7/14/07 7:30pm Hotel internet
Have great internet connection right now, want to take advantage of it.
This is a revision for my last post because I learned a lesson today — write about days events after they happen, not before.
I was unexpectedly driven to my tour company’s local office so I got to see a bit of the area outside of Arusha. I was expecting to just get driven into town but instead we went the other way. The paved road ended only a couple of minutes from the hotel and it was then I realize my previous post joking about Arusha being ’1st world adjacent’ was dead wrong. It’s pure 3rd world. Kendall, as you noted, the poverty really just slaps you in the face.
I’ve never been in the poorest parts of the US, on Indian reservations, in Appalachia, etc. but I don’t think the poverty there is like this. It’s a lot more like images you see on TV of rural Mexico. I didn’t have my camera with me, but I’m not so sure I would have taken pictures. It seems like that would be rudely intrusive, taking photos sayng “wow, look how crappy these people live.” The structures were cement or wood shacks, with tons of advertisements, everything from ubiquitous Coca-cola to woolworths to things in other languages. There were donkeys and wood-burning fires, people bicyling with huge loads of storage, some people hand-pulling carts laden with wood or other stuff, lots of people walking. The roads were so bad the cars go anywhere on the road they can, and there were some close calls of the cars coming pretty close to each other.The vans definitely handled the roads better than the cars. It really makes kvetching about a lack of hot water or whatever other little problems we have seem pretty trivial.
I was talking with an older Australian couple from Sydney in the lobby who was here for safari and to visit a school that is run by an australian woman to which they donate. The woman only takes in the neediest of kids, and apparently one of the qualifying factors is if she visits the home of the kids and their house has a cement floor, or anythng other than a dirt floor, really, they are too well off to qualify for the school. We talked about how absolutely lucky we are to have been born into the world that we were.
It was interesting looking around at the people. About one-third were in — I’m not sure whether to call it “traditional” or “stereotypical” — african dress. Clothing here has ranged from beautiful african garb to western-style business wear, to t-shirts and jeans or shorts. There were also a fair number of woman carrying various goods on their head. It was pretty awe-inspiring how much they could carry!
I think the most striking thing I noticed, though, was the kids. Little kids are much more independent and ‘grown up’ here than I see in the US. At one point walking down a dirt road by themselves, barefoot but in traditional african wear, were three kids about ages 6, 4, and maybe 1.5 or 2 (I’m not very good with ages). The 6 year old was carrying the 2 year old, and she was not carrying her as in the US where a 6 year old might be “playing baby” with a little kid. She was carrying the kid on her hip with all the poise and comfort of an adult, she clearly was responsible for other kids and looked like she was used to acting as caregiver. I’ve yet to see any little kids “acting up”, they just seem much more mature than at home. It’s both sad and impressive.
After coming back from the safari office I spent only an hour by the pool and decided to go back to the room during the hottest part of the early afternoon (it’s only in the 70s, maybe low 80s in the sun, so not very hot yet!) for a little nap and come back to the pool in the late afternoon. Next thing I know, it was 6pm! Went to the hotel for dinner and they gave me both their Italian food and Chinese food menu. Decided to go for Chinese food (I am traveling after all, must be advernturous — ha ha). Was quite good.
There are only going to be 3 of us on the safari, so that’s good, extra room in the car — better viewing. Will meet the other two women tonight and we leave for Tarangire National Park (pronounced “tar-an-gear-ay” with the “taran” like “tarantula” which I can’t figure out how to write phonetically w/o funky characters) right after breakfast. Stay tuned for update and photos but I’m not sure when it will be.
PS: Cell phone rings are as annoying here as they are in the US. So far I’ve heard them range from Swahili rap to Muslim calls to prayer. Dorky wireless earpieces are here as well.