I arrived in Dar es Salaam on October 7 at four o’clock in the afternoon. Perfect temperature, dry season, perfect for safari. The animals in fact, in this period, are concentrated near the water pools.
I left at home all the medicine and this time I haven’t been vaccinated against yellow fever and malaria. I’m not worried, I’ve seen worse in Cambodia. The airport reminds me of that one in Praslin, Seychelles: small, pitch dark, with a big pallet near the exit door, where they throw the luggages unloaded from the plane and a long queue for the visa. In Praslin I remember stifling controls, body search (and in the backpack) and never ending questions . Where you come from, where are you going? Are you alone? Why are you traveling with a backpack so small? In fact there runs a lot of drugs, and they are very strict about it. Soon I discover that in Dar Es Salam it’s all very similar, but no one looks at your baggage, and where you’ll sleep, they are much more straightforward: they just take your fingerprint. If you don’t have the money ready to pay the visa, $ 50, is not a problem. Here you can pass the check without a passport, exit the airport and change money without any problems. They just keep your passport if you don’t come back….(??). Here: no problem. Hakuna matata.
The only important thing is to pay the visa and not lose your place in the queue, because the office workers seem all machines, and woe to stop them, it creates mess. Wow. I could not wait to smoke a cigarette and I immediately noticed that the price of a package is exactly half of that in Italy, 2.50 euros against 5 euros. Well, my resolution to quit smoking is mesmerized by the prices. But stop! I can smoke more with less! What a mess my life. I try to run to the domestic departure terminal, to don’t lose my connection with the Precision Air. I must point out that this is a serious company, the only problem is that they can postpone your departure until the last minute, and you don’t know why: so be careful to rely too much on the last flight to Stone Town. At check-in they are not too brilliant, it is the same situation as in Dar Es Salam.
But I have understood this: they don’t care about anything, just doing their job. Here they are not stressed, not agitated, always polite and respectful. I’am finally reaching Alex, this meeting, so longed for, it seems to me to wait for a lifetime. I wonder if I will have a different effect talking with him finally and to be together so many days!In recent years we have written each other so many times and we have always been in two different places in the world, in different situation. I feel agitated, excited. The aircraft, 30 seats, without any delay, the hostesses are precise and meticulous, and as he gets up in the air I can see all the lights of Dar Es Salam. Aware of the fact that all practices were extinct in Dar, I go quickly and convinced toward the exit to Stone Town. I throw the bag on the ground, this time about 20 pounds, full of children’s clothes, and I sit on it. A taxi driver, timidly and in a very polite, with eyes deep blacks, asks me if I need a ride. I thank him and I am bewildered. It ‘s the first time in a foreign country, there aren’t hordes of possessed taxi drivers who try to push you into the car. I light a cigarette, I look around a bit and wait. I feel at home.
I see from a distance a blue jeep muddy arriving, the lights blind me for a moment but I’m sure it’s Alex. I remain seated, waiting, I don’t know if to get up, go and meet him or stay as still as a statue. It’s him! As soon as I see him is familiar to me, a big hug. We are both happy and we start to chat in the exactly way that we write each other, except for the fact that he looks like a radio and never stops to talk.
The first place I see, in Stone Town, is a beautiful restaurant on the harbor where we drink a beer, while Alex tells me about his future plans. Here people talks a good english but there is a predominance of Swahili and Arabic, the first very basic the second a bit complicated.
The first day was really full, the thrill of review Ale, he was so close to me in such a difficult time for me, the thrill of breathing the air of Africa, the feeling of being free, but not the freedom of open spaces, the freedom of choice. Finally.
We get in the car. Alex has not stopped a second to breathe. The phone rings ….it’s a girl with a broken heart. I smile as we move to a dark street and black. I can only see the shadows with some twinkle just suggested. They are men and women, walking in the dark, on the sides of the road.