A Gator in Dar Es Salaam

"Ex Africa semper aliquid novi - Out of Africa always something new" -Pliny the Elder

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Day In The Life

I will add some stuff about my trip from a few days ago, but here is what I did today.

6:30-awoke, to music from other rooms(notably Shania Twain, who I will destroy)
I dont think a single Tanzanian student, atleast in my building sleeps in past 6 and 6:30 is deemed the appropriate time for music to be played, loudly...haha. Its actually quite funny.
7:00 The short rainy season started yesterday and it absolutely poured until 7:30, could not see hardly anything out my screen.
8:00 Went to internet cafe nearest my building. Got on to update this site, and research for a test I have tommorow
8:15 Internet ceases to work
8:25 While typing paper Internet connection returns, sparking mass celebration by me.
8:32 Internet goes out, prompting flow of tears from the white person in the computer lab.
9:30 Finish paper, go for breakfast
9:45 Happily enjoying my standard breakfast of Kilimanjaro bottled water(owned by of all companies the Coca-Cola Company) and Chapati basically fried dough with lots of oil, its great.
10:30 Rinse off clothes that had been soaking in my room since yesterday, removing the soapy residue
10:45 Take clothes to roof of Hall 4 to hang them up so they can dry in the sun.
10:46 Encounter posse of Monkeys, maybe 15 of them, including some babies, who have decided to hang out on the roof. Dane Cook would be in heaven and I am too.
10:52 Still staring at the monkeys and hanging my clothes up when one of them does some kind of scowl at me. I run away.
11:15 Take a shower, water still on, bonus for this morning.
12:00 Class, I make a list of Tanzanian cities I have heard of, play the states game, and otherwise zone out of Theory and politics of development, presented by an unintelligible English speaker, who generally shows up for class, but not always.
1:07 Go to my History of globalization class, have this one twice on Monday, and we had agreed last week that the test would take place in the second class of the day
1:08 The test has begun, I was looking forward to the hour before the second class to study. But as the topic was basically to write an essay on American globalization, not a particularly difficult topic, especially since we talk about it most classes and I can see it in effect everyday.
4:00 Watch an episode of the West Wing, on DVD that my friend John has...revel in American glory and the fictional world of the Bartlett White House
5:00 Go to Swahili
5:15 Swahili teacher arrives and lesson ensues
6:00 Go to History of North Africa for a seminar, which is where students present on a topic. Contemplate why I even decided to attend this class, make lists of things.
7:00 Dinner at Cafeteria number 2. Rice and meat, standard fare.
7:25 Wait in line at the ATM machine
7:51 Complete my transaction at the ATM machine.
8:00 Arrive at computer Lab and begin typing this.

10:00 Watch La Revancha, a Spanish language soap opera filmed in Miami and dubbed in English. Every Tanzanian I know watches this ridiculous show that never fails to mention revenge(la revancha) atleast 7 times an episode.
11:00 Probably do a little reading and then sleep.

Thats what a day in my life on campus is like. Its great, not at all like at UF. Patience is a virtue and a great one to have here, as well as being phenomenally laid back. Planning a dinner for Thanksgiving on Thurs. probably no turkey. Will have to explain another strange American holiday to Tanzanian friends(Halloween was obviously a pretty baffling day for the Tanzanians in our building). Going to enjoy it though and hope everyone there does as well, enjoy the food, and the football.

A little more about my trip to N. Tanzania

We spent most of Sunday in the Serengeti, saw 22 different animals, most of the good ones, no rhinos though. As we were leaving we saw a lion on a kopje, which is these huge piles of rocks in the middle of the Serengeti, we were able to get close, and we realized it was very pregnant and had left the pride to give birth(by we realized, I mean our guide realized). I have a short video of it groaning loudly and it was definitely a few hours to a day away from giving birth.

We headed for the eastern exit of the park and went thru the exit. We were very low on funds at this point, so we invested in a can of Baked Beans, a can of Green Peas, a beer for everyone, crackers. We hit the road which gets worse before it gets better. The beer ran thru everyone at the same time, aided by the little bit of Konyagi we had purchased as well. Pulled over quickly and realized we were not going to make it thru Ngorongoro National Park on time and the gates would be closed and we would not make it to the Tiger Tavern where we were staying. Anyhow we continued on with our Eucher card game, a difficult task on the bumpiest road you can imagine, but hilarious for sure. Raced up the outside of the Crater at high and probably very dangerous speeds in an attempt to get out of the park without paying the bribe that would have opened the gate. Saw many Maasai along the way as they inhabit the Crater region moreso than any other part of Tanzania.

We made it out of the park thanks to our smooth talking guide and driver Sam who did an excellent job and is very much a smooth talker. We made it to the Tiger Tavern about 9 and settled in for a quiet night. Kate, Justin, and Tony went to sleep, but I decided to stay up and play pool with Sam and my friend Moses. Eventually I was able to see the "We are the World" music video from the 80's. I laughed hysterically, especially when I saw Dan Ackroyd in the back. Got to sleep around 2, after having multiple Tanzanian men say they needed to set me up with a Tanzanian lady. I got a love letter from a nice young woman at the bar....I wrote one back, it said "labda kesho" maybe tommorow. We left early, and I didnt see my soulmate again, haha. Nice drive back to Arusha where we arrived in the afternoon.

Dealt with the Bus station and our bus tickets. Bus stations here are the worst places to go. People are trying to scam you and your posessions are not safe at all. Its where pickpockets and scam artists hang and make a living and there not fun places to go. Checked back in to the boarding house we stayed on Thursday night. 5,000 TSH per person with a bathroom and shower. Great deal. We then went to Moses' favorite eatery on the outskirts of Arusha. I had a whole leg of goat, mbuzi. Its great stuff and Im gonna find me a good goat somewhere in Waldo when I come back to Gainesville. Enjoyed that and a night of mini pool, not little tykes, but not the full size thing either, much harder I think.

Bus back home, where I quickly went to sleep.

Last weekend I went to the beach on Saturday, its beautiful. This weekend, just kind of hung around campus ate at a place called Spurs, which is like applebees and is in SeaCliff, which is not Dar es Salaam at all. Its the most surreal place I have ever been. Its like a very nice all enclosed shopping/food center. Sad to imagine that the only exposure many people get to Dar es Salaam is SeaCliff, because its not at all accurrate and is kind of disturbing, but it is beautiful and the hotel is on a seacliff and is gorgeous. Also, the food was good.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone, stay warm, it should be about 91-92 here on Thursday, the rain in the mornings is beautiful, and I get to see monkeys so I get the last laugh. Check back here soon, gonna try to do a better job.

Matt