DonQui likes Tanzania and he likes the Tanzanians. Everyone seems so friendly, open and helpful. Of course they operate on African, not Swiss, time but then maybe that is why they seem to smile more. DonQui does not recall seeing so many smiles in Switzerland despite the scenery and efficiency of that country.
Tanzania is truly beautiful and diverse, justly famous for its great wildlife parks, Kilimanjaro and the beaches of Zanzibar.
Unfortunately DonQui cannot be quite so effusive about Dar es Salaam. The city is a busy, sprawling metropolis of over 4 million people with few immediately obvious attractions beyond the friendliness of the inhabitants.
With the growth of an increasingly prosperous middle class has come the curse of the automobile. With no public transport to speak of and no traffic management, the roads are a choking, crawling nightmare.
Most tourists only come to Dar as a stopping off place to somewhere else but DonQui has spent quite some time here over the past few years. Although he cannot truly say that he likes the city, he has a certain fondness for it and has found a few oases where he can feel quite comfortable.
His favourite place is Slipway. Once a boat yard and now in the heart of the upmarket Msasani Peninsula it offers shops and restaurants geared to the well heeled citizens of Dar and the diplomatic community that has taken up residence in the surrounding area.
It may not be representative of the ‘real’ Dar but DonQui feels very much at home here with the multi-ethnic crowd, good food and relaxed ambiance.
Although most of Dar faces east over the Indian Ocean, Slipway faces west over the Msasani Bay. At sunset, the views are pretty hard to beat.
DonQui’s favourite place for a sundowner is the Waterfront Sunset Restaurant and Beach Bar. There he sips a cold Serengeti to watch the sun set over the bay alongside the eclectic mix of diplomat kids, weatherbeaten divers from the adjacent PADI centre, a mish-mash of expats, locals and tourists. He can hear English, Swahili, Afrikaans, Swedish, German and Finnish being spoken at the tables surrounding him. The food is pretty good too with everything from thin crust pizza to locally caught fish. His favourite, however, is the goat curry.
Further north, as the urban sprawl gives way to more open country is Jangwani beach where a number hotels, not least a new and very swanky looking Ramada Inn, have sprung up to cater for the conference and tourist trade.
The setting with white sand beaches overlooking the Indian Ocean is rather magnificent but outside the hotels there is not much on offer.
DonQui is spending a couple of nights at the White Sands Hotel. He cannot fault the place. The rooms are comfortable, mosquito proofed and all have beach front balconies or terraces. The beach is clean, the food is OK, wifi works, the endemic power cuts are dealt with by generators, and the staff are incredibly friendly.And they even have a pier just like Southwold!
In October the hotel is pretty well empty with staff seeming to outnumber customers, most of whom seem to be monitors for the Tanzanian election which takes place this coming Sunday. If there was more to do outside the hotel, DonQui could consider it for a holiday. He would jump at the chance to use it as a conference or training venue.