Travels with V

Tanzania, Zanzibar & Pemba

And she said Yes!

Dar es Salaam part one

We travelled to Tanzania, but in a weird way it wasn’t our decision to go to that country. It was more in the hands of the Swedish government and its Foreign Services. Sounds peculiar, I know, but it was what it was.

You see, in 2014 we were engaged to be married under a waterfall in Sri Lanka. The following year I asked V to marry me, one romantic evening under the stars in Cuba. And she said Yes!

Our top 5 in Tanzania:

 

  1. Hotel: Southern Sun in Dar es Salaam. Comfortable, well organized and friendly. Helpful staff och a great restaurant with a lovely veranda. Placed in a relatively quiet and safe area.
  2. Music-in-town-excursion in Dar. These guys will take you to the best places where people go out to dance and drink. Book through your hotel!
  3. Best natural experience: Our 4-day safari in Serengeti, Lake Manyara and NgoroNgoro ws simply fantastic. We went with swedish owned Anderson Safari and all except the lodges (read the blog!) was top class.
  4. Best food: Zanzibar retreat hotel in Matemwe. Simply the greatest hotel and best kitchen on the long beach at Matemwe.
  5. Best part of our trip: Pemba. The unspoilt life on this island with its small-scale touristic development. And the stay in lovely Fundu Lagoon. Barefoot luxury!

So as soon as we got home we started to look for Swedish Embassies with staff that were authorized to perform the act of marriage. What we found was that very few Embassies had that kind of personnel, at least among those in non-European countries.

We didn’t want to break our habit of visiting far-away countries, so what choices did we have? Excluding places where the wheather was bad during the Swedish summer (surprisingly many, actually!) there were only two left, one in Africa. Neither one of us had been in Africa south of the equator, so we decided on Tanzania. That’s where we’ll be married!

THE ART OF PACKING

So on June 20 the following year we flew from Copenhagen to Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. Traveling into an unknown town from its airport I always try to get some first impression of what life’s like there. What to expect. Guide books often warn about areas or hours when it’s not safe to walk the streets in Dar es Salaam, but we rather got a distinct feeling of a green and modern city and friendly people. This would later prove to be mainly true.

We had booked ourselves into a very nice hotel called the Southern Sun, a few blocks away  from the Swedish Embassy, and in the room was a bottle of champagne, red roses in a vase and a note congratulating the newlyweds. We ignore the little mistake and empty the bottle.

Southern Sun is a truly great place. There’s a restaurant with outdoor seating on a veranda facing a beautiful garden. Beyond it there’s a park proudly called “Botanical Garden”, where we the first morning spot some monkeys on the ground. Later we’ll see a couple of herons in a tall tree. In the park we also bump into a man with binoculars, who turns out to be a Swedish ex-cop, now resettled in Tanzania as a safari guide in one of the country’s biggest national parks

In Dar we also meet some people who live a dangerous life in Tanzania and some neighbouring countries. They risk being killed, dismembered and having their body parts sold as talismans to bring good fortune. They’re albino, a mutation relatively common in this part of the world. Their white skin really looks out of place here in Africa, and their stories are heartbreaking.

Albino children are often sent to special boarding schools, for their protection. Their situation in the villages are way too insecure. But the consequence of this is that they’re isolated, and in the rest of society they continue to be alien and unaccepted for what they are. There are organizations fighting for their rights, spreading knowledge about what albinism is, and trying to convince lawmakers and judges that those who benefit from the trade in albino body parts must be punished. Which isn’t always the case today.

IMG_6153 NYAST

Finally the big day is here. The elegant clothes deepest down in our backpacks are picked up and put on. We walk the few blocks to the Swedish Embassy and must have made a damn pretty sight. We’re met by two officials who make sure the correct forms are filled, and then we’re presented to the ambassador herself who is the one that will officially wed us. And we are. And we’re sooo happy!

The wedding dinner is consumed in a spectacular revolving restaurant on top of a hotel, and “as usual” we’re almost the only guests. The food is great and while we eat the darkening city revolves around us. Suddenly we are served a wedding cake with “Happy anniversary” in caramel letters. We explain the mistake to the waiter who is a little embarrassed. We assure him that no harm is done.

Up next is a visit to one of Tanzania’s most successful schools when it comes to educating and encouraging young girls. The school is founded by Mama Barbro, a Swedish woman who lived for many years in post-colonial Tanzania. 

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