Jambo Arusha! Send Your Questions

After catching up on sleep last night, today I ventured to the markets of Arusha with Nashon, a driver & translator from Good Earth Tours. Our hotel is wonderful – better than anything we could afford in the states. But I don’t ever eat $18 worth of buffet, so today bought some fruit, vegetables, nuts and some amazing local peanut butter from Kilombero Market. Avocados are 50 cents US here, and they’re massive. Total bill for what would have cost me $20 or so at my local Ohio Kroger? $10. Yes, Americans, the exchange rate is 2 to 1 in your favor.

It’s not the perspective – the avocado up front is bigger than the jar of peanut butter. Small round plum-ish things up front are passion fruit, which my guide says are native to Tanzania. Also pictured: carrots, tomatoes, mangoes, cucumber, and a bag of spicy fried peas that I can’t stop eating.

Good Earth Tours – which we chose in part because their porters earn a fair wage – has been amazing. My husband, friend Tara and I came primarily to see the Serengeti, and climb both Meru and Kilimanjaro. I chickened out of Kili a few months back. Then when we arrived and it came time to hike Meru, I was exhausted.

For some reason, I kept going to sleep a little later, and then waking up bit earlier, literally every day. We were camping, and all of nature’s sounds here were new. New bird tweets, loooong grunts from a male lion a mile away, which will wake you out of a sound sleep (probably a good thing),  and yes A HYENA laughing as she ate our campsite’s trash at 3 a.m. Her maniacal cackle woke me out of a sound sleep, and made me reconsider a trip to the bathroom.

Seriously, hyenas are the largest, most bad-ass, cheetah-spotted hunchback dogs you’ve ever seen. You can spot a male swaggering across the Serengeti from a mile away. More than once we asked, “Is that an elephant in the distance?” And more than once the answer was, “No, that’s hyena.”

Hyenas are mean – scavengers must be in order to survive. They’ll steal food from a pride of lions. Our guide says that to stop this, every now and then the lions will gang up to kill a hyena. Yes, the lions have to team on this to succeed. But they won’t eat it. Instead, they leave the thieving Hyena’s carcass for other scavengers. Lions know revenge.

Hyenas aside, after five days of a bit less sleep each night, I was done. Philip did as I’d recommended, took Melatonin each night, and he’s fine. The lesson: When jumping forward eight hours, and camping, follow your own advice and take 200 mg melatonin each night until you’re fully on local time. Also, keep your earplugs in all night long. Hakuna matata (no worries), the water buffalo will stay about 30 feet away. The hyena, as noted, will not.

Questions for the Locals
The good news is that this week, I’ll have time for something I love as much as hiking: Being a cultural reporter in an unknown land. My goal is to spend as much time as possible with local people. SO…

If there’s something you’d like to know about Tanzania that’s not on the list below, comment or send an email with your question. No promises, as I think if I asked questions all the time, that might get annoying. But I’ll gauge that with each person, and do my best to provide answers to your questions on this blog. 🙂

The best question (judged by me, criteria TBD) will win a gift from Tanzania. Tanzanite rings are *not* a potential gift. But personally, I’d rather have a nice bag of tea, or fresh Kilimanjaro coffee beans, than a gem from a mine (27 died in a Tanzanite mining accident here in May).

Some things I’d like to learn more about, and questions I hope to ask, over the next few days:

  • The Masai, Tanzania’s native people
  • The history of Arusha, and Tanzania, including relations with other African countries
  • Whether or not Tanzanians or Masai were ever sold into state-sanctioned slavery
  • If Tanzania escaped the devastation of the slave trade (the lasting affects of which you can still see across much of West Africa), what affect did this have on how people here view their history, their culture and themselves?
  • The “best” restaurant in Arusha, according to Google, is China Taste. What the what?
  • Can you take me to your favorite local restaurant or food stand, so I’m not stuck with China Taste?
  • What do Arusha residents love about their country? What would they like to change, and what are they doing about it?
  • Avocados here are HUGE. Mango trees are EVERYWHERE. May I stay?
  • Given the opportunity to ask one question – any question – about America or Americans, what would you most like to know? (Already, my new friend Nashon is thinking seriously about this one, and returning with his top query tomorrow. I hope to get more than one question, and will do my best to answer accurately – including spending time on research, if needed.)
  • How do Tanzanian men and women feel about Donald Trump? Also, why is “Donald Trump Hotel” painted on the side of a building in Arusha that is clearly not a Trump property?
  • What is the last piece of news about America that you heard?
  • Where do you get your news?
  • Can you trust your media?
  • Do you have any vegetarians here, and if so where on earth can a gal buy some tofu?
  • And the ringer for last: What are the states of gender, race and class issues in Tanzania? Hmmmm…might need to learn more Swahili to get this one across.

Much love from Arusha, where I am greeted each day with a hearty “Karibu sana.” You are most welcome.


Arusha cdsgrocery
CDs near the register at a local supermarket. Michael Bolton was playing from speakers above. I’ve been at our hotel for two days now, and have heard nothing but Celine Dion. As I put the period on this sentence from my motel room, I heard Celine hit a high note on the bar speakers, about 30 yards away. While typing earlier in the lobby, my eyes started watering, even though I was writing something funny. Apparently, just my subconscious registering a sweeping Celine vocal is enough – even though I’m not a huge fan. Maybe the locals are onto something.


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