Friday, April 4, 2008

On This Day Last Year...

Arusha is a small town of less than 200,000 people in the
north of Tanzania. For me, like many, it was the jumping off
point for a safari. Others come to climb Kilimanjaro. Still more comes as volunteers in the many NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations, funded by outside money and in place to address issues as broad as agriculture, health, education, housing, and domestic abuse) in the area.

The photo is of one of the many NGO volunteers I meet in Africa, happy to be on the continent, slightly disenchanted with the ineffectiveness of their organization, intrigued by life in Africa. He was paying to volunteer, a method of funding quite common in aid organizations.

I enjoyed Arusha, particularly the daily market, colored out with fruit and vegetables and hunks of meat swinging from metal hooks in the sun. The smell of any market will forever remind me of the place. In the back of the market I found concrete stalls provided for food sellers. They would bring their rice and beans and greens already cooked and dish it up for customers for little money.

I had my lunch there, stepping over a two foot deep concrete culvert that channeled god knows what stinking assortment of rubbish. I elbowed up to a board balanced on plastic cartons and motioned that I would have what my neighbor had. I watched the women rinse their used dishes in the brown waters of a broken bucket. I was probably the only white person to eat there in some time and received appropriate attention.

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