Thursday, December 12, 2013

Arusha first impressions

I've now been in Arusha, Tanzania for four days. It seems to be a medium-small city with a pretty rural feel to it. People keep asking me to compare Arusha and India when I tell them where I've come from though I find this comparison project pretty intractable.

Mostly I am qualified to speak on the relative ease of living for a foreigner with no language skills and general impressions of traffic and food. Some people have been unwilling to accept that I find Arusha quite a bit less chaotic than Mysore in a lot of senses. The traffic is simpler - it is mostly cars and vans as opposed to scooters, motorcycles, rickshaws and animals and people more or less follow lanes and honk only when it is necessary to alert someone to their presence. Tooling around on Klara's motorcycle is extremely enjoyable. When its not cloudy there are beautiful views of country side, Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro. There are also fewer animals wandering around.

I don't know any Swahili which is a bit challenging here. Many people know English but not as consistently as I found in Mysore. Swahili is a little more graspable than Kanada - I can get through greetings and remember words for items on menus. I have also learned the word mzungo which means white person and is sort of a chant that follows me around the city.

The language barrier makes the market here harder for me than the one in Mysore even though it is a little smaller. A bit tangentially - I was struck the first time I went to the market by the powerful and diverse smells. This market has meat! Alive and dead! Also there is a fish section. I never thought about how different the scents of different kinds of dead animals are before now.
Wali Na Maharengei (beans and rice). The other staple starch is ugali which is corn flour paste and tastes like nothing and gives the sensation of eating play dough. Needless to say it is harder to be a vegetarian here but it's not too bad. I do miss the cheapness, plentifulness and tastiness of South Indian food.
One of the luxuries of visiting a friend is that she knows cool people who take care of me. Yesterday Klara's friend Rob who is a guide for people headed up Kilimanjaro and other expeditions called her to tell her that a few of his clients were headed out to a hot spring and I could join if I wanted. So 6 of us jumped on a public bus to Boma Ng'ombe. When we got there we negotiated a half hour taxi ride which turned out to be two rickshaws (not as common here actually) over totally rocky off road terrain terminating at a completely idyllic crystal clear water hole. A few times we had to get out and walk/ push our vehicles over obstacles - I was pretty impressed that we made it but it was totally worth it. The water wasn't hot so much as perfect swimming temperature and the shining attraction was definitely the rope swings. Some of my travelling buddies pulled off some impressive twists and whatnot and I had a blast mostly just swinging around and then dropping like a big splashy rock.
Because I think Rob is fantastic and took Klara and her room-mate on a really nice Saffari and is super passionate about Kilimanjaro and guiding Everlasting Tanzania Travels is his company. More about the Saffari thing later - it's a bit of an odd phenomenon.
Rope Swing

Two of my travel mates swimming around in a little patch of paradise.
Today I am taking advantage of the internet and drinking water at the music school Klara works at which shares a campus with the International School of Moshi mostly attended by the children foreigners. They are getting ready for a concert tomorrow and winding down for the year.
At the school

1 comment:

  1. I'm so jealous and I hate you x a million right now. Why couldn't I be in a hot spring/warm spring right now????