Last Friday we took an all day tour of downtown Dar es Salaam (which also consisted of trespassing every luxury hotel here). It’s really interesting to see all the different influences in the downtown of Dar like Islam, Christianity, Indian and German just to name a few. There, we also went to a fish market and Kariakoo which is a huge market with just about everything imaginable.
Street Vendors Downtown
Then there’s the peninsula which is completely different from other parts of the city. It’s filled with really nice hotels, shopping malls and restaurants and it’s mainly where most of the expats live. Also most of the embassy houses are pretty close by there as well. Going in there almost feels like I’m back in the US and in general, it’s been really interesting going in between what seems like two different worlds here. One day we’re walking through a traditional area of Tanzania and lugging buckets of water into our room and the next we go to hang out at the beach on a resort or out to dinner at a nice restaurant.
This past weekend we went to Bagamoyo which is an old historical town. We saw ruins of an old mosque, visited the first church in Tanzania and learned about the slave trade here.
Learning about the slave trade in East Africa was really interesting. Typically whenever I’ve learned about slavery it has always been about West Africa and the Americas and so slavery here is not something I would have ever thought about. The most interesting thing was how the effects of slavery still impact life on the coast. For example, there’s still a stigma against marrying someone that is a descendent of slavery. Also, even though the soil by the coast is very good, most people refuse to farm here because it’s associated with slave work. So aid agencies and programs to promote agriculture in the area have mostly failed because of this.
Ruins from an old mosque
Camel sighting driving around Bagamoyo
This week we were supposed to start our classes. However, unlike the US, the schedule for classes isn’t as set and stone right from the beginning. First off, the schedule changed about 4 times this week. Also, most of the professors didn’t show up probably due to the scheduling confusion. In general though we’ve been told that professors might just not show up to class and when this happens we need to call them and ask if they’re coming. When we meet our professors (which hopefully they’ll show up next week) we can aslo negotiate when we’ll have classes so we can change the schedule around. So far, we’ve had Swahili, African International Relations and Foreign Policy and most people have started their internships.
So I’m actually pretty stoked about my internship although it has been quite an effort to get to where I am now. I’m really starting to get a sense of Africa time now. Anyways, I’m going to be working for the Water Quality department and my project is going to be about drinking water. Basically what I’m going to be doing is going to different parts of the city which will mostly be in the outskirts of town, collecting water samples from these kiosks that sell drinking water from the tap, assessing the quality of the water and comparing them to Tanzanian and WHO standards. I need to write a proposal for the project this weekend probably so I can start working as soon as possible.
On another positive note, we finally have running water in the dorms! It’s not uncommon for the water to be shut off here but it typically only happens for 1-3 days. However since we got here, the pump for our dorm has been broken so we’ve gotten water maybe twice for a few hours. But the water has been working for more than a day now which has really been exciting.