Non-stop in Tanzania







Chapter 1. The beginning

(The part from "Non-stop in Tanzania")


The time passed so slowly and turned into my travel notes: under a baobab in an African village, and on a roadside among fields, and in a tent listening to screams of hyenas, and among sleeping women on the floor of a ferry, and on a beach of Tanganyika lake among men washing their clothes... A word by word, a page after page, every day my stories told about everything around me, about amazing, incredible, and sometimes dangerous things.

When I checked my luggage at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow city I answered the question "Where are you going?":

- To Dar es Salaam.

- Dar es Salaam? Where is it?

- In Tanzania, - I said.

It does not matter to me, do you know, my dear reader, where Tanzania is. I think you know if you picked up this book. The main thing is that the pilots of my plane should know it because my flight is from Istanbul to Dar es Salaam.

It was my first time in Istanbul, I had a long transfer, a lot of free time, a hotel room for one night provided by the Turkish airline, so I enjoyed walking around the city with great pleasure, but this is another story...

So, at night my plane landed in Africa.

Immediately after arrival, I realized that this trip would be special, not the same as all the previous ones.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to keep all the interesting things in my memory, but I had a mobile phone where I started to compose this story typing it letter by letter. I knew that I had a lot of time ahead of me - two whole months of adventure, when every hour is full of events, new acquaintances, a fight for survival.

As always in a new country, I tried to experience culture, everyday life of local people, live as they live, move around the country the same way, and know what problems they are worried about. More often than not local people don't speak English here: ordinary people don't need it - they live away from tourist places. But every year more and more travelers from all over the world wander into hard-to-reach villages, and Europeans have been working here for many years. It is easier for all these Europeans and Americans to learn the local language than to find someone who understands English. So I learned the necessary minimum of words in Swahili, so as not to get lost in any situation. I could ask the way, ask for a bottle of water in the store, answer "well" to the question "how are you?". And I knew if nearby someone says something and mentions the word "mzungu" — this is means that this person is talking about me. Because I'm mzungu, it means «white». Therefore, there is especially close attention to my person, especially insistent offers to help in Africa, because to hide and dissolve among the population is impossible for me even if I really wanted to. And when everyone spoke Swahili, I remembered the words faster, especially when they are written in Latin letters. Very soon after arriving in Tanzania, I learned a couple of dozen more words to express my desires more clearly. Or, on the contrary, reluctance.

Time passes slowly in Africa, allowing you to learn more about African life, making you understand the soul of the country more deeply, to clearly grasp its quite different pulse, not the same as in Europe and Asia. The day comes to an end, the sun sets. A new day begins with the last rays of the sun, and the countdown of East African time begins too.

Often my stories appeared even in the gloom of a rapidly receding night. While I was waiting for a passing car, a train, a ferry, a new wheel for a broken bus, every free minute I tried to write down what I had seen and experienced.

My book was born this way.

All characters of my book are real, all names are fictional.

It would be more effective to start my story with the words: "I woke up. The bright light is coming through the window, slowly crepting up to my face. It made me open my eyes". Something like this. But it was not so. I just woke up. There is was no bright light in my room, the direct sunlight could not enter inside at any time of a day because a window faced a narrow street surrounded by skyscrapers (according to local view of tall buildings, of course). Therefore, I will start my story a little differently.

I woke up. White walls, white ceiling, barely audible noise on the street. Lying on my bed, I thought:

"Where I am? Where I am this time? In which country? On which continent? Where did I come this morning?"

I tried to remember, but I could not. Apparently, it was impossible to determine my location on the Earth after a sleepless night. It's a lapse of my memory.

It was very hot.

But little by little my brain regained the ability to react normally to the surrounding reality. In less than a few seconds, I remembered everything: my flight, and the night at the airport, and my way to the hotel.

Usually I travel around Asia. But this time... Not... not Asia.

I was on another continent.

I was in Africa.

And skyscrapers obscuring the sun from me are just ten-story houses in largest city of Tanzania - Dar es Salaam!

And just a few hours ago ...

This is an African night — real, deep, black and hot. It was a little strange to feel the warm night air in December after the cool Moscow. But more unusual for me it was to see the arrival hall outside, without windows and doors, in the open air. Closed souvenir shops, ATMs, a board with a list of landing aircraft is all I saw when I got out of the airport door. One person from the travel agency did not sleep and looked at me. The lack of walls and doors in the arrival hall of the airport surprised me a bit because I was too sleepy. But I must wait for the morning.

The man in the exchange office was bored, and the travel agency employee left his small office, offering me a safari... But after a long flight and a sleepless night I wanted to throw my backpack on the floor, and to throw my body on any horizontal surface somewhere in a far corner of the airport, and to disconnect fifteen minutes. But it was impossible there. A dozen meeting people and a several ATMs is the whole arrival hall at Julius Nyerere International Airport. I barely found a bench hidden behind a billboard with a giraffe. At once people ran up, sat near me. I could not lie down and fall asleep. It was the fourth hour of the night in the dark Dar es Salaam.

However, noone will allow a white girl to just relax and fall asleep. Taxi drivers came to me and ask me about a taxi. I willingly answered their questions about me - where I am from, - and I said I don't need a taxi. They smiled and left me. They was kind people, caring and attentive. In ten minutes everyone around me already knows who I am, and what I'm doing at the airport, and everyone pass by me without questions. Finally, I can take a nap.

But barely I closed my eyes ...

A European-looking woman asked me: "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" I answer her I don't speak German. Then she asked me in English what is flight I had flown. I said her the number of my flight. She exclaimed: "Oh mein Gott", and ran away somewhere. She was supposed to meet friends who flew the same flight from Istanbul to Dar es Salaam. I remembered that the aircraft had a stop in Nairobi city. Of course, it was announced something in the cabin of the aircraft, but, apparently, not all passengers realized that the landing was in Keniya, not in Tanzania. Well... It's nothing surprising.

I changed my position to a more comfortable one, lounging around in the vacant space, hoping to at least briefly turn off my tired brain. A guy with African braids came up to me and asked me: "Are you from Sweden?" He should meet a lady from Sweden. I said: "I'm not from Sweden". And he left me.

Two Africans sat on the bench near me. Then they left, and two African women sat in this place. Тhey were dressed in colored dresses and scarves of the same color. I can't take a nap, so I looked at people around me. By the way, the departure hall with benches is behind ATMs, ten meters from the arrival hall. There are several restaurants on the second floor of the airport. But I did not want to go there especially with my backpack. I wanted only... only to take a nap.

Dar-es-Salaam means "home of the world". This is a translation from Arabic. Dar-es-Salaam is the most interesting metropolis of Tanzania, the richest and most populated. The city is located on the shores of the Indian Ocean, so it's no surprise that Dar-es-Salaam is full of beaches for every taste. But you need to remember about the ebb in the middle of the day, and it is possible to swim only in the evening or in the morning.

I could stay for a few days in Dar-es-Salaam, but I wanted to go deeper into the country - to wild animals and tribes, and especially I wanted to see the famous mountain and the snow on its summit. Kilimanjaro! Kilimanjaro was waiting for me! These things seemed to me the main reason to visit Tanzania.

The first day I thought so walking on the streets of Dar-es-Salaam. Running from an air-conditioned office to an air-conditioned café, I reached the dock with ferries to islands and to another part of the city. These ferries have the same function as the bridge in other countries: for moving people and cars to another part of the city. There is no bridge in Dar-es-Salaam. Well, the Chinese engineers didn't have time to build it. They construct other roads.

"Jambo! Habari?" - I hear suddenly.

"Nzuri sana. Asante", - I answer without blinking an eye.

Tanzanian man smiles and holds out his hand to me. I press it.

"Unasema Kiswahili?" - he continues his inquiries.

"Kidogo", - I answer honestly.

And this is translation into English:

"Hi! How are you?"

"Perfectly. Thank you".

"Do you speak Swahili?"

"A little".

Despite the heat, I didn't want to leave the streets. Everything around me was new and interesting: people, their culture, their language. The famous Ocean road stretched along the coast, luring me with amazing views of the ocean, even at low tide. People wandered on the shore and watched curiously at the mzungu - so they call all white people- Europeans and Americans.

A hunger woke me up after midnight, but all markets and restaurants in Dar-es-Salaam had closed. Is this really going to stop a hungry traveler? Everyone can eat right on the street a fried potatoes. It's simply to find this place. Usually local people are near a kitchen at night. Everyone can buy fried potatoes with fried eggs for very symbolic amount directly from a frying pan and try it on a street. A chipy mayai is the name of this African fast food. A mobile cart, a specific mobile kitchen is the only source of food on the night streets of Dar-es-Salaam.

A new hot african day has come. It is a day, not a morning, because the sun rises quickly on the equator, and a morning is just a few minutes.

I must go to the train station for a ticket. Taxi drivers seemed to have conspired again: they didn't want to lower the price. Such a phenomenon as daladala (in the exact translation from Swahili means "marshrutka" in Russian and "minibus" in English) is seemed too exotic thing for me. Alas! It's not Asia, not India and certainly not Nepal, where a foreign tourist can bargain. In Africa an every taxi driver knows his own worth, and especially knows the price for his services, and he does not agree to get less shillings than he demanded. I had no choice! Only when my money began to melt (because of the taxi cost) I had to think of a daladala. Maybe a daladala is not so scary, maybe a daladala is just normal local bus? As it turned out later, prices for daladala exceeded all my expectations. The trip cost was so little that even small change coins were solding at the stops! People didn't use this coins anywhere else in the country, except in city buses.

By the way local buses were made in China, even inscriptions on the buse doors were written in Chinese. But I didn't see tourists from China. It's strange as it may seem. However, there are many chinese engineers are actively and very successfully fighting African impassable roads. They build roads, including railways in Tanzania.



( " , -". Non-stop in Tanzania)


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