Published: May 26th 2008May 26th 2008
Greetings from Tanzania!
We have just returned from the Safari that we took at Ngorogoro
Crater. My feelings are mixed about the whole thing. First off, the
Safari itself was amazing. We were able to see so many animals that I
had seen previously only in zoos. We also got lucky and saw all of the
"Big Five" animals: lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant, and rhino.
Although it was so amazing to see all of these cool animals in their
natural habitat, I have to say that the days we spent safari-ing were
the most depressing yet. This is for two reasons. First, on our way
in, we stopped at the nearby village and were bombarded by hawkers
named Mr. Cheap, Mr. Cheap, and Mr. Cheaper (not even kidding) They
were selling all kinds of wares from congas to wooden sculptures, to
shoes. One thing I forgot to mention about these hawkers was that the
majority of them were under 18 years old, with 10-12 year olds not
being uncommon. Although they may have not been great salespeople in
the abstract, they were great at guilt-tripping their customers. They
would constantly say things like "You are killing my business," or "If
you don't purchase I won't eat tonight." Surprisingly, that was not
the reason why it was so depressing. One of the reasons why these
hawkers made our stay so depressing was I was able to see first hand
the affect of tourism on the Tanzanian Economy. It seemed blatantly
obvious that the Tanzanian Economy relied on tourism to be stable.
This saddened me to no end. Since the economy has this reliance on us
(the tourists) it seems unlikely or impossible to build up their own
economy without our help. In essence, Tanzania, it seems, has become
entirely dependent on outside countries money to prosper.
The second reason for me being depressed by our safari was due to the
pure beauty of the animals we saw on safari. The beauty of the animals
and the beauty of the landscapes was just stunning. It was really
unfortunate to imagine that the entire world once looked like
that--that instead of skyscrapers and cityscapes we once had amazing
animals and beautiful landscapes. It further saddened me to imagine
that this lens, the one we looked through during the safari, was the
one people viewed Africa through. Tourists look over all of the muddy
roads, all of the poverty stricken people, and all they see are the
beautiful landscapes and the beautiful animals--all 3200 square miles
that are left.