Sunday, June 10, 2012

Arrival in Dar es Salaam

It seems like we left days ago (it has really only been 36 hours I guess since I left my apartment in Miami).  I flew from Miami to Heathrow.  I am not sure why, but I agreed to give up my aisle seat so that a man could sit next to his wife so for the transatlantic leg of the flight, I was in a middle seat wedged between uncomfortably between two people.  No sleep on that part of the trip.   

In London,  I had a 7 hour layover. For some reason, they make everyone go through security again, even though we just came off a plane.  What could we have possibly picked up between the plane jetway and the security checkpoint?  The security people there did not play.  I saw them frisking a buddhist monk in his robes shortly after I made it through.  

The next leg of the flight, I was actually able to sleep for an hour or two.  We arrived in Dar es Salaam at 7 am local time Sunday (midnight Saturday night Eastern time back home).  After passing through customs, I was very happy to see that my suitcase also made the trip to Africa without incident.   

Our driver picked us up and drove us to our hotel.  There were a lot of people out walking around on the streets for 8 am  on a Sunday, although traffic was pretty light.  We were "upgraded" to the hotel we are in because our other hotel had some sort of conference and needed the rooms.  We are staying at the Serena Hotel, which is actually quite nice.  Security is everywhere.  They have a beautiful pool area and bar.  Armed security guards are pacing the hallways.  I converted my money to Tanzanian Shillings and the conversion rate is ridiculous.  1575 shillings to $1 dollar.  

They had a breakfast buffet in the lobby which, as it turns out, is included with our hotel stay.  I felt brave so I tried some things.  So far, so good.  :-)

After showering and shaving so that I could feel human again, I walked to a local grocery store nearby and found some bottled water and sodas along with everything else under the sun (they even had some sort of Miley Cyrus gear...*sigh* seriously?)  A man outside stopped to ask me about Obama in broken English and we had an interesting conversation.  He made some reference to Michelle Obama, but I am still not entirely sure what he said.  

We just met our translator in the hotel lobby.  She will be accompanying us for the next 5 weeks of our trip to help with any language issues that may come up for the women we are helping to draft wills.  

Tomorrow, we are visiting the US embassy and then we are spending some time with the Tanzanian Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA).  The rest of the week will be spent working with the University of Dar es Salaam to teach us some of the local stuff we need to know about drafting wills here.  

I know this was a long entry, but a lot going on.  I desperately need a nap about now so I am going to lay down for a few, but I will post some pictures soon.  

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