Around Dar again, con’t: 24 Aug 2006

30 08 2006

(We just got back to Dar from Mbeya tonight.  I’ll write more about it later, but we didn’t have time or internet access while in Mbeya, so sorry, no updates.  We are heading to Arusha tomorrow morning, and I hope to catch up on entries while there.  The following is picking up from the last entry on the 24th that I didn’t have time to finish.  Internet time is paid by the hour-about $1.50- at internet cafes, so when time is up, that’s it.)

 Today, Andy and I walked to Kariakoo market.  It was SOO busy and packed-and far enough away to give me a blister.  So many people, so much stuff to sell, so many offers to buy ferry tickets.  We then had dinner at Chef’s Pride and met the owner.  He saw my “Rough Guide” and pointed out his hotels and restaurants.  He was so proud of the great ratings that the book gave his establishmentsand hadn’t seen them before.  He gave some recommendation for 2 of his hotels in Zanzibar.  He said the biggest financial challenges are government taxes and energy costs.  He told me what vegetarian dish to order and it was FANTASTIC…rice and balls made of beans and I-don’t-know-what-else with sauce…the food had so much flavor.  Andy had pizza with pineapple on top.  It has been good for us both to get away from process food.  We’ve been eating 2 meals per day: breakfast of fruit and scrambled eggs with toast and late lunch/early dinner.  It seems to work well.

A couple of days ago, we were eating dinner at Luther House (where we stay).  An older “mama” stopped to talk to us.  She was a member of the Lutheran church back when the hostel was started.  I had been eating “ugali”, which is like thick grits that you eat with your fingers.  She asked where I learned to eat ugali and seemed impressed that I could pretend to know what to do with it.  I told her a friend taught me (Thanks, Mandi!!).  This opend the door for us to chat and she told me about her 80 operations (she said in in English…seems unreal, though) and showed me some of her many scars.

From talking to her and others, it seems that there is no retirement here in Tanzania; no pension plans from the government.  I remember the same from travels to Panama.  Unless a savings account has built up, it makes aging difficult.  There is no point at which a person “stops”, everyone stays valuable to the community..but there is also a large dependance on family.

Another observation is the high incidence of adults with deformed legs and arms.  Andy asked about it and was told it’s due to a number of factors: poor health care before and during birth, polio, poverty, poor nutrition-all intertwined, of course.  We’ve seen so many people without working legs, but not one wheelchair.  A couple of people have had tricycles pedaled by hand, but most walk with their hands and drag their bodies and feet.  It’s hard to watch.


Around Dar, again: 24 Aug 2006

24 08 2006

Today, Andy and went to Kariakoo market: VERY busy, congested, crazy market. Tomorrow, we head to Mbeya.  I’m much more comfortable in the city, but ready to see more of Tanzania.

OK, out of internet time. 

TGNP: 23 Aug 2006

24 08 2006

Kagubu and his friend the driver, Haidi, took Andy and I to a market in Dar to buy Kangas from some women on the street.  Kangas are the beautiful wrap skirts that women wear here in Tanzania (and maybe East Africa?).  They are very beautiful with bright colors that have sayings in Swahili on them.  Here is a pic from the internet:


(I haven’t had time to download my pics yet, but will when able.)

As I was buying kangas, the women kept pulling out more and more and more:  about 10 women were shoving kangas in my face.  I kept saying “hapana, hapana” (no, no).  Finally I chose a couple and we left.

EVERYTHING is bought on the street…it’s truely amazing: underwear, food, housewares, beds.

From there we headed to Tanzania Gender Networking Project.  This is an organization that Marjorie, Anina’s mama, is active in (and one of hte co-founders).  The organization is somewhat of a umbrella and covers issues such as access to water, women’s rights, health care and AIDS education.  We attended a seminar there about the allocation of money to AIDS in the Tanzanian government budget.  The 2006/7 budget has more actual $$ going to AIDS, but a smaller percentage of the budget, so the question proposed was:  How much of a priority is AIDS for the Tanzanian government?

The following are some issues that came up from the whole group during the seminar:

1) Local level engagement

2)The amount of the budget that reaches the local level is inadequate

3) allocation of funds for nutrition

4) Government should be transparent on sources of money and allocation

5)Accurate data is needed at all levels

6) Tanzania needs to look to other countries (Kenya/Uganda) to get ideas of what to do, what works, what doesn’t

7) Activists need to spread the word to all organizations on how to read the gov’t budget

8) AIDS issue needs to be raised more in media

9 ) Accurate info still needs to get out to people and end the myths.

After the seminar, we went to Marjorie’s house for a delicious dinner.  We met her husband and Kagubu’s mama.  The conversation was as good as the food.  They are both very involved in Dar and it was interesting to get their perspective.  After dinner, Haidi drove Andy and I back to Luther House.

Marjorie gave me some books to read about women’s rights in Tanzania and about TGNP.  I’ll try to write about them when I finish reading.  I asked her if she ever felt overwhelmed because there are so many issues.  She said sometimes, but that things get better and worse.  When Nyrere was president, things were looking up, but now there seems to be a decline in Tanzanian society again due to globalization and “neo-liberalism” (she gave me a book about that, also).

Day in Dar: 22 Aug 2006

22 08 2006

Today, Andy and I are spending the day walking around Dar es Salaam.  We found this internet cafe so I can update these posts.  I will write what is in my journal each time we are able to get on the internet.  If you don’t want this much detail, or the entries are boring, you can just skim the headers to see that we are still alive and intact.  🙂

On Friday we are leaving the city (yeah) and taking a train to Mbeya.  I’m hoping that once we leave the city it will be calmer and slower paced.  Here in Dar, the driving is crazy (anarchy driving), and no one seems very happy on the street.

We are headed back to the hostel now.  I hope everyone is doing well and thanks for reading!

Bagamoyo: 21 Aug 2006

22 08 2006

This morning we had a very nice, free breakfast at the Peacock Hotel. Kagubu and his friend, the driver (Halidy), met us at 9AM. We checked out and did a bunch of errands: check into Luther House Hostel, get cell phone activated for Tanzania and exchange $$. Receipts are mostly written out by hand neatly and thoroughly with carbon paper used to make a duplicate.

We then headed to Bagamoyo and the Kaole Ruins. We stopped on the way to tour the Chuo Cha Sanaa (College of Arts) where Andy and I eqach bought a bead bracelet from a very friendly artisan. I swear I smelled pot, but who knows, maybe it’s just some local herb used for cooking…;-)

The Kaole Ruins contain the remains of a 13th century mosque and a 15th century mosque with graves. It was pretty interesting and we had a very good tour guide. She showed us piles of shells that had the snail removed to eat and how they were broken down over time to make the sand in the area. Also, she showed us the ruins of a prayer room. The person kneels at the door to pray. If the wish comes true, the person is supposed to return to the same place to offer thanks. Inside this prayer room were insence and matches because people STILL use it as a prayer room.

Bagamoyo, on the coast close to Zanzibar, was an important trade port for slaves, ivory, salt and copra (a dried, oil yielding kernal of coconuts) in the mid 19th century. The area looks somewhat like a dry Florida with all the coconut trees planted by the Arabs many years ago for this trade. The city was under Arab control until the late 1800’s when Bagamoyo became the capitol of German East Africa. As a result, both Arabic and German influences can be seen in the architecture. Both groups were heavily involved in the slave trade.

We toured an old German fort and walked through the german barracks and the outside open areas where slaves were kept (open to the weather, but of course, walled in). In 1888, there was a revolt against the colonial rule. We saw the spot where a tree stood that had been used by the Germans to hang the Tanzanians that revolted. The tree was removed, but a large pyramid shaped marker stands in its place. I bought 2 sets of ebony statues at this place (paying too much, of course). The ebony is from that area.

My friend, Miriam J., and I had been talking once about the slave trade and how it seemed that AfricanAmerican ancestors had paid a HUGE price for what many of their descendants have today. As an AfricanAmerican woman, she wondered what Africans thought of that. Since our Bagamoyo tour was about the slave trade, I asked hte tour guide that question. He said, in short, that Africans see AfricanAmericans as family…brother, sister…because of the skin color.; that they are separated by water, but still connected.

Since a group of German tourists were in the area at the same time we were, I asked him his view on other countries and the people that played a role in Bagamoyo’s history. He said that there is a dislike of Germans and Arabs; that being around them is a reminder of what took place and the colonialism and exploitation. He said North Americans are very welcome because they “understand what tourism is about”, the impilcation, of course, being the spending of money. Thanks for the compliment, but…..

Our group of 4 stopped at the Traveler’s Lodge for lunch on our way out of the area. Traveler’s Lodge is this very beautiful camping/cabin resort along the beach. The restaurant is open and very nice, with once again, excellent food. I can see that I will be eating a lot of fish here, but that’s ok. It’s just so good!

After eating, we drove a very sleepy ride home. At one point, only the driver was awake. As soon as Andy and I got to the hostel, we both laid on the bed and fell asleep.

The day was fun and very interesting…and we wouldn’t have had the experience without Kagubu and his friend. I am so thankful to them and Anina for setting up this opportunity. At about $150, the day was expensive. I can’t afford to keep up this pace. At one point I was pretty down about it, feeling that every smile comes with a price. Tomorrow we will have an easier, low keyed day & just walk on our own around the city…without spending $$.

I’m feeling pretty alone right now….realizing that on a daily basis I am fed SO much positive energy and support by the people in my life through those small interactions and that here and now I need to reach into my own reserve. It takes many forms: excitement, responsibility, decision, calm, patience…I need to really draw on what is already there in the coming month.

Tonight I received a text message on my Tanzanian cell phone (cool, eh?) from Kagubu saying to be safe tomorrow. It was nice to have someone here care and brought me out of the funk. Also, Marjorie, Anina’s mama, send a message and invited Andy and I to see her and her organization on Wed and then to have dinner with her family. I’m looking foward to it!

Arrival in Dar: 20 Aug 2006

22 08 2006

We arrived at about 7:30 in Dar es Salaam today.  The travel was incredibly smooth.  I have to say, though, that we are both beyond tired.  We have been 3 days with little sleep and many time zone changes.

Meja’s brother, Ezekiel, and Anina’s brother, Kagubu, met us at the airport.  Ezekiel then drove us around to find a place to sleep.  We are staying at the Peacock Hotel.  It’s very nice, but at 85/night, quite expensive.  Right now, it’s worth it to have a comfortable place to stay the first night.  We showered and then slept most of the day. 

Ezekiel and Kagubu are very nice and it made a world of difference to have someone meet us at the airport and drive us around for lodging.  Their help was the best thing that anyone could have done for us…my brain had pretty much turned off at that point and I was just overwhelmed (new sights, sounds, expectations).  Tomorrow, Kagubu will meet us at 9AM and take us around for the day.

After sleeping for a few hours, I woke Andy up and we walked for a short time outside.  After dinner at the hotel, we came back up to the room.  Andy is back to sleeping already and I am on my way there.

There are many feeling this first day:

Initially it was excitement: Oh man, I’m in Africa!  I made it! Finally after so many years of dreaming of this, I’m here!

At the end of the first day:  What have I gotten myself into?  I’m feeling overwhelmed and lost: not sure what to do, what not to do, where to go, what is offensive, how should I respond, when to give $ and when not to.

Tomorrow we should both be rested and able to get to more of a comfort level.

For now: SLEEP!

en Route: 19 Aug 2006

22 08 2006

Written in my journal at Heathrow while waiting for the plane to Tanzania:

We did London today. Andy and I were both passout tired, andy tired but we managed to take the tube down to Westminster, do a Thames River cruise and ride the London Eye. We haven’t slept much the past two nights and time has somehow shifted on us. It was interesting to see many of the important London buildings from the river perspective, but not enough to keep us awake. 😦 eye The Eye, on the other hand, was neat. I loved being up so high and seeing the same building from above. My favorite part was the Salvador Dali exhibit. We didnt make it inside the museum, but the statues outside were a treat! dali

Processing into and out of Heathrow was slow, but easy. I had expected things to be much more complicated and confusing, but it seems that everything in London is pretty straightforward….well, at least what we encountered.

This is it!

18 08 2006

We fly out today! I really just can’t believe it.


(Whenever I fly, I think of this movie.  It really is funny!)

The luggage is packed and everything fits.

Today consisted of running around checking items off an extensive list. Andy was with me and we just had fun doing all the errands. He’s been so good about this trip!

Whenever I need something (even moments of silence), he’s right on it. I can’t get too wigged-out, because he keeps me laughing. There really is no one else I would rather take this trip with. He’s mature enough to organize and print a bunch of paperwork, but young enough to ask if he can take his care bear.

I love his complexity, his compassion and his unique view on the world….and he loves to antagonize me!

I am going to try to post something here at least weekly so everyone knows I’m alive, but no promises.

One thing you all should know is that I have so much love in my world and I’m living my life as full as I possibly can and plan to always be able to say that.

Thanks for all the support…seriously.

Tanzania Map

16 08 2006

tanzania map

counting the days

15 08 2006

Tomorrow is the last day of work. I say it like I’m not going back…..

Here is my horoscope:

“Nothing is quite the way you feel it ought to be. That’s either exasperating or magnificent, depending on how you choose to look at the situation. Abandon your preconceived ideas. Be as adaptable and intuitive as you can be. Bring forth your inner supply of Piscean creativity and think positively about whatever is causing you so much concern. There is a much more inspiring (and more accurate) way to see it. As long as you don’t succumb to a sense of pressure, this will soon become clear. Amazing opportunities await in the next few days.”

Cool, eh?

I’ve planned and planned, but still feel so unprepared. I can’t believe it’s so soon. After months…years…of waiting, saying “someday”, it’s here and real and I just can’t wrap my mind around this.

The best thing that has come of this already is the daily reminders of what amazing friends I have. Each is so unique and fits a different part of me, but if someone were to judge me by my friends, the consensus would be that I am a pretty fortunate woman.

And I would agree.

There’s a lot swirling around inside, but mostly, I’m focused on the details: Making sure everything is taken care of and nothing is forgotten.   I need to remember to step back and feel the emotions.

And to sleep.

One more day of work……