I think I’ve been away from this blog for too long. How’s ya’ll? Ok, ok. Let me get to the point. I have finished my program in A-town (Arusha) and left there on Sunday for Dar es Salaam, where I’m currently at. I climbed Mt. Kili on Friday – amazing experience, I tell you. Tough as hell but I’m glad I did it. I know 3km climb isn’t much but someone like me who has never hiked, much less than climbed mountains, it is a pretty good accomplishment. I was particularly surprised to see the entire first (and second) level of the mountain very forest, almost jungle-like. Thankfully, there are no wild (if any) animals; just few birds in the first kilometer or so, then it is plants and trees – very beautiful indeed. We started our climb late so when we got to the first level we didn’t have much time to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery around and had to get down just as quickly. Some locations are very steep, while other places are surprisingly near-flat ground. As the first two levels (3 and 5 kilometers, respectively) of the mountain consist entirely forest, rain is a constant threat to amateur climbers who can easily fall in the slippery surface deprived of sun.
The descent, I think, was more dangerous than the ascent because it is so easy to fall, lose balance, or sprain on the descent – especially the steeper spots. It took us (or I should say me) about 3 and half hours on ascent, while it took me only about 1 hour and 45 minutes to descent. After coming down every part of my body hurt like hell – not unusual, I was told. I think I deserve a few days of R & R in Zanzibar which is exactly what I’ll be doing later this week. A visit to Prison Island that I wasn’t able to make a month ago is in the itinerary this time around. I have never snorkeled before so should I do it now?
The Marangu route of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Maybe it is the jetlag or the new environment. Maybe it is just me old self. Or maybe I just need time to readjust. Three days in Dar es Salaam already and I feel like I’m at home. There is a welcoming and peaceful atmosphere in this city as its name in Arabic suggests. The attitudes of its inhabitants are just as welcoming. What is most impressive about this city is its diversity and tolerance towards different peoples and their faith. Equally impressive is the diversity of the people here: Arabs, Maasai, Swahili people, other African migrants, South Asians (largely from Pakistan), East Asians (dominated by the Chinese). The most common bond between all these people is either religion or commerce.
View from the top - the coast of Tanzania. The visible island is Zanzibar.
Dar es Salaam
Random sky shot
Afternoon traffic jam in Dar. A motorist is angry at a blocking driver.
Islam is the most practiced religion here (all along the coast for that matter) and one can see the influence of Islam very quickly throughout the city. Likewise, commerce is a strong part of this city, often dominated by non-indigenous immigrants like South/East Asians and Somalis. I’m not sure I would classify the Arab population (locally known as ‘mwarabu’ – the bantuitized word for Arab) here as ‘non-indigenous’ people since they have been here since at least the 13th century. A large population of mixed people also exist here. What I’m surprised not to see here is the European population that colonized Tanzania. However, in the interior of the country I suspect there are still a remnants of colonial descendants – mostly the large estate owners.
Perhaps everything I’ve written here is b.s. but I’m not claiming my observation to be based on academia anyway.