Is a street sign too much to ask?

Dar es Salaam Travel Blog

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So Margaret left yesterday a.m. and I decided to take advantage of our hotel room with a/c, so I didn’t bother to get going til around 11 (check out time), which I regretted later.  First I hit up an internet café with a/c and did some online digging and found out I would not be able to get anything done about my passport pages or Indian visa as it was Friday and the embassies shut down early.  Great.  Now I have to wait til Monday to get things going.  Then I decided to head back the hotel and really ended up lying immobile in the bed trying to stay cool while reading the afternoon away.  Nothing about this town excites me.  There are museums and stuff, and apparently a theater with Euro film fest going on, but Dar is grim, hot, humid and just downright depressing to me.  You walk around and the streets are dirt, there is so much signage but no street signs, everyone bugs you about taxis and did I mention the heat?  I can’t believe I’m stuck here at least a week.  It is either stay here to deal with these issues or Jo’burg in South Africa and no telling what that is like.  Oh, and last night about 9:30 I heard fireworks going off in the street…two hours later, still going off and I mean loud, big ones.  I finally crept down to the lobby and asked the guy what the deal was, and he just laughed and said Indians, which I took to mean the large East Indian population was behind all this and no telling when it would let up.  I went back up and laid there thinking, “and I’m staying here a whole week so I can go to India?  Why?”  I had some relief finally sometime after midnight, but it didn't really matter as my room fan sucked and I ended up with fits of sleep.

This morning I went to the really cheap hotel not far from the place I was at to check it out.  They only wanted 7,000 schillings ($6.50) a night, less than half the other place wanted for a single.  Did I ask myself why?  No, just over budget and desperate.  Anyway, I checked it out and at first I thought, ugh, this place is the worst of the worst.  But it was actually clean, had its own bathroom and it is on the ground floor so the room itself is actually cooler than the last place. I thought I can deal with this and paid two nights.  As I was unpacking I saw the biggest cockroach I’ve seen since my days in FL.  I wanted to puke. There were cockroaches at the other place, but these were monsters.  I put one out of its misery with my boots and flushed it away.  I will be sleeping with the light on tonight.  The plan is to suck it up now and hunt down a new locale over the next few days.  I won’t make it here a week with those things.  In the mean time, I need to figure out how to deal with this craphole.  Once I get my Indian visa in motion I plan to head to the south beaches or something.  Oh the joys of travel. 

UPDATE THREE HOURS LATER.  I got the hell outta there.  I had to go back to my room for something.  I was digging around in my pack and another big one came scurrying out from underneath it.  I thought suck it up, this is what hardcore budget travel is all about.  And then I saw another one run by and this time I gave it a whack.  It came to a stop face up and I glanced at the wall behind it and saw a huge spider.  I was packed and out of there in five minutes.  (Note:  I'm not afraid of spiders but something about the combination of the two). 

I went to the counter and tried to explain that I could not stay there with such large cockroaches, at times using gestures and saying "large bugs" to get across my point, drawing the attention of the men sitting outside the front door in the shade.  The man at reception just stared at me in bewilderment (well, one eye stared at me while the other was gazing elsewhere).  Strange.  Anyhoo, I said he could keep the 7,000 for tonight but I was not staying there.  He left with the key to check out the room to figure out what my issue was I think - and I did leave the latest victim where it lay.  He came back and gave me back one night's money and I got on my way.  Yuck. 

By this time it was the height of the day's heat and I was sweating like never before with my pack on.  I made my way (without the benefit of street signs) to one hotel recommended by two gals we ran into on Zanzibar.  It was three flights up and cute by they wanted the same amount as the first place but no private bathroom.  Out I went, running into one of the gals on the way who quickly said she had diarrhea and couldn't talk.  Fair enough. 

I decided to head back to Jambo, passing on the way the restaurant I was looking for making note of its location, and at last minute decided to check out Safari Inn nearby.  Now LP has been far from right (the cockroach inn was described as clean), but this time around they were right on the money.  Safari was described as the best in this area, and it is. You'd think I was in a luxury high rise I'm so excited.  For less than the others but only slightly more than bugville, I have my own bathroom, good working fan, comfy bed and breakfast, all for 10 bucks.  It's amazing how your standards change as far as accomodations though.  To think at one point on this trip I was paying 25 bucks for a dorm in London!  Anyway, I finally found where I can land for the week! 

Alright, I'm done complaining.  I realized I should've spent this time blogging about Kili rather than b*tch but I don't have a travel companion to decompress with anymore.  No one said Africa would be easy or critter free.
solarbib says:
Glad you found a decent landing place. Hopefull you can get things figured out quickly and get the heck out of Dar. Was the spider like the spider we saw in Zanzibar? Yikes.
Posted on: Nov 11, 2007
blw2 says:
Years after your trip, you will tell others of your trials and tribulations, while traveling, as much as telling them about seeing the tourist spots.

One of the stories I always tell is about a 24 hour boat trip on a WW2 era cargo ship (with no V hull) I took to get from one place to another in the south pacific. We rode every 30 foot wave for 24 hours. It was like torture. At the time I remember saying I would have rather been in jail for a month. There was no seating inside; except for a small area where some locals were hanging out but they were all sick in there so I was out on deck in the weather. I remember thinking “I paid $8 for this, I want to see customer service” That night I was so tired and sick. I fell asleep and when I woke up I was laying flat on my back, on the steel deck, arms and legs stretched out to keep from rolling with the waves. Yes…it rained most of the night. There was about 2 inches of water on the deck that would wash over me with every roll of the boat. I remember dreaming that I was trapped in a washing machine. (no lie)

Take care of yourself.
Posted on: Nov 10, 2007
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