Thursday, 3 December 2009

To Dar es Salaam

Well, we are in Dar es Salaam now, and what a difference. While Arusha is cool and peaceful, Dar is hot, humid and VERY busy - but lets go back to how we got here.

Allen has been working very hard on getting our papers and he came to me and said we have to present our papers to the Department in Dar, so we went straight out and found out the prices for flights for that afternoon. They were all about the same price, but Air Tanzania seemed to be the best deal, so we went with them. From there it was home, shower, pack and head out to the airport.

When we arrived at the airport we were told this was a very special day. It was the inaugural flight for Air Tanzania between Dar and Arusha. They ushered us from the usual boarding lounge (and from those poor people who were not flying on Air Tanzania) to a special area they had arranged for the festivities. There were two marquees set up, there was food and drink laid out - Allen and I KNEW we had made good choice. Then the entertainment came. A traditional dance group with drums, Allen said they came from the Tanga region (Allen to me that to do this “you just don’t have to care” he pointed out “they even wear woman’s clothing” - a shawl around their waist!).

After a while they were told to start, and start they did. It consisted with 3 playing drums, one singing a lead and the rest shuffling around and singing an answer. It was good - good that is for the first 3 minutes! They kept it up for ½ and hour - the same song - the same beat, just repeated over and over AND over again. I was starting to get a headache! Fortunately they HAD to stop and rest.

The Precision Air flight arrived (we discovered we were actually in the “Arrivals” area). The passengers looked rather confused. The Precision Air flight left - we were still there. Now the Air Tanzania plane was due to LEAVE in 5 minutes and it had not arrived yet! Nothing for it but to get the dancers up and at it again - you guessed it the SAME SONG!!! Maybe they were calling the plane in.

Luckily now the decided that it was time for refreshments - at least it would distract everyone for a while. Still no plane! The dancers went on and on, everyone was getting hot AND hot under the collar.

Finally 30 minutes after it should have left, the plane came into sight. There was a ragged round of applause - people thankful that the arrival of the plane had at least stopped the music for while.

The plane taxied in front of us and a small group of very confused people climbed down the ladder. Each was given a small bunch of Arusha roses and could not pick up their baggage until they were officially welcomed by the M.C. “This is called Arusha!” she told them - just in case some one had stepped onto the wrong plane and had expected to alight in Paris or Rome!

It was then time for a viewing of the plane. The VIPs lead the way (they had been waiting in the VIP lounge). The rest of us were invited to view the plane as well, but that offer was rescinded - it was getting late! Then it was time for the speeches. The most important man there was the Regional Commissioner. I think he did not enjoy the wait. He went on at length telling us all that the was “a business”. It has to be run as a business. He said, “if you say you will leave on such a such time, then you MUST leave at that time.” “I know I am making some angry,” he said, “ but you asked me to speak now, so I have a job to do.”

After his telling off, finally we were invited to leave - ONE HOUR LATE! But hey, this is Africa and it was fun - it is all part of the adventure.

This was Allen’s first flight and he did enjoy it. It was fun watching him and talking to him. Before we knew it we were heading down to Zanzibar (an island off the Tanzania coast) to drop off some passengers and take up some others. We only were there for about 10 minutes and Allen had trouble realizing it was not like a bus and we were not free to get out of the plane and have a look around.

It was beautiful taking off from Zanzibar, watching the dhows with their triangular sails slip beneath the aircraft as the sun was going down.

We got into Dar about 6 p.m. and made our way yo our accommodation. It was really a fun trip with Allen - he really is a good traveling companion.

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