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The First Few Days


Photo by Hugo Ramos on Unsplash


I’d been warned that flying December 24 from Toronto Pearson and then December 25 from Amsterdam to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, would subject me to busy airports and crowds of people. In fact, Toronto Pearson staff gave me special care as did the staff at Amsterdam, and I heartily recommend flying KLM’s 787 for the comfort of the plane, the efficiency, expertise, and courtesy of the crew, and the delicious food they serve!

 

Around me as I travelled, I heard languages of the world. I saw faces different from mine, but I felt our hearts beating together as we flew over Eastern Canada; the Atlantic; parts of Europe; the Mediterranean Sea; Northern Africa, East Africa and then into Tanzania. I was grateful to interact with people from all over the world!

 

Life in Dar es Salaam is a robust life; I cannot be a bystander. Life here calls me to actively listen, to carefully observe, and to intentionally participate.

 

My mind automatically compares life here to my life in Canada. Soon after my arrival, the almost dry, hand-washed clothes of three people were suddenly subjected to a strong wind that propelled raindrops into the weave of the various types of fabric on the blue rope clothesline.  As the sun rose that morning, the sky had been blue too, but as the hours came and went, the gray clouds filled with wind and rain floated into view. Suddenly, so it seemed, the clouds dropped their rain, and the wind scattered the clothing without clothespins. As quickly as it all started, it stopped leaving some hand washing to be done again.

 

The greetings that I learned in my Kiswahili language class come alive in the voices and smiles of the people; the warmth of their welcome is unmistakable. The colours of their clothing mix with the vibrancy of their personalities.

 

Dar es Salaam, including its surrounding districts, has a night population of 5,383,728 in a land mass of 1,393 square kilometres (Dar es Salaam City Council website). Its census data is based on who sleeps in each house. This distinguishes between those who live in the city and those who return to their homes in the Pwani (Coastal) Region after working in the city. (Administrative Units Population Distribution Reports, Volume 1A, The Sixth Census Result 2022.

 

As a comparison, the Toronto Region has a population of 6,471,850 within 5,903 square kilometres (toronto.ca website)

 

Traffic here is like a symphony with an unseen conductor, yet it’s unlikely it could be choreographed by the most excellent composer. Two lanes in the same direction become three as motorcycles, tri-cycle rickshaws, cars, busses, people, and the occasional bicycle weave a tapestry of movement, often with inches to spare, accompanied by the sudden sharp insistence of horns. The message of the horns is, “I am coming through.”

 

I continue to be grateful for your prayers and good wishes. During this new year, may God grant you the desires of your hearts, whether they be dreams that take you far or into your own backyard. Amen.


Please Note:

This article first appeared in the January 4, 2024 edition of the North Simcoe Springwater News (www.springwaternews.ca)


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