Monday, 21 June

London to Zurich to Dar Es Salaam

Zurich Airport

Today was a travel day. We were awake at 3:30am to catch our 4:00am taxi to catch our 6:20am flight. We got to Heathrow before the Swiss Air counter was even open, so we plopped down on the floor and read to pass the time. Our first flight went from London to Zurich, Switzerland. Zurich is a beautiful airport. As you look off into the distance out of the terminal, you're greeted with rolling green hills that give way to the majestic Swiss Alps. Absolutely beautiful.

Our second flight took us into Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania (with a brief stop in Nairobi, Kenya). There was a backup at Immigration in Dar. I got my first awe-inspiring demonstration of David speaking Swahili as he asked an official which line we should get in. The guy didn't have an answer, but it's amazing what total immersion can do for one's language skills. David and I conferred with a family from California and (eventually) got in the right line. They were there to go on an eleven-day safari. My guess is that it was a graduation gift for their (beautiful) twenty-something daughter, who was just about to start law school at Loyola in LA.

Swahili and Tanzanian Culture Demonstration Number Two occurred when David haggled for a taxi ride. David walked up to a group of taxi drivers and said, "We need a ride to the Safari Inn for $5," all in Swahili, of course. One guy said, "No, it's $12." David threw his hands up in the air and gave them a you've-got-to-be-kidding-me speech that ended with him walking away...and a driver running after us agreeing to $5. At the time, I wasn't sure what had just happened, but I knew I was impressed.

The Safari Inn is exactly the kind of hotel in which my Mom would be uncomfortable staying. At $15 a night, it's little more than a place to rest your head for the night. After checking in, we found a local restaurant and had some chicken, naan and passion fruit juice. It was all delicious (especially the juice!). An Indian who was eating at the restaurant complimented David on his Swahili. He said it sounded like he had been speaking it for ten years. David laughed it off and later reminded me that the guy's first language was not Swahili, either. David taught me an important Tanzanian table manner that night: only eat with your right hand. You see, most Tanzanians don't use toilet paper. They use some combination of water and their left hand. Accordingly, when you eat, the left hand stays under the table.

We found a bar and they sold us two cans of beer. We smuggled them into the hotel. (They don't allow alcohol in rooms, though two employees told us that if we put the beer in a bag and brought the bag in, it would be no problem. Figure that one out.) We stayed up and chatted for a while, nursing our one beer.

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All content and photos Copyright 2004 Travis Pettijohn.