A Return to Mikadi Beach.
Having dealt with the same con again to get my ticket back to Dar es Salaam “No boat to Dar, only Pemba” I sat on the walls of the harbour feeling slightly melancholic, knowing that the party was over. Or more accurately that the party was going on, and I was leaving. I watched the ferry come in to take me away from Zanzibar, and back to Dar es Salaam, taking me further away from this group of friends I had so come to enjoy.
While waiting at the ferry terminal for the last ferry back to the city I spotted Walter in the crowd. And after the ride back to the mainland we caught a tuk-tuk back to Mikadi Beach together, and I was very glad for the company. My car was still there, safe and sound, if filthy. I reassembled the ignition system, which I had taken apart before leaving for Zanzibar, and set up camp again under the trees. Tent city was back, but this time much smaller.
The next morning Walter and I went back into the city to see the botanical gardens, and the National Museum. Dar es Salaam might not be the capital city of Tanzania (that honour goes to Dodoma, a town with a population of around 220 thousand) But Dar certainly is Tanzania’s most important, and populous city, at about 4.5 million people. State House is in Dar, as well as the Banks and all of the foreign Embassies, so I figured there would be something to see in the museums.
We caught the ferry over the harbour again, and walked up Barrack Obama Drive passed the hospital and up to the museum. There were no signs pointing us in the right direction, and after a short trip to the rather disappointing botanical gardens I spotted a few old car through a fence, and figured that must be the museum. We rounded the corner and found the gate guard asleep. In his defence the streets of Dar es Salaam were pretty sleepy that day.
The museum seemed as if no one really worked there. There were many historical photographs on display, showing the history of colonial East Africa, but it felt like it hadn’t been updated in a long time, I don’t think the museum is very important to the people of Dar es Salaam.
Away from the main museum is the original building built by British colonials during their administration. It’s a charming building but also, rather run down. The exhibits are almost childish.
There was a small collection of old cars that were used by the British governors of the colony, and some cars from president of Tanzania. The Rolls Royces and Mercedes seemed to be slowly rotting away in the tropical air. Dar es Salaam is not a place to leave an old car outside for any stretch of time.
The Rolls Royces I could understand not being looked after, as they were colonial, and most likely a symbol of a time Africa would like to forget. However, I couldn’t understand how the museum staff could let the Mercedes of Julius Nyerere rot away. It’s not only a valuable car in its own right, but it’s an important car in the history of Tanzania.
The trip to the museum added to my growing sense of melancholy. It made me nervous about heading north. If this is what the most important city in Tanzania was like, what would things be like in Sudan? Anyway, I was glad to be back at Mikadi Beach that afternoon. I had bought some coconut chocolate in town and was quite happy on the beach.
That night Jens, Christina and Dani arrived back from their safari in Moshi. This was a great boost to my spirits. It seemed that the old days of Mikadi Beach were to be revived. We spent the next day reading on the beach in perfect weather. A commercial over-landing group had arrived in Mikadi while I was on Zanzibar. The clients had left their cars, about five Land Rovers, and headed for the island. One of the members of staff stayed behind, Jan, from Cape Town.
Jan made a pretty good potjiekos that we all shared that night. We listened to music until late, and chatted. We ate fresh coconut for desert, which the Mikadi chef opened for us. My coconut had almost killed me. Earlier that day I had been standing on the beach, when I heard a dull thud and found the coconut about a foot away from me in the sand.
Although I was a little sad to leave the party on Zanzibar early, I would not have traded that night at Mikadi for anything.