Final Day – March 6; Dar es Salaam; museums, markets

 

thumb_IMG_0974_1024I left Mbeya on the 9 a.m. flight for Dar Es Salaam. The rest of the Moravian faculty were already there. They head for Zanzibar tomorrow, but they let me put my luggage in one of their rooms and three of us spent the day together. Dar Es Salaam is a major, modern city, but it is still distinctly African. We ate lunch in the hotel and then went to the National Museum. It took only an hour to see the exhibits. I think the most fascinating exhibit for me was the history of prehistoric (is that an oxymoron) art in Africa, especially the petroglyphs. It was mainly pictures and interpretative panels, but some of the art was quite extraordinary and very ancient. Humans are artists, and the notion that realistic depiction came with later “civilized” art is disproven by these cave paintings and carvings. The animals looked like they could come off of the wall. They also had artifacts from the 1998 bombing of the US embassy by Al-Qaida. Very disturbing, especially when you consider what came after that nightmare.

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Then our taxi driver took us to the main market in Dar Es Salaam. Unlike the Medina in Marrakesh, this was not a tourist market. The taxi driver accompanied us – I think to help protect us. It looked like you could buy anything from produce to water pumps to clothing. It was fascinating and chaotic, but there was nothing I wanted to buy. We did get four glasses of fresh sugar cane juice seasoned with lemon and ginger. The additional flavors really made it refreshing and it was ice cold. I know that my doctor warned me about bacteria in ice, but it was so good to have a truly cold beverage.

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Dar Es Salaam is very hot and humid, especially after being in the highlands. And I was quite sweaty after our quick tour of the city. So we went up to the rooftop bar and enjoyed a gin and tonic while looking out on the Indian Ocean. There was a lovely breeze. We talked about campus politics, Donald Trump, colonialism, Orientalism, international travel, and a host of other topics. We teach on the same campus but never have time to have free ranging conversations like this. It is nice to work with intelligent and ethically engaged colleagues. Then Akbar graciously allowed me to use the shower in his room and change into clean clothing for the return trip. I took the hotel shuttle to the airport and am now waiting to check in for my overnight flight. I am actually sitting in a little restaurant desperately waiting for my 7-up and chicken sandwich since lunch was long ago and the night is long.

I’ve been away from home for a long time. New furniture arrived while I was away, so home does not even look the same. I’ve missed my family, my students, and my friends, and I’m eager for some American food. But I’m also a little sad to be leaving Africa. I was so nervous about this trip and did not know what to expect. I certainly never thought that I would such good friends. The natural beauty of this country is awe-inspiring, but the people are even more wonderful. I’ve been invited to come back to TEKU and MTHECO in August 2018, and I hope I am able to make the trip. If God is willing, as they say. But my immediate plans is to have dinner. Fast Food is not an African concept!

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