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.