The Emirates 777 from Dubai to Daressalam touches down on African soil and I am awake, wide awake. We exit the plane and head downstairs, fill-out forms, turn-in passports, display yellow-forms for yellow-fever and pay the requisite dollars. We meet up with Ali our Photog-expert and leader and Nahid his partner-in-crime and head toward the baggage carousel..on the way we find-out that the guy standing at the back of the plane already dressed in safari-wear is our other expert tour photographer Fern Trujillo. Our faces hit the cool tropical winter air, for it is winter here in the southern hemisphere, and we are standing in and on Africa! At the door of the terminal we find our names scrawled on a 8 1/2"x11" page held aloft by Justin (left front in the pic below) our driver and greeter from Leopard tours. All 5 of us are bundled into the van with our duffel bags and we drive off to the Serena Daressalam Hotel which we had booked blind online. It's a typical, solid 5-star hotel a fair distance from the airport where we spend the night trying to overcome a time-change that doesn't deceive our biological clocks.
My first day on the continent of Africa and if this is anything to go by i look forward to the next two weeks. Having grown up in the third world and lived in the first I have thoroughly considered the differences between the people of this world and that. And not being a student of biology or genetics I’ve attributed most cultural norms to circumstance and learning over nature and destiny…much like my mistaken reliance on the birth order of my children being so much of the reason for who they are.
However, I have found in the Tanzanian people a contrast of what I find in the indian people. Tanzanians are very mild people…Other than the young kid Justin (in the pic) who met us at the airport I’ve had to ask each person’s name twice just to hear it. There is a certain shyness here that is not valued in America and maybe not even very useful in our world and which is part of all interpersonal interactions here. If you want to converse, you have to gently draw them into conversation. How interesting…how much like flirting!
It is evident that is a patient people. There is little contention for counter space at the airport, most lines are small and there’s no mumbling and complaining as matters move thru the system. It's more like a river thoughtfully meandering through the Serengeti knowing fully well that it will eventually get to the sea, than the Mississippi’s mad dash thru America’s midsection.
Its cliche to suggest that this is a throwback to an older time and unfair to assume it has anything to do with underdevelopment. Its a wonderful thing to be amidst a gentle people undistracted by multitasking and oblivious to self-promotion.