Friday, January 31, 2014

Tanzania from the passenger’s seat

The opportunity to speak at a school brought me to Africa.

In the process, I got an education myself—largely from the passenger’s seat en route to and from the school every day for four days.

A bit of what I learned and experienced:

  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author Roald Dahl lived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for a short time beginning in 1934. We were going to drive by his former home but in all the excitement it slipped our mind.
  • Lots of people wear T-shirts with logos of familiar brands, including American colleges and sports teams. This is at least in part because the Salvation Army regularly distributes used clothing.
  • Lots of people try to sell goods on the street—the literal street. Almost anytime the car stopped, someone was there with handfuls of small electronics (cables, etc.), pirated DVDs, nuts, flowers…even individual eggs. At first their faces were inscrutable, but when we politely said no, we always got a smile. The people seem to have a kind soul.
  • I was told of an incident when something disrupted the water at the school. The expats found that frustrating but the locals who worked there didn’t; some did not have running water at their homes.
  • I was told of another incident in which, one night, several intended thieves climbed over a wall enclosing the school grounds. They landed on a generator, which shocked them, so they couldn’t help but let out shouts of pain. This brought residents to their windows and balconies, and they watched as the school guards beat the intruders as the intruders called out “But that’s where you told us to climb over!” Corruption is common, and it appeared these men paid off the guards to turn a blind eye, but once the residents learned of the intruders, the guards had to put on a show so the residents would feel the guards were doing their jobs.
  • Before taking off from Africa, the flight attendants walked down the aisles spraying special airplane insecticide along the ceiling.
  • I was told the malaria pills I had to take might induce nightmares. I wish they had. The closest instance occurred on the plane home; I dreamed of a large, brown, hairy spider-like creature, only it had a fan tail (almost like a peacock) and visible pincers. I was watching it slink along a wall until it took flight, circled around, then headed straight for my face. That jolted me awake.

Seen around town:

 The “F”s are made out of flip flops.

 The night watchman at my hotel was a Maasai man.

 View from my hotel room of low tide, morning.

 Tide, late morning.

 Tide, afternoon.

 Tide, late afternoon.

 Spot the sign to the school.

 Coco Beach. Sadly, not safe.

 The Indian Ocean.

 This was a band singing in a moving truck.

The one-night, two-day safari I was going to 
spontaneously go on...until I got a fever.

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