Tales from Tanzania part 1

Tanzania is a vast nation, vast not being relative here, the place is monstrously big. But it’s also a cool place, an interesting place if you like, a place where people are laid back and stress isn’t too common a vice. It’s the kind of place where one forgets, momentarily at least, his issues and develops new faith that one can exorcise his demons and gain redemption. One needs to only gaze at the blue waters of the ocean and becomes transported to a time when life was simple and men labored only for survival and the pursuit of pleasure and senseless happiness. The rocks on the beach a reminder that even in the expansive freedom of the ocean, there looms danger in the horizon for the hapless sailor who intoxicated by the present, meets his demise in a violent and befitting manner. But this is not a story of gloom and pirates, neither is it about a traveler who purports to write a blog, it’s about a land of people who are warm, giving and easy; people who have created a peace with themselves and understand that happiness is not a product of money but of contentment in the little pleasures of life.

Let me begin this tale by presenting an interesting fact to those who wish to travel here in the near future. Buses in Tanzania do not travel at night, it’s a rule and so any plan you might have should factor in this shift from the Kenyan road culture. For the record, this being quite important, make sure you have a certificate for yellow fever vaccination. That having been said, Dar or Dare salaam is so far from the Kenyan border so be ready to sit in that bus till your body is numb with inactivity. You expect that being in a foreign country would accord you the opportunity to gaze out and admire the flora and fauna that Tz has to offer. Cast such hopes aside, there is nothing to see, just miles upon miles of grasslands and mountains which stretch to eternity. Occasionally some menial town will come to sight but the stopovers will always be too brief and the reprieve will be too short as to be worthy of appreciation. You will notice one little architectural detail as the bus trudges towards its destination, that Tanzanites have a love for pillars as they build their residential and business premises. Pillars of all colors will stand proud in front of most buildings especially the smaller towns, pillars that seek to pronounce, we may have little but we make the best of what we have and we want not what we can’t have. In a sense, these pillars are more like the people who build them; proud, happy and expressionists.

The Tanzania police force has way too many different uniforms, a fact which you will quickly notice since they have mini stations all over the highway. They will stop the bus after every few kilometers and after a little bribe, will give the driver the go ahead to proceed with the arduous and long journey.  The female cops in Tanzania all look like girl guides in their oversized skirts, they are funny and if one asked to arrest you in their characteristic polite fashion, you’d probably fall down laughing. You should see a lady traffic cop controlling traffic in a busy road; they look almost mediocre if the scenario weren’t too funny to fuss over. Of course the weigh bridges along the highways are way too many but the good thing is they give the passengers a break; a chance for those with small bladders like myself to relieve themselves. Occasionally, like it happened to me, one of the cute ladies manning the stations will hike a ride and you’ll have interesting company for the rest of the journey. I have to warn you though, would be traveler; the language barrier might make it harder for you to get your points across. For instance, wondering loudly about the lack of “stima” in most houses will just earn you a perplexed stare from the lady whose definition of “stima” is completely different to yours. In Tanzania, apparently that term has more to do with hair styling than it has to do with electricity. Needless to say if you have to make any query regarding electricity, always use the word “umeme.”

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5 responses to “Tales from Tanzania part 1

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