16.04.2009 - 18.04.2009
And so to Dar (of the '-es-Salaam' variety). Which I loved. Although i'm not a true big city person like some, I have always enjoyed being in cities: especially those which are proper, lived in, energetic and slightly chaotic. And for someone who has spent the past 7months on a boat, an island (population 4008), in the desert and assorted middle of nowhere places – plus Lusaka which doesn't really count – arriving in Dar, a real city, was wonderful.
I can't say that we actually did that much in Dar: rather, we completed a few chores (woohoo! the parcel has finally been sent) and just spent some time wandering. The old city of Dar is not actually that old, and doesn't even really contain any of the narrow winding streets and alleyways that I love. But what it was was a condensed semi-grid of constant action, bustle, sound and smells. Jamestown it isn't, and I was in city heaven. Such exotic extravagances as shops were viewed, and, inevitably, searches for specific Ice-cream parlours undertaken. We even got the fun of having 2 electricity transformers explode near us: One of which, just outside our hotel around midnight, went on for 30mins in a veritable display of sparks, flashes and big bangs. Not good for those with a nervous disposition.
And perhaps of even more relevance, there was Indian food. Good Indian food. And lots of it.
I almost feel like I am being back in the real world. Then, in a not so good way, that was confirmed to me. A couple of days after we left for the second time, a munitions dump in the city blew up causing all sorts of chaos, and making the city and its inhabitants extremely jittery as it remembered the terrorist attack of 1998.