Arriving in Tanzania was something I had in the back of my mind. I knew I was going there but my mind was still in India and then I was distracted by Middle Eastern culture in Qatar on the way here, that my arrival was a tad overwhelming. I arrived to a hot, chaotic airport where I quickly got through immigration and paid my $50 visa on arrival, before heading outside to find a taxi. There was free wifi so I sat down to send a message of safety to friends and family before looking for a lift to the city. I was approached by a few taxi drivers asking why I'm travelling alone, did I know that it's cheaper to travel with others (no shit), what do I plan to do in Tanzania and why didn't I go straight to Zanzibar etc. All these questions added to the sense of being overwhelmed and I couldn't answer the questions because I didn't know myself. And why should I? I have every right to travel by myself and have no plan and Africa is just like anywhere else on the planet so here I am. I was given weird looks of confusion, so I just pretended I had friends in Dar who I was meeting, to shut them up. I urged then to give me 10 mins of time to send a message back home, because It seemed I was being hurried along.
The taxi took me towards the area of my 'hotel' but when we got there, the dusty, sand roads had no street names and looked very remote, so we couldn't find my hotel. The driver asked locals who had no idea and I got a sense of worry as there seemed to be no sign and even if there was, did I wanna stay all the way out here. Eventually after a phone call to 'Mama Siwa' the taxi driver had directions and dropped me outside. The 'hotel' had no name but had huge gates which seemed secure and the ladies seemed nice.
I spent two nights here. After I arrived I slept and then took a taxi to a money exchange to get Tanzanian Shillings. The drive 'downtown' frightened me and I could see no other travellers around. The driver took me back to my hotel and I went for a walk to look for some food but with nothing meatless around, I ended up in bed with a packet of biscuits and crisps, starving. The next day had to be better!
The next day I woke early to plan a day expiring Dar. I decided to throw myself into it and walk from where I was based, into the city. I got a lot of stares and comments along the way and I was greeted with 'Jambo' (Hello) a million times there and back. I spent the day walking around in the sheer heat, eating breakfast in a normal but expensive restaurant before finding a tourist hub cafe where travellers sat and drank coffee while using the wifi. I stayed there for a bit to get some info online and calm down with a cold drink. I realised I was close to the national museum so I decided to go there for an hour or two. Luckily I did, because it was one of the most interesting places I've been. It deceives human evolution in detail, African culture, slavery amongst other aspects of life. I spent a while in there before going back to the traveller hub for lunch.
I had booked my ferry ticket (through a man who charged more and ripped me off, when I should have known and just gone into the ferry office itself) and was due to leave the next morning to the Island of Zanzibar. I was so excited. I imagined pristine beaches, other travellers, cafés and restaurants and so sense of normality for a week. I booked a room at 'beach bungalow' in Paje on the eastern beaches and I couldn't wait to get there. This would give me a week to settle in and be away from the crazy of Dar city.