29th October 2010
We are leaving at 5am today, which means getting up at 4am, and packing and dismantling a tent in the dark and in the cold (for the first time, the tent is wet with dew.)
AH comes with me to the longdrop toilet cubicle and shines his torch not just on the toilet seat, but also behind the toilet and under the roof, casually remarking that this is where snakes like to hide.
Eeks, thanks for telling me! I am glad I was blissfully unaware of this on my two previous night visits to the bog. (All cubicles have solar lights, but they have not been working.)
We only have hot drinks and rusks for breakfast.
It's still dark outside and huddled in my sleeping bag, I fall into an uneasy sleep as the truck rattles and bumps along.
When the sun rises, we are back in Africa: Baobab and Acacia trees, baboons, even a Masaai woman crosses our path.
We get temporarily stuck on a mountain road (road works...), which means that we are only entering Dar just before rush hour.
AH does not recognize anything until we reach the fish market. It reeks of fish. The smell is nauseating in the humid afternoon heat. Only the desperate would buy a produce that has already been left out in the sun for a whole day.
It is more bearable to be on the road than high up in the truck, and so I join the others for a walk. I've by now become quite proficient in climbing down the ladder at the side of the truck, even when the „proper“ staircase has not been pulled out.
It's fascinating to study what women are wearing. There are only a few women in Western clothes, and even fewer in jeans.
I see a woman in an Arab Muslim-style outfit. The black gauze is see-through in places, so the outfit is somehow more revealing than many Western outfits.
Even fully veiled women manage to look attractive, almost alluring, through their dramatic eye make-up.
People seem to pass each other without paying particular attention to each others' looks. Even our group in shorts and T-shirts does not seem to warrant a second glance, even though I feel a bit underdressed. (I have not seen a single African woman exposing bare legs.)
My second study group are the bikers. It's amazing how much can be carried on a bike. It's not unusual to see 4 sacks of charcoal balanced on the back of a bicycle. I would guess that each sack weighs about 15-20 kg.
Other cyclists have loaded their bikes with wicker baskets - wicker baskets at the back, wicker baskets at both handles - to transport their fruit and veg...
We are queuing for a ferry that carries us across the bay to a more traditional area of Dar and along the coast to our campsite.
Sandy, white beaches, turquoise sea, palm trees swaying in the wind – but the sun is sinking fast, so there is no time to admire a view I know so well from posters advertising holidays in romantic, far-flung places.
And this aint paradise for me. What the posters don't show are the mosquitoes for whom this place is also heaven.
And the strange African plumbing. I find out too late that blue and red knobs are often mixed up and that I should have used the blue knob to have a hot shower!