A Gator in Dar Es Salaam

"Ex Africa semper aliquid novi - Out of Africa always something new" -Pliny the Elder

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Update and Kilwa

Been a while since I've posted, I guess thats my bad and a little bad luck on the internet connection stuff. My Malaria got better pretty quick, but I still hope to avoid getting it again.

Anyways, past couple of weeks I have watched some football including Manchester United's shock exit from European football this season. Watched that on Wednesday night with my roommate and about 10 of his friends in our room, everyone left very sad. But more importantly we had Friday off for Independence Day(December 9, 1961, I believe the Queen was in Dar es Salaam for the ceremony). Myself, Rob, Kevin, Kate, and Mercer decided to trek down to SE Tanzania to visit the historical sites at Kilwa Kisiwani. They were built between the 13th and 15th century and was a the center of an empire that controlled gold as far south as Great Zimbabwe and Ivory as far north as Kenya.

We awoke at 4:30 Thursday to catch the 5:30 bus to Nangurukuru. Our bus line was Classic Mamlo's, which as it turns out is located at the back of the Ubungo Bus Station. At about 6:20 the bus appeared and with a running start got started and we boarded. It would be very difficult to describe this particular traveling experience. We were in the 2nd to back row, generally you want to avoid the back of the bus here, not a great ride. Anyways the bus was probably built in the early 70's. It looked kind of like it was falling apart and this interior showed this as well. As we boarded there was still some smoke in the cabin. The bust was mostly full and then we stopped at Temeka on the outskirts of Dar to pick up the rest of the passengers. I would say this bus was designed to tightly fit about 60 people. That having been said we had about 90-95 on this bus. People sitting on buckets in the aisle, a guy standing virtually on top of me. It was hilarious. As we got going it became apparent that this road down the coast would not be paved, and would be made up of dirt and rocks. Since the bus didnt have any shocks I would compare the hours from 7-1 very much like a rickety roller coaster, except with some holes in the floor and us flying around. Our seat kind of became detached and the guy behind us actually cut his head on something.

As bad as that sounds, it was an adventure and when traveling in Tanzania I have found that no matter what the conditions are the final result is always well worth it. After an hour breakdown we made it to Nangurukuru, and took a cab in to Kilwa Masomo. Kilwa Masomo is a sleepy town situated on a Peninsula on the Indian Ocean. The drive in was beautiful with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean. We checked in to a guesthouse. 9 dollars for a self contained double room about a km from the beach. After a quick nap we headed down to the beach. Not too many people live in Kilwa Masoko(Kilwa of the Market) but they were very friendly and the children loved saying "Bye Bye, Bye Bye" to us, the only english they know I suppose. The beach is situated in a bay with mangrove swamps on one side. There was no one there, except some goats and cattle when we arrived. We had a nice fish dinner and a strange tourist place that doesnt generally serve food to people unless they are staying there. But they were nice and accomodating and we had great fresh fish, without the skeleton, scales, and face as samaki is typically served here.

Awoke Friday morning and headed down to the beach for a nice relaxing day in the sun, reading and swimming. Had a great time just hanging around and we went back in to town to one of only about 3 food places to have some chipsi-mayai. At 7 we headed down to the beach, got lost along the way and ended up walking all through the neighborhood type streets. People were extremely friendly, except for the children, who no doubt are not used to seeing white skinned people. Finally made it to the beach where we built a bonfire and hung out looking at stars and Venus, which is very bright here right now, probably the same wherever you are. Great time there and then headed back to our sleeping quarters. I will add Saturdays excursion tommorow. But it was a blast, ruins, ancient mosques, 2 hour dhow ride in the Indian Ocean, swimming, beaches. Great trip, and the return today was better than the trip down. haha.

Go Jags,



  • At 12/13/2005 8:00 AM, Anonymous Emily said…

    How you can describe that bus experience in a positive light is beyond me, but obviously you are not like most matt. Way to illustrate it though, I was extremely uncomfortable just reading it. the rest of your trip sounded amazing though. oh and glad you beat the malaria ;-)


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