Somethings Old and Somethings New

By | 05:11 Leave a Comment
Every trip is different and every place is too. There are times when being in Dar es Salaam is startlingly different from being in Lusaka and there are other times when things are so familiar it makes me smile.

The Transit

I thought I was a veteran mini-bus rider having negotiated the bus system of Lusaka on a daily basis. But the complexity of the system in Dar is astounding. In Lusaka, all the buses came in and out of the city centre along different routes, which meant I could be fairly certain if I boarded a bus on my road that it was the right one.

Here it sometimes seems like you can get a bus to anywhere from anywhere (not entirely true but close). Every bus stop has several different coloured buses heading to different parts of the city. There are several bus lines that can take us to work but only two we can board to go home. We have to listen carefully in the morning to the conductors calling out the stops to make sure we get on the right bus.

On the more familiar side of things, we pay whenever the conductor gets around to collecting the money (which is sometimes as we get off the bus). We have to call out to get the bus stop otherwise they sometimes will just drive past the stop if the bus is full. Also the buses don't like to move until they are full. And their definition of full means packed like a can of sardines with people and bags of goods.

The City

Lusaka is a city but Dar es Salaam is a CITY. The density of Dar when we first got here blew me away. There are so many high-rises, stores, cars, motorbikes, carts and people. I was used to the relatively quiet neighbourhoods of Lusaka. Now I'm living near the city centre of Dar es Salaam. At first I really missed the green spaces of Lusaka where there were trees lining all the roads and more houses with yards and gardens than high rises. But I'm adjusting to the new view and in Dar es Salaam there are the beaches. After all, you don't need so many trees lining the roads in the city when you are a hop, skip and a jump from huge stretches of beach now do you?

The People

One of the biggest challenges for me in Tanzania is Swahili. Zambia's official language was English so while there were lots people who mainly spoke local languages, English was the lingua franca. Here, I've got my Swahili phrase book with me at all times and I'm also taking online language training. There are many times when we are really hard pressed to find anyone who speaks English.

Despite the language barrier, people are incredibly kind and helpful. From the building guards who always eventually figure out what we are trying to find and escort us there, to the woman in the market who gave us a free bag of tomatoes to welcome us to the neighbourhood, to our co-workers who are helping us to traverse our new environment. So many people go out of their way to help us navigate our way through their community. They take the business of welcoming you to their country, city, neighbourhood or store very seriously. Something to try and pay forward when I am back home.

At first it all seemed very different, but slowly I've had more and more moments where there are more familiar things than different. And the differences that remain are becoming interesting things to think about rather than overwhelming. Here's to almost hitting the one month mark! 


Post a Comment