Week Three in Tanzania

THURSDAY July 28, 2005

5:30PM - The van is now 90 minutes late, assuring that Hendrik is going to be late to his own wedding.

1:25am - What utter chaos! The van was supposed to pick us up at 4pm. It finally showed up at 6pm but we couldn't leave right away. Hendrik's father had to get dressed because somehow his dress thingy was here and Hendrik had to get dressed as well. He waited until 6:30pm to get dressed because we had to wait for some other people who were in the kitchen dividing up some red paste thingy with nuts in it so the men could eat at the mosque.

So, first, we had to go back to Rokesh's house because the photographer was there waiting to take photos and Hendrik was supposed to take a Mercedes to the mosque. Finally, we got through all the night traffic and arrived there around 7:30pm. Everyone got out only to have Hanna and I shoved back into the van two minutes later and sent off to Salma's parent's house. When we get there, we're pushed into Salma's room, where we're supposed to pay money to see Salma, except no one told us this so we don't have any money to give.

Then we're pushed out into the living room to sit on the floor with the other women. We are all cramped up and packed in like sardines for the next two hours. I felt sorry for some of the women who were there because many of them had been there four hours or more waiting for Hendrik. I spent most of my two hours cursing Hendrik and shifting from one butt cheek to the other, in a desperate attempt to keep my butt from going numb. I finally succumbed to the heat and dozed off several times before Hendrik arrived.

Meanwhile, the men were having a craptacular time as well. The Mercedes for Hendrik never showed, so they had to wait 45 minutes to arrange and get another car. Then Hendrik left for the mosque, leaving his father, his brother and Paul stranded at Rokesh's house. Eventually, our van showed up and took them to the mosque. As usual, Hendrik was late again and turned up in the middle of evening prayer so they had to wait until that was over before they could proceed. After prayer, they discover that the guy who was supposed to perform the ceremony is not there. He thought it was tomorrow. Salma's father frantically runs around to get another guy who can perform the ceremony. Sure, now it sounds funny but everyone was either pissed or freaking out at the time.

So, now is the time for the wedding. It is VERY different from what I am used to. Basically, the groom asks the bride's father for permission to marry, to which the father agrees. Then there's some prayers and other stuff in Arabic that no one seemed to understand. After this, they eat then they go to the father's home where the bride is waiting. All the men are ushered in and out of Salma's room and then Hendrik and Salma come out and have to sign some papers. At this point, Meinderd, his father, and Paul are very cranky. They know now how us women have felt all week. Hendrik's father is really pissed because the entire groom's side was completely left out of everything at the mosque. Apparently, Hendrik's father was so angry that he was ready to get on the next plane out of Tanzania because he felt that it wasn't necessary for him to be here. Meinderd is also not happy and told me that he will be happy when he leaves.

So, after the men arrived and saw Salma, they got to go outside and eat. Specific family groups were called up for photos with Hendrik and Salma. By now, it was 10:30pm and I'm starving. I haven't eaten all day, again, so Meinderd went off and swiped some food from the men and gave it to me. He was not pleased to find out that the women had not eaten yet. Finally, after the men had eaten, the women were given food. Paul and Meinderd did not try to hid their disgust at this. We finally left around 12:15am and had to wait at the apartment house for Hendrik and Salma, who had to arrive in a separate car. We came back with some other family members in the van and they went up with Hendrik and Salma to their bedroom. I don't know what for and I didn't ask. Now, everyone is just really tired and cranky. We all just want to go to bed.

FRIDAY July 29, 2005

Salma left this morning around 8am because she has to be bathed by some women the day after she is married. Hendrik was also supposed to be bathed by three female members of Salma's family but he declined. And, yes, by bathed I mean four all them would be naked while bathing. Supposedly, at 1pm or 2pm we are going to have a traditional muslim lunch at the mosque. This pleases no one in the house because, again, women and men will not be allowed to eat together.

This morning at breakfast, Meinderd told Hendrik that the wedding was a disaster, that much of his vacation was horrible and that none of us are having a good time. I kind of felt bad for Hendrik but Meinderd was only voicing what many of us have been feeling this week. I muss say that I'm glad I never did any of this stuff when I got married. One good thing about today is that Meinderd taught me to play tric-trac, a dutch game played on a backgammon board.

7:20pm - well, another day is done and gone. We actually ended up early for the mosque so, instead of actually going to the mosque, we went to the beach. Salma and Hendrik were in another car again because of some tradition thing. So, we are all just hanging out at the beach for thirty minutes. The cook who was supposed to be there thought this was all happening tomorrow so we were all waiting for another cook and then we could go. The only problem is that we couldn't go right away. Our driver felt that a van could go the same place as the SUV that Hendrik and Salma were in. Now, we're stuck in the sand. So, it's back out of the van again.

Twenty minutes later, there are about ten guys around the van and they literally pick up the van and move it out of the sand. Then they push it back out of the sand so that the driver can get back on the road and we're on our way. I did not enjoy lunch at the mosque. The women ate upstairs while the men ate downstairs. Paul and I were literally pulled apart as we were in the middle of talking to each other because there were even seperate entrances for the men and the women. Paul was pissed and began mumbling, but I told him to just go as I was being pulled to go upstairs and I couldn't stay. At least the wedding reception is tomorrow and men and women can mix there.

I didn't enjoy this because we had to sit on the floor the entire time we were there. I really don't enjoy sitting on the floor and especially not when I'm trying to eat. Basically, we went upstairs, sat for ten minutes, got food, ate, then people started leaving. Some people stayed and danced and Meinderd, Hendrik and Paul broke protocol and came upstairs. We took a few photos and then they left. We sat for another 25 minutes while some women danced and then we left to go home.

SATURDAY July 30, 2005

We actually ended up early to the reception, which was a very nice change. We waiting at Salma's parent's house for about ten minutes and then a stream of about a dozen cars went off to the reception together. Salma's cousin, Tom, picked us up today and we were making jokes all evening about how we wanted him to take us everywhere from now on because he knows how to be on time. For weddings here, everyone drives during the day with their lights on and all the other cars on the road politely wait for you to pass. That's kind of cool, especially since that only happens at funerals in America. However, everything after arriving at the reception hall was late. Despite being right outside, Hendrik and Salma entered 30 minutes late. Then the power went out, three times. Next, the photographer comes over, tells Paul that his flash isn't working and leaves Paul with three rolls of film. He left and we never saw him again. So, Paul became the defacto photographer for the evening. Everything was supposed to be over by 11:30pm and we left just before 1am. It was an okay time but, at 2:30am, I'm just tired and want to go to bed.

SUNDAY July 31, 2005

We wanted to go to the National Museum today but it's already 11:30am and nothing is happening. Hendrik said he was planning on just vegging out today. That's fine for him because he's been running around for two weeks. I've been sitting on my ass for thirteen days and am quite sick of it. I'm beginning to wonder why I even got out of bed.

10pm - So, finally, we convinced Hendrik to go somewhere but, in the end, all we did was change money and then sit at Salma's parent's house for an hour. Then we sat for another hour while Leylah haggled with the boat company to go to Zanzibar tomorrow. We could have gotten tickets as residents but the people in the office had already seen us. So, we paid 50,000 shillings instead of 70,000 shillings but that's still twice what we were told we needed.

MONDAY August 1, 2005

Thankfully, we got tickets yesterday because it's quite nuts this morning. The good news is that we have been sent to first class, presumably because we are white. The boat also has nice, cold a/c and I'm the perfect temperature for once. The hotel is also very nice. We drove around a bit today as well as walked through the touristy shopping areas. We will go to the local market tomorrow to get stuff cheaper.

TUESDAY August 2, 2005

This morning we started off late again. Paul had 47,000 shillings stolen from his wallet so that sets us back a bit. Our departure time has changed from 9am to 10am and I suspect it's because Leylah and Mama Samer got up late. Our driver didn't show up until 10:30am. Typical. We went shopping at the local market and Paul got a Football shirt with shorts for 7,000 shillings. Not a bad deal at all.

We also went on a walking tour of Stone Town. It was pretty good but the end got cut short because we had to wait for Leylah and Mama Samer who were off buying perfume. We did get to see the outside of Beit El-Ajaib (House of Wonder). Paul and I wanted to see the inside but it was at the end of the walking tour and there wasn't any time left. What we did see on the walking tour was the Old Fort, St Joseph's Cathedral, a few mosques, the Livingston House, Forodhani Gardens (where you can watch people making many different types of food you can buy and eat), Darajani Market, the hotel Bill Clinton stayed in, the Hotel Pembo, and the birthplace of Freddy Mercury as well as his childhood home.

There were some other buildings as well but I can't remember them all right now. I should have written it all down as the guy was talking. We also got to tour the Anglican Cathedral and the Old Slave Market. Across the street from the hotel Bill Clinton stayed at was a small park where slaves were auctioned off. We saw that first before we went to the Anglican Church.

The church was built over the site of the slave market on Creek Road and the only remnants of the slave market are two holding cells underneath a hostel next to the church. We went down there and it was pretty disgusting. One cell could hold about 20 people but there were up to 75 slaves at one time jammed in there. It was also super hot. We were down there about ten minutes and I was sweating profusely. It's all pretty nasty to think about. Inside the church, there are a few interesting items. The guy who had the church built is buried there just behind the altar. There is a cross made from the tree that Dr. Livingstone was buried under and a small stained glass window near the holy water that depicts the last slave taken.

The columns are also interesting. The guy who had the church built was away at the time they were put in and, not knowing the proper way to install them, the local builders put them in upside down. It's a small church but very nice and I was glad that we got to see it. I wished we had more time because there are rare, red colobus monkeys on the island that I really wanted to see.

After all this, we got back to the van at 3pm so we could catch the 4pm, and last, boat out of Zanzibar. We only have one small problem. There is no boat. There is much debate about what happened but, in the end, it seems we were sold a return ticket for a boat that doesn't exist and will never come. We tried to get onto another ship but that, too, sailed without us. After much arguing, the boat company arranged for a cessna to fly us back to Dar. This is where it gets confusing.

Salma yells at the boat company, then calls Leylah and lots of calls are exchanged. Salma gets in touch with the photographer from the wedding, who calls a guy he knows in Zanzibar. This guy somehow gets 200,000 shillings to pay for the 25,000 shilling difference each between the plane and the boat. This guy then goes with us to the airport and ensures we are off flying. Now, Hendrik, gives the 200,000 shillings to the photographer, who will then pay back his friend in Zanzibar. We also had to pay 5,000 shillings each to leave the island. This is an additional departure tax that no one ever tells you about. So, Paul and I now owe Hendrik 50,000 shillings each, for a total of 110,000 shillings more than we had originally planned on spending for Zanzibar.

The view from the sky, however, was absolutely stunning.We also saw the boat that we had tried to get on and the apartment house we are renting. I took lots of pictures while in the air. After we got back, we went to Salma's parent's house where her father was making mishikaki (shish kebabs) for us for dinner. He also grilled some chicken and spicy fish. It was all very yummy, and a nice ending to what could have been a craptacular day.

WEDNESDAY August 3, 2005

8pm - We are at home relaxing but only at our own insistence. We started the day by visiting a resort down the road that is owned and maintained by the Libyan government. Then we went to shopper's plaza where we ate some lunch at buffet next to the market. After that, Hendrik and Salma left us because someone was waiting for them at her parent's house. Our driver returned with Hendrik's parents and Leylah and we went off in search of kangas for Hanna.

There was no a/c in the van again and it was a particularly warm day. By the time we got into town, I was feeling rather sick and thought I was going to vomit. I was really hot but my skin was cold and I wasn't sweating. I kept feeling worse but I wanted to wait until Hanna had gotten her kangas before I said anything. She had been asking nearly every day to go and get some and it kept getting delayed. Luckily, she finally got some and that was good.

After that, we went to a bazaar that was in the same building where the wedding reception was held. I felt like crap but we were soon off to another shopping plaza that was near shopper's plaza. This place had several different types of stores, including a supermarket called Shoprite. For you non-East Coast Americans, Shoprite is a major supermarket chain on the East Coast and it was funny to see it spelled exactly the same as it was at home. We picked up a few things, inlcuding the rare to Tanzania, but my favorite, golden delicious apples.

While we were there, Meinderd came up to Paul and I and said, "I'm done" and didn't mean it in the "I'm finished shopping" way. None of us felt well. We figured it was due to the heat and we insisted on coming home. Sure enough, an hour here and I feel 100% better than I did before. We sent Hendrik's parents and Leylah off to do whatever they wanted and now we're just kicking back at the apartment house.


Copyright © 1996-2011