When you arrive in Dar es Salaam, the first thing you notice is the noise. Tanzania is not a quiet country, and it doesn’t masquerade as one – what you hear is absolutely what you get.
The Dar airport is all high ceilings and cement floors. New, unfamiliar sounds bounce off the plexiglass windows in the customs department. The stamping of passports ricochets like friendly fire: welcome.to.our.country.don’t.screw.up.bam.bam.bam. The stamping keeps time to the sound of your beating heart: I.made.it.I.made.it.I.made.it.I’m.here.
Successfully arriving to the other side of the world is the best feeling.
They will shove your passport back to you, someone else will shove you out of the way, and you bump along over to the baggage claim carousel to shove your luggage onto the floor because it’s too heavy to lift.
The next thing you will notice is the heat. It covers you like the lightest sheet. Light and immovable. There is no relief, no breeze – just heavy air. The sound of bats and insects humming outside becomes the sound of heat. Both the feeling and the noise envelope you as surely as the lightless African night will cover you for the first time when you leave the confines of the airport.
And before you know it, you’re out in front, with your bags, looking for a friend, a little piece of home.
If you’re lucky, home is staring right back at you.
And it’s the best feeling.