The Indian Ocean

Day 39: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Yesterday we drove from Arusha to the small town of Segera, where we camped for the night under a brilliant starry sky. When we arrived, it was so windy that it proved somewhat difficult to set up our tent properly. After spending the night in our lopsided shelter, we headed out at 7:30 this morning for Dar es Salaam. As we entered the outskirts of the city, the Islamic influence of this part of Tanzania's coast became apparent. Nearly all the women wear hijabs, and many of the buses display "Allahu Akbar" painted on the windshields. Dar es Salaam is an amalgam of ancient and modern. Glass office buildings stand next to shoddily constructed stone shops. The construction methods used on some modern buildings is particularly interesting: the scaffolding consists of stripped tree branches lashed together with rope. But the structures taking shape underneath these ancient-looking wooden skeletons are thoroughly modern concrete and glass.

Waterfront, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania © Matt Prater
The waterfront of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

We skirted around Dar es Salaam and soon arrived at Mikadi Beach, where we are camping tonight. We pitched our tents on the fine sand and marveled at a stunning view of the tropical palms stretching towards the crystal clear waves of the Indian Ocean. After suffering through the sweltering heat and humidity of the ride through Dar es Salaam, I headed towards the water for a refreshing swim. The color of the sea is a vibrant turquoise, and the depth is shallow enough to stand with my head above the gentle waves even when swimming quite far out. But the most stunning quality of the water is the temperature. It is as warm as bathwater – almost hot – and is easily the warmest ocean I have ever experienced.

After dinner, we all spent the evening at the bar sipping tropical drinks and attempting to play pool on a shoddy, sloping table. I retired to my tent around midnight, listening to the sound of dance music from the bar harmonizing with the rhythmic beating of the waves. After the bar closed, the only sounds that remained to complement the enduring melody of the Indian Ocean were the wind rustling through the palm leaves and occasional, almost rain-like gusts of sand blowing gently against the walls of my tent.