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Tuesday, 01 September 2009

Sunrise Beach Resort: An Urban Oasis in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Written by Bryan Bourgault
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The ticket agent couldn’t help but revel in my misfortune. “The train has left,” he announced, motioning out to the lonely track and beyond to the sprawling, oily expanse of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. “And tomorrow?” I squeaked, unable to conceal my distaste for the city. “Next train,” he said, his cruel smile widening, “three days.” Reluctantly, I bought a new ticket.

I like thick, shaded woodlands and beachfront villages, sweeping tracts of farmland and quaint cobblestone hamlets. I enjoy crisp, clean air and the soothing presence of nature, so when I stepped outside the station and swallowed a lungful of syrupy city air, I began to freak out. “No train!” a cab driver exclaimed theatrically, hoping for a fare, and I suddenly remembered the fleeting conversation I’d had just two weeks before in the northern Tanzanian town of Moshi.

While enjoying a Tusker lager, I’d met a Canadian woman who, upon learning my intended backpacking route, was kind enough to write down some of her favorite spots. “And if you end up staying in Dar,” she said, scribbling onto the back cover of my journal, “you absolutely must stay at Sunrise Beach!” At this revelation, I fished my journal out from the bowels of my pack and, with the driver at my side, studied the back. Sure enough, there it was:

Sunrise Beach. Kigamboni Ferry.

Sunrise Beach Resort: An Urban Oasis in Dar es Salaam, Sunrise Beach, Kigamboni Ferry, Dar es Salaam hotels, travel Tanzania, Bryan BourgaultI gazed across the skyline of Dar es Salaam, a city quickly approaching three million souls, and considered the hundreds of decrepit vehicles careening noisily among the cement towers, puffs of black smoke exploding from their mufflers. I turned to the driver. “Kigamboni?” I asked hopefully, and within the hour I was drinking a beer and watching the sunset on an idyllic stretch of Indian Ocean coastline.

 

Sunrise Beach Resort: An Urban Oasis in Dar es Salaam, Sunrise Beach, Kigamboni Ferry, Dar es Salaam hotels, travel Tanzania, Bryan BourgaultSunrise Beach Resort is an urban oasis, a respite of sea and sand amid the grimy bustle of an African megalopolis. The grounds are a verdant retreat from the city with a charming open air restaurant and bar, picturesque palms swaying above miles of pristine beach, and for budget monkeys like myself, the dirt cheap option of camping directly on the smooth, golden sand. As their website boasts, there is plenty to do:

There is endless enjoyment once you are at Sunrise Beach Resort which is fully equipped with Camel ride, Horse ride, Jet-skis, Ski bobs...Football, Pool Table, just to spoil yourself.


I spent the next three days spoiling myself. I’d rise early and enjoy two fresh eggs and a coffee before ambling up to a morning market on the main road. There, I’d catch a ten cent daladala minibus to the waterfront where, amid a throng of commuters with bikes, cars, Sunrise Beach Resort: An Urban Oasis in Dar es Salaam, Sunrise Beach, Kigamboni Ferry, Dar es Salaam hotels, travel Tanzania, Bryan Bourgaulttrucks, and motorcycles, I’d pile onto a dilapidated ferry for a delightful five minute cruise across the harbor. I’d watch the local kids fearlessly scale the corroded hull only to leap back to their friends swimming below. Twenty minutes and less than a dollar later, I was pleasantly sauntering through downtown Dar es Salaam with the knowledge that my serene paradise awaited.

In the afternoons, I’d lazily retrace my journey and joyfully curse the snide ticket agent who had relished in my railway misfortune. After a refreshing dip and a few cocktails, I’d have a delicious dinner and recruit the local staff to explain the convoluted rules of the cricket match blaring from the bar’s prehistoric nine-inch TV. Then, I’d enjoy a final beer while I convinced the jovial night watchman I was, in fact, not interested in a prostitute before returning to my mobile home. I’d shimmy out a pleasant sand mattress through the nylon floor, roll my hoodie into a thick pillow, and fall asleep to the placid breakers of the Indian Ocean mere meters away.

Sunrise Beach Resort: An Urban Oasis in Dar es Salaam, Sunrise Beach, Kigamboni Ferry, Dar es Salaam hotels, travel Tanzania, Bryan BourgaultThree exquisite days later, as I waited at the station for my train to depart, I couldn’t help but feel an ache of dejection about leaving my idyllic corner of Dar es Salaam. There is a certain spirit to Sunrise Beach, an intangible grace and tranquility that is, despite its cringe-worthy grammatical faults, most nobly conveyed by the resort’s website:

Welcome you to hotel where the atmosphere is peaceful accommodation are confortable, horizon kisses the clear waters with confidence and things move pole pole (slowly, slowly): with ease the hospitality is magnetic and poetic, and SUNRISE BEACH RESORT is the place you want to be at.

As the conductor announced “All Aboard,” I readied my ticket and gazed across the bustling platform, past the scurrying trinket hawkers and frenzied passengers shouldering bursting sacks of produce, over to the fateful ticketing office, now nearly devoid of patrons, but the cruel agent was nowhere to be seen.

©Bryan Bourgault

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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