In the winter of 2019, Henderson Productions took a small group to Tanzania for a 14-day adventure.   This blog series tells the story of the trip and our fellow travelers.  Using our network around the world, we curated a tour to give us local connections and experiences beyond the normal tourist choices.  For more information about our upcoming trips, subscribe to our newsletter.

As part of our pre-planning, we had our local friend check out an amazing compound home with five bedrooms and five baths in a good neighborhood.    Costing less than $10 per person, per night, we had all decided to give it a try for our four total nights in Dar es Salaam.    We are happy to advise anyone considering this type of option but would never have tried it for a group without a local inspection.   As it was, there were some challenges to the arrangement.  You can check it out at

We have learned how to turn on room air conditioners, cook with limited utensils, plug in and operate the washer, dry on the line, be woken by roosters, operate new showers, shop for groceries and settle into a routine with each other.   L hibernates and emerges chipper.   V grumbles and slowly becomes human.   R is bleary-eyed and incoherent til the coffee has kicked in.   D totally goes with the flow til he has to put someone in their place.  And I’m downright energetic – sometimes just internally.  For the first 2 nights, K & M stayed with J at our friend’s house because their room air conditioner unit was out.   Sounds like the couches are extremely comfortable.

Our delayed flight back to Dar caused us to mutually opt out of our planned beach day.   We all fended for ourselves til noon with the groceries readily available.  Splitting into two groups, some went to the yacht club for lunch and a ride out on our local friend’s boat.  I went with L, S and N to the fabric market.   M and D joined us.   I let the girls do most of the fabric analyzing.   Plenty of various African fabrics to choose from with touristy prints quickly rejected, imported synthetics – no thank you – and many wildly and brightly colored combos.

S was looking for content – florals and what she is used to in Florida.   L was looking for texture and creating ideas on the spot for how to use them.   I was trying to avoid buying at all but did throw one finished piece into the group bundle which will be a lovely tablecloth.  It’ll look stunning on the table in all seasons as a reminder of our trip.

The vendors were either very camera shy or vamping at every opportunity which made D happy and frustrated me a bit.   I’d rather shoot from a distance and catch the moment.  With fabrics opening, closing, being tossed around, held for inspection or being refolded in a bit of a dark hallway, photos won’t be ideal.   I would have loved to go back and take real time pics but there’s only so much time.  I DO think I’m going to get our friend to take me to the Kariakoo market on Friday,

We wandered through several shops seeing many fabrics, mostly from all over Africa – prints, woven, batiks, waxed, etc.   Floor to ceiling with the slightest gesture precipitating a young person scrambling to grab a pole and bring it to you.   Extremely design inspirational.

Then back in the air conditioning for a trip to the Tingatinga market.   D and I talked for a while with one of the artists.   If you are in the school and learn enough, the instructors can recommend you be offered a membership.   There’s an annual fee and 50% commission to the gallery but you create and paint your own designs at your own station.   It’s better than being on your own because many tourists come to visit and know the marketing and style.   All are painting in oils.

Inside I opted for the graphic line of flamingoes on a useful tray rather than another painting to stretch and find room on a wall.   S, L and D all also bought pieces so we, yet again, left our mark.

Ate lightweight sandwiches for lunch at the house.   Peanut butter and those lovely little bananas for me.  Eventually, we were picked up for the pool party/progressive dinner in the home courtyard.   Burgers, dogs, mac salad, potato salad and beans at one home.   The couple have another two months before they leave for Mexico City.   Deserts at another, after dinner drinks at a third.  She’s been in country one month offering Scotch shots.   Loved her and her place.

I took the first run back to the house and crashed.   Lovely low-key day.