Tomorrow in Tanzania


This blog entry about the events of Wednesday, April 28, 2004 was originally posted on May 11, 2004.

DAY 193:  For most of my days on The Global Trip 2004, I often wonder what the next day will bring.  While some people need to plan a long way in advance and know what they’ll do the next day — or even the next week or next year(!) — it’s somewhat refreshing not to know what the future holds until it becomes the present.  People have asked me, “Erik, what are you going to do when you get back home?”  The reply is always the same:  “I don’t know.  I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow.”

HOWEVER, LIKE DAILY BLOG WRITING, the daily process of figuring out the next day can sometimes get tedious — as the James Bond film title goes, “Tomorrow Never Dies” — especially when you have a whole country at your finger tips and plenty of options.  Should I stay a while in Dar-es-Salaam, or fly off to Zanzibar?  Plan a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro?  A wildlife safari in the Serengeti?  Oh, the life of a traveler is so hard, isn’t it?

It actually is hard when you’re committed to doing a daily Blog and the hotel’s lobby internet cafe has a bad connection.  I would have moved to a different cafe after all the problems I was having, but I had already downloaded all my files to the Windows XP desktop and from my experience, sometimes it’s more of a hassle to download drivers if a lab doesn’t have XP.  Anyway, I spent two hours more than necessary trying to troubleshoot the weird errors I was getting, but then gave up to walk around and blow off some steam.

DAR-ES-SALAAM, THE FORMER VILLAGE of a community of fishermen in the 1800s, eventually grew into a major harbor town for mainly Arab and Portuguese traders and slavers.  The port grew and grew over the decades until it was colonized by the Germans and then the British (a likely history).  Today it continues to be a major port of call under independent rule.

My hotel was in the city centre (picture above), a district filled with people going about their business, some business being trying to rip off obvious-looking tourists (like myself) in the streets with claims of better black market money exchange rates.  I avoided these guys calling out “Kichina!” (“Chinese!”) to me since I changed money earlier that morning.  (The woman at the exchange bureau warned me about them because “they will rob you on the street.”) 

I walked away from the city centre, up the main downtown street and on the road along the Dar-es-Salaam Bay, which went up to a greener and less crowded suburban area.  Wandering aimlessly, I managed to stumble upon the National Museum of Tanzania, one of the few worthwhile things to visit according to my guidebook.  The museum, spread over three buildings, had exhibits of Tanzania’s history, its culture and its animals. 

After walking most of the afternoon, I had seen most of what central Dar-es-Salaam had to offer and came to the decision that come tomorrow, I would leave and move on.

I HAD LUNCH AT J.J.‘S, a local restaurant on Samora Avenue in the downtown area, full of locals.  I walked in, the Oriental-looking boy I was, and all heads looked up from a brief moment to look me over.  I sat down and looked at the menu; the waiter turned the page for me and pointed to the “Chinese specialty” section.  I just chuckled and ordered chicken in coconut sauce from a different section.

After stocking up on cans of tuna and crackers, I went to an internet cafe in town to check my e-mail.  I had replied to an e-mail from Yvonne (who I met in Nkhata Bay, Malawi briefly) who was three days ahead of me on a very similar itinerary as mine.  She wrote me because she wanted to know if I’d be in the northern town of Arusha by the next day because she was starting a Mount Kilimanjaro trek, which would be cheaper if she had another person to go with (namely me).  I wrote her back asking her to wait up, but she hadn’t replied back yet.  I even tried to send her an SMS text message, but I couldn’t manage to figure out how to do it via the internet.  It was still uncertain if I’d go to Arusha in the morning.

In the meantime, I e-mailed Tony and Priya, two friends of Cristina (my Filipino-American Connection in Lusaka, Zambia) whom I was told I could look up in Dar.  Maybe one of them would help me figure out what to do the next day. 

BACK IN MY HOTEL ROOM, I finally caught up on my Blog duties on my laptop until it was dark outside.  I transferred the files and photos to my camera and plugged into the XP workstation downstairs.  I had the same connection woes and weird problems as before, but it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a little cut-and-paste relay with markyt over Yahoo! Messenger.  Meanwhile, in my inbox was an e-mail from Yvonne telling me that she was still doing her Mount Kilimanjaro trek the next day as scheduled since it was already booked.  She did however, recommend the tour operator in Arusha, Kilimanjaro Crown Safaris run by a Mr. Jalala, making it the third recommendation from fellow travelers.  Recommendations for such a thing are key in a vast sea of not-so-reputable companies.

Also in my inbox were replies from Priya — she was actually in New York for a while — and Tony, who told me that he actually lived in Moshi (the other Mount Kilimanjaro starting point town besides Arusha) and that he’d be keen on meeting up in either town.

I sort of put Zanzibar and the Serengeti on the backburner and just boiled down my options for the next day to Arusha or Moshi.  In Arusha, the more popular of the two Mt. Kilimanjaro starting point towns, there was a trek company that people highly recommended to me.  In Moshi was an expat who knew the area — plus there was the Tin Tin Tours company that I was referred to by Peter, the Tanzanian rastafarian I met in Nkhata Bay.

I was eating a late tuna and cracker dinner in my room and I still hadn’t made the decision of what to do the next day.  It simply came down to a toss up, and rather than simply flip a coin, I did something similar to what I read in The Alchemist, the book by Paulo Coelho that inspired me to take this crazy trip in the first place:  in the time of a two-way decision, the hero in the book pulled one of two different stones out of his pocket, each one representing a different option.  The one he pulled out at random was his answer. 

I didn’t exactly have any stones, so I used coins of similar size and weight:  a Malawian coin to represent Moshi and a Tanzanian one to represent Arusha. 

The 50 tambala Malawian coin came out and the decision was made.

What the next day would bring, or where the path of the Malawian coin would lead me I did not know yet, but I knew I would find out all in good time.  As the slightly-modified lyrics of the popular song from the musical Annie goes, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, [I’ll find out] tomorrow, You’re only a day away…”

Next entry: And We Clik!

Previous entry: Mad Dash to Dar

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Comments for “Tomorrow in Tanzania”

  • HEY GANG, I’m back with a vengeance.  This entry is the first of a series of ten entries to be uploaded all in a row.  Take your time with each entry, as each one was written to be read—and commented on—in its own individual sitting, not as part of a group.  As you start reading them, you’ll see that it probably makes more sense to read them in intervals, so pace them out. 

    There’s more to come after this… stay tuned!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/11  at  02:32 PM

  • FIRST…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/11  at  02:33 PM

  • FIRST…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/11  at  02:36 PM

  • Tin Tin Tours….run by Tin Tin from the Crow?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/11  at  02:45 PM

  • Yippee! You’re back! smile

    Posted by Liz  on  05/11  at  05:33 PM

  • woohoo!!! you’re back. i got your postcard, it was pretty cool. i like all the homemade cards. they are so much cooler than the production glossary cards that tourist usually get. but my favorite is still the one made by the kids back in south america. =)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/11  at  06:43 PM

  • Yay! You’re back! Good work keeping up the blog…it’s might be tedious, but your blog fans thank you!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/11  at  11:05 PM

  • Here’s to being spontaneous and living on the edge!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/11  at  11:54 PM

  • Oooh! I can procrastinate and waste time again! YIPPEE! Glad you’re back!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/12  at  12:22 AM

  • I think Tin Tin Tours might be refering to the Belgian comic book about the globe-trotting boy detective of the same name.
    Comic book nerd trumps computer nerds every time - take THAT Trinidad!
    Good to see you back Erik.

    Posted by dunlavey  on  05/12  at  05:32 AM

  • MARKYT:  That’s the OTHER reason why I picked “Tin Tin.”

    “Fire it up!  Fire it up!  Fire it up!”

    DUNLAVEY:  How’s that for nerdy?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  05/12  at  12:59 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
And We Clik!

Previous entry:
Mad Dash to Dar


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