Old Corolla’s and New Rafiki’s

Mambo friends! My first two weeks in Dar have been pretty smooth sailing, but I’ll tell you a little bit about my chaotic arrival. After flying a long flight path which took me through Toronto and Ethiopia, I arrived, had my fingerprints and picture taken, then exited the airport to find my taxi driver. He suggested we take the back roads because Dar’s main highway has a lot of traffic during the middle of the day. So we left the pavement behind, and began what should have been just a forty five minute journey to the house where I now live. On these back roads we passed livestock, garbage piles, children running home from school in their navy blue uniforms, and groups of women doing their laundry by hand. Sights that all reminded me of my last time in Africa, in 2012. We then encountered a road block. A large truck used for carrying supplies was stuck, going up a rocky hill, in the middle of the road. My driver sped by the other five cars waiting pass the truck, got out and planned which path he would take. He made me get out of the car, to stand with about thirty male spectators, while he took his 98’ Toyota Corolla down the bumpy, narrow hill. In the process, he broke his right side mirror off, and his left front tire was mostly in the ditch. He was proud of his maneuvering around the truck, and we carried on. After then running out of gas, and having to wait for his friend to bring him money, I made it safely to my destination, a house where I live with four other researchers. Its a cool house. We have three balconies, they laugh at most of my jokes, and we can all fit in one bajaji with our groceries. Since then, I’ve been trying my best to adjust to the 10 hour time difference and the hot and humid weather. Last week I completed almost 15 hours of Swahili lessons, visited Ardhi University where our research is being overseen and got to know to city of Dar Es Salaam. The tremendous income disparity in Dar is unlike anything I have ever seen. Almost 70% of Tanzania live below the international poverty line, yet, the neighbourhood where I live is largely made up of white ocean-front mansions, land rovers, and fancy grocery stores. In one week I ate Sunday brunch, at a revolving restaurant, with unlimited mimosas and also witnessed Dar’s sewage ditches overflow onto the roads – a huge problem when the main method of transport is on the back of a motorbike. Still waiting on our residence visa’s, but once we have them we will be able to plan some trips to Tanzania’s multiple islands, neighbouring Zambia, and the Serengeti. Enjoy Canadian autumn! Someone drink a tea-latte for me.

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