Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The finale-So prepare for the chance of a lifetime, a shinning era is tiptoeing nearer

Wow-sorry I haven’t updated in a while, things got a little crazy with finals and the wrapping up with the semester. Finals were okay, it’s so completely difficult to judge how I did on them but we will see. I’m just hoping to get our grades before I graduate… But besides that, not too much else has happened or been exciting.  Gabe and I went to Zanzibar for a few days, which was nice but it rained a lot which ruined the whole lets-get-really-tan-before-we-go-back-to-the-states idea. But there isn’t too much to be done about that. Everyone is gone now except Emily and Linda, so were naturally going to the beach tomorrow, and that’s about all that I have left on the schedule.

Today was a great day and exactly how I wanted to spend one of my last days. Last night we went to the George and Dragon, which is an English pub that had wonderful fish and chips, as a goodbye dinner. That was a good way to say goodbye to a few friends, and then today they left leaving me basically alone for the first time since getting here (luckily Emily is still here or it would get old pretty fast). So today I went to mwenge and bought the rest of everyone’s gifts, I have so much crap to bring back! So after meandering along for a few hours I got on a dala, not really paying attention. For the first time since being in Dar I of course got on the wrong bus and went the opposite way into town. So I just decided to go with it, eventually getting off and bought maize from a street vender (also a first which is a shame because it has actually grown on me a lot). I eventually got home and slept, but the whole day felt like exactly what I should be doing while in Tanzania for only TWO more days!

I leave on Friday, which feels impossible, strange, scary, and exciting all at the same time. At times like this it is impossible to not reflect, and my apologies if this gets a little too retreat reflection (thank you living in Loyola). For the most part I could not have asked for a better experience. I feel that studying here has changed me in so many ways; the real test will be to see how much that will hold true when I am back in all the old familiar places. I am so grateful for the experiences I have had, I am so lucky to have been able to do such much. Even more than that I am grateful for the people I have met, they have made this experience everything that it was. Especially for me, I have never lived this long without close friends or family in a strange place, but I would say it turned out pretty okay and being a triplet wasn’t so bad either ;)

I think the most important lesson for me has been the ability to relax. As a historically uptight, have to be involved in everything and always running around type of person, it was the strangest thing to literally not have ANYTHING to do. And more than that, to realize that I don’t have much control over many of the events of this semester and that most things will not be working on my schedule. Having the ability to recognize this, and then be okay with it has really been a shift in attitude for me and one that is necessary for living in Tanzania. I also think that I have grown a lot in my ability to survive on my own. Although my parents encouraged traveling a lot and did everything they could to get me out of NH (thank god!), I am still someone that still hasn’t ‘done’ Europe or really done much global traveling, and none of it alone. Africa was ambitious and not most people’s first choice, but you figure out how to survive. Although it took me a long time to be truly comfortable, I think a lot of it has to do with having the ability to still be yourself. For me, living back with a family that I had to be somewhat responsible to, coupled with the inability to travel much by myself and the immense attention that being a female mzungu draws made it feel that my independence and identity that been snatched from me. In reality I was not as restricted as I first believed, but the important part was that I started running again. Not for long distances and really slowly, but it reminded me of who I was, which in turn allowed me to receive every experience in such a better place. I think that it’s an invaluable lesson, and one that I will definitely keep in mind for the future. Also, studying here has made me want to see and do so much and travel everywhere, and whereas that drive always existed I actually believe that I will do it now.

I think I have also experienced so much more in terms of racial and gender inequalities. Coming from overwhelmingly white areas has never allowed me to see how it really can be such a factor. (It was always strange and funny when a baby would burst out crying on the dala because they were scared of our skin color) White privilege is a palpable reality here, as is an Indian elite business class which we were fortunate to get a taste of as well. Even though Dar is definitely one of the better African cities and has made strides in development, there is still a long way to go and I saw poverty like I never really had before.  Also, I have never seen the utter inefficiencies of so many public offices, including the police force. Mob justice is something I have only studied at school, and I was lucky enough to not really experience it.

So in sum, it has been wonderful and terrific and as cliché as that sounds one of the best times of my life. Five months flew by, just as everyone said they would and despite those long sweaty sun burnt, mosquito-bitten nights we survived and I think became a better person for it. However, it is time to leave, and I am so excited to be going back home. This summer is going to be great, and I am living at school because I am interning with Save the Children and doing research with the International Studies Department. It is going to be awesome, and now I can always carry with me what I learned here.

In the middle of the night, I go walking in my sleep, from the mountains of fame to the river so deep, I must be looking for something, something sacred I lost, but the river is wide, and it’s too hard to cross. Even though I know the river is wide I walk every evening and stand on the shore, I try to cross onto the opposite side so I can finally find what I’ve been looking for…We all end in the ocean, we all start in the stream, and were all carried along by the river of dreams, in the middle of the night.

Much love,

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Let’s get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance

Easter Break-4/5-4/9

Hello there! So I had a great Easter Break this year, even though it was obviously sad not to be with family during the holiday. As a side note, my aunt is going to have surgery on Friday (4/28), so if everyone who is reading this could say a quick prayer or just send out some good vibes I would really appreciate it.

Well, we had planned to climb Mt. Hanag which sounded really exciting, except we realized the night before that we hadn’t planned it out thoroughly enough and that we didn’t have enough time to do it. So a friend of ours had gone to Tanga and Pangani, so the next day we hopped onto the first bus to Tanga with a guidebook in hand. Tanga is on the Northeast corner and is not too far from Kenya. I absolutely fell in the love with the town, which although it is the third largest city in Tanzania in terms of population, it still managed to keep a small town feel. There were so many more parks and trees and hedges, the most green I have been in a city since arriving here. So we got to the city around 4 or 5 because we had grabbed an early bus, but we had a little trouble finding a place that had availability that wasn’t super expensive. Luckily, our taxi driver helped us find a great place that wasn’t too pricey. And for the first time since I arrived, I had my own room. After Gabe and Emily left I took advantage of the opportunity by jumping on the bed and laughing, only to be greeted a few seconds later by a very confused hotel worker with the sodas Gabe had ordered. But that night we stayed at the hotel and ate and got to know the manager, who was a rotund fellow who very much enjoyed his drinks but he was a nice guy all around.

On Friday me and Gabe went for a run and got to explore the town even more. Interestingly enough I have been running a fairly good amount while here, even if I can’t last for a long distance because of the heat but its become my favorite way to get familiar with a new area. Once we got back we rented bicycles because Tanga is a biking town, which apparently is staunchly upheld by the townspeople, and we were told that if a car hit a bike a mob would instantly form. But so many people rode bikes, which is  an anomaly in Dar since the traffic is so bad. So we rode around and explored the city a bit, finally ending at the Yacht Club. Although the beach was rocky, there was a platform in the water we could jump off of and the food was really good. I had a prawns pita, and it was great to have fresh salad as well. That night we ate at a great pizza place….and then got to ride out bikes home which was entertaining and luckily the hotel was not too far from where we were. On Saturday we left for Pangani, to a place called Mkoma Bay which we found in the guidebook. After a long and bumpy taxi ride from Tanga, we arrived to one of the most beautiful places we have stayed yet. Although it was a expensive, it was completely worth it. We were in a luxury tent, with running hot water and a bathroom. There was a pool, a really cool restaurant area made out of wood, and we were on a cliff overlooking the ocean with easy access to the beach and use of kayaks whenever we wanted. It was an almost perfect vacation spot, and I actually had a very active stay. I ran every day on the beach, we kayaked, and one day we rented bikes. However, the best part was that there was a couple there who was on a program called workstay, in which you get free room and board if you work for free. It is a pretty sweet deal, and they had been traveling together on this program for years. They had originally restored an old VW van and traveled all around America and Europe in it, it even had a toilet. But we were really lucky because the husband was a chef, and the food was absolutely amazing. And we had real coffee for the first time.

After we arrived on Saturday we just hung out and enjoyed the beach and the beautiful weather. That night we had a delicious dinner, and it was the first time I had a true ‘Western’ meal in a long time. Another nice thing about Mkomo Bay was that it was a small establishment so all the guests had a chance to get to know each other and we had a really good time with two women who worked in Tanzania. On Easter Sunday we had the best brunch, with quiche, potatoes, fruit, scones, croissants, and best of all REAL pancakes. It was a wonderful way to start off Easter! Later on that day we walked on the beach to Pangani, which was a tiny but quaint town. Some of the houses were nice, my favorite being the one that was bright pink with a gorgeous flowering tree outside. We decided to rent bikes again, only to find out how bumpy and long the ride on the main road was. Once we finally got back to Mkomo we spent more time in the sun, and eventually rented kayaks. It was cool because during high tide there was a mangrove grove that you could kayak through. That night, we had Easter dinner. They pulled all the tables together so that all the guests were eating next to each other, which was nice to be able to talk with everyone. We had garlic prawns, which were superb, and it was for sure the first time I ate that on Easter.

We had planned to leave on Monday, but since we don’t really have classes on Tuesday we decided to stay an extra night. On Monday we returned the bikes, but we thought it might be easier to ride them on the beach. Which was a completely false assumption, seeing as the bikes sank in the sand. So part of the way I had to walk, but that was alright because I could better see the fishermen that pulled their nets in on the shore. Once we ran back we spent the rest of the day relaxing in the sun. That night we again had an amazing meal, this time it was lamb with a mint spread and scalloped potatoes. Everything was just so good. Alas, it had to all come to an end and on Tuesday morning we had to take a bus back to Tanga and then catch another one to Dar. I want to say in total it was around 9 hours of traveling, although our bus did break down for fifteenish minutes. We were sitting in the front and then all of a sudden the bus got filled with smoke so there was a mad dash to rush out of the bus, and yes there were chickens involved (yup, someone brought a live chicken on a six hour bus ride). But no worries they fixed it, or at least stopped it from smoking so we arrived without too much delay. All in all it was a great vacation and a wonderful way to spend Easter. 

Much love,

Saturday, March 24, 2012

You Love the People That Love You, You Hear the Music They Move To

I just thought that I would add in some more cultural experiences that we have had while in Dar. One of the biggest ongoing crises in Tanzania since we arrived has been the doctors’ strike. Many of the doctors hadn’t been paid in over six months, and for at least a few weeks a majority of them stopped working and the nurses essentially ran the hospitals. This was shocking to us because as a vital part of society doctors have different codes of conduct which I assumed were universal. However, I think people can only work for so long without proper compensation. Ultimately, the state does not have enough money to finance even the most basic institutions. This seems to be a reoccurring theme, which can be seen in the crumbling infrastructure and with constant strikes. Eventually the doctors strike was called off because under their union contract they are not allowed to go on strike, and the government threatened to fire all of them and replace them with the military doctors. Unfortunately the doctors have still not received payments, and some have tried to strike again.

Another interesting development has been with the arrival of our new housegirl, Rebecca. Rebecca is 19 and was married in her village because her family needed the dowry money. Her husband wanted to move to Dar to study (I think they said he is in form 4, or just finishing primary school) but she had to work at our house to help finance him. However, he dropped her off at our house and has not had contact with her since. At first she was frantic, trying to walk and find him in the city (of three million). She even stopped eating and tried to walk to her village (which is about 800 kilometers away). I felt terrible for her, but our family did everything they could so that she could just stay in the house and not run away. They said that anything could happen to her in the city alone, including being raped or turned into a slave. Luckily she is still here and has calmed down a lot, although she keeps on trying to borrow Emily’s phone to call her husband, who is still refusing to talk to her. Our parents told us that if she returns to live with her family, the marriage would be over but they would have to return the dowry. The whole situation is really sad and it illuminates how unequal men and women’s status really are. An interesting conversation with our host parents spawned from this situation about marriages in traditional villages. The funniest example was of one village in which a man will chase and try to tackle who he wants to marry, and if the girl can get away she doesn’t have to marry him. So we joked that all the girls in that village must work out so they don’t have to marry someone they didn’t want to.

As a side note, a water pipe broke somewhere on the outskirts of the city, and nowhere in this area had water for basically this whole week. Luckily we got it back two days ago and it has been flowing pretty consistently since, but it looked like it could get pretty bad there for a while. Anyways not too much going on this week, but Easter weekend are going to climb Mt. Hanag and see the rock art paintings, I’m wicked excited!

Much love,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Break 2012...Safari

Hey there!

This week was our Spring Break and we went on safari! (In Swahili it translates into journey) It was so much fun and we saw such an amazing variety of animals and plants, I wholly recommend everyone to try it if they can. We were by far the youngest people out of the other tourists we saw but I am so glad it was part of our program. Our group consisted of me, Emily, Gabe, Aurora, Dr. Alibrandi (an Education professor at FU who was on sabbatical), and Freddy our tour guide. We left early on Sunday morning and took a bus to Arusha which lasted about 11 hours. We took the Dar Express which is one of the nicer buses, everyone had a seat and luckily we were able to sit next to one another. However, there are no bathrooms on the bus and we only stop once for lunch at what would be the Tanzanian equivalent of a highway rest stop. So we basically did not drink at all on the bus because the only other option is going on the side of the road, but we got to Arusha without too much hassle. The weather was so much nicer there and much less humid and the landscape was gorgeous. We did not actually get to see Kilimanjaro but the surrounding mountains were beautiful as well.

On Monday we began our safari with Lake Manyara National Park which was beautiful. We saw so many monkeys and baboons, and although they freak me out with how human like they could be some of them were pretty cute. They basically just chill on the side of the road and pick the ticks off each other and climb trees, not a bad life. We also saw pink flamingoes in the lake, but they were so far away all you could see was a line of pink and even through the binoculars you couldn’t really distinguish individual birds. We also saw zebras, water buffalo, warthogs, antelope, and gazelles. After we left the park we drove up the Rift Valley which was so beautiful. This was also Maasai territory, and we saw many villages and people herding cows. It was sad as well because there were many of them sitting on the side of the road waiting for tourists to stop and take pictures of them for money. Traditionally Maasai are known for resisting outside influence but there were also chances to go into the village near the road. I am not sure if their village was there before the road was built, but more likely they moved there as a quasi tourist attraction. There is always a fine line between sharing and celebrating traditional societies with the outside world and exploiting and forever altering them through that process, but it would be interesting to learn more about the Maasai culture in the area. We also stopped at the Olduvai Gorge, where they originally thought they had found the oldest human remains. A few years ago they discovered older ones (in South Africa?) but it was still a very cool site. However, after spending essentially three whole days in the car the three of us were pretty antsy so we didn’t stick around for the lecture but the views were incredible. After driving for a few hours we arrived at the Migunga Camp, a beautiful camp where there were “tents” with running (hot!) water and electricity. The surrounding trees were beautiful (minus the terrifying rectangular spiders) but the sunrise was beautiful.

On Tuesday we drove through the Serengeti. In the stretch before we actually entered the park there were legions of wildebeest, our guide said that there must have been a million of them there, and that was only a third of the pack. It was unbelievable, I even put the Lion King soundtrack on for a while to emphasize the mood. On Tuesday and Wednesday night we stayed in the Ikoma Safari Camp, which was right outside the top border of the Serengeti. We were actually fairly close to Kenya at this point, but their Serengeti equivalent is called the Maasi Mara. The camp owner’s name was Pepe, a tiny Catalonian man who smoked a new cigarette every two minutes and had the most ridiculous stories and mannerisms. He was a lot of fun and the wildlife (cheetas and elephants!) that he had seen right outside his camp was crazy. It was cool because the whole camp ran off solar energy, and he showed us the batteries in the control room. He also had dug his own borehole so he always had running water, even when some of the villagers didn’t. We couldn’t quite understand him, but it sounded like he told us if they had gone down thirty more feet the water would have had arsenic in it…naturally we drank bottled water the whole time and no one had major problems which was thankful with the bumpy ride we had.  

On Wednesday we spent the whole day in the Serengeti. I think it was my favorite day and we saw so many different types of animals. At first we were a little antsy because all we had seen were the normal hippos, giraffes, zebras, elephants, and birds, but we really wanted to see the big cats. Luckily we did not have to wait too much longer, and right before lunch we saw a lion cub and a mother. We were so unbelievably close, and the lion was so chill like it didn’t care about anything and barely took notice of us. At lunch a man came to talk to us about the Serengeti Lion Project, in which they try to track the female lions in order to keep records of the pack and how many lions were actually in the Serengeti. The lion we had saw earlier had a collar on it, and there is a radio attached so the Project can locate them. Unfortunately we did not see a kill, but we did see a herd of elephants walk menacingly towards a leopard. We saw two leopards in trees, but in one case our guide said that the elephants don’t like them in the tree because then they cant use the shade. So we watched as a herd of elephants approach the leopard (mind you, it took around 10 minutes) but anticlimactically the leopard just climbed further up into the tree. We also saw more lions hanging out in trees, and we were so close that someone actually yelled at us because we were sitting on top of the safari car. After a great day of sightseeing we went back to the Ikoma Camp, and we sat outside for a fire after dinner. I have never seen stars that bright, and the sky was enormous because there was no development….anywhere. We also got to see the Southern Cross which was pretty cool, but we were basically on the equator so it was far down in the sky. Interestingly, we noticed that the guards had arrows so we asked Pepe about it. He told us that they carried poison-tipped arrows with a license to kill any animal or person that unrightfully entered the camp. That probably will be the only time in my life that I am escorted by a guard with poison tipped arrows so I would take note of it.

On Thursday we sadly left Pepes camp onto Ngorongoro Crater, but first we drove through the Serengeti for the last time. It was absolutely beautiful. Ngorongoro Crater was also a great experience, it is definitely one of the top places in the world to visit because of the incredibly biodiversity. There was such a concentration of animals that every angle you turned you saw wildebeest, zebras, antelope, pink flamingoes, lions, and rhinos (black rhinos-there were only 14 in the park and we saw 4, apparently they are endangered). We also saw around eight lions just napping in the grass, as nonchalant as ever. We were also able to get somewhat closer to the pink flamingoes, but you could barely distinguish what they were besides a pink blur. The crater was so beautiful and we were sad to leave it, but first we had to go up the steepest road I have ever been on in my life. The views were spectacular but I was so glad that we had Freddy as our guide and were in a safari car. We stayed in Rhino Lodge, which was one of the nicest places we had stayed at with a great view of the forest. I felt that as I was talking on the phone a dinosaur was going to burst out of the trees, and the owner told us that often there were elephants that come in the morning looking for food. Most amazingly, it was actually cold and I needed to sit by the fire to cool off, and I slept under several blankets, another first for my time in Tanzania.

On Friday we arrived back in Arusha, and stayed at the same hotel. It was nice to relax after all our traveling, and on Saturday we took the eleven hour bus ride back to Dar. It was a fantastic spring break, and I absolutely recommend going on safari whenever you get the chance!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

These are the good times in your life, so put on a smile and it will be alright

Hey everyone,
Well I had a pretty eventful week although not all of it was so great. First off, both me and Gabe got food poisoning from the restaurant on campus, which was pretty upsetting because it was one of the best places to eat but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to eat there again. Luckily it only lasted about 24 hours, but it’s an experience I would rather not repeat. Also, we didn’t have running water through the whole thing so it was a true “3rd world” experience. However my host parents were pretty good about the whole thing and I got my appetite back a few days ago so everything is back to normal.
                We had sculpture again last week and we are working with clay. I’ve never taken a sculpture class and I’ve never really worked with clay, but in class our professor wanted us to make an abstract piece. Now I’m not a particularly artistic person to begin with, so I just played with the clay until it made a shape that resembled anything, which turned out to be a turtle. So I decided to go with an underwater theme and after a few failed attempts to make starfish and a seahorse I made a clam with a pearl inside and some seaweed. So when the professor walked around and asked us what our projects represent, everyone’s answers were really funny. I said that the turtle was searching for his passion, symbolized by the pearl, to which professor responded, “Oh yes, and that could even take months or years.” It was really funny, also coupled with the fact that a girl in our group made a giant sperm and an egg and he was okay with it so I guess anything goes in that class.
                And then on Sunday we went to a football (soccer) game. It was one of the TZ national teams, Simba versus Rwanda. We hadn’t bought tickets beforehand, so we just went before the game and they were selling them outside from a van, but they scanned so they must have been real. At first it was really fun and everyone in the crowd was very into it and we were some of the only white people there. We sat with the Simba fans and we scored twice in the first half, and everyone was cheering and really into it. At halftime Emily, Gabe, and I wanted to go outside to get cold drinks. We asked if we could leave and come back, and a man said to us that he had seen people try to leave and weren’t allowed to come back in, but word for word he said because we were white they might let us. And turns out he was right, they just ripped our ticket in a different place. So we started to walk along and there were a lot of people standing on the sides of the road selling drinks and snacks, and I was carrying my wallet in my hand. Some guy came up behind us and wrenched it out of my hand, and I yelled out because it had obviously scared me. I immediately regretted doing that because of the “mob justice” that is common in Tanzania and in all of East Africa I believe. The police are pretty ineffective and I can imagine not well paid, and theft is a very serious crime here. If someone yells out thief a mob will form and will immediately kill that person, from what I have heard usually by lighting them on fire. My roommate Emily has seen it when she was in Kenya, and it happened at Mwenge (a market close to school) last week but no one was there. I have also heard that it has happened on campus before, but not recently.
So anyways everyone starts swarming the guy and I almost start having a panic attack because I wasn’t sure if I could handle being responsible for someone’s death. But everyone was yelling for us to follow him while people were running up with sticks and batons and were beating the guy. Gabe got pretty far into the crowd and was able to pull some people back and saw that somehow the wallet had been either passed off or stolen by at least two other people. It was not that dangerous for Gabe to do that because he was white and white males are basically the only ones that can break mobs up because they won’t get beaten. Luckily there were a lot of police around because of the game so they grabbed a guy who hadn’t stole my wallet and were dragging him away while beating him up with their batons and their hands. We hadn’t realized that he was one of the ones that did have a wallet at one point, as Gabe saw him put it down his pants. So we all sprinted after the police because we knew that he wasn’t the thief, and we caught them just as they loaded him onto the truck. We repeated over and over how he wasn’t the one that stole it, but they made him strip down to prove that he didn’t have it. One of the hardest parts to see was that they were still hitting him and handling him roughly. They still took him because they said that he had information about who had taken the wallet, and at that point there was nothing else we could do so we just went back to the game. For all of that the only things in the wallet were student ID, my phone, and 7,000tsh (less than $5). Luckily I wasn’t hurt and neither was the thief, and I definitely learned from the experience. I saw a part of the side of Tanzania that I had been warned about, and everyone in our group was either pickpocketed or attempted to be. Additionally, when we had been outside the stadium there was a fight in between the Simba fans and the Rwandan (many of the Tanzanians who support the other league were supporting Rwanda) and people were pulling chairs up to beat each other with but there were a lot of police there so they were able to break it up. All in all it could have been much worse, but it definitely is going to make me more wary and careful about how I carry money because I never want to be in a situation again.
I can hardly believe I am saying this, but we are almost half way done! We are going on our safari next week, and I will definitely be writing again soon about it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blog Fodder

Hey friends!
So it has been HOT lately!! Today I finally, after two months, bought a fan. Last night was my breaking point when I woke up soaking wet and scratching my mosquito bites again (it happened for a few nights in a row about a month ago, I had to put socks on my hands to try and stop scratching in my sleep-very black swan) so anyways I decided that I would finally buy one. So I walked around Mwenge (the local market) asking prices and I finally bought a stand-up one. I then chased after the dala holding my fan and got some pretty funny looks, but now as I sit writing this basking in the wind it was totally worth it.
Today me and my roommate Emily went at got burgers at the Morocco stop, and it was heaven. At the Morocco bus stop there is a gas station that has a burger hut outside, and they stay open as long as they still have food. The burgers are real meat so they fall apart a little (a lot) but they are so good! And I swear they have the best fries in Dar.
Last weekend was good, on Saturday we went to Bagamoyo. It is the main slave and ivory port that was originally colonized by the Germans but then taken over by the British. There we saw a castle-like building where they would bring the slaves on the final stop until Zanzibar, where they would be sold to the Middle East and India. My guidebook cites that over 750,000 slaves were subject to this fate. The slaves came from as far as the Congo and had to walk thousands of miles, most of the time carrying goods such as ivory and copper. We also saw where they hung the slaves that revolted. Interestingly, on this side of the slave trade children were not sold along with their parents, and therefore many of them were left in Bagamoyo. We also learned in class that men that we slaves from East Africa were most often castrated, which explains why there are not as many African descendants in the Middle East and India as North America. Bagamoyo is also home to the first church on the mainland in East Africa. Although the original had been torn down, the new church was beautiful. Unfortunately my camera died so I have no pictures of the end of the trip. Interestingly, we read in the guidebook that Bagamoyo should be placed on the list of World Heritage Sites because of its importance in the slave trade. However, due to the high level of corruption UNESCO will not do it because they are afraid the money will be misused. In my development class we are learning the cycle of poverty, and although we did not discuss this specific example it seems to fit the criteria. Tanzania is so beautiful and has so much history, but it is sad to see the high levels of corruption and absolute poverty. I think the hardest part is when kids are begging on the street for things like water. It is these experiences that make me realize that me not having a fan at night or running water for the last 24 hours is really not that bad.
For me the most interesting part of studying here is the friendliness and generosity of the Tanzanians. Tanzania is one of the most stable countries in Africa, although poverty and unemployment are astronomical. There are also over 150 different tribes and languages, yet somehow they have been able to create a fairly unified government. I think one of the most interesting aspects about it is the level to which every Tanzanian emphasizes their identity as a peaceful nation. Although every Tanzanian knows their tribal identity, the main focus is Tanzanian hospitality. I have seen it through the people I have encountered as well as our professors. Another thing that has been fascinating has been the stories of the crimes I have heard of. Although there are evil people everywhere and this story absolutely does not reduce the dangers of living here, this one in particular I think is emblematic of my perception of Tanzania. About a week ago three other students, two girls and a guy were robbed in Posta during the day. Although that alone is odd and I’m not sure of the exact circumstances, Posta is really far from campus. So they explained to the robbers that they were students and asked them how they expected them to get home. The robbers then proceeded to give them 2,000 tsh to get back home. Although this certainly does not happen in every situation, we have been told by multiple people that when you are robbed, don’t resist because they only want your money.  I think that this collective ideal of Tanzania is probably a main reason for the way violence seems to be manifesting itself. Luckily, we have not had any problems so far and we absolutely will not stop being careful, I thought that was an interesting point.
Also, sorry for not posting in so long, two weekends ago we went to the Zanzibar music festival (Called sauti za busara-literally the wisdom of sound). It was really great, some of the music was really good. There was a mix of traditional artists and dances with the newer performers. I especially liked one artist named Nneka, I will definitely look up her music soon. But although there were Tanzanians there, the festival was more a tourist attraction for sure. I haven’t seen so many mzungus in one place in my whole time here! But all the same it was really neat to see so many different kinds of artists and dances. 
Thanks for reading! J
Much love,

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Tanzanian Tidbits

Hey all,
Things have been going really well lately, we sort of started classes this week and it will be nice when the schedule is established.  Sculpture looks like it is going to be so much fun, and we are going to go to the carvers market soon to see them at work and to buy tools! I know I’m probably going to be terrible at it but I think it is going to be awesome. I think I will also be taking Development 101, African foreign policy, and either Sociology or History (I haven’t decided yet).
Yesterday, thanks to Christina who put me in touch with Emily, we met another American couple and had a delectable dinner of grilled cheese and tomato soup. It was everything I thought it could be and more and I will definitely never take those foods for granted again. There were also a few Tanzanians who were studying at UDSM and Ardhi University and it was very interesting to hear how they view the Tanzanian system. They were telling us how everything depends on bribes and how someone is feeling that particular day. In terms of driving licenses, depending on how much you pay and who you know you can get any type of license you want, for instance the license to drive tractor trailers.  One of the guys also told a funny story about how he had gotten in an accident last week when a Bajaj (I guess I would describe them as three wheeled taxis that have open sides, but they are how we travel a lot in the city even though they are a little more expensive than the dalas) was speeding when they were pulling onto the street and they collided. He said that the Bajaj driver was so dramatic even though it was practically his fault. However, because the Bajaj driver was older than his friend, when the police arrived they believed the Bajaj driver because of his age. He said that age and money are key factors in dealings in Tanzania, and I have also learned that respect of elders is a huge cultural norm.
I learned another interesting thing about Tanzania while watching the news. No one owns land here. They can have the right to build and they own their houses, but if the government desires the land they can make everyone leave and then they ‘compensate’ them for their property. Technically they are obliged to offer to transfer their whole house but it sounded like that was not really a realistic option. Especially coming from New Hampshire where land rights are such a big issue it is interesting to see how the Tanzanians view their rights.
Anyways thanks again everyone from home for all the love, its been so great lately! :)

Much love,