Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Although the name lends itself to a place of serenity (“The abode of peace”) the truth of ‘Dar’ is much more different than one would assume. From the bustling, chaotic city centre, through to the much more laid back surroundings of the peninsula, Dar is many things, but perhaps ‘peace’ is not the adjective I would use.
Having only recently moved here, my eyes may hold on to some bias towards seeing the city through rose-coloured glasses, but for many travellers to the country of Tanzania, that appears to be the case. Friendliness is apparently an innate trait in many of the locals, as greetings of “Mambo!” and “Habari, dada?” waft along the breeze as you pass by. The expatriate community is similarly welcoming; within days of arrival, approaches from other visitors to the country are common. It’s like a club. Or a family, where every time you all convene, you find yourself meeting yet more cousins, more aunts and uncles and twice-removed-but-still-amazingly-close distant relatives. Often everyone knows one another, or they are friends of friends. It’s a wonderful community to belong to. As someone fresh off the plane, you immediately are a recognised personality, a face, a valuable contribution to the big-yet-small community that you have found yourself in.
The more time you spend getting to know the place, and the more involved you slowly become in the community, the more it begins to feel like home.