IMG_1839 Dar can be a very polarizing place to live. Sometimes it’s nothing but love for this amazing country, and other times there’s nothing but sheer frustration for this backwards country. A lot of days, when your tire is flat from running over one too many potholes, and your power is out the half day that you spend waiting for the water delivery to come, and all you want is a jar of kalamata olives so you can make a Greek Salad but NO ONE is selling kalamata olives…well, life is rough, my friends.


But then, every once in awhile, on a perfect weekend afternoon, you will pack your coolers with beer and wine, pick up sandwiches from a local cafe, and head to the Dar Yacht Club. You will hop on a friend’s boat and motor out, away from land and to the vast blue beyond, seemingly away from every day problems and towards something much more blissful. You will use your Google Maps GPS to look for a sand bar that you’ve only seen from above, on the way from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam. You will find aforementioned sandbar, and nickname it, “Sandzibar” (said only in a grand, vibrating baritone voice), then spend a great deal of time debating important matters (where to anchor, whether to re-apply SPF 50 for the 15th time), and hop off to watch the tide recede and slowly uncover an entire island in the middle of the ocean. You will drink said beers and wine, eat said sandwiches. You will be surprised by two kite surfers that have come from the coast of Dar, and be even more surprised when you see that you know them. Gosh, Dar is a small place. They, too, will be surprised that at the end of their journey they have a beer waiting for them. You will talk about everything the way friends do, effortlessly and aimlessly, with topics ranging from ‘the 5 signs of showing love’ to ‘how to be a human bobsled on the dance floor’, all while silently baking under the hot Indian Ocean sun. You will decide that it’s getting too hot, after four short/long hours on the island, and pull up the anchor that was, in the beginning, such an ordeal to anchor. You will head back to shore, but not before taking a long cruise around the bay, stopping to watch the sun set and to take another dip in the ocean. And to polish off that last bottle of white, of course.


So in the end, we must all keep in mind that Dar is really not so bad after all; that for all the insanity in day to day life, there are some major pockets of sanity out here.

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.











Saturday Series / No. 20


11’23’13 >> Barack Obama Drive

Yeah, there’s a Barack Obama Drive. Formerly known as Ocean Drive. Anyway, I took this picture while driving–not the safest thing, I know, but I just could not stop looking out my window towards the ocean. In fact, it’s been like this recently, anytime I drive along the water. The sky really seems different lately, and I’m not exactly sure what it is. It just seems bluer, and more open. Just…bigger.

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.

Out of Town Guests >> Dar es Salaam’s Village Museum

We had our second guest visit us last week, the first to stay longer than 24 hours. One cool thing about having guests in town is that it makes you realize how much you’ve come to learn about your city…it also makes you realize how little you know about your city!



Karibu Dar es Salaam. Welcome to Dar es Salaam. Dar’s a really cool place to live- we get to enjoy the beauty of the Indian Ocean, warm weather year-round, and the convenience of exploring some of the world’s most beautiful sights, which are just a plane ride away. The beauty and fun of this city lies in everyday sights and sounds of Dar life, which means unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot for tourists to do in this city. Plus, public spaces are often dangerous and the midday sun is pretty brutal, keeping walking tours to a minimum.

But there are a few things one can do with visitors in town (besides go to the beach, besides eat really amazing Indian food). The Village Museum, for example.


I had wanted to check out the Village Museum for some time now, almost having gone with Erica a few weeks back when her friend was in town. I figured I’d take Erica’s lead, and take my own out-of-town visitor there as well. After all, a Tanzanian museum, built by the Tanzanians for the Tanzanians was certainly something that could be interesting.

But first, I had to figure out where it was. My online search resulted in four or five different locations across town that all claimed to be the location of the Village Museum. After comparing a few websites, I was able to find a phone number for the museum. When I called, the woman on the other end of the line was interested in telling me everything but the directions I was looking for. “Karibu Dada,” or, “welcome sister,” she kept saying. Would you like to watch the dance? Karibu, Dada. When are you coming? Today? Karibu, Dada. You are trying to find us? Karibu, Dada. Finally, I managed to extract their approximate location, just off Ali Hassan Mwinyi, near the Millennium Towers. Karibu, Dada.



Typical Tanzania. You see, most locations don’t have physical, numerical, addresses here. In our neighborhood, houses on some streets are in numerical order, but these numbers vary from street to street. I’ve heard that the plots on the peninsula were numbered in the order that the houses were built- which is great, if you know when the houses were built….and that’s just in our neighborhood. As far as elsewhere in the city, most physical addresses are marked by landmarks, either a large hotel or popular restaurant. Or large buildings, in the case of the Village Museum. Having an idea of where the Millennium Towers were located (and, hoping there was just one), we set off.

As I was driving down Ali Hassan Mwinyi, I realized that it wouldn’t be as easy to find as I thought. I don’t know why I’m always caught off guard by the lack of signage in this city, but I am. As we neared the Millennium Towers, I slowed to a roll (not too difficult, given the traffic on the road), but couldn’t see anything resembling a museum. It, surprisingly, only took two wrong turns into two wrong parking lots, and asking two guards, before we found where the Village Museum was located. I file that under a win, in my book.


Once we were parked inside the museum gates, we paid our entrance fees- 1000Tsh ($0.62) for me as a resident, and 2000Tsh ($1.25) for our visitor. We decided, since it was mid-morning on a Tuesday, to forgo the 5000Tsh dance performance as well as guide (but if we were there on a busy Saturday afternoon, it’s something that I would recommend).


The Village Museum was interesting, at first. Set up on a large plot of land, the museum serves to educate its visitors on the different tribes in the different regions of Tanzania. So the “museum” was actually an outdoor display of various huts that were native to Tanzania. Stepping into these huts was certainly humbling; to see these bare, utilitarian homes that people live in today. As I peeked into the various mud, clay, and straw huts, I thought about all the things I had–closets full of clothes, running water in three bathrooms, air conditioners in every room–I said a few silent thank-yous to whatever or whoever put me on this earth.



The museum display is pretty impressive- about 20 or so various huts representing various tribes. However at about hut number five, they all started to look eerily similar. And as a person who doesn’t ever fully read museum signs, I was getting bored pretty quickly.


With that said, there were a few interesting points throughout the museum. It was interesting to see the outdoor bathroom in one of the huts. It was entertaining to see how many of Tanzania’s tribes had “senior wife” huts. It was unbelievable the fact that so many others considered cows family members; allowing the animals their own spaces INSIDE of the huts. It was fun to see the various music instruments and cooking utensils used, and interesting to see what kind of door contraptions were used to keep unwanted visitors out.


In the end, it was a fun reason to get out of the house on a Tuesday morning–and as always, I’m down for anything that gets me off the peninsula. I probably wouldn’t go back by myself, but I would probably take our next visitor who stays in Dar again- and probably invest in the dance performance, next time. I’ll also know where it is, and that fact is an accomplishment already around here.

Dar es Salaam Village Museum
Near the Peacock Millennium Towers on Ali Hassan Mwinyi (aka Bagamoyo Road)
If you are heading West on Ali Hassan Mwinyi, away from City Center, the museum entrance is just past the Millennium Towers on the same side of the road.
+255 22 270 0437
I think they are open from 10-6, but as most information is in Tanzania, is subject to change.