Although between the Vodacom store and the post office, we are again accosted by “artists,” I make a new friend, Mathew, out of one. He says they can make around 5,000 Tanzanian shillings per day selling such goods during the high season , and sometimes up to 15,000 on a good day. That works out to $3.40-$10 per day – this is only when they can’t find jobs as a porter going up Kilimanjaro. Now it’s the low season, and there’s no porter jobs, so everyone is an artist. Anyway, he goes home on the weekends to a town 100 km south of Arusha and helps his family take care of the farm. His sister and brother do that full time. But some of these kids leave their families for the city on their own as early as age 10.
Post-Indian food, Andrew and Christy and I traipse around the less touristy, less developed part of town.
There are maybe 40 little shops set back away from the street selling bolts of fabric, while women marketing fruit and vegetables crouch in front of their goods-strewn blankets in front of them. Other people are repurposing old items.. it’s quite incredible to see people scrubbing gym shoes in a bucket of soapy water while the soles lie nearby, freshly washed; or to walk by a young man scraping rust off of a pipe, a while pile of used rebar in front of him just waiting to be claimed again. On the street we pass by someone wearing a Duke University t-shirt. I say “hey!” and point to his shirt, and then my bag, but he just looks at me with eyes that say, “crazy tourist, ahh!” before walking away.
But in general people are very kind. Mathew tells me that the Chinese are making huge investments in Arusha. They’ve just taken over all the new road construction in Arusha, the nicest hotel in the city center is Chinese-built, and just over the tops of all the other buildings I can see a low skyscraper arising – it seems to also be funded and built by the Chinese.
We spend some time sitting around under a memorial near our hotel. We watch as white-veiled women stream out of a nearby mosque. We’ve been hearing the call to prayer in the morning and evening, and it turns out that there is a 50-30-10 ratio of Christians, Muslims and Nonbelievers. We learn that from our taxi driver. We’re also shocked to hear his views on gay rights. The conversation goes something like this:
Taxi Driver: “Do you like Obama?”
Us: “Yes, we all like him very much.”
Taxi Driver: “We do too, except now he supports gay marriage and we don’t like that.”
Us: “Really? Why not?”
The taxi driver proceeds to tell us that if they find anyone “doing that” they will kill them instantly, that being that way is against the word of God, and that if you let men marry men there will be too many old single women running around. Apparently the British have been pressuring some African countries to write gay marriage into their constitutions, and the taxi driver said something about how dignitaries should be careful saying that kind of stuff around here as they were liable to be stoned.
So. There’s a long way to go still.
Laly and Buddy are fantastic, and I can tell we’re going to have a great summer out in Noloholo. We talk a little bit about our projects over dinner, but mostly just get to know each other. Tomorrow morning will be the last time I have unlimited wifi! I will definitely continue to have enough internet access to send and receive emails, as well as hopefully put up some photos. I have 4 GB of information to either upload or download before I run out, so I’m hoping it will last me long enough to get me through the summer. I’ve turned off everything from loading in my browsers except for text, and have a mail client so I don’t have to sit on the internet while I respond to emails. If you have any other tips on how to cut down data exchange, let me know!