Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bagamoyo July 07

HOORAY! I finished classes on Tuesday and am very glad. To celebrate Matt and I went to Kipepeo beach and spent the afternoon swimming and relaxing. Then we went to Bagamoyo on Thursday.

Bagamoyo is a beautiful little fishing town with a rather dark history. The name literally means “Where I lay my heart down” which is suiting as Bagamoyo was the centre of the slave industry for centuries. It was along the old caravan routes that stretched across Africa and all the slaves from the interior were brought here to be examined before being shipped off to the Arab world or later to Europe. There is amazing and haunting buildings all along an old stone road near the ocean. Some of them are very old from when the Arabs ruled and others are very typical colonial era buildings from the German colonialists and later taken over by the British. Most of the buildings have deteriorated greatly like the old customs house which is merely fragments of walls being held up by the vegetation that has grown up around it. Other buildings like the Caravan Serai and the Fort are still in good order and are used for meetings or private offices.

Despite this dark past Bagamoyo has an incredibly relaxed vibe which I needed so badly. Everyone saunters along the road holding hands and chatting with friends and loved ones. Many art shops play Bob Marley and it caught my ears floating through the air every time and gave me many opportunities for an impromptu sing along with matt. We stayed in an adorable little Banda. Traditional buildings built of clay and thatched roofs. Which are ideal for this climate and much more pleasant than my cement home at the Jeshi.

In the morning I walk at 6 and went for a walk down the beach to the mangrove swamps. What spectacular trees these are. The only trees that are able to survive in salt water, there roots grow up into the air and look like thousands of little spikes rising up from the sand. On my walk I bumped into many fishermen who were preparing to go out for the day. All of them cheerily and perhaps curiously responded to my greeting of “Habari za Asabuhi?” (News of the morning) and continued along their way. After my walk I sat on the beach and read and then did some yoga. I can’t say I have felt that revitalized in a long time. I could have stayed there forever but we decided to return to Dar in order to catch Saba/Saba (the national holiday of Tanzania).

It was quite a change from sleepy little Bagamoyo with thousands of people all converging on one spot, A large trade fair that really felt like I was back in Canada or another western country. There were massive coca-cola, Heineken, Vodacom, celtel, and other major corporations Pavilions where they were trying to sell their goods and convince people they were the best. Fortunately there were also many buildings that housed groups like WIPE (Women in Poverty Eradication) which provide micro financing and training for women and children in poverty to make their own businesses. This totally saved the event for me; it would have been far too much after Bagamoyo otherwise. It was definitely a very interesting experience and gave me a great view of the globalization of Africa and how people here have been swept into the madness of Capitalism.

Between Saba/ Saba and Bagamoyo, it was definitely enough to confirm the fact that I want to go and live in Mbande and I am happy to say that I will be moving their tomorrow for about two weeks. I am leaving all my electronics and other distractions behind and am going with only a backpack and a few books. I CAN’T WAIT.

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