I got to visit Tanzania a couple of weeks ago. It was part of a work trip so unfortunately I did not get the chance to get out of Dar Es Salaam, I barely even got the chance to get out of the hotel! But on the last day I managed to escape from the force of nature that is the Dutch woman who organized the seminar, and headed to the local Kariakoo market with a lovely South African woman. The market was incredibly crowded, loud, and full of different smells at every corner. In other words, I felt right at home! I bought plenty of tea, vanilla, and pretty kangas, and enjoyed attempting to haggle relying primarily on sign language. That short period of time spent at the market that reminded me so much of Cairo’s bustling markets was the highlight of the trip for me. It’s amazing how often we can’t help but gravitate towards what makes us feel home.
Another highlight of the trip was that I got to meet people from all around Africa! I met people from Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, and of course plenty of Tanzanians, in addition to one Indian and two Dutch people. I even got to meet an ex-guerilla fighter from Mozambique! It was truly a confluence of different cultures, which was amazing to experience, and I will never forget one of my all-time favourite conversations I had with an Indian and a Ugandan where somehow we ended up talking about everything from food to politics to philosophy and religion.
Since I did not really get a chance to see the real Tanzania, I definitely plan on visiting the country again, but this time I would like to visit Zanzibar and Arusha which I heard a lot about from both tourists and locals while I was in Dar. I would also really love to see more of “black” Africa. Many of the people I met there asked me if this was my first African country. I would tell them I’m Egyptian? They unanimously gave the same answer “No Egypt doesn’t count, we mean black Africa!” I couldn’t argue, Egyptians rarely perceive themselves as Africans unfortunately.
All in all, it was a great trip, but it’s great to be back home!