Race for the Cure

Remember, on my first day in town, how I went to the goat races and when writing the post mentioned there were few major events in town? I wasn’t absolutely sure why at the time, but I’ve since realized how monumental a feat a big event like the Goat Races are around here. Limited resources, unreliable vendors, pricy negotiations, and inefficient ways of operating all attribute to the fact that any event involving more than ten people that starts and ends can be considered a success.


The 5k Breast Cancer Race for the Cure was held in town this past Sunday, hosted by the local Susan G. Komen Foundation affiliate, the Tanzania Breast Cancer Foundation. There were definitely more than ten people at the race, which started and ended too, so according to my metrics, a success it was! (To be serious, 2011 was the last year a race was held, so it’s further proof that these events don’t organize themselves.)


The most appealing part about this walk for me – aside for the cause, of course – was definitely not the fact that my alarm woke me up at 6am. Rather, and one of the main reasons I decided to participate, was because it was a great way to see parts of downtown- or as they call it here, ‘city center’. Parts of Dar that I might otherwise may not ever see.



I’ve touched on the levels of petty crime here before, so I’m not going into it today. But I mention it only because it’s for this very reason that I would not typically spend my mornings meandering through city center, certainly not with a camera in hand, and most certainly would not be able to let my curious eyes wander as freely as they did yesterday.

The race began and ended at the Ocean Road Cancer institute (view the race route here), the leading (and only) place to seek post-surgical treatment for cancer patients in the whole of Dar es Salaam. Some patients travel as far as 1300km by bus just to get a few rounds of radiotherapy- and some don’t even have enough money to return home afterwards. The esteemed Ocean Road Cancer Institute is one of the older buildings in city center, built in the late 19th century when Dar was still under colonial rule. Very much reminding me of a California-style mission, the building was originally built as the Ocean Road Hospital, a government-sponsored institution almost exclusively treating Europeans. And, such is exemplary of Dar es Salaam’s often biased and extremely layered colonial history.


My favorite part of the walk was soon after we started, when we passed by the Kigamboni fish market. Crowds of locals, many who were just beginning their day at the fish market/ferry terminal/major bus stop lined the streets to watch us pass, eyeing our groups with great bewilderment and amazement. Some took photos with their phones, and we took photos right back. We swung around the bay and along the southern peninsula of Dar es Salaam, where walking along Kivukoni front where we passed a series of old German colonial buildings along the waterfront- my first time viewing many of these old colonial buildings that I had long heard or read about.



The crowds of Tanzanians grew smaller after we left the crowded waterfront area, but throughout the race route curious locals still gathered to observe this curious event. I’m sure it’s not everyday they are able to see masses of Wazungu, or foreigner, walking through their streets- escorted by a police band, at that!


The band was my favorite addition to the walk, and certainly made the day feel more a Tanzanian affair than anything else. Public events here always seem to be celebrated with great passion, with loud music and constant dancing, and this very American ‘Race for the Cure’ was done in no lesser fashion.

Read more about how breast cancer affects East Africans, in this brilliant New York Times article. More compelling reason to fight an already worthy cause.

Annapolis, Maryland

Guys, the East Coast is so different. I mean, you drive one hour and you’re in a different state. Drive six and you cross three states. Did you know California takes about 15 hours to drive from North to South? Growing up, my family spent many summer hours in a car driving up, down, and around the Western states. I learned how to love my time spent in an automobile, sometimes watching hours of nothing but desert whiz by. It was in our old Dodge Van that I perfected my techniques for dealing with my chatty little sister and where I learned how to instantly fall asleep by the rocking of a vehicle. Today, though I don’t take them as much as I used to, I still love car trips. Not only does it remind me of my youth, but it reminds me of how big my world can actually be.

When I was living in New York, I think I was swallowed by city living. Sadly, I only managed to get out of NYC a handful of times. A handful! In five years! That’s pretty sad. There was one memorable Fourth of July trip to Cold Spring, New York, where I swore thereafter that I would make efforts to get out of the city more. Then an amazing trip up the coast to Maine for the following Fourth, which I reminded myself of my previous years’ promise. Sprinkled in between were a few more trips upstate and out to Jersey. But certainly not a track record of travelling about to boast.

house in Annapolis

A few weeks ago I went on a very short day trip to Annapolis. A few hours, really – we didn’t even leave town until 3pm. The car ride wasn’t that long, an hour at most. I wasn’t really expecting anything other than a naval academy and an abundance of shellfish restaurants, and was pleasantly surprised when we drove up to a bustling, quaint, cafe-filled college town. As we ventured out of the car on foot, everywhere we looked were coffee shops, bars that looked like they’ve been operating since the 19th century, waterfront seating, and flag-decorated patios.

men in white

Somehow we found ourselves first strolling through the US Naval Academy, which was a surprisingly beautiful campus. Lots of greenery, lots of beautiful brick buildings and very wide paths. A beautiful gym, and dumpsters that, to no ones surprise, were in formation. About face!

Dumpster Formation


We checked out an old musty bookstore, filled with old and new books practically falling off the shelves it was so packed inside. We peeked our heads in an ice cream parlor, only to forgo ice cream since the line was just too long. We walked around the quaint streets of town, observing the old houses with their colorful, tiny doors and ivy-covered alleyways. Doors and alleyways that could only have been built when the nation was first founded, as no one of excess height or weight today could comfortably fit under or through.

Annapolis Door

I’m so thrilled that already in DC, I’ve been exploring beyond the city limits far more than I did in my previous stint on the East Coast. And, it’s wonderful. Maybe it’s given the nature of people in this city, maybe it’s the accessibility of the freeways and that more of our friends have cars, maybe it’s just that the city is boring (no, not this, definitely not). Well, maybe it’s also that I’m now married to someone who can’t sit still.

Here are a few gems to hit up on a day trip to Annapolis:

the USNA
52 King George Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21402
Phone: 410-293-8687 (TOUR)
Annapolis Bookstore
35 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis Maryland 21401
Annapolis Ice Cream Company
196 Main Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Phone: (443) 482-3895
the City Dock
Dock Street, Annapolis