Grand Africa, cruise, Dar es Salaam

Zaandam – 6 degrees South of the Equator, photo by Barbara

10 November 2022 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

My morning started with BBC news and moved up to the deck 8 Lido buffet for a good breakfast, since my tour today includes no food.  Egg Benedict, sausage patty, pineapple, watermelon, ensayada pastry, orange juice, and coffee.

About 7:30am I went out on the aft deck to see Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in the distance. We were waiting for the Pilot to arrive.  Our original 10am docking time had been moved up to 8am, when the Captain learned that the port’s gangway was such a narrow one.  Hopefully the ship’s gangway will work in this port.

After the Pilot came onboard, we moved forward past the busy Fish Market.  It was swarming with people, and the small fishing boats pulled up on the beach.
I noticed a lovely church among the city buildings.

Dar es Salaam’s port welcomed us with dancers, musicians, two tall people on stilts, and the Tourist Information tents.  Displayed behind them were tanker trucks labeled Qingdao (China).  Behind them was a sea of parked cars that turned out to be used cars from Japan to be sold here.

I moved to the Lower Promenade Deck 3 for a better view of the enthusiastic welcome. The ship’s gangway looks good.  At 9:15am Jeremy announced that we are cleared for passengers to go ashore.  Gangway is on Deck 1, starboard, midship.

I am supposed to meet Mary Anne’s private $65 Across Africa Tours “City Tour” at 10:45am, maybe at the port gate?  Maybe closer?  Van #1. 
I left the ship about 10am to be photographed by our ship’s photographer and by the local TV station.  We are their first cruise ship since Covid started.  The musicians and dancers all welcomed us, even holding a huge live snake.
The Tourist Information tables offered booklets about Tanzania.  Nearby workers were at tables enjoying a fruit snack.  Happy people here.

Across Africa Tours greeted me immediately.  What good luck!  A man led me through the maze of tour vans to Van #8.  Our #1 group would travel in van #8.
I boarded the van, chose a good window seat, and waited.  Others gradually arrived.  AAT Judy stepped in briefly.  She was the only one who pronounced “Tan-zan-ya.”
We never did learn the names of our guide, driver, and helpers.  
Our guide was good and shared information.  If the president of Tanzania is Muslim, he will be followed by a Christian president.  The Muslim president has a Christian Vice President.  Arab traders brought Islam.  German missionaries brought Christianity.

Deb Fagan  (“Dee Dee Groff” on Cruise Critic) sat near me on the van and asked if I knew “Blue Whale”?  Yes, she and Jack played Trivia together on the Voyage of the Vikings.  She is 88 now and wanted to do this voyage but decided to stay home and not risk ending up in an African hospital.

Our guide announced an itinerary totally different from what we signed up for.  I asked about a couple of places.  Certainly, if we have time.  Luckily Mary Anne was in our van and later assured us that we would have the correct itinerary.

Our first stop was at the Botanic Gardens, where the guide seemed to get instructions.  Soon we were at the National Museum. 
“Dar es Salaam means ‘the house of peace’ and is an exciting mix of sightseeing, shopping, and entertainment.  The largest city in Tanzania reflects a fascinating blend of its rich historical past and the sophisticated contemporary present.  Learn about interesting facts of the city as well as some incredible historical sites that are all part of the adventure .  .  . Hop on a private vehicle to discover the city of Dar es Salaam.  You will start by visiting the National Museum, the oldest of the five National Museums of Tanzania branches.  See the skull of a 1.75-million-year-old Nutcracker Man and many artifacts used by his more recent descendants.  Established in 1934, the museum displays traditional crafts like headdresses and musical instruments .  .  . “

First, we gathered under the enormous “fig tree” behind the museum.  Its leaves, etc. are used for medicinal treatments.
I declined walking upstairs to the upper floor, partly hoping to enjoy the gift shop.  But I was led to an elevator, and all the important displays were upstairs.  
Outside was a lineup of the expensive old cars that previous presidents had used.

Driving to the Village Museum was interesting.  Although Tanzania waged war for independence from Britain, English is widely spoken along with Swahili, and traffic drives on the left.  I asked about an important looking building – the British Embassy.  Women carried baskets of huge avocados on their heads.  Young men walked among the traffic vehicles trying to sell snacks or toys or anything.  A few women wore bourkas, some had covered heads, some were uncovered.  The school bus full of children at the National Museum were absolutely thrilled to see these foreign tourists.  We felt thoroughly welcome.  Often heard, “Welcome!”

“The Makumbusho Village is a museum that showcases authentically constructed houses and equipment from a few of the tribes of Tanzania and is located in the heart of Dar es Salaam.  It is one of the five major museums in the country.”
The different houses were interesting.  Our group gathered first under the shade of a huge tree, whose fruit looked like walnuts.  I followed the sounds of music and found a group of musicians and dancers.  After the presented basket received a dollar, the enthusiastic dancing began.  Cowrie shells decorated costumes and were made into jewelry in the souvenir market there.  Cowrie shells used to be used as money in the Maldives near India.
I loved the souvenir market.  A $30 shirt instantly became $15, but I did not like it that much.  I finally succeeded in some good shopping and made one sales lady very happy.

Then we moved on to “Mwenga Carving Market gathers over 200 carvers selling their sculptures and crafts.  You can see various artistic pieces in the stalls, such as bowls, jewelry, chests, paintings, and ritual masks.  Most of the artists come from the Makonde tribe.  No matter the background, many artists join their movement and make crafts in the traditional style while combining them with modern elements.”
This felt like a tourist trap, but one salesgirl helped me descend the steps into her shop full of masks, carvings, paintings, etc.  I did succeed in more shopping, and she was very happy.

Next we went to the Tinga Tinga Art Gallery.  “Tinga Tinga painting began with Edward Saidi Tingatinga, who was born in 1937 to a family of subsistence farmers in southern Tanzania.  In 1953 he traveled to Dar es Salaam in search of work and labored at odd jobs in the construction industry until 1961.”  He founded a unique style of painting.
Our van parked in the middle of a street, where paintings were lined up and displayed along the open street.  Colorful African scenes and animals.  Mass produced?
I spotted a supermarket, where I went in and bought Super Glue for 1000 Tanzanian Shillings / 43 cents USD.

Our final stop was the Slipway Hotel’s Shopping Center = many upscale tourist shops.  “The premier waterfront shopping and leisure center.  It is the only place in Dar es Salaam where you can do your shopping while enjoying the evocative view of Msani Bay and the breeze off the Indian Ocean.  After the shopping you will be dropped off at the port around 6pm.”
The Captain’s predicted rainfall felt good.  87 degrees was also predicted.  It was hot.
I did find a length of Batik-like fabric that I liked, but the high price was not negotiable, and I did not like it that much.

Back at the ship I tipped our driver and tour guide.  Also, a small tip to my “friend” who had insisted on helping me negotiate a steep staircase at the last stop.  Said farewell to the supervisor who sat next to me and shared good conversation.

I rushed to the Main Dining Room to quickly eat the Captain’s Antipasto Plate and Chicken Kiev before the 7pm show.
“On World Stage:  Tanzanian Boys Circus hailing from the dusty streets of Dar es Salaam, these premier members of the Tanzanian Boys Circus School bring you a delightfully daring and dazzling display of skill, strength, speed, and balance fused together with the rhythm and beat of Africa.” They were truly amazing.  One was a slim contortionist.  Standing ovation.

Two chocolates, etc. were waiting in my room.
After such a great day, I was soon in bed.

Photo Gallery, photos by Barbara Cummings

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