There are a number of reasons why I’ve been putting off this post, the main one being that I was just lazy – one of those dreadful writer’s traits. At the same time I have been really meaning to write this post up, but like I said I was just lazy. It’s quite surprising to my self even, that it’s taken me this long to post something about my trip to Dar-es-Salaam when in actuality it was such a beautiful trip for me.
As with any trip however it had its ups and downs but I think it’s about time I get straight into it before I begin to ramble.
From the very moment I landed to the moment I took off again there was one repetitive remark that spread through the air amongst the group of tourists that arrived with me, which was “It’s just like India…” Let’s just say for argument’s sake that the majority of these people were either from Mumbai or had visited Mumbai (as that’s the only city I’ve visited in India.) Speaking as a person who has only been to India once in my life and only to Mumbai at that, I’d down right disagree with that statement because whilst the narrow roads and the dusty streets may resemble Mumbai the differences very much outweigh the similarities.
Whilst both cities are coastal and relatively similar sizes, there is a significant amount of land in Mumbai that remains poverty stricken and just quite -to put it bluntly – dirty. By this I don’t mean the people, but the streets. There are piles of dirt in ditches and rubbish alongside walkways. Dar-es-Salaam’s street are basically polar opposite. It is one of the cleanest cities I’ve ever been to, and dare I say it without facts and figures, possibly in the running for cleanest in the world (I’ll have to check Wikipedia for some kind of confirmation of that.) The people living in, around and all over Dar-es-Salaam make a big effort to clean the city and keep it that way which is why the air feels so much clearer too.
Again, speaking relatively. Here I mean the general traffic and the hustle and bustle of every day life. If there is one thing anyone from anywhere can agree with, is that Mumbai’s traffic is quite possibly the worst place to be if you’re from a western country. The sounds of constant horning along with absolutely no concern for road or even pedestrian safety for that matter is the source of culture shock for many who visit India. In comparison, Dar-es-Salaam’s drivers are angelic. The driving is less manic and therefore produce less chaos altogether. The horning is almost little to none, they use it for the right reasons which is how one from the western country would like it. The only sounds to be heard in the streets at night are of people talking but even this is quite minimal too.
I’m sure a lot of people won’t be offended when I say that cabbies in Mumbai are quick to pick up on tourist vibes and where they can scam their passengers. They’re not only quick but they’re practically experts at it and anyone new to the country with little experience of these kind of circumstances have little money in their pockets in no time. One of the most noticeable traits in the people of Dar-es-Salaam was their genuinity. With most eastern countries quite often when taking a cab the cab driver declares a high rate and if you’re smart to haggle, you will. You will usually get the price down to a more reasonable rate but sometimes, especially in Mumbai, the rate is not reasonable but it’s lower than before and you’d rather pay and get to your destination than to spend another half hour trying to get another taxi to stop. In Dar-es-Salaam, there are two rates, the high rate they charge you to begin with and the reasonable rate that you eventually get them to take you at. More often we found that the cab driver’s were kindly ( I mean without fuss) willing to take us at the reasonable rate we suggested rather than demanding more than necessary. The most important part was that they didn’t argue with us for more money or get angry if we didn’t give them the amount they wanted, they simply wanted to earn the money and be done with it. There was no real indecency of scamming a person out of their money.
A traveler’s tip.Both cities are hot, well, both countries, Tanzania and India respectively but the heat in Dar-es-Salaam is not so much scorching as it is tiring. It keeps you sweating even when your sitting and consequently considerably thirsty. Mumbai on the other hand has more of a burning sun that leaves your skin peeling when you’re back home.
I’m sure I could find a few more things to compare but I’ll leave it short and sweet. Excluding point 1, generally points 2 and 3 are relative – ofcourse wherever you travel to, being a tourist inevitably poses the risk of being scammed or being robbed so it’s not to say that it won’t happen but I think in comparison to Mumbai it would be less so.
I read in an article that Dar-es-Salaam was one of the least photographed cities and it was quite clear why. The apparent threat of thieves and gangs kept everyone alert at all times, bags hidden, devices stored away, but even on the streets, not a single local was seen carrying a phone in their hand whilst they walked to work or wherever they were going. It wasn’t as shocking as much as it was enlightening for someone who travelled from a much more ‘open and free’ society if you will. Having said that, it is wiser to be wary and keep your phones and purses hidden because if the locals do it too than you’d be foolish not to.
On a final note, I returned home with a nice glowing tan from the Dar-es-Salaam sun and I hate to say it but head lice to remind me of my time sleeping on the floor in a house full of 60 people. Yes. Head lice. I was just as horrified and disgusted as you are now reading this. Believe me, I wanted to cry. I think that just about says enough for you to know to keep your head covered…