Following the Tanzanian coast

The blue smoke that had been billowing from the 60 seater coach’s exhaust stopped at Ikiwiri (literally meaning “the white man simply died of despair”). After 2 hours we are told that if the problem (that remains unspecified) can’t be fixed soon alternative transport will be provided.

I miss the first minibus replacement which is rounded up for not being quick enough to push to the door. About 10 minutes later another minibus arrives, better kitted out than the coach. Learning from before I barge everyone out of the way and climb on second. Its another 3 hours, about 150km to Dar es salaam along decent tar.

Dar is a pleasant laid back multicultural city. I join Ocean Road, that leads past State House, just visible through its gardens and decorative high walls. The sound of a brass band is caught and carried from the gardens by the wind. Some sort of Union Day festivity.

Dar lives up to its name of the ‘place of peace’. Passing a pair of policemen – one of many pairs lingering in the shade outside State House – I am not rudely questioned as to what I might be doing walking along an open public road, but greeted with ‘how are you?’ I reply in kind. The policeman nods his head and simple says ‘thank you’, gratified he hasn’t been ignored.

The mild chaos I expected occurred when I arrived at the ferry kiosks to buy a ticket to Zanzibar.

‘When do you want to go?’ asks the guy behind the counter.

‘Now’

‘No problem. There’s a boat at 9.’ It was 8.40.

The channel is mostly smooth; drizzle splashing the windows. I’m surprised to need to fill out an arrivals form from the ‘United Republic of Tanzania’ despite only coming from Dar. I head first to the edge of the centre of Stone Town. In doing so in about 100m I realise how small the place is. Beyond the ornate Municipality building is the busy market. Then I follow a road back into Stone Town’s heart, past the old High Court and Post Office. After a tunnel I reach the old fort, sand-coloured and brown, its 4 round corner towers just about standing.

The Forodhari Gardens come alive towards dusk. The children’s playground is open, but most, boys at least, are swimming. The older ones, perhaps 15, take running dives into the shallows doing minor tricks like hand clapping on the way down. Hawkers try and peddle fresh sugarcane juice, crushed from the cane using old mangels, as well as snacks grilled why you wait.
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