Thursday, July 8, 2010

30.6.10 or “Dirty, Dirty Dar es Salaam”

We’ve had a very enjoyable first few days in Tanzania, In fact for Kevin, Zach, Kanika, Parker, and Ryan they have been remarkably smooth. The flights were largely uneventful . When we checked in at JFK, we got the manager and he gave us all bulkhead, exit row seats (aka 4 feet of legroom=clutch). The Burj Dubai is quite tall. The Dubai airport is quite ridiculous and commercial, although we didn’t see the Jaguar dealership that I remember from the last time I was there, but none the less, the duty free section of our terminal rivaled most American malls. The benefit of flying Air Emirates during the world cup is that they had big TVs at every gate playing the world cup, so we were able to watch most of Netherlands vs. Slovakia game and they also replay the previous day’s game on the next day’s flight. Tim and Wendy seemed to have a nice time during their day-long layover in Zurich.

We show up at the Dar es Salaam airport and I swore we were in some other country other than Tanzania. We were wicked slow in filling out our visa applications (not enough pens) and one of the officials came up to us and asked if we were in a group. She gathered up our passports and crisp 2006 series $100 bills and took them directly to the front of the line, cutting about half of the wazugnu on the plane(ca-ching!). Getting through customs was as easy as walking out the front door, and the taxi ride into town was short and only a bit cramped (5 people + gear + mini-mini-van = “snug”).

We stayed in Dar at the Jambo Inn, which is downtown relatively near to Kariakoo, the main market. In true Tanzania fashion, one of our rooms had no electricity or fan and a toilet that ran all night long. The district we were staying in is very Muslim, with a mosque just down the street (the guy who sang the call to prayer actually had a good voice), a very good restaurant serving Indian food, but no beer anywhere. A local (to Tanzania) delicacy of Stoney Tangawizi was available, and offered a bubbly, strongly ginger alternative.

The next day (30.06.10) it rained, Which for Zach and I was a very new experience. It rained on us for about 1 minute in Dar last summer and some mist for me and Dermott in the mountains. While this kept the dust and heat subdued, they were replaced by mud puddles and a high grime factor, and by the end of the day, we decided that dry weather was better, despite the novelty of rain. After a morning of market window (stall) shopping, we met with Dr. Rajabu, who was on his way to the Saba Saba trade fair, and decided to take us along. The Saba Saba is the holiday of the ruling political power(7/7- the day they took power), and the trade show that occurs in its celebration ramps up from about two weeks before hand, so we hit it at a great size for seeing a lot without being overwhelmed. Many sustainable energy projects, stove companies, and other small industry entrepreneurs had booths set up, and Dr. Rajabu did a great job as our tour guide, explaining/ translating for us, and giving us the inside scoop on what was going on. We also got a great demonstration of a rice-husk batch burning TLUD (Top Lit Updraft Design) system that is being developed at the University of Dar. As we can very well relate to, the stove smoked and sputtered quite a bit due to the number of spectators, but looked like a solid design. Tim had a great talk with an entrepreneur building several sustainable energy products, including an interesting stacking charcoal stove, a biogas reactor, and a charcoal kiln designed for utilizing small size biomass (read tall grass and twigs) to make charcoal rather than large trees, all with the hope of reducing deforestation. After seeing all of the stoves , Dr. Rajabu took us to look at the temporary zoo on the grounds, with a lion, giraffe, wildebeest, lots of birds, and a collection of snakes that sent Kevin running like the wind, probably because he remembered the part in the Harry Potter movie when the snake breaks out of its cage at the zoo, and the cages here in Tanzania were not as robust as those in the movie.

And yes, dermott, “Nimechoka kupiga horn” is still immensely popular

-Parker, et al.

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