My God! What a day!

How affectionate are the people of Tanzania. How warm their smiles and embraces. When I first came, I thought them to be a dour lot and often grim-faced in retrospect.

But then you look inside their hearts and a hidden camaraderie stares back. There’s an extreme sense of an old world charm here. I do feel that I’m on another planet. Very little is globalised in the unique way that East Africa has managed to successfully retain almost all of its historical and romantic culture.

I have so many stories to tell. So much to write. Where do I start? Perhaps with Lemington, also a registered tour guide who works at the airport.  We went out for a meal to catch up with news.  He told me that he had left the departure terminal at Dar-es-Salam airport at five this evening with a Polish couple screaming murder at each other and causing a stir.  So much drama, grinned a mischevious Lemington. Man shouting at the woman and the woman shouting at the man. Airport officials tried to calm them down but to no avail.

Apparently, they had had time to kill this morning after a flight from Nairobi and now awaiting another with Emirates which would fly them back to Poland.  They thought they would go sight-seeing!

A registered taxi driver voluntereed a personalised chauffeur service for 3 hours.  He would happily show them the city – it was their first time in Tanzania – and ferry them directly back to the airport, in time for their flight later that afternoon.  No problems there. He cheerfully suggested US$80.  Lemington and I both thought that to be a fair price.

The male companion I believe, preferred to save his money, complained that the very idea sounded ridiculously expensive and insisted that they would observe the city on their own. They ended up in crowded ramshackle buses that plied long routes and got badly stuck in traffic jams. They turned up at the local markets and didn’t know how to get out again. Well-meaning residents gave wrong instructions.  At the end, they managed to reach the airport just 25 minutes before Emirates would fly off. It would be safe to say that the majority of passengers on that scheduled flight would already have settled into their seats.

In Dar-es-Salam’s famously chaotic airport, departing passengers often resign themselves to a long queue at the first instance in order to have  any check-in luggage screened by airport authorities.  There’s just the one  threaded line.  This doesn’t count the normal check-in counters.

The couple in question found themselves with no choice left but to purchase new air tickets with Kenyan Airways that would drag them to a much longer transit time in Nairobi before flying gamely on to Poland. Hence, the screaming match!  It was a case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish with one partner notoriously blaming the other.

It turned suddenly chilly on the streets this late  evening in my part of East Africa. The sea breezes swiftly wove their way around me.  I shivered violently even as I enjoyed my night-time stroll but never alone, of course. That would simply be too dangerous for a foreigner.

Meanwhile, the harbour coastline from outside my hotel window this afternoon had shimmered like  a shiny acquamarine stone. The Indian Ocean proudly mannequinned itself into a tranquil repose that even its belly dare not shake.  Ships slyly eyeing the peaceful portrait, basked about majestically everywhere.

I’m going to buy a new handphone tomorrow so that Des can call me when I’m on my way to the wild,  in the camp or  somewhere on the Masai Steppe. I’ll be in regions close to the Kenyan border. For a good few days on the safari, I won’t have any access to the internet. My present phone model purchased from Dublin about a year and a half ago is fairly sophisticated and works excellently anywhere at all in Europe but will not accept Sim cards from other international regions.  So I’ll have to buy another handphone now especially.

In Tanzania, the phrase is always mobile phone. Also I believe very few say  the English here but rather, the British.