Saturday, September 1, 2012

Returning from Tanzania

Internet is not the only thing missing in Tanzania that we take for granted, such as running water, electricity, toilets that flushed or appear to be cleaned recently. Smooth streets or roads would be another item to add to the list along with street signs and rules of the road. Despite that little complaint about our experience in Tanzania, life is great.

We've just started our 16th full day in Tanzania and a packing for our evening flight back to Portland via Amsterdam. Each day gave us greater insight into the conditions of the people, particularly the orphans and children, of this culture. They are victims or at least the products of a country whose government is far from overcoming corruption and a people strongly grounded in very old traditions. "We've always done it that way" goes far beyond an attitude and becomes a part of the rut in which the people with very few opportunities or hopes for change exist. Creativity and resources on the streets don't appear available but the number of people is huge.

Yet there's a glow among the people. Every one of them will either greet you with "Jambo," their equivalence of our "Hello," or will return a greeting if you offer one first. The handshake, offered by most men, starts with a hand clasp like our America handshake, proceeds into a clasping of each others thumbs and back into our American handshake. The youth taught us one where you start by lightly grabbing each others arms near the elbow sliding so the hands meet and become fists. The fists tap each other on top of each other, first one, then the other and then tapping knuckles together. Finally you tap your chest three times with the fist and extend your arm to point to the sky. We have no idea what this means but it was a bounding moment.

There is an ever presence of young men selling their wares ranging from newspapers, to sunglasses, to maps, to jewelry and even washing your wind shield as you wait at a red light. This last unsolicited sales starts with no invitation or approval on the part of the driver. The cost of this 15-second wash with a water-filled rag and hand-held windshield wiper usually gets 200 shillings (about 14 American cents) if you have such a coin handy.

This area is so dry; everything seems to victim to dust. We experienced no rain so we've not experienced dust turning to mud. Interestingly there are several climate changes between Arusha and the destinations of the safaris. The climb to the rim of Ngorongoro Crater is a rainforest probably due to the early mists in the higher elevations. The crater itself is again very dry this time of the year. Around Lake Manyara there are trees and thickets but the lake is low during this dry season.

Because the availability of Internet did not allow us to write daily, we will attempt to recreate our journey in retrospect in this blog over the next several weeks. The intention is to also create a website in of this journey.

Sent from my iPad