Tanzania: Culture Shift Friday

Oct 17

Tanzania03What a beautiful morning in Dar es Salaam! After a breakfast of egg frittata, rice pilaf (yum) and bread with honey or jelly, we are finally off on our adventure and able to see our surroundings in the light of day.  Our land rover was piled high with 13 bags and boxes laden with everything from clothes and toys to water pumps.

The first thing we notice is the evidence of the British culture, most strikingly in the driving system and it took restraint not to yell, “Wrong Lane!”   Traffic was typical rush hour busy and then some. There is a pecking order. The bigger you are, the more you have the right of way. Of course we are in sensory overload trying to look in all directions at once.

On the road leading out of Dar es Salaam, we were met with miles of street vendors who set up stands hawking everything from beverages, fruit, shirts, shoes, sugar cane juice, toys…well you get the idea. It was interesting to watch extraction of the juice from the sugar cane using a kind of press reminiscent of the old hand crank wringer washing machines. The liquid produced was brownish, thick and mostly likely very sweet. We could only look.

Just as the traffic started to thin, we had flat tire #2.  God bless Andrew, the driver. In a jiffy he was up on the roof (where the spare tire is stored) but to get to it he had to unload all of our bags (13 in all, most of which were close to 50lbs.).  No triple A service, Andrew did it all and then reloaded the bags and we were again on our way.

Sunset over Mikumi

Along our way south, we saw small centers of habitation. Tin or thatch roofed houses, small “shops” selling what they could to sustain a meager existence: baskets, furniture, cement blocks, clay bricks, buckets of fruits and much more in a flea market atmosphere.  The newest and most modern buildings were the gas stations.  Dar es Salaam is the entry port for all imported goods and the road we traveled was the main route from the port to the rest of the country and the land-locked countries of Africa as well. Picture the busiest day on Route 41 with 90% of traffic being semi-trucks and 41 only a two-lane road.  You get the picture.

Lunch break was in  Morogoro, at a small oasis called The Double Eight Restaurant.  We had a lunch of rice pilaf, peas in coconut milk, roasted chicken and beef in curry sauce. Even in Africa, we can have a Coke with lunch!

People watching in Africa is fascinating.  Terry especially admired the bicycles riders laden down with huge rolls of charcoal, so big one couldn’t wrap arms around them and they were riding on the highway on bicycles taking their wares to market in Dar es Salaam. Other bikers carried sheaves of  wood, bamboo, straw and containers of all kinds.  The women along the way were also astounding, with the items they could carry on their heads, from laundry, to bushel baskets of fruits, groceries. To Charlie,  the one that won our prize was a woman who was balancing a 5’ long shovel on her head.

Finally we approached Mikumi National Game Park.  It wasn’t long before we had our first elephant sighting, followed by giraffes, gazelles, zebras, cape buffaloes and baboons.   Sunset over the park was a sight to behold. Now the fun began as we spent the next 4 hours on a two-lane road up into the mountains where Iringa is located.

In between naps, our traveling partners Beau and Julie gave us a tourist’s vocabulary of Swahili phrases. Since Africans do not generally chill their beverages, we first learned magi  baridi (mah jee bar ee dee)…meaning cold water.  The foreignor’s best phrase is sijui (see ju wee), I don’t understand.  We have much Swahili to learn.  Another lesson tomorrow.


Unfortunately, we did not (bump) get to see the spectacular view of the valley as we climbed into (bump) Iringa Town. The valley was hidden in (bump) darkness.  Speed bumps takes the place of radar guns in Africa. There must have been over 250 speed bumps in the 300 miles from Dar es Salaam to Iringa Town. There are 14 alone on the one-mile vertical approach to the town. By 10:00 we had finally reached our destination,  travel weary but glad to be at the Bishop’s Complex which will be our home base for the next two weeks,

Tomorrow is a semi-rest day, but we are getting to meet the pastor of the parish which we hope to work with.  We are anxious to learn about the parish and their needs and look for ways to partner with them.  How are we doing?  Safee…great!