Thoughts on leaving Tanzania

October 11, 2012

Ruminations or “where in the world is Willy Little”

Some closing thoughts as I prepare to leave Tanzania.

First, Michael and Bev Harrar were marvelous and gracious hosts. Each night of my stay they moved out of their home into the neighbor’s house so that I could have some privacy and the opportunity to recover from Jet Lag… I can only say this about Jet Lag… it’s real and it stinks!!! I have more admiration for the Harrar’s today than ever. It unsettles my soul to realize that many of us who may have been called to mission have not even considered that possibility because we are afraid.    Unfortunately because of my naiveté I messed up my visa and had to arrive here four days later than I originally planned thus cutting my stay short. I am now sitting at the airport with two hours to go before my flight to India.

I learned today that Tanzania was a colony of England until (I believe) the 1960’s when their much beloved president at that time, Julius K. Nyerere, fought for their freedom. There are signs of him everywhere even after all of these years. President Obama is also much beloved here. It is quite common for the Tanzanians when they learn that one is from America to say “ah, country of Obama! How do you like Obama?” No matter how one might feel toward our current president I think the right answer in this part of the world is “I like him.” Why do they admire him so much? Because he is perceived as an African and a Muslim who made it. Again, what may or may not be true of our president is not the point… perception is everything.

Sometime in the late 1950’s Disneyland in California opened. I remember as a child thinking that it was a magical place and that if I could ever get there my life would be complete. I went to Disneyland in 1973 at the age of 18 on two separate occasions. No doubt it is a special place… but not magical in the way I expected. The plants around the park were real plants just like I had seen other places. The characters walking around in costumes were real people. Walt Disney did not greet me. The food I had there was just like at other places. The point being… places are places. They differ to some degree, but people are people, cars are cars, roads are roads, food is food. I guess I’m saying that Tanzania is a real place like many other places. It isn’t some far off distant African land that one might think of as primitive and inaccessible. It is an airplane flight away. Outside of some inconveniences one could live here and likely be very happy. After all, there is a whole nation of people here and I’m guessing many of them are quite happy. Sorry, I’m rambling. Again, the point being… Tanzania is not inaccessible.

Some of the ironic things I experienced… There are French fries everywhere. Of course here they call them chips. Carrots seem to be a staple. Of the thousands and thousands of cars I saw here I never saw an American car or any American vehicle. Of the bajillion motorcycles I have seen not one was larger than a 125c.c. I told my driver today that I have a motorcycle at home that is an 1800 c.c. he just couldn’t get his brain around that! My motorcycle engine is bigger than the engine in the taxi I was riding in. I will NEVER EVER AGAIN complain of crazy drivers back home!!!! NEVER EVER!! These drivers are maniacs!! When Michael told me that you take your life into your hands by riding the public transportation I thought he was kidding. HE WAS NOT!!  There is nothing in this country that one might think of as courtesy. No one waits in line… everything is done amoeba like… masses of human beings moving in different directions. No one lets anyone else in front of them. I’m pretty sure there is no intent toward rudeness… it’s just the way things are. The women here wear the most colorful clothing I have ever seen. The roads are lined with innumerable things… many of them being beautiful nurseries filled with plants and flowers for sale. Ironically these nurseries can be right in between rows of broken down stores and swirling trash.

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