Arriving at Dar Es Salaam airport, Susan and I were greeted by her enthusiastic friends as well as Renee our VSO rep. Susan’s friend Kavuta, who is a local taxi driver, drove us the half hour to town and unloaded us at Econo Lodge which was to be our accommodation for the week.
Exhaustion was overwhelming so we declined the offer to go to dinner with the others and fell into bed.
Susan, happy to be on African ground!Monday: Day 1 ICT (In Country Training)
6.30am we were rudely awakened by the alarm...down to the standard breakfast of papaya, banana, dry white toast and coffee then straight onto the bus which took us through the maze of streets and frantic traffic, to VSO office in Masasani. 8.30am start.....Information, introductions, information, information...bang, bang, bang.....My learning curve was so steep and continued to get steeper as the week unfolded!
But it was exciting and reassuring as we got to know each other.
Lunch was delivered very late but we were reminded that T. I. T! (This Is Tanzania!) I didn’t mind as my meal was delicious. I had ordered Ugali (a thick gruel, similar to semolina but made from maize meal flour) and vegetables. You take a small amount of the Ugali, roll it into a ball then push an indent into the ball to use as an edible scoop.
Monday evening we had drinks and dinner by the sea at Coco Beach. Once again we fell into bed exhausted as Susan and I really hadn’t had much time slow down or even know/realise whether we were jet lagged or not!
Tuesday: Day 2 ICT
My first experience of walking the streets in Dar!
Uneven ground where ever you stepped...cars, bikes, pikipiki, daladalas, people, people, people, and more of the same everywhere! The energy was intense but the cars would eventually stop for you if you waited for a slight break in the pace then put your hand down and forward to indicate that you wanted to cross. Extreme caution and scanning your eyes everywhere around you was essential. Fortunately I was with a group as I was not able to look anywhere but the ground and where I was placing my tender foot! Good team work got us safely to Posta, the daladala (bus) stop. Catching the required daladala brought more challenges as it was peak hour, which resulted in us taking a less crowded one half way and negotiating a badagi (tuk tuk) the remainder of the way. Learning all the time!
The city slipped past, (without a map I had no idea where I was!) as we headed to VSO office for another day of intense training, information and sorting out placement details etc. Doctor Baalia Klaassen spoke at length about health in Tanzania. She and her husband have been practicing here for many years and she was very blunt and appropriate in her delivery. VSO use their clinic which is situated at the International School Campus in Dar. I feel very secure in knowing that she would be looking after me in a time of need.
Dinner was enjoyed at the Badminton club where we met Tracey, a fellow volunteer’s daughters and husband who have relocated their lives to share the experience with Tracey. Sadie, yr 12 and Belle, yr 10 from Canada, are doing their studies online....yes...together with all the frustrations of dodgy connections etc. I admire their tenacity but what an experience they are getting!
Wednesday: Day 3 ICT: Rest Day. Beach Day
Perfectly timed! A day off from study and a social day but still a very hectic day of learning! During the long walk to the ferry terminal, bought some sugar cane from one of the many vendors along the roadside. It was juicy, sweet and much needed sustenance by me as I was using 3 times the energy as the other Vols just trying to keep up the pace! It was worth it. The ferry ride across the waterway took us to a beautiful place of peace and tranquillity. Mikadi Beach wrapped around us and squeezed out the anxieties and stresses of the past few days. Warm blue Indian Ocean gently soothed my aching body and helped me re-energise. Lunch provided one of the best seafood salads I have ever eaten after which I curled up in the ample hammock and read my book. Totally relaxed, we rode the daladala back to the ferry and wound our way through the busy streets back to Econo Lodge. Dinner at Bhog 56, a very cheap, Indian restaurant, was a delight as we dined on the sidewalk and watched them prepare the Dosa in front of us. They are a cheesy, crusty thin pancake folded into quarters with a vegetable masala filling. I will definitely be eating them again!
Andre(Dutch-Pembe) Wendy (Canadian-Zanzibar) Renee(Dutch-Dodoma) Sine(German-Zanzibar) Mae(Phillipino-Iringa)
Alison(UK-Dar) Caroline(UK wife of Adrian) Adrian UK-Mtwara) Fredrique Dutch - Dodoma and Elizabet wife of Fredrique -Dodoma
Thursday: Day 4 ICT. Independent Day!
Having been shown where and how to travel by daladala to VSO office, we had to do it ourselves in small groups! Luckily I didn’t have to do it alone as I still didn’t really have my bearings. As we headed off, I realised that I could actually look up and around at my surroundings as my foot was feeling much stronger. I tried to remember landmarks and enjoyed the experience of almost knowing where I was! Susan’s efforts to post a parcel at the Post Office, was frustrating and time consuming, a taste of things to come for me as I will be responsible for collecting and posting the mail for the SEGA girls! The two of us proudly caught the daladala and nearly missed the end busstop! Thanks to Anthony from VSO, who had been travelling on our daldala, we headed in the right direction to the VSO office!
My quest to buy a map of Tanzania and the language phrase book took us to the Slipway, a shopping complex, 10 minutes walk from VSO office.
We raided the well stocked bookstore, indulged in ice coffees and icecreams, enjoyed the ambience of the seaside precinct....then Wendy and I went shopping! Wendy had spent 12 months taking tours through South and Eastern Africa so was ‘Afrikan savvy!’ I learned a lot about bargaining, price, what is acceptable practice and lots of practical stuff! I look forward to learning a whole lot more as our friendship grows.
Time was moving quickly as 3 very crowded daladalas passed by, atleast 5-6 men hanging dangerously out the doors! At this point, Wendy and I decided to bargain a badagi and returned to Econo Lodge in time to join the others for Chinese dinner.
Me, Renee, Elizabet & Fredrique, Wendy
Friday: Last day @ VSO office
This was a day of individual meetings, finalising details and a shared lunch outside under the verandah. I realised that I was very lucky to be acclimatised to the tropics as many Vols were feeling the exhausting effect of a week of hot, sticky weather.
Tom (Ireland-Aznaibar) Mike (UK-Zanzibar) Alison (UK-Dar) Caroline (UK-Mtwara)
This was soon forgotten as we were again treated to a beautiful beachside bar to allow us to wash the dust from our throats and get to know each other better. This was a very fitting finish to an extremely hectic week.
VSO kept saying to us that the week was to be a soft landing before we head off to our placements. I wonder what will unfold!