City of Boredom
Robert Konigsberg blogged of his love for Slitherlink.
Slitherlink brings back memories. Memories of being stuck for a few days in sticky, tropical Dar es Salaam, Tanzania a couple of years ago, with nothing to do except Slitherlink. The name “Dar es Salaam” is Arabic for something like “haven of peace”. I found it to be a haven of dullness. I’ve been to numerous cities around the world, and almost always find a way to pleasantly pass the time. But not Dar es Salaam.
This million-person city seems to have been cannily designed by leading experts to be the most boring city in known history. I couldn’t even find a cinema. I did find a small shopping centre that caters for ex-patriates. By far the biggest and most popular section was the alcohol section. As far as I can tell, the ex-patriates in Dar-es-salaam mostly try to drink the boredom away.
Downtown I found one – and only one – cafe. It was pleasant enough, but not the place to pass too much time.
In the ex-pat shopping centre I bought a puzzle book which had – amongst others – Slitherlink puzzles. I sat in my airconditioned and overpriced hotel room for most of each day, doing all the Slitherlinks in the book. Then in the cooler evening I’d go for a walk through the city, desperately and futilely trying to find a lively bar. Eventually I’d end up at the Kempinski hotel, the only place I found with a half-decent restaurant.
Why didn’t I leave sooner, you ask? I couldn’t reschedule my flight out. And it was the wet season which meant that if I left the city there would be a good chance of getting stuck somewhere due to muddy roads. Forcing me to stay even longer. And I was more than ready to go home.
Tip for anyone planning to be in Dar es Salaam for more than a few hours: There is one – and exactly one – activity I can recommend. Take the ferry to Zanzibar. And stay there until the last possible moment. All the photos in this blog entry are from Zanzibar.