This is one of the many ways Tanzanians like to greet you. It means, whats up! And poa means, cool! It’s been almost two weeks since I arrived in Tanzania and so far I have had a wonderful experience.
I will spend the coming months working for a Canadian NGO called Farm Radio International. With them, I will be collecting stories from farmers and helping to write radio scripts.
But before all this, I took 10 days to travel and get to know the country a little bit. I first arrived in Dar es Salaam, the largest city on the east coast. When I first stepped out of the airport, taxi drivers swarmed me yelling, “I give you good price.” After 10 minutes of bargaining, I finally hopped on a taxi and drove down the bustling streets. The main road was full of women in traditional skirts, farmers selling their fruits and vegetables, and people riding the local bus, known as the “dala dala.”
From there I took a boat to Zanzibar! I was uncertain about travelling there because right now it’s the long rainy season. But lucky enough, I barely saw a drop of rain. Zanzibar is astonishing! I stayed on the east coast on Paje beach. The turquoise Indian Ocean was breathtaking. I made friends with a local beach boy, also known as a beach vendor named Moussa who claimed he was famous in Italy. Nonetheless, he showed me a good time. We went sailing in a handmade catamaran. He bought it with a couple thousand dollars and a mango tree.
We also went swimming with dolphins south of the island. It was so incredible to swim so close to them and see how they interact with each other. They swim side by side, communicating together through touch and whistle-like sounds.
We also did a spice tour where I learned about local fruits and spices such as nutmeg, pepper and cardamom. Overall Zanzibar, including its famous Stone Town, has so much to offer. Getting lost in the medina full of old rustic doors really makes you feel like you are in a special place.
After Zanzibar, I flew on a 13 seater plane! At first I was a little nervous, but I really felt at ease during the flight. There were only four of us on the plane and the pilot chatted with us about the cost of local chicken. He was shocked to hear about the cost of food in Switzerland, where I spent two years cringing every time I had to pay for groceries.
I was also able to see Mount Kilimanjaro from the plane, the largest mountain in all Africa.
The fun didn’t stop there. After I arrived in Arusha I went on a safari tour with a very enlightening guide named Charles. He came from an area called Moshi, near Kilimanjaro, and was extremely informed about animal wildlife.
We toured around the famous Serengeti, where the Lion King was based. We saw every kind of animal. We were even able to witness a pride of lions killing a wildebeest. It’s incredible to learn about how animals live together in one kingdom.
At the heart of the Serengeti lies the largest movement of wildlife on earth. In pursuit of food and water, over a million wildebeest and half a million zebras migrate north from the Serengeti to Kenya every year.
Then we travelled to the Ngorongoro crater. The crater formed when a large volcano exploded and collapsed on itself two to three million years ago. It is the world’s largest inactive, intact, and unfilled volcanic caldera.
What makes Ngorongoro special is that it is a conservation area. The Maasai people live with the environment and wildlife harmoniously. The Maasai, wearing traditional red garments sustain themselves in a community with their cattle and cows.
Now I am back in Arusha where I will spend the next few weeks getting Swahili training. This will prepare me to go in the field in Mtwara, on the south-east coast of the country. The training will help me communicate with the farmers when I interview them to learn about their successes and struggles.
I will be working with Pride FM, a station that broadcasts weekly programs about sustainable farming. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Aga Khan Foundation fund the project.
That’s it for now. As the Tanzanians would say in Swahili, Tutaonana (see you!).
Oh and here is a slideshow of my favourite pictures I have taken so far. Enjoy.
Click link: Flickr