Thursday, March 22, 2007

Out of Africa

Just got back from our first trip to Africa. We spent our time in Tanzania and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was a wonderful experience and I have to thank the guides and porters – they made the trip. They are amazing people and are very proud of their mountain.

I kept my expectations to a minimum before going as I didn’t want to predict certain things about Africa. One could expect all kinds of extremes given the current trend of the media. I read Paul Theroux’s Dark Star Safari a couple of years ago and thought it to be a realistic representation of the continent.
So what did I think while I was there? I think it was a similar to any other developing country. It appeared that the people work very hard for what they have and don’t have a lot of extra. I was not there long enough to immerse myself in the everyday culture, so I would expect that Tanzania, like all countries, has its own set of unique issues. As a geographer I understand that the state of any country depends on its location, climate, history, culture, etc. The more I travel, the less I anticipate certain outcomes in certain places.

My favorite memory of the trip is seeing all of the bicycles. I was surprised to see fewer cars and more bicycles. The bikes looked very sturdy and were definitely incorporated into everyday life. The Swahili word for bicycle is baiskeli.

Here are a couple of links to bicycle related things in Africa and Tanzania. The second link is a great essay about Africa and bicycles written from the perspective of 12 year old from Ghana.

No comments: