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Ian McHenry: Tanzania

Posted by on May 23, 2011
When: June 1986 – January 1987
Why: Dad’s sabbatical
Countries visited: Tanzania, Kenya

When I was only three, my mom and dad moved to Dar-es-Salam, Tanzania for 6 months as part of my dad’s sabbatical.  He taught at the University of Dar-es-Salam.  I played on the beach a short walk from our room at the Hotel Africana.  I made friends with the other permanent residents of the “hotel”, animal and human alike.  The hotel was home to a lion, outside whose cage was a cautionary sign:  “Beware of falling coconuts.”  Other residents included an African crane and some peacocks.

There was an incredibly tall coconut palm tree outside our room.  Every once in a while a man would climb up to the top and retrieve the coconuts when they were ripe and before they bopped some unsuspecting three-year-old on the head.

On the beach, huge crabs would come out at night and scamper across the sand.

I remember very little of the food there, except for the omelettes with ketchup at the hotel restaurant and the soft serve ice cream shop across the street.  It being equatorial Africa, eating these required incredible skill and speed with one’s tongue to not waste a precious, delicious drop.

I also remember my weekly malarone pill.  At that age, I was unable to swallow the acrid tasting pill.  To solve this problem, my parents stuck the large pill inside a tootsie roll, which I would eat one bite at a time, tossing pillows and screaming “ow-meow” between bites.  Luckily I grew out of this obnoxious coping mechanism.

We took some trips while living there.  We visited the Serengeti, where I saw my first big game.  Most tamely watched our open air vehicle pass.  The elephants, however, flared their ears and made it known that our presence was not appreciated.

We visited a friend of my father’s who took us around his plot of land, picking the most delicious tropical fruits I had ever tasted straight from the trees and offered them to me to eat directly.

We went to Kenya for Christmas.  Santa found us there and I sat on his lap.  The fact that he was black did not seem out of place to me at that age.

Our return trip home took us from the heat of Tanzania to the bitter cold of London in January…

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