I'm here!

Trip Start Aug 23, 2005
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Trip End Sep 09, 2005


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Flag of Tanzania  ,
Thursday, August 25, 2005

Thur Aug 25
I'm here!

pix: http://c-4-c.com/80days/Tanzania-MEDIA/08-25-05_Day1

Today I brushed my teeth with tap water - a no-no for travelers, but there was no bottled water. I am still alive.

At breakfast, I burned my hand on the milk - they serve it HOT for tea.

I ate sugar straight from the sugar cane. Yum!

I met many villagers who tried to teach me how to greet in Swahili, but I am lame with learning languages.

I let the morning chill deceive me, & the African sun later burned me, but it was not too bad. I have only a little sunburn.

I ate 3 square meals & enjoyed much tea. If you know me well, you know how weird that is!

I sat in the driver's seat everywhere when driving, but of course they drive on the left, so thankfully someone else was actually driving. There is NO getting up the mountains without a very solid 4-wheel drive vehicle! My little Dodge Shadow would crack in half.

I walked about 8+ km (about 5 miles) through very tall corn (maize) fields, very beautiful mountain valleys, steep hills, small villages, banana tree crops, etc.

I watched men make bricks to build a house.

I met a women's group who wants me to publish photos of their wares on the internet & tell people about their work. They make jewelry, & they have STINGLESS bees who make much honey for them. I bought a neckless & ring they wanted to give to me. www.osotwa.com

We drove through the craziest market - a sea of people who literally only move their wares one centimeter from the jeep's tires.

I came knowing the basics:
Jambo (hello) - I had taught that in song at VBS
Ninakupenda (I love you) - I had put that in my multi-lingual song in 1992
Akuna matata (no worries) - Lion King (apprently Kenyan - not Tanzanian)
O Sifuni Mungu (Praise The Lord) - popular song by First Call
Rafiki (friend)
Simba (lion)

Today's Swahili:
Karibu (welcome)
Asante (thank you)
Hapana (no thank you - to pesky marketers)
Nzuri (a response to something they say when you greet - I still can't figure out when to say this!)
Safi (a 2nd response - I am confused by it!)

Today I met:
Elias (Osotwa director)
David Loi (Osotwa safari guide)
many members of David's family
John Ole Daniel (Osotwa coordinator/guide)
many women whose names I never was told
Elifasi (my email buddy as I was booking this tour)
George (works at tour office & WCT Lodge)

Today I learned:
Americans have much to learn from so-called "3rd World" nations. As arrogant as we are, though, we are still basically a good nation with wonderful ideals. We too often let our ideals get trampled under red tape.
I must learn a better balance of life, & model my disciplines after the people I meet in Tanzania.
Townies want money if you take their picture! But villagers are simply flattered that you care to snap a shot.
There are stingless bees?!

Osotwa Community Based Projects

In the hills of Mount Meru there are many villagers struggling to survive. The wilderness struggles too. So an organization started a few years ago that saw a way to involve the community with the government in a win-win situation. There is a remarkable cooperative effort between NGOs (non-gov't organizations) & government here.

Today was basically a walking safari - cultural & environmental. My first day in Tanzania was all & more I'd hoped or expected. Funny - I actually forgot to take my towel with me, & that was a big mistake. The clay dirt here is very powdery - lighter than sand, but just as hard to walk in. I chose the walking option over driving, & glad I did. All the Western & Japanese tourists at the airport had been wearing the same pants I have, which can convert to shorts at any time. Good thing I had them today. That powdery dirt blackened the bottom of the pants in a very short walk from the jeep to the office where we started, so I later removed the pants legs after making sure with my guide that it would be proper to walk in shorts.

David was my wonderful guide. He looks a lot like Will Smith, & was just as charming. He is a devoted Christian seeking higher education. I was able to meet most of his family during our trek through the villages north of Arusha Town. The point of the walk was to show me the many faces behind the many conservation projects in the area. All is non-governmental community-based projects to restore & protect Mount Meru, which stands majestically opposite of Mount Kilimanjaro. They have done much to improve the environment, as well as the community. I bought a necklace from the Osotra women who are endeavoring to earn money for the conservation projects & for their own impoverished families.

My driver for this entire Arusha tour is Elihuruma - but it seems the "eli" is not necessary, so I call him Huruma. Learning all new names & words is very difficult for me. For every greeting there is an expected response, & I can't learn them! I'll keep trying. Swahili has a melodic, French sound to it. So refreshing after enduring the many hours stuck at Amsterdam's airport where the language sounds like swearing & spitting to my ears.

I am typing at night & am listening to the dogs, which mostly run wild, as they howl & bark in a frenzy & then get into fights. Good thing I brought ear plugs!

Sorry to be a dull writer. I'm worn out!!
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