The Elephant Cloud


The Elephant Cloud header image 2

Ninapenda Tanzania

November 12th, 2009 by · 1 Comment · Africa, Tanzania

Tanzania womenFrom Paris to Cairo to Dar El Salam, uncertainty ensued at every security check. We were the only passengers without visas or return tickets, and no one knew quite what to do with us. After our Cameroon Visa fiasco, my communication skills were reduced to pleading, begging and almost bribery, Jay’s composure held fest.
Even more disconcerting were the passengers triggering the metal detector as their bags passed unmonitored through the unattended x-ray machine. The guard stood there, waving them through with his riffle.

Daybreak crested the horizon as we finally flew onto the tamarack. My eyes closed, a deep breath. Soon, I would be breathing my childhood dream, East Africa. I had no idea what she looked like, smelled like, tasted like…

Five am and we sailed through immigration with visas in hand, silly grins plastered our faces and like children we slowly peered around the last security gate. A wave of sultry air beckoned us forward, welcoming us to Tanzania. Her warm embrace engulfed my senses, I was giddy.

Surprised by the mellow vibe, which is usually a chaotic assault of taxi drivers and hotel tauts, we spied the one ATM machine and pocketed the Tanzanian shillings covered in elephants and rhinos. Surprised at our own moxie, we negotiated the fixed taxi rate from 50,000 to 15,000 for a ride into Dar El Salam.

Hand out the window, hot air pelted my intoxicated grin, I watched the city stir: Women with jugs atop their heads, make shift homes with aluminum roofs, shopkeepers sweeping dirt floors, children walking to school. Through the rusted white YWCA gates we settled on a tiny room and found the fish market and ferry were short walks. Even shorter is the neighboring YMCA where we sat feasting on french fry omelet and rice with fried whole fish, we washed them down with Serengeti and Kilimanjaro, our first cold beers since leaving the States.

Our boarding house is an elementary school, rather quite lovely with its passé 1970s shades of brown and green, small wooden chairs and tables with etched names. The staff, teachers and children wear uniforms, in fact almost everyone in Tanzania wears a uniform. Often in bright hues with hand stitched logos, some were taken directly off the racks from Goodwill. Finishing breakfast of black tea, watermelon and a dinner roll, a little girl of 5 skips through the corridor, her hair in tight braids and a pink jumper, she smiles and hurries off to class.

One Comment

  • November 18th, 2009 by Joni Kabana

    Send us photos of your room! I want to see where you are living. And more pics of both of you….ok, what else can I ask for….food images!

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