August 23, 2006

Tanzania trip, pt 1

So, Tanzania. I keep promising I'm going to write about it and it keeps getting further and further away from the date I actually came home, so I'd better do it soon before I forget things.

For our trip, we spent the first night in Morgoro, then the next day took a LONG bus ride to a town near Moshi where a peace corps volunteer named Alex lived. We ended up on a sort of shady bus; it was a perfectly okay bus ride but at various points in time they had everyone in the back of the bus get up, walk to the middle or the front, and then crouch down. Wha? Other than that it was a fairly uneventful, seven hour bus ride, just sat and listened to music for most of it. Arrived in Moshi and were immediately swarmed by people; Wes somehow managed to make friends with them all in about ten seconds, then they helped us get on a dalla (the public's like a large van almost into which they cram as many people as possible before going to their destination) where there was room for both us and our stuff, and even shooed away a crazy man for us. The whole scenario was somehow ridiculous, but made me laugh.

Alex's site was pretty cool; the next day Wes and I visited an amazing waterfall that was within walking distance of the site. It was interesting because it was really the first place I saw in Tanzania that wasn't Dar or Morogoro, and I had sort of grown used to the way things were in Morogoro. It's a lot more touristy in Moshi because Mt. Kilimanjaro is really close (unfortunately, we didn't get to see the top - it was too cloudy), and we noticed the effects pretty quickly. Everyone said "Jambo" when they saw us, which isn't actually what Tanzanians say to each OTHER, just what they say to the white tourists, and "Hello rafiki!" (friend), and "Hakuna matata" (which they ALSO don't say - they say it in Kenya; in Tanzania they say other things). It was weird. I don't understand why you would purposefully dilute your own language for the sake of the tourists. There definitely seem to be a lot of things in their culture that have either changed or developed because of tourists. I don't know what to think of that. There are so many things that can be said, both good and bad, of tourism. I think ultimately it's a good thing, obviously - I WAS a tourist there, so I can't exactly criticize the other tourists, but... I think that it can help break down stereotypes and better educate people about the world, but on the other hand, it can also CREATE stereotypes. So I guess the question is what's the good kind of tourist? How do you make sure that you make a positive impact instead of a negative one? Is it even possible to be sure of that?

Anyway, getting off topic a little...the waterfall was amazing, as I said; I posted some pictures...we went down this crazily steep path to get to it. The guide gave us walking sticks at the beginning and I didn't understand why I would need a walking stick, but I was extremely glad I took it once we started going down...we spent some time at the bottom just admiring the waterfall, then we were all ready to go when the guide asked if we wanted to go across to the other side of the river, which of course we did! That was probably my favorite part actually; we kicked off our shoes and walked across the rocks to get to the other side; it was Some inner child in me still loves walking across rocks in water for some reason. We even could have gone swimming - the guide offered to show us the area where we could - but it wasn't very hot outside and we would have had to walk about a mile in wet clothes afterwards through a lot of areas with people, so we opted out of that one.

That night we went to Clarissa (Alex's girlfriend, another peace corps volunteer)'s site, and as we got there they were having a party! Not Clarissa; her school - they had just had some British students come and build them a classroom, and the students were leaving, so they threw a party for them, and we got to go at the tail end of it. It was a really cool experience. There was music on and everyone was dancing and I even had a teacher there decide she was going to be my friend, lol. It was definitely something I don't think I EVER would have experienced had I just gone there without going to see a peace corps volunteer. I was really amused by the music selection though...sort of regular African music, and then Celine Dion, and then Shaggy! ?!!? The teachers were even singing along to that one!

K, I'm going to leave that for now, I'll come back later, at least I've made a start!

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