Dar es Salaam

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Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania (2.5 million people) and its name translates to “home of peace”. Although not our favourite port, we did enjoy a good three hour walk around the area close to the port with new friends from Toronto.

The city lacks a historic centre like Zanzibar, so we hopped off the shuttle at the first stop where we found the post office and took advantage of its internet station. Then we headed for what was listed as a main attraction on the map – the Botanical Garden. This was a decidedly sad looking “garden” – more like a small, scruffy park – with no information on the various specimens and a large number of plants in pots which were either waiting to be planted or readied for sale, we couldn’t tell which. Both Gail and I would have liked to find out the name of one tree in particular, shaped like our poplars but with lush, green leaves that totally hide the trunk.

We carried on to the National Museum, skirting around hordes of street vendors – many displaying shoes of all kinds. Although displayed in a relatively primitive style, the museum gave us good insight into the history and cultural aspects of the region. Displays detailing female circumcision and the government’s ongoing AIDS awareness campaign were sobering.

We then walked over to the Presidential palace where I was chastised by a local for taking a picture (which showed only the red roofs over white walls). I had thought that the big sign with a cross over the “P” was no parking – evidently it was no photographs!

As we walked back to the waterfront we enjoyed the colourful mixture of people, some on holiday, enjoying street music and food; others going about their daily business with goods piled high on their heads. Great people watching!

On our return to the port we noticed a huge shipment of UN trucks had arrived, ready to be dispatched….to South Sudan possibly?

Not a place I’d jump to return to, but an interesting stop nonetheless.

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