Life of Bear

Things that I love – Part 300

big wide open peaceful spaces

I love this picture. Look how thin I look (ha ha). You can click on it to look at it better.

This picture was taken off Mboye Island, off Dar. It is part of a marine reserve and the island was completely deserted except for the 6 of us! wow. such an awesome experience.

Look at the beautiful clean blue water.  Stunning. We actually saw dolphins jump right out of it! wow. This photo just captures the meaning of the word, Dar es Salaam – “haven of peace.”

Purty. I feel relaxed just looking at it and remembering the warm water and colourful fish.


Survivor Dar es Salaam – Part 2

Part 2
Just because you wear a cowboy hat does not mean you will feel like Jeff Probst

Part 2 of my Dar trip saw the lack of arrival of our conference shipment from Cape Town. And by “lack of arrival” I actually mean “dirty pack of lies.” We had couriered over 800 kg’s via Air Freight from Cape Town over a month in advance. It was supposed to have arrived on the Wednesday. It went mysteriously “missing”  – missing being code word for the package being left in customs for an extra week so it could be pilfered by thieves.  Which it was. Ransacked.  Sigh.  Over the course of the week in which it was late, it was told various things – it had arrived at the hotel, but the hotel told them to take it away (hotel knows nothing about this); it is still stuck in customs; oh! The truck is on the way now (5hrs later); oh! the truck has broken down!; oh! The truck has been hijacked (serious). Sigh. We eventually got it back, after having 2 work two full conference days without all our stuff (read: Bear frantically printing out 5 months worth of conference preparation the night before..). Finally it all arrived, minus some hats and shirts (that are now proudly being sold on the side streets of Dar – because those cancer conference branded shirts are REALLY valuable and fashionable)

The same thing happened with our AV equipment – stuck in customs, never actually ever arrived! Luckily our AV crew had brought some excess baggage (R12,000 worth of excess baggage fees!) and we were able to make do with what few cables we had. It really was like, conference MacGyver.  How to pull off a conference with a pack of paper, a pen and a network cable – GO! Sigh


Other notable moments include:

  • Being viciously attacked giant sea crabs that rise out of sea, ly in wait for you to innocently walk past and then ambush you from behind a bush when you are walking alone at night. You could not even crush them with your foot because they were bigger than your feet (plural)
  • Hotel screwing up our accommodation booking so I had to share a double bed with my colleague. Not the end of the world, luckily my colleague is a heavy sleeper and my chronic sinusitis did not seem to bother her much. Although in all fairness, we were so tired, we could have fallen asleep on the beach and it would have yielded the same effect.
  • Having the Tanzanian President grace us with his presence, causing our programme to be delayed by 4 hours (the amount of time he was late). This means a programme that me and my boss had been working on for 18 months went completely out the window in the space of 4 hours. Sigh.
  • Having lunchboxes made for me to eat EVERYDAY for NINE DAYS. This is not so bad – what was bad was the hotel’s need to put EVERYTHING (savoury and sweet) in one box.. think fried fish, lying cosily next to a stale croissant, which is snuggled up to a piece of unpeeled banana. Everything I ate tasted like banana for 9 days. I never want to see that yellow skinned bastard again.
  • Coming home to our presidential suite to discover the air con making the most horrific noise ever. Too tired to call hotel to fix it, so turn it off. Lie down to discover it is dripping on our heads. Still too tired to call hotel. Turn heads and feet around so water drips on feet. Wake up in middle of night to discover drip has now turned into flood proportions. Colleague sleeps on couch in lounge. I turn my body vertically to avoid flood and go back to sleep. Fun times.
  • My uniform of my red t-shirt made me look like a petrol attendant. Someone actually said that.

    More to come later!

Survivor: Dar es Salaam – DAY 1

Hello all my wonderful minions,
Lord it is good to be home.

I have realised that if I want to give up my day job and become a full-time writer, I guess I need to spend some more time honing this blog thing……

Please find herein, Day One of my encounter in the African bush of Dar es Salaam. I was sent there for work on a cancer conference. The experience was.. very African. Please find details below.

NOTE: Excessive white female bitching below:

The past 9 days in Africa have honestly been pretty much the worst of my life. Not even the usually positive bear-attitude could even make things bright. For those of you who care; here is my summary of my experience – which I have fondly called “Survivor: Dar es Salaam.”

Day 1

The Tribe has spoken.

Started with a 4am airport pick up. To the airport. Where the new international departures terminal was opening. Fun times. Took 2 hours to check in. Everyone was grumpy and stressed. Again, it was also now 5am. Got stopped at xray machine and had a quick feel up. They also made me unpack my bag because they thought my pen was a screwdriver. Naturally.

6 hour trip to Dar. They forgot my veg meal. Nearly got arrested because refused to put my cowboy hat in stowage. Actually swore at air steward. Very grumpy at this stage. Watched in-flight movie. In-flight movie was stopped halfway because we landed. Couldn’t you have planned that better? Now I will never know the end to Night at the Museum Part 2. My life will remain eternally scarred.

Arrive in Dar. 40 degrees. Smelt like Africa. Badly.

Took 90min trip to 4 star hotel. 90mins turned out to be 2 hours. 4 star hotel turned out to be minus 4 stars.

Driving in Dar is quite an experience. There are no road markings. Cars feel the need to violently turn right whenever they feel like it. Goats roam the streets amongst the 5 (unmarked) lanes. Pretty much everyone just drives wherever the fuck they feel like it. (as do the goats). I had no safety belt. I was very afraid. My camera also did not feel like working, so I was forced to soak up the view.

Dar city is pretty much exactly like you would imagine it. People selling cigarettes, bananas and what I assume are drugs, litter the street. They have these rickshaw things (like in Durban) that weave out of the traffic. Deadly. Most of the places on the side of road in the city are mosques and shops made out of containers. They sell a lot of bottled water, goats, bicycles and lawn mowers. See picture attached. There are also a shed-load of palm trees. Unexpectedly.

We arrive at the 4 star hotel. Which, during the course of these emails as you will soon discover, was anything but 4 stars – but maybe back in the days before electricity was invented. This is said with a heavy irony. It was soon discovered that whenever I took a shower, it would trip the geyser, which would trip the generator, which would violently cut off the power between our 2 “presidential” (yes) suites. I actually ended up keeping a candle permanently in the bathroom. It also was discovered that the hot water was turned off after 6am and 10pm. Fab for the environment. Not fab for conference organisers who wake up at 5am and return at midnight (20hr day are the norm) and you can’t have a warm shower. I cried once and then became exceptionally grumpy and used the f*word A LOT for the duration of the trip.

Must go now, will continue tomorrow

Fun times.