August 10, 2014: It’s Fun to Stay at the…
At the end of the safari, I had 2 days to hang out in Arusha before heading off to Zambia. Swai, my safari guide dropped me off at the YMCA at the center of town. I ended up getting a room there for $15/night. It had an ideal location right next to a cafe with wifi and near the office where I could catch a shuttle to the airport. While much of Arusha was incredibly touristy, the YMCA was not. Its main function seemed to be a bar/restaurant for all the local shopkeepers and artists to get a drink. Since I was the first white visitor they’ve had in quite awhile, the staff and I talked quite bit about Tanzanian culture and food although it was somewhat difficult to communicate since I didn’t speak Swahili. The bar scene was interesting to say the least. Everyone was very friendly. I had at least 3 conversations where some man (there were no women at the bar) would buy me a drink, talk Swahili/unintelligible English to me for like 5 minutes, smile, shake my hand and walk away. I also had a drink with Masai tribesman who walked into the bar in the red cloak.
August 11, 2014: Around Arusha
The next morning I was woken up at 7AM with “Shine Bright Like A Diamond” blasting in the courtyard. I walked out of my room to see the bar packed with people (a different crowd from last night) drinking beers and eating cow foot stew. I spend most of the morning hand-washing my clothes and catching up with technology (blog, email, and social media) since I was without internet for the last two weeks. In the afternoon, I went to the building that housed the UN trials for the Rwanda genocide. They wouldn’t let me in, but it was interesting to see the building and talk to the UN security guards. I then went to the Natural History Museum, which was housed in the old German town aka the “boma”. The most striking exhibit talked about the history of the boma and the horrible treatment of the locals by the Germans. The back of the museum had a cafe that organized cultural tours. I signed up for a drum making class for the next day.
The difficult thing about traveling in Arusha was that it becomes dangerous at night. Since the sun set around 6:30, it means that I had to get dinner at 5:30 every night. Since there was nothing better to do, I drank at the YMCA bar ever night until about 7:30 or 8 and then went to bed. To avoid getting drunk, which would put a damper on the next day, I followed a self-imposed rule of only drinking a drink once. For example, I would only have 1 Kilimanjaro beer for the entire trip. If I wanted to have another drink, I would have to pick a diferent beer. Tanzania actually had quite a few different types of beer, but usually I would only have 1-2 drinks per country. This strategy worked so that I only got drunk once on the trip (in Hong Kong back in May).
August 12, 2014: Making a Drum
The next day, I took the drum-making class. Fredy, a drummaker with 15 years experience was my teacher. We started with a quinine log and used a machete to carve an 8-inch hole in the top of the drum. We then used the machete to carve out the shape and then used sandpaper to smooth out the shape. The final step was attaching the cowskin to the drum. We got the cowskin from the nearby taxidermist. The process took 8 hours and I was very proud of the drum.
After making the drum, I took the airport shuttle for my night flight out of Arusha. There I met a girl named Carli who is wrapping up a nursing school assignment in Dar Es Salaam. She took the week off to climb Kilimanjaro and was heading back to the States in 3 days. Her plan is to go to the Burning Man festival in Nevada and in November she wants to go to India. Seeing that she was going to be traveling quite a bit in the next few months and that she was so nice, I decided to give her the secret love letter I received back in Pondicherry. The letter was supposed to go from Australia to England without going through the post. The idea is for the letter to go to as many cool places before finally making it to England. North America will be the letter’s 4th continent.
We both got on the plane to Dar Es Salaam. However, the pilot spoke and said that the plane was actually going to Zanzibar. It turned out that they had cancelled the previous Zanzibar flight for the day and had to take passengers there. So half the plane was in total shock. After landing in Zanzibar and a lengthy delay, they ended up flying the plane to Dar Es Salaam. The new issue was that I landed in Dar around midnight and my next flight was scheduled to depart at 7AM, leaving me not enough time to get a hotel room. As a result, I slept on the floor in the hallway in front of the check-in counter. I got 3 hours of sleep. The next morning I flew to Zambia via Johannesburg, South Africa. 20 hours later, I made finally made it to Livingstone, the gateway to Victoria Falls.