Lilongwe to Dar Es Salaam

Planting the seeds…. (Day 5)

Early morning wakeup – ugh! We have a 5:30 am wakeup so we can leave for the airport at 6:30 am. On the way to the airport we will pick up someone who can then drive the SUV back to the house after dropping us off at the airport.

At that time of the morning the airport is very quiet and I was thinking that was a good sign – we would make it through security quickly and get to the gate with plenty of time. But I hadn’t taken into account that so far at the airports I’ve seen in Africa the security clearance is done at the front door. On one level that makes sense – you potentially prevent anyone from bringing something into the building at all. On the other hand it means that there is a line going outside while you wait to clear security. Plus I forgot about African Standard Time (kind of like Indian Standard Time… it will happen when it happens). We stood in line for about 15 minutes before we actually started moving, then it proceeded very slowly. The security consists of a very short table with bins, a small conveyor belt and the metal detector. They did not check for fluids, I left my cellphone in my purse and my kindle in my backpack, but I did set off the metal detector with my shoes!

Once we cleared security we had to go through passport control. Another slow process even though there were not many people in line. Just as I was getting ready to go up to the counter a group of about 8 people were moved to the head of the line, as their flight was getting ready to leave for Johannesburg, South Africa. Once I cleared passport control (They do have the camera and the fingerprint machines) we made our way to the waiting area. We had to board a bus to take us out on the tarmac to board the Malawian Airlines flight. Luckily for me the flight was not full so I did not have anyone sitting in the seat next to me. I actually had some time to continue reading my kindle before we were served a continental breakfast. It was good to have something to eat, but I am really nervous about getting on that scale when I get back – so many carbs!

We had a very pleasant 2 - hour flight to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I was expecting the international airport there to be something like what we experienced in India, I guess because Dar is a very large city for Africa – about 2.5 million people. It turned out to be a small, well organized international arrivals area. We got through passport control will our new, very official looking Tanzanian visas and by the time we were finished our bags were ready to be picked up. Since we had nothing to declare for Customs we walked through that area and right out into the outdoor area of the terminal. The roof - enclosed area outside created another shopping area with offices and stores on the outside perimeter, and there was a money exchange bureau; upstairs there was a restaurant – the Flamingo – and the usual taxi stand. The weather was more humid, but pleasant and a little cool. While we waited for John’s friend DJ we went ahead and exchanged our money into Tanzanian shillings.

DJ and his wife and two kids have lived in Tanzania for a little over 2 years. Prior to that they lived in Mozambique for several years. They have learned Swahili and live within the community. He rode the bus to meet us at the airport, so we took a taxi back to his house in the outer suburbs of Dar. The traffic was pretty reminiscent of India – lots of vehicles, but minus the honking and the 3 wheeled vehicles known as Bajaj (The auto rickshaw). They are actually made in India (The company name is Bajaj) and they are the world’s largest exporters of these vehicles.

DJ and his family live in a small neighborhood within a community that is near the Indian Ocean. They have chosen to live there rather than in a walled compound – they felt that they would get to know the culture and language more easily if they did that. The organization that sponsors them provides extensive language training that enables them to be able to more quickly acclimate once they get the basics of the language. We were warmly welcomed into their small little house that was build based on a design of a house that the landlady had seen when she visited her daughter in Canada! We had burritos made with chapattis (Indian thin, crepe like bread) for lunch and pizza made with local ingredients for dinner. It was a little bit of America in Africa by way of Mexico and Italy!

We also met some other Americans who are living in various parts of rural Tanzania who were interested in what Africa Windmill is doing in Malawi. One family was heading back to the US for a 6 - month stay and the other family had come in for some supplies. They were able to get some ideas for farm management, bee keeping and the irrigation system from John and Christopher. It was good to hear the positive comments they had to make about the Tanzanians that they had encountered. The general consensus was that they were a hospitable people.

We were staying at the Wycliffe Bible Translation compound not too far away, so we took a Bajaj to get over there! That is something that I have wanted to do for a long time – go for a ride in a Bajaj, but in India it always looked too risky, so I never did. Here DJ knew the driver, it was a new vehicle and it was for a relatively short distance even if it was in the dark over very bumpy, unpaved roads. (Yes, Ken I did!) So we loaded up our backpacks and duffel bags and all four of us squeezed in there with the driver and headed over to the compound. The ride was as much fun as I thought it was going to be!

It was already dark by the time we got to the compound so we couldn’t see much, but it consisted of several buildings in addition to the guesthouses. There was a communal kitchen in one of the other buildings where we could prepare our breakfast in the morning. We had a suite I guess you would call it with a common sitting room and two bedrooms. The bathroom was off of the room with the bunk beds. Plus we had air-conditioning in the room –what more could you want?

I had finally made it to Tanzania!