones are called Vervits, but monkeys all the same) was up on the 4th floor where we stay eating a banana peel, they are really hilarious. There are lots of baby monkeys and they ride underneath the mothers when they run from place to place. It looks like they are about to start talking to you at any moment, but not to be. Last night I went up on the roof of our building. It is pretty amazing. You can see the whole sky and most of Dar es Salaam from up there, probably 20 miles in all directions. Also we learned today the Swahili and most of African way of keeping time. You add 6 hours to whatever time it is here. It makes a lot of sense. Since 7 A.M. is the first full hour of daylight it is 1:00 and and since 7 p.m. is the first hour of darkness it is 1:00. 12 hours of daytime, 12 hours of night time. It is 4:15 p.m. here so that would make it 10:15. Just over an hour and half left in the first 12 hours of the day.

Kwa Neireini,