A Gator in Dar Es Salaam

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

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


We made it to the embassy today. We went yesterday but it was closed because of Labor Day. Nobody thought about it being closed. I don’t think we spoke with an American the whole time we were at the Embassy, only Tanzanians. On Monday we went to Posta market and bought cell phones. It is roughly $2 a minute for me to call US so I will not be doing that, the country code is 000 255 and my number is 746-262 726. I have been trying to text people, but not sure if it has been getting thru, it is cheap for me to do that. I got a nicer phone here than in the States, all the phones are tiny and it seems like everyone has one. Last night we went to dinner with professor Mutembei and his family. He is in charge of the UF exchange program and is very friendly. His family is very nice and their home is quite nice as well.

Thomas who is assists the international students and is a student himself goes with us on the things we have to accomplish, phones, embassy. He is from the Lake Victoria region in the northwest. His father has 3 wives so he has about 20 brothers and sisters. He is the first in his family to go to university.

I slept thru the 5 A.M. Muslim prayer for the first time today, it is quite loud. I started my Kiswahili today, I am not very good at all. Very few people speak English here, so it is important that a learn a fair amount soon. That is the only problem with going places is that I cannot really communicate. Some in my group are pretty good with it though, so that helps. Here in Tanzania I am a Mzungu, which means ghost/white person. When we have been in downtown Dar or driving around I have probably seen only a handful of other Mzungus. It is very different to be surrounded by only dark faces, and unfortunately I obviously stand out to everyone.
Some of the women here and stunning. Most Tanzanians are very attractive people, kind of olive skin. The food has been good, beans, kuku (chicken) and chips (French fries). Ketchup is different, much sweeter. Coke and Pepsi are all over and so is Fanta (don’t ya wanta Fanta) They recycle all of the glass bottles here, so you can tell that the bottle you are drinking out of is old. I don’t think I have spent more than 1.50 on a meal so far, sodas are 250 shillings (25 cents). We go to Zanzibar on Friday and all the other students who have been there said it was awesome. It is almost completely Muslim.

The elections are in October but there is no doubt who will win. This will be only the 4th Tanzanian president, but he is from CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) the party that always wins. We have only seen signs for CCM (green and yellow is their colors) and supposedly signs from the other parties are torn down by CCM party members as soon as they go up. Not really a multi-party state, but it doesn’t seem to worry many, we will see as the election gets closer.
Not sure what we are doing tonight, maybe going to the nice grocery store (there is one or two in the city center). Hope all is well.

-Matt (6-9-2005)