We started our day with a delicious local breakfast of herbal tea, bread, and fruit prepared by Mariam. The local experiences we have been having are incredible and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
After breakfast we set off for some market shopping to find that the car had a flat tire. We spent about an hour changing the tire and during this time we were able to meet Tom’s neighbor friend who coincidently is related to the previous prime minister of Malawi. He gave us his cousin’s contact information and we plan to get in touch while we are in Malawi… He even offered to let us stay in his accommodations, um cool! The prime minster of Malawi is equivalent to the president of the United States.
After our tire was fixed we headed into town with Mariam and Tom to visit some of the most famous markets. First we went to the Mwenge woodcarver’s market where many local wood products are carved and sold. Tom and Mariam bought us numerous souvenirs without letting us pay for any of it. I am excited to decorate our house with everything we have collected upon arrival in Malawi, and later Los Angeles.
We proceeded on to visit the largest and most famous market in Dar, Kariakoo market. At this market we purchased fruits and vegetables for cooking our meals over the next few days, and Mariam purchased two kangas for me. Kangas are the traditional African skirts that you see many women in Africa wearing. Mariam purchase a yellow and red one and a blue an white one for me. They are both absolutely beautiful an I can’t wait to get them fitted so I can wear them during my time in Malawi.
After Kariakoo market, we headed to the pier to drive by the fish market, visit some famous Christian churches, and then board the ferry for Tom and Mariam’s favorite beach in all of Dar. The beach was called Mwengi beach and it was absolutely beautiful. Andrew and I swam in the Indian Ocean for over an hour, gathered the most beautiful shells, and spent time talking with Mariam and Tom about their lives. Tom and Mariam once again bought us lunch, a delicious and very healthy french fri omelette with hot sauce. For dinner we had a famous Tanzanian dish called Pilau, with beef stew, tomato salad, and avocado mango juice. I have found that much of people’s time here revolves around food. People, rich or poor, spend their days shopping at the markets, gathering water, and cooking the food to perfection.
Our first day in Dar was amazing, thanks to two locals who have become our good friends. Tom and Mariam have been married for 7 years and they still act like a newlywed couple. They work together on their home based business and have become quite successful. Just last year they moved from their small home in the middle of the city to a beautiful green apartment complex just outside of Dar. To let you know how nice it is, this is the first time we have stayed in a place with a refrigerator and Air Conditioning. We are living in a palace.
(Below: Andrew’s post)
Kylie and I woke this morning excited to have our first day in Dar. I’ve found it difficult to get a good read on a city when you arrive at night, but during the day you can really develop an understanding of a cities personality/culture.
We joined Tom and Mariam for breakfast which consisted of herbal tea, ‘donuts’ (friend bread), hard boiled eggs, bread, and mango. From what I’ve been able to observe, starches are a major part of an African diet, regardless whether you are from Rwanda, Kenya, or Tanzania. While the stereotype is that many Africans are starving, as a whole I’ve seen stronger and healthier people here than in the U.S. What is a major problem here is getting enough nutrient rich foods (instead of calorie heavy). After breakfast we set out to explore Dar (Dar Es Salaam). We first stopped at a local market that was very touristy. A series of shops made the entirety of the market, each selling different wood souvineers. The impressive thing is many of the shops had woodworkers sitting near the door, whittling, carving, or sanding different creations. They had everything from wooden Masai weapons to rhinos to Africa’s big 5… It was quite a sight. Tom and Mariam had never been to a market like it before and it was clear they were having a good time. Tom even bought himself a wooden cane with a sword inside (just like the ones you get in china). Something funny about shopping with locals, is it makes bargaining more difficult. When Kylie and I were asking about the price of a particular item (to see how much we were being charged), Mariam seemed to join in with the shopkeeper in saying ‘look how nice it is’ ‘do you like it?’ ‘What don’t you like about it?’ Etc. I actually thought it was funny since it was a classic instance of cultural differences. Kylie and I strategically separated in the market so I could go bargain ‘Chinese style’ for the things we actually wanted. Another cultural difference is when I went to ‘Chinese’ bargain with the shopkeepers, I got very different reactions than I would in Asia. When my counter price was far too low for them, instead of engaging me on another price, they chatted in Swahili, almost confused about what to do. I had to re-engage with another price before I even got a response in English I could work with. In the end, similar techniques work, I guess that’s pretty universal.
We left the market with a new chapati roller, an African vase, and a couple other trinkets. After the market, we left for Kariakoo market (the most famous one in Dar). As we wove through dense traffic Marian warned us to watch our valuables as this market was notorious for pickpockets. As an experiment I slipped a $500 shillings note (less than 25 cents) in my pocket to see if someone would take my bait. In the market we saw everything. It honestly was just like a street market in China, with a lot more Swahili, and a lot more Islamic clothing for sale. The market was pretty cool despite the large crowds. We bought some fruit and a couple Kangas (African tradition wrap skirt) for Kylie and were on our way. In the car I checked my pocket, no one took my bait.
After the markets we drove to the ferry to head to Tom and Mariam’s favorite relax spot in Dar. The soft sandy beach of Mwengi. The beach was a nice change as we all swam and relaxed in the Indian Ocean. And trust me, in 40 Celsius degree weather, any form of water is welcome.
I’ve been continually amazed at the generosity of the people here. Both Tom and Mariam have offered their home, their food, and their time to acquaint us with their way of living. It’s been a wonderful and eye opening experience and I can’t wait to see what church holds tomorrow!