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Published: December 16th 2011
Entering Arusha’s central bus station it is chaotic and stressful experience. Two white heads sticking out in the local transportation from Babati. We noticed that taxi drivers, bus ticket sellers, safari guides were running after our bus when they got a sight of us and before we got off the bus we heard all kind of services we could get in this town and whole Tanzania. Everyone was like bees around a honey pot and we are quite used that in the hectic touristic areas (in this case Arusha) Africans see a white person like a dollar sign. Actually our poor Swahili skills helped to get rid of all kind of sellers since they are not used that a “mzungu” (white-faced) speaks their language. In general all tourists are sitting in a safe safari car and drive comfortably around the town, and don’t need to be bothered by annoying local sellers. There is an unbelievably large amount of safari companies and every second car in the traffic is a safari one which is heating to a fantastic adventure. Now we understand why Arusha is the most popular base for tourists in East Africa since many highlights of Africa and the world
is surrounded this town (like Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Meru, the world’s best national parks etc). Of course this means that Arusha is relying a lot on tourism. Two backpackers like us we haven’t seen for weeks which means that it is quite unusual to backpack through East Africa by yourself and by local transportation. But we believe that we experience the real Africa life, culture, people etc.
It was nice to reach safely to our African family and we were looking forward so much to meet them again. Of course it has been 10 days of relaxing, future planning, researching and socializing with them. We haven’t done a big deal with the touristic part of this area since we are trying to avoid all overcrowded tourist places and Diana has done all these things three years ago. But we have discovered a little bit out the touristic tracks of Arusha and around. Between Mt Kilimanjaro and Arusha (10 km on the dirty road from the main road) is a really nice natural spring which is unknown but absolutely fabulous. They are trying to get tourists since it is available to take a swim, camp and/or make BBQ. We love
unexplored and hidden places of Africa, and you come closer this opportunities through contact with the locals.
We have been really surprised with the power cuts in Arusha. So far it has been the worse place sometimes a few hours per day at different occasions. Since it is a base camp for all safari and mountains adventurists so we presumed they will be more organized with the basic needs (like hot water, power etc). Hopefully it has been just this period of time.
Something we think is quite strange in our culture is absolutely normal here in East Africa. Every time we see a guy holding a hand of other guy in the streets, we think that they are gay (Westernized thinking) but in African society and culture it means a great, never ending friendship or hidden homosexual relationship. Actually it is still quite strange to see these guys walking along the streets and holding the hands, hugging and expressing quite intimated body language. We got know that it is existing quite some gays in the society (which is absolute normal in our world) but it is strictly forbidden to be involved into a homosexual relationship here and
it is possible that they are getting a sentence for this action – to show open this kind of relationship. It is easy to get in the trouble if someone has informed the police that you have a deeper relationship with a partner of same gender. Well the culture and traditions are making harder to face the true and often it won’t be said if a couple in the street are friends or gays.
We found it quite interesting that everyone is calling an older lady for “Mummy” and if the women have a child (or children) so she will be called “Mummy Jane” (if her oldest child is called Jane). She will be called with the name of the oldest kid in the family. It took time to figure out this interesting behavior but now it is makes sense for us as well. The oldest child has the honor that his/her mum will be called his/her name. It is kind of respect for the mum and her first child.
During our trip through East Africa we have heart a lot horrible stories about Albinism in Africa and especially in some parts of Tanzania and Burundi. Quoting Wikipedia:
“Albinism (from Latin albus, “white”) is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of an enzyme involved in the production of melanin. Albinism results from inheritance of recessive gene alleles and is known to affect all vertebrates, including humans.” We have seen many Albinos in these countries and especially in Tanzania, and Albinos in Africa is becoming “white” as well. In fact some parts of Tanzania and Burundi has a terrible belief about Albinos. This unimaginable evil is driven by the belief that the body parts of Albino possess magical powers capable of bringing riches if used in potions produced by local witchdoctors. The reports indicated that around 80 Albinos have been brutally attacked and their body parts hacked off and sold to witchdoctors. Of the 80 attacks, around 60 were murdered. Reports also indicate that albino body parts are being exported outside the country. Actually it will be unknown how many Albino attacks are not reported in these countries and the last report came out in Tanzania last year. Right now there is a law which says that killing Albino is illegal and
if it is happens so the person risking life time sentence in the prison. This law works so far, how much the media knows.
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