Friday, December 12, 2008

Independence Day & that famous safari city

13 DEC 2008

This entry runs a bit backwards in time. But it was fun to tie it together.

Thursday afternoon after placement, we went to Arusha, that famous safari city where everyone begins their trip to the serengeti.

Arusha is a NICE town. Let me tell you, after 3 weeks in Moshi, it really is a luxury to see perfectly paved, sealed off streets without any cracks, dirt, or stones. That is Arusha. People say Arusha is dirty, polluted, congested. Yeah, but there is a lot less dirt when you don't have to drive through a dirt road. There are also no crazy chinese/japanese, mexican style graffiti, and heads of Che Guevara covering the dalla dallas here, tons of land rovers, 4x4s for all the safaris. It really is a money town. I count lots of banks. Bank on every corner. Rich town, man. Yes there are touts and people really harassing you to sell their wares, but by now after enough practice in moshi, you know how to talk back to them and deal with the haggling. Prices are ridiculous in Arusha. $30 for a shirt you could get in Moshi for $5 USD or less. They hawk the tourists. It's really messed up. It's as bad as it is at the Great Wall of China where market places are constantly harassing white visitors with their wares. I was so glad I blended in.

A lot of people complained that we couldn't see any trials at the Rwanda Tribunal for the 1994 genocide, but I didn't mind. It was a treat to come out here and see the small business exhibition and other places in town. They have a giant Shop Rite that is a supermarket on par with a decent sized supermarket in the USA. It is approaching 1st/2nd world quality. A bit thin on the magazine side, but I can't complain - especially when I discover that a copy of the economist here costs only 9800 TSH. On Monday a paper boy tried to sell it to me for 13,500 TSH in Moshi. I declined. There are only 2 major magazines that show up here: the economist and Time magazine. As for newspapers, you have a choice of the East African, or Tanzanian national news. All are pretty decent.

Definitely no shortage of US news. Lots of us are getting dresses made by a street tailor near the Kindoroko Hotel in Moshi; we have to wear skirts to placement. Earlier this week, I was waiting for Kindoroko lady to finish my dress, so I sat and read the East African - A new US film about Che Guevara is out and was screened recently. Actor Benicio del Toro plays the revolutionary. Che is big here in Moshi. One out of 8-10 buses in downtown Moshi has Che's head plastered on the front corner of the bus, with a red and green stripe on the side. Why they do it I don't know? I will have to ask but it is not the same situation in Arusha. It is definitely a lot more ghetto here in Moshi. (Thanks to Santiago Ripley for wearing a t-shirt of Che; I wouldn't have otherwise known).

Independence day is on 09 Dec 2008. Most places are, of course closed or open until noon. But there are a few smart entrepreneurs who are still open for business, out of need or knowing that there is good biz. I'm supposed to be due back at the house at 1pm so that we can learn how batik is made; and I wait for Kindoroko lady to finish my skirt. I tell her I can come back thursday to pick it up, but she insists that she haul it out within the next hr. I say ok, then I tell her 10 minutes left.... 5 min left.... The woman is smart. She knows how to move fast and get the sales going. She also have 3 girls that are her assistants. While I'm waiting for her, I buy a bag as well. The ends are entirely sealed up past the zipper ends so I ask one of her girls to do that. I watch as she does an ok, but somewhat loose stitch, so I show her how to do a tigher stitch that will hold somewhat better with wear and tear. How is that for cultural exchange? I only learned about sewing just 6 months ago myself? =)

Kindoroko lady has another assistant cranking away at the iron and evening out the rest of the fabric for another customer. Most of the tailors here are on the street and they have a lot people that just drop in and socialize.

Some rasta guy walks on by and says "Pop it open, Dada*. I want a smoke".

The assistant rolls her eyes upwards, slightly annoyed. She pops the top of the iron open.

Rasta man sticks his ciggie into the iron and lights it up.

The irons here are all powered by *charcoal*! They don't use electric, even the sewing machines are manually driven - foot powered. Omw. Just had an "in africa" moment.

Rasta man takes a whiff and goes " Dada, you know today is Independence day. We all supposed to love another and relax and do no workie workie. "

Kindoroko lady looks in my direction, like she wants this crazy guy to leave and gives me a tight lipped grin " Okeee kaka... that's fine. sure sure."

* Dada is Swahili for sister. Kaka is brother

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