In the winter of 2019, Henderson Productions took a small group to Tanzania for a 14-day adventure. This blog series tells the story of the trip and our fellow travelers. Using our network around the world, we curated a tour to give us local connections and experiences beyond the normal tourist choices. For more information about our upcoming trips, subscribe to our newsletter.
It seems fitting. It has been a literal and traditional safari. People have met and lived together, laughed and chastised, shared and hoarded. True natures were revealed to some delight and other disappointment. We had adventures, discoveries, successes and setbacks. We were never even close to old world dangers or discomforts but are all going home with perspective and appreciation for our riches in many iterations. I’ve delighted sharing the world with a few who have traveled little and comparing with those who have seen much,
Tanzania is a delightful country. In the scheme of emerging nations, they have many riches. There’s no evidence of laziness with everyone always appearing to contribute and stay busy. I was surprised at the lack of high-tech toys not seeing kids and teens lounging head down, thumbs flying. The internet is a tool like a library but not a place for every day.
Touristy places like hotel lobbies had TVs but we didn’t see them everywhere and none of our accommodations after the Best Western had them either – to most of our delight. It took a couple days to decompress but the safari conveniently took away any interest I had in total connection to the outside world. And yet, we were all just fine. The drivers and guides in all locations were informative, chatty and happy to share. Everywhere we went was met by genuine smiles and “Jambo”.
By international standards, it’s super clean with some evidence of massive and un-managed growth in both Dar and Stone Town causing waste management challenges. The roads are well designed and reasonably well kept. Old buildings are beginning to be preserved and appreciated. New construction was halted about six months ago with the new government implanting standards for both contractors and their creations. There’s a short-term backlog on projects resuming as the process gets underway.
As I’ve seen before, the expat residents practice selective isolationism both as a security measure and pseudo superiority. It strikes me as continued colonialism which might not be fair but upscale resort casinos and guarded compounds aren’t far removed from British yacht clubs and tea parties with croquet. There’s the Scottish Club’s Burns Night and English-language drama societies, favorite restaurants and guarded butcher shops. Yet folks were surprised we wanted to visit and experience the daily marketplaces or possibly the dance club across the street.
I felt none of the overwhelming crush of humanity from Mumbai or Sao Paulo. As always, I was happiest walking around on my own like the Zanzibar beach or stopping in alleys in Stone Town to hand little kids some candy – with parental permission. For all it’s tourist hokiness, the Masai village was a hit because we each had a different host and could form a brief bond.
I quit taking the malaria pills on day three when I realized it was the source of my digestive discomfort. Saw one mosquito and never got bit. There were a few flies in Zanzibar but not the dreaded tsetse. Again, no bites. I think I figured out my intestinal tract is most affected by the myriad fruits and juices.
Depending on where we were, average dress on the street was a mix of tribal (Masai robes), religious (kurtas and burkas), jeans and tees, colorful printed shifts or vibrant saris. Sometimes, like in Dar, all the above in a single block.
The safari was indeed an excellent journey. Hakuna Matata Tanzania.