Monday, August 31, 2015

Stay Away From Western Tanzania

Western Tanzania is a great many things, but it is definitely not a place you should visit.  

Sunrise over Sitalike, near Katavi National Park
Many people would say Western Tanzania is something to survive: grueling 10-12 hour bus rides on some of the worst roads I have ever traveled, connecting dusty towns with 10 light bulbs lit at night (I counted); squat toilets; and no running water, let alone any that is hot.  So definitely stay away from Western Tanzania.

"Road" between Sumbawanga and Sitalike

How big vehicles going opposite directions pass each other on 1-lane dirt  roads

But Western Tanzania is not something to be only survived.  It is not worthy of only surviving.  It is worth so much more.  So stay away.

The people treat "wazungus" (white people; foreigners) like people, not attractions or worse, dispensers of money, food, candy, pens or paper.  You know why?  Because we don't come here.  I went five days without seeing another non-Tanzanian and a lot of guest house operators couldn't tell me when the last non-Tanzanian had stayed there.  So don't give them someone to remember.

Since we don't come here, it's not a show or an attraction or an industry, it's just life in Tanzania.  Occasionally very primitive, always incredibly dusty, and region-wide noticeably poor, but full of dignity and enterprise and energy.

Carrying the day's water home at dawn in Sitalike
Madam Luz's bar

Waiting for someone willing to pay for a ride in Sitalike

Fellow passenger beneath the seat in front of me between Mpanda and Kigoma

Collecting drinking water out of Lake Victoria at dawn in Katonga

Water taxi in for repairs in Kibirizi

Sidewalk CNN in Kigoma

Water taxi port and dry dock in Kibirizi
Bus station food court in Sumbawanga

Katavi National Park

Keeping a look out for elephants and poachers in Katavi NP
If Western Tanzania taught me anything, it is how much tourism has changed (read: ruined) various places around the world because by comparison, Western Tanzania is unchanged.

So stay away from Western Tanzania.  We'll just ruin it too.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Poor Man's Safari

Since every day didn't get a post, nor did they all deserve one, I wanted to provide my basic itinerary for those interested.  As I put up more posts, I will link places on this list to those posts.

Dar Es Salaam
Mwanza (by ferry across Lake Victoria)
Mwanza via Bunda
Lake Naivasha, including Longonot Crater and Hell's Gate NP
Kericho via Kikopey (lunch) and Nakuru
Homa Bay via Kisii
Mfangano via Mbita (ferry)
Kisumu via Mbita and Luando Kotieno (matatu and ferry)
Nyaharuru via Nakuru
Isiolo via Wamba
Malindi via Mombasa
Lamu (bus then ferry)
Zanzibar via Dar Es Salaam (bus then ferry)
Dar Es Salaam 

NOTE: The word "safari" is actually Kiswahili (the main non-English language of East Africa) for "journey".  Africans use it unironically all the time, as if the word doesn't label an industry which has irrevocably changed their countries.  I only did one industrial safari - 2 awe-mazing days in the Serengeti for which I paid 120% of one month's rent.  The rest of my time in Kenya and Tanzania was the unironical kind of safari: a journey.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Out Of Africa, Onto Carpet

It's amazing what you don't remember to miss.  I haven't walked on carpet in more than 60 days.  I didn't even notice until I landed at Dulles airport a couple of hours ago.

During my sojourn, while internet was occasionally available, it was not of the quality necessary to hold a website and upload the pictures and videos I would want to.  Instead, I "blogged" on my iPad.  Over the next little while I will be posting, in chronological order, as I wished I could have while away.

Suffice it to say, all together it was pretty amazing trip, even without carpet.
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