Painted Walls


Good day from a very rainy and very dreary Monday in Dar. I thought it was dry season…?

Anyway, one of my favorite things about African cityscapes is not the rain, but the usage of hand-painted signs and advertisements on various buildings and walls around town. From advertisements, to store signs, to government-funded AIDS propaganda, African sign painting is a lucrative profession that exists in large cities and small villages alike. While this practice has since been lost in the Western world, here in East Africa they can still be found in most parts of towns and along roadside villages. I’m treasuring the ones I see on my trips in and out of City Centre, as I sense they will soon be lost to the emergence of blinding electronic billboards (I’m looking at you, you eyesore on Ali Hassan Mwinyi Blvd!).

Anyway, here are a few of my favorites from a (much less rainy) recent visit to City Centre. Also called, Pepsi vs. Coke, who wore it best?




Saturday Series / No. 24


12’21’13 >> A baby sea turtle, determined to make its way to the ocean after hatching (South Beach, Dec 2013)

I was out in South Beach, just south of Dar es Salaam city, last weekend, which coincided with a nest of sea turtles ready to hatch. So last Sunday, we watched for a pretty miraculous 15 minutes, observing as 117 little turtles emerge from the sand and scrambled their way into the ocean. They say only one out of every hundred survives- what odds.

Before I get trip’d out on tryptamine…

Here are a few more (okay, ten) photos from an excursion through city centre a couple weeks ago. This city and its people are so photogenic, it’s too bad people are volatile and hostile towards cameras–most of the images I’m taking around town are shot from the hip, for fear of being verbally assaulted by a subject.











Zanaki Street Market >> Market Photos!

I was able to hop on a tour of Dar’s City Center yesterday, led by a friend who was gracious enough to allow me to hitch a ride with her group. It was the best kind of tour, one that pointed out significant landmarks, but more importantly, hit on key points such as: great BBQ street vendors, open-air markets, where to buy milk and butter and cheese (Dairyland, fyi), a good butcher, imported goods for way cheaper than Shoppers, a small alley market where they sell nail polish and hair products…you know, the really important stuff.  IMG_0001bw

The tour not only taught me where to get some basic necessities, but also cemented my opinion that yes, getting off the peninsula is a really great, really beautiful thing.

Now all I have to do is figure out if I can find my way back to these places. While I study Google Maps right now to figure out where I was yesterday and to see if I’ll be able to find my way out there again, here are some pics of Zanaki Street market. Excitingly, it’s pineapple season, and mango season is definitely creeping in, as evident by the three varieties of mangoes at the street market yesterday!

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Yes, the streets of Dar es Salaam really are as bustling and frenzied as they look. It’s amazing.

On Markets, and Understanding a City

“It is an indirect path, of course, strewn with trivial information and accidental, insignificant discoveries. How does this French stove work? Which days is the butcher open and what is the word for tenderloin? Is there a good bakery within walking distance? Where in the world do you park on the day of the farmers’ market, when there is no parking to be had? All of these questions and many more will be answered in time, as the days go by, as total immersion in a place takes on a pleasurable rhythm, knowledge is accrued, and you become, in some small but not insignificant way, at least for a little while, a local.”




“…There was no pleasure greater than the dawning sense of routine, the glimmer of expertise, however narrow, the smallest nod of recognition at the boulangerie.”



These pictures, along with the one from last Saturday, are from my new market discovery. I’ve recently realized that some of the markets in town are tagged in Google maps, so I’m going to try to visit them all during my time here (there are only six or seven that I’ve found so far).

The text above is taken from an article I read recently, called A Kitchen in Provence by Luke Barr, published in the November 2013 issue of Travel + Leisure. I read that first passage and it immediately struck a chord in me, it describes so well how I feel food and travel define experiences in and understanding a city.

Luke Barr’s book, Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste, is lined up next on my reading list. (I’m currently reading A House in the Sky, which is a memoir about a world traveler turned young aspiring journalist who gets kidnapped in Somalia and held hostage for 15 months. I read an excerpt awhile ago somewhere, and it was incredible.)