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Entries in Iringa (1)


Tanzania Mission, Day 2: Things I learned today

Spider-man is alive and well on the road to Iringa.

Leaving the towns behind, today we head for the bush and Pommern.

1) When driving ten hours in a van with eleven people, no AC, and 500 lbs of medical supplies strapped to the roof, Bob Marley on cassette makes it a pleasure cruise.

2) While taking photos you should avoid men in uniform: police, military, traffic cops, etc. We crossed a hill and I was so enchanted by the view that I completely missed the police station on my left. (Special thanks to Mohammed for gently, but firmly, lowering my camera from view).

3) I could walk around naked, playing the bagpipes and not stand out any more than I already do. We drove for hours without seeing another European-looking face and then glimpsed two white women as we entered Iringa-town and my first thought was, “Holy cow, do we stand out THAT much?” Why yes. Yes we do. Even more so because once we left Dar es Salaam, we’ve been traveling through villages and towns where tourists don’t tend to go (unless they’re really lost). I did see two Chinese men, oddly enough, but they looked like transplanted workers of some kind.

4) Speaking of work, we passed a school for Tanzanian children donated and run by the Cuban government. There are several that were built in the 70s and still operate today as strange specters of geo-politics past.

5) Don’t steal. Yikes. We passed a hillside with 100+ people who had tied up a local thief and were waiting for the police to arrive.

6) But, I can understand why: poverty. We saw so much today that it’s hard to quantify, especially when mixed with foreign marketing. Think tiny thatch-roofed mud huts with newly minted Coke signs. Crass commercialism boggles the mind.

7) People without Starbucks still smile a lot.

(P.S. I'll have limited net access from here on out, but I'll catch up soon).