Tanzania: an ordinary day, an ordinary sunrise 24

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“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” (Henry David Thoreau)

Outside, I could hear the water lapping the beach ever so gently and voices somewhere in the distance. It was still almost dark, almost, but not quite.

Wriggling out of my sleeping bag, I quietly unzipped my tent and stepped out into the morning air. The ground was hard beneath my feet and, still sleepy, I was momentarily confused. Reaching skyward, I stretched and breathed in deeply and let the familiar scent of sand, salt water and frangipani fill my lungs.

Turning around, I caught a glimpse of the sun, beginning to peek out over the horizon. A few small fishing boats were out in the water, silhouetted against the light purple sky. The fishermen cast out their nets, cutting through the trail of sparkles left by the the young sun, hoping to catch some good stock to take to the busy Kivukoni Fish Market later than morning.

Tanzania Sunrise

I stood for a moment, engrossed. Unaware of their audience, the fishermen continued with their daily routine. Funny how ordinary and everyday moments to one are memories for another.

There is something special about a sunrise, even more so that a sunset. Perhaps it’s the promise of a new day. New hope. New adventures.

This was our time. Mine and the morning.

The sound of a zip disturbed me from my reverie. As agreed over beers the night before, my friend Lucia joined me and we made our way down the whitewashed steps and onto the beach. It was our last full day together and we’d become great friends during our time in Africa. The kind of closeness that you only get when you share some kind journey with someone, either physical or emotional. In our case, both.

Tanzania Sunrise

As the dawn turned the African sky purple to amber to orange, I fell in love with the world again, as I do every time I watch the sun rise and set.

We sat amongst the seaweed trails on the sand. It was warm now and the water looked so inviting…

“Shall we go in?” I asked.

“Hell yeah!” Came the response. I love that girl.

Tanzania Sunrise

Kicking off our flip flops, we made my way down to the beach and into the water, fully clothed. I kept walking until it was up to my waist and then dived under the waves.

The men didn’t notice me at first, not until I was right up close to the boat. “Mambo!” I called. Loosely translated as “Hey,  what’s up?”

I was met with a chorus of “Poa.”  I’m cool.


Safi!” I’m great, I replied.

Jina lako nani?

Jina langu ni Helen.

A few words in Swahili go a long way in East Africa. They were impressed.

Unatoka wapi?


Laughter – “Ah Steven Gerrard!” The universal language of football. If all other attempts at communication fail in Africa, mention your favourite soccer team. Extra bonus points if you support Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, or Chelsea. I’m an Everton fan myself, but I didn’t mention that.

One of the men called me over, closer to the boat. I swam up and holding onto the side, reached for the black plastic bag he was holding out to me. It was tied at the top and inside was filled with fish.

“For me?”

He nodded.

“Really? Asante sana!

Karibu.” You’re welcome. I swam back one-handedly, keeping my ‘catch’ out of water. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure why I did that…

“Look what they gave me!” I called to Lucia who was watching me from the water’s edge. We were having a braai that evening, so the fish would come in handy.

Tanzania Sunrise

We sat watching them, drying off our wet clothes until it was time for breakfast.

I often think back to this moment and it makes me smile. Glad I took the time to let the moment imprint on my senses, to appreciate, reflect, to just be for a little while, alone and with my friend. It reminds me to see the beauty in the every day and to treasure those moments that will not come back again… except in my imagination.

I close my eyes and I’m back in Tanzania. My ordinary self, sitting on that ordinary beach, on an ordinary day, watching other ordinary people do ordinary things.



Helen Davies is a an adventurer, part-time traveller and full-time Africa lover. She writes about her travels in Africa (and elsewhere) on her blog Helen in Wonderlust. Follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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About Helen Davies

Helen Davies is a an adventurer, part-time traveller and full-time Africa lover. She writes about her travels in Africa (and elsewhere) on her blog Helen in Wonderlust. She's been gorilla trekking in Rwanda, dived with great white sharks in South Africa and climbed to the top of Kilimanjaro. Helen can usually be found on or planning an epic trip for herself or someone else. Having spent a year in Africa, she’s keen to encourage others to explore her favourite continent.

24 thoughts on “Tanzania: an ordinary day, an ordinary sunrise

  • Amanda

    Lovely piece, Helen. It just goes to show that sometimes it’s the little moments like this that stay with us forever.

  • Jo

    I confess I’m far to grumpy in the morning to appreciate any sunrise (I’ve tried it many times), but I have a similar relationships with sunsets. One of my fastest routes to calm, and most effective ways of getting a grip on anything in life is to watch this natural phenomenon that we’re so luck happens every day.

    “This was our time. Mine and the morning.” – love this, love the whole article, love the attitude of finding the spectacular in the ordinary world that we meet every day.

    • Helen Davies Post author

      Ha ha, I can’t imagine you being grumpy Jo! Berlin – we shall find a sunrise together!

      Thank you so much, so glad that you liked it and such a lovely comment. xx

  • Gran Canaria Local

    We’ve always been more sunset people. But your excellent post has convinced us of the virtues of the sunrise. We used to study with somebody who’s living in Tanzania. Obviously time to pay them a visit.

    • Helen Davies Post author

      Sunrise and sunset, both amazing! Yes, definitely pay them a visit! Tanzania is a beautiful country. I’m going back in a few months and I can’t wait!

    • Helen Davies Post author

      Thank you Lisa! It was amazing to share a big part of this journey with you and Bill too! 🙂 Both in Africa and Australia!

      I’ll never forget the God debate at the back of the truck! 🙂

      Miss you. x

  • Renuka

    Sunrise is infinitely beautiful! It’s God’s love letter to our hearts. Very well captured.

    • Helen Davies Post author

      Thank you Renuka! ‘God’s love letter to our hearts’… what a beautiful way to describe it! 🙂 I couldn’t agree more. There is something so special and magical about the earliest light over the horizon that I can’t explain.

  • Arti

    What a beautiful experience you had Helen. And you have described it so very lucidly, lovely writeup. A perfect start to my morning here in India 🙂

    • Helen Davies Post author

      Thank you Arti! Glad you liked it! I’ve never been to India so I’ll pop over to your blog and have a read! It’s somewhere I would love to travel to!

    • Helen Davies Post author

      Thanks so much Sarah! Swahili is such a beautiful language and I had a great time practicing it again this past week… in Berlin though! People really appreciate the effort! 🙂

  • Henry | @fotoeins

    AAH’S’NAL! 🙂 Thank you for writing this wonderful piece, Helen; it really felt like I was experiencing that African sunrise with you. And thanks, Michael, for hosting her post!

    • Helen Davies Post author

      You are welcome Henry! 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to read it!

      I’m glad you felt like you were there too. I guess that’s the hope every travel writer has, so thank you for such a lovely comment.

      And thank you Michael for hosting me again! I have a lot to be thankful for today!

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