The very first beach I went to in Dar. T and E took me on my third day here to Mbalamwezi beach!
In Austria it is very common to have lemonade with beer… we tried to replicate it with Fanta orange and Kilimanjaro, however apparently it just isn’t the same and I have to go to Austria to try it!
From behind a Bajaj. A Bajaj is a three-wheeled open “car” or buggy. It is usually really fast and cheaper than a taxi but more than a piki-piki (motorbike). I have one particular Bajaj driver that I really love- he has flashing lights and huge speakers so we call him the “Party-Bajaj”. Unfortunately Bajaj have a bad habit (due to their need for speed) to create drama on the road. I recently found on they are a very recent import to Dar and have been here for only a few years but they can be found everywhere. While on the road, Bajaj’s constantly create a third or fourth or fifth lane on what would be a standard 2 lane road in Canada. They also drive on sidewalks because they can fit. They are a lot of fun but there is a lot of risk associated with them as well.
My bed and mosquito net!
T and I’s bedroom! Yes, there is a tree painted on the door of my cupboard!
This is the stadium in Dar. We all went as a large group on a Sunday afternoon. The boys had all committed themselves to being Yanga fans, which means the Young Africans team. Their colours are green and yellow. Yanga was playing Azam and it was a very critical game in the series. I learned that when you purchase tickets, you have to sit in a very particular section based on which team you are supporting.
While we were there an unfortunate incident occurred. A friend named K was sitting at the end of the row next to this local guy. K’s phone was gone rather suddenly and he asked everyone around us to look for it. All the Tanzanian’s knew the guy beside him had taken it and some older men behind us called him out in Swahili and asked to talk to him. The man who had taken the phone gave the phone to this group of older men and then men handed it back to K and they told him that someone “up in the stands” had found it “around”. K was really relieved but it was rather frustrating in general as we had already heard many stories of people being robbed in the stadium. We found out later than the older men threatened to report him to the police if he didn’t return the phone immediately. Both a good and a bad situation…
Yanga v. Azam
This is piece of artwork on top of a house in Bagamoyo. Bagamoyo was a main slave-trade port and it is a really beautiful small town area. It is about 1-1.5 hours outside Dar, but took us over 2.5 hours (typical for me, I have very bad bus-luck). It costs 3000 TSH, or 2 CDN dollars to go there. Bagamoyo is like the Fergus-Elora comparison to Dar as Toronto, I felt really at home and for the first time in a long time I could walk by myself without someone immediately trying to sell me something or calling after me. It was a nice break from Dar, even if it was only for a few days. It’s also close enough that it’s a reasonable weekend trip with it’s beautiful free beaches!
I had a few great moments in the Bagamoyo weekend; one was the 3 hour dinner with T under the stars eating at this great little place. It had a bonfire going during our 5 mini course meal.
I was walking along a side road to the beach and I saw this boy playing around in the soccer field. It was refreshing to see a kid being a kid.
This is an old German cemetery in Bagamoyo. It was stunning but the beauty hides a rather dark history.
Sneaked a photo of a fisherman watching the sea.
Another Seaman photo.
We went to Tanga for a weekend; it is about 5 hours away from Dar. Getting there was 13000 TSH or 8.50 CDN and ended up taking about 6.5 hours, but we were lucky because it took our friends almost 9 and coming back took us 12 hours, but that is another story. Tanga is a beautiful city that is right on the coast. We stayed in a really nice hostel called Ocean View Hotel and it overlooked the water, which looked just like a lake, but was in fact the Indian Ocean. We celebrated my friend E’s birthday there on the Sunday before our long journey home.
Tanga was wonderful but it also made me confront some really difficult things I have been struggling with. I haven’t written about it yet because I am still trying to piece together how I would like to talk about it. The issue of the female body and physical identity is hard topic. There are restrictions and assumptions placed on the body and it is difficult to live within them. As I have talked about in previous posts, the way in which people look at me causes me a lot of confusion. The sexualized nature of many of the looks causes even more. I hope to elaborate about this issue in another post but for now I will give you the brief story of what happened in Tanga.
I was walking along a road with 2 friends. One was shopping, so the other and I stopped to chat. A young boy, about ten, with some friends biked past me. One yelled in English, “DON’T WEAR THAT!”
In that moment, I was stunned into silence. (A rare occasion in my life, promise.)
The boy and his friends about 5 minutes later after depositing their bikes somewhere passed me, to which I responded “Have some respect!” to the boy.
There was no response after that.
Most people reading this now would ask, well, what were you wearing? And my response is that it does not matter what I was wearing. It simply does not. I was comfortable in what I was wearing, and it was not an offensive outfit. I was generally more than not, covered. Regardless of the clothing, which puts a victim-blaming tone on the entire thing, it is truly sad that this child has been conditioned to hate in this way.
It was clearly evident that I am not a part of his religion or culture and as such some tolerance should be expected. I did not run after him and tell him not to wear what he was wearing, which visibly displayed his religious choice*.
(I use choice* liberally because as a child he really doesn’t have a choice…)
This incident is one of an unfortunate many I have experienced, where my body inherently feels wrong despite what I do to either cover it or if I demonstrate my choice not to. It honestly does not seem to matter what I wear in that I will be subject to scrutinization. In a most unfortunate truth, I know for a fact that even women wearing a Burqa (almost the most shapeless covering clothing here) are subject to the sexual assault of men in their minds. In short, it does not matter what I wear or what any woman wears, we still collectively receive the same eye-raping and judgmental behaviour merely for being female.
*I would like to note that this has nothing to do with a specific religion and is in fact 100% non-religiously affiliated. It is not even connected with a country. This example happened in Tanzania, but that does not reduce this to an “African” issue. Rather it is an international issue. These things occur in Canada, sometimes less overtly sometimes equally as overtly. But it still happens. Also note that not all males participate in this, however the vast number that do cause the issues. Additionally, the women that perpetuate the judgment of other women are as bad as the males doing the judgment.
In Tanga I learned a lot about myself.
I have never simultaneously been more proud to be a woman in the strength that it takes to be a woman while hating my body for being of the female form wanting to break free from the burden that is womanliness. There is nothing easy about having the body we have. This struggle seems unfortunately unending.
On the Saturday we had a lazy breakfast (it rained so hard the floor of the outdoor patio we were on flooded, but the water dissipated so fast it was incredible to watch) and then we went on a walk along the coast to the Tanga Library. It was the best library I have seen here. I instantly noticed this one book. Made me smile.
This little girl greeted us as we entered the library and as we exited. She was reading this comics in a local Swahili newspaper. She reminded me of home.
After our library tour, we rented bicycles as a big group. E, T, D, M, S, K, F, and K. We decided to take a bike trip out to the Amboni caves which didn’t seem too far on the map. We free-styled it and just asked people along the way, which they returned with pointing for us to continue going straight. The road was bicycle friendly with a sidewalk area that was perfect for them. I really loved seeing part of Tanga on a bike, it was liberating to be able to explore.
My friend S climbed up to the top of this small entrance to the caves. This is her coming back down.
There was a large school group visiting the caves with us.
Me, in my oh-so-handy-headlamp. My family made so much fun of me for purchasing it but did it ever come in handy. And don’t I look like a total spelunker?
T, D and I took a trip on the bikes down to the harbour area. We weren’t allowed to enter, but this sign made the trip worth it!
I was invited to my friend K’s graduation ceremony. It was really cool to see how they do graduations here. It was a big event and all family was invited. His cousin’s took me on a tour of the university. It is a different university which is on Kigamboni and is actually quite a long ways away from UDSM but it was worth the trip. I got to take a ferry there!
At the graduation it is customary to put the necklaces around the graduated person and so K’s family let me share in the celebrating.
A photo of K and I down on the beach in Kigamboni. Behind us is Dar.
We went to a restaurant on the other side of the island to celebrate. K’s friend Pascal who had also graduated had all his family there and so it was a big celebration. There was non-alcoholic champagne and this cake and then lots of food: pilau, beans, wali, nzdizi, roast, etc.