Even more past Ayoba Time – Stories and Pictures from the 2010 South Africa World Cup – Part II

Welcome to Part II of my posts about the June/July adventures travelling down to and around South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. If you missed Part I – you can check it out here. That said, this is (as usual) just a collection of ramblings, pictures, and stories with very little common-thread…so its not so much necessary that you go back and read it…I’ll leave it up to you.

Tales of ordinary murder

No, this is not a reference to all the hype and media scare which built-up to the World Cup about how every fan was risking their life to visit SA. Lucky you – it’s a new addition to Dan’s “I doubt Oprah even reads everything on her book club list” Book Club! Throughout much of my time in SA, I was reading a book that I would like to tell you a bit about and add to the reading list: My Traitor’s Heart: A South African Exile Returns to Face His Country, His Tribe and His Conscience by Rian Malan. First off, warning for all you young children that read this blog before bed-time – this book ain’t a Fun with Dick and Jane light-hearted jaunt. It was definitely one of the darkest and most disturbing accounts that I have ever read. That said,  South Africa under apartheid in the late 80′s was not a pretty place for anyone.

The book is an account of a white South African Afrikaaner who returns to SA after many years to become a journalist covering crime cases. He tells the compelling story of SA through the lens of the crimes he reports on and what they say about this society. It is a very raw and personal account of his own battle to understand the entrenched racial systems, his own place in all of this, and the violence that were very much tearing South Africa apart when he wrote this account.  I really enjoyed his writing style -unedited, emotional,  honest, confrontational, and conversational. Here is (one of the more intense) snippets:

“…I think I should rest my case right here, for fear that I lose control, leap off the page, and tear out the throat of the nearest enlightened white man.

….Am I upsetting you my friend? Good. Do you want to argue? Do you want to tell me about the evils of apartheid? Do you want to talk about democracy and the allied civil and human rights that fall under the umbra of its name? Okay. Let’s open my bulging files of tales of ordinary murder. You choose your weapons and I’ll choose mine, and we’ll annihilate the certainties in one another’s brains.”

Phew! Don’t let that scare you though – he’s not that raging angry the entire book! During 4 weeks travelling through SA, I read a lot of other historical accounts and visited the both Nelson Mandela and Apartheid museums  (all amazing as well) – but I have to say that this book provided a completely unique level of analysis and eye-opening understanding. If you are interested in learning more about SA under apartheid and especially the turmoil and events that began the chain of events which led to Mandela’s release – I highly recommend you check it out… of your local library branch (everyone is looking to save money in these hard times you know).

Think happy thoughts and look at the pretty pictures

Was that a bit dark and troubling? I don’t want to leave you with bad taste in your mouth about that beautiful country. No, that would be no good…we must do something to fix this. Or do I just want a chance to post more photos? Either way -Let’s take a tour through some of the breathtakingly beautiful scenery in South Africa as captured through my camera… which was at last fixed and operational for the final 3 weeks of the journey.

The photos from the trip are starting to make their way up onto my Flickr Page little by little – so if you want to see more check out the South Africa Roadtrip Set here.

A brief tutorial on how to make tax-free billions off the taxpayer

Overall, the World Cup pretty much lived up to all my expectations. South Africa put on a great show and were amazingly hospitable hosts for the tournament and proved all of the bad press and nay-sayers wrong which was certainly nice to see. Unfortunately, how it will do with the giant white-elephant stadiums and debt legacy that these giant world events leave a country/city with is a different story.

To skim the surface of this topic  - the most corropt sports organization in the world, our host FIFA, made off with $3.5 Billion USD in TAX-FREE profits from the event – meanwhile  while the SA government was saddled with an estimated $2.9 billion USD in debt to build new stadiums and airports for the two month event. Congratulations goes out to the taxpayers of Russia and Qatar – the recent winners of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups… BUT since there isn’t much to do about that now and its all a bit depressing (blame the system not the fan, my friend) – I think they should be lauded for a truly great achievement and for showing the world a different and truly capable side of Africa than many might have expected.

Just can’t shake that poser feeling

That said, there was something a little bit off the whole time. This nagging feeling I just couldn’t shake. Like a square peg and a round hole, like most of us on that first day of Grade 9 in high-school, like the Pope giving the key-note at  World Condom Day  - I just didn’t quite belong (yes, i am pretty sure i just made that up -go ahead, google it). It felt like everyone there had one distinct advantage over me in the are-you-a-legit-fan-or-just-some-poser-who-can’t-name-a-player-on-the-pitch assessment that sports fans often do when meeting….they actually had their country participating in the tournament.

There were even quite a few other lost Canadian souls at the tournament. At one game in Joburg I rubbed my eyes when I saw a banner hanging from the stands reading “Newfoundland and Labrador – Canada’s Soccer Capital“. Really? Really? Too much Newfoundland Screech for some hoser I think.

…but a super interesting poser at least?

May I present to you, the jury, Exhibit A in the prosecution’s case of Grand World Cup Posering:

During the World Cup travels I found myself  interviewed on four different occasions by the time I headed home by various international tv stations. (What can I say? I am on my way to the personal goal of becoming one of those most interesting people in the world who gets invited to fabulous parties for the sole reason that they are interesting and might make the party more interesting just by their presence.) In a true mark of a World Cup poser, I was supporting a different team in three of the four interviews.

  1. Supporting Argentina – interviewed by Argentinean TV outside the Ellis Park Joburg stadium before the Argentina-Nigeria game
  2. Supporting Denmark (who the hell supports Denmark? Dislike of Dutch > Fear of being the lone Denmark fan I guess) interviewed by Bolivian TV - In the Soccer City stadium -Joburg after Netherlands – Denmark game
  3. Supporting Spain interviewed by Japanese TV – fanwalk outside the Capetown stadium on the way to Spain -Portugal game
  4. Supporting Argentina, interviewed/made the butt of many jokes by a Brazilian comedy show – In a bar across the street from Capetown stadium watching/crying during the live- next-door Germany- Argentina debacle.

So you see, the evidence has clearly been broadcasted out to the world to judge and convict me of crimes of world cup fan posering. But until the year that Canada makes the World Cup (see you in Brazil 2014?), I guess I’ll  have to be that hardcore fan that tries and tries, but just doesn’t quite fit in.

What’s on tap barman?

Since it’s already almost mid-December and I likely won’t get another chance to update you before the holidays are here – thought I would provide a quick update and seasons greetings.

Time is flying by -can’t believe I’ve been back for 3 and a half months already – and I know it will only go faster and 2011 will be here before we  know it. I will be heading south this holiday season for 11 days backpacking around Northern Mozambique and spend the holidays there. It’s a bit weird spending christmas away from family and friends but I’ve found that hitting the road this time of year makes it somehow easier…so very excited for the adventure ahead and will hope to share some good stories and pictures in a new post next year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to everyone!

Cheers,
Dan

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Slightly past Ayoba time…Travels to the 2010 South Africa World Cup – Part I

Well, okay…a little more than slightly past Ayoba time…but better late than never?

Check your calendar Dan, you’re about 5 months too late with this post. You gotta get your priorities straight and stop living in the past. (Am I allowed to use the cliche excuse that I’m on African time?). So maybe being on time isn’t my thing – but I think there are still some cool stories and philosophizing to share so even if this is maybe no longer categorized under current events, I hope you’ll make it past this paragraph.

For your reference back home – It’s Ayoba Time! was the advertising campaign being run by the World Cup telecom sponsor MTN and played incessantly everywhere in Africa during the lead up and main event itself. The Ayoba vuvuzela “tune” was a common sound heard whenever you were in a World Cup host city and  may have interrupted more than a few conversations along Durban’s Florida St. restaurants and cafe’s as we got everyone into the world cup spirit during a particular night of revelry.  And yes, the 2010 World Cup was exactly like that street party scene in the last shot of the ad.

Editor’s Note: Part I…what’s up with that?

As I have been told many times and have readily admitted on this blog before – I have a bit of a problem keeping things concise. This post has been in various progressive forms of draft mode since I returned to Canada on July 9th – and with each of my visits it grew and grew in size until became in danger of becoming  an unreadable-in-one-sitting-novel. As such, I have split the post into a two-part series (and they are both still bloody long!) – more dusty foot philosophizing to love for all of us!

“baby, I would follow you to the ends of the earth”

Where I left off on this blog  during the travels down to SA we were headed to the Zambia/Zimbabwe border to see the mighty Victoria Falls and I promised not to do anything too stupid. Well, the jury is still out on that one.

The first of my two “at the ends of the earth” moments I experienced on this stage of the trip was from the air. It was  the less-stupid decision we made to take a ultra-lite/micro-lite flight over the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls to get a birds-eye view. When you visit the falls from the ground level you truly understand why the indigenous people here called the falls Mosi-oa-Tunya or “the smoke that thunders” for all you non-Kololo speakers. I loved that name the moment I first read it. It’s (obviously?) neither of those things and yet it fits so perfectly. When approaching the falls from the ground you can see the mist rising up from miles away and a hear a dull roar where the river suddenly drops off. When you get up close on the trail that goes beneath the falls – you are completely soaked,  can only see a blanket of mist in front of you,  and can hardly hear each other over the roar of the water.

The ultra-lite flight is the perfect counterbalance to intensity of the ‘smoke and thunder’. You soar up into the air with no walls keeping you in and your bare feet hanging off the edge and blowing in the wind. It’s a glorified go-kart with wings and until the jet-pack becomes commercially available (The Jetsons promised me such technology by now…) – I think it might be the closest thing to human flight available. It was eerily quiet and peaceful up there and you see a side of this spectacle of nature that you thought was the sole domain of those BBC Planet Earth film crews or National Geographic photographers that us mere mortals weren’t allowed to witness.

I don’t know if this will make sense to you but I will try. There are moments in life when you are just purely happy. When you have a big goofy smile on your face that starts to hurt your cheeks but you can’t reign it in. When you say to yourself, “damn…Louis Armstrong was right”. Where, if real-life had a soundtrack, there would be an epic classical masterpiece hitting its crescendo during this scene. When you know that what you need to do in life is chase these moments, that feeling… maybe it is a person for you or a place or an experience…but you need to find it wherever it is on this planet…. and that the bad parts of life or stress of work  and earning a paycheque is purely there to enable this. Yeah, it was kinda cool like that.

The less intelligent “at the edge of the world” moment was a bit more straightforward. Put one foot in front of the other and walk off a cliff.

According to the stats I just looked up on their website – the gorge-swing jump was a “160 ft pure Free Fall…….Reaching speeds of up to 180 Km/h.” and was supposed to last 4 seconds or something (yes, that is enough time to both fully comprehend that it was a stupid decision and subsequently urinate your pants) before the rope catches just above the ground below and whips you into a high-speed swing across the tree tops. I would like to say that if I had thought more about those numbers at the time I wouldn’t have done it – but that’s probably not true. Ah well, you learn your lessons (and your whiplashed neck and lower back pay the price) – I have absolutely zero desire to ever do any “extreme” jumping again. Well, I should probably be completely honest with you – we climbed back up to the top and proceeded to try the  aptly named tandem-death-drop where you tie yourself at the ankles and waist to a buddy and flip backwards off the ledge. But going forward…I have absolutely zero desire to ever do any “extreme” jumping again.

“It’s the people that make the place”

Okay, so maybe this is obvious as well -but isn’t it kind of funny how a place, a neighbourhood, a city, a country even – can be defined in your memory not necessarily by its actual tourist attractions or natural beauty but purely by the people that you meet there?

Two such experiences from our trip stand out which made me want to include this observation here. The second was in Durban, SA. Two strangers in a city meet some people out while watching a game. Instead of the easier/safer/conventional goodbye we are invited into their lives for our 3 days in Durban. Keys to the apartment, cooking dinners, visiting workplaces, going to house parties, exchanging good books & music, and lots of jokes makes Durban stand above its more famous Cape Town and Johannesburg counterparts in my books.

The first was in Bulowayo, Zimbabwe where six dirty, smelly, pretty much random travelers were taken in and made a part of a family for our brief  stay. Cooking barbeque feasts, giving relationship advice, white-bread eating contests, joining  family monopoly night, and sitting around the living room hearing personal stories of how one family dealt with Zim’s unbelievable inflation crisis of 2008 and why they choose to stay when the easy path to just leave is available. That’s what I will always remember about Zimbabwe.

I guess the moral of the story is  - be kind to strangers, be especially welcoming to guests, and just know the effect you can have when someone else passes temporarily through your world.

“This is Africa’s World Cup”

The hype starting building even before we arrived in Tanzania a full 11 months before the opening kick-off. What started then as an email sent out to my fairly unknown two future roommates in Dar while preparing for last years trip (and I copy and paste) – “Hey guys. I’m looking at possibly staying until the beginning of June and then hopefully heading to South Africa to take part in some World Cup festivities before heading home” – turned into those 3 guys booking their return flights out of South Africa with no plans of how to get there – turned into some purchased game tickets – evolved into some rough plans involving trains, boats, buses, and cars – and finally turned into a reality. kinda cool.

In the months leading up to the tournament I talked with a lot of people about it and that buzz just kept on building. Everyone was excited that Africa had an opportunity to be on the world stage and play host to the world’s game. It didn’t matter that SA was the official host – this was Africa’s World Cup and I was told that many times over. I particularly remember meeting a man in Mbeya, Tanzania who, when I told him we were going,  told me he was religiously buying bottles of Coke to look under the cap and try to win the grand prize trip and tickets to the final. He laughed and said he knew he wouldn’t win but how could he not try? This was once in a lifetime and this was Africa’s World Cup.

As we got closer to the World Cup (both geographically and chronologically) it was like there was a giant funnel on the continent – draining everyone you met down to SA for the opening. Of course, its sad that most of these people we met heading to the event were foreigners as well – and only the most privileged percentage of Africans on this continent were able to come experience their very own continent’s World Cup in person. But I think you could probably argue the same about Canada hosting the Olympics or other major events like this held anywhere – and in the end the immense continental pride and ownership was still there at all levels.

“Welcome home, we’ve been waiting 200,000 years”

Finally, I’ll leave you with a video of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s speech from the launch concert the night before the opening game. He welcomes the world to not only South Africa – but all of Africa which I thought was a very nice touch given the proud ownership of the event that we saw throughout the continent on our travels.  ”Africa is the cradle of humanity”  and so if we go far enough back…we are all African. True that, Archbishop, true that.

Welcome home world. Now doesn’t that just bring a tear to your eye?

Stay tuned for Part II of this post dealing with some of the actual World Cup fun ….coming soon (or at least sometime in the next 5 months…)

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Finally, a political race with some mystery

Thought I would write today a little about a common theme that is running through both my life here and perhaps also yours. It’s an election year here in Tanzania and the country which is scheduled to go to the poll every 5 years will vote for its new president and parliament on October 31st. Back home in Ontario, voters went to the polls to elect a new mayors and city councils on Monday, Oct 25th (really Toronto? Rob Ford? Maybe I’ll stay abroad 3 more years…) and then there are my American friends who have their mid-term elections coming up next week on November 2nd. For the political junkies out there, it’s a fine time to be alive.

I must admit, while I do not claim to be any kind of expert or really hold anything much beyond common knowledge about politics, I do find myself somewhat hooked every time an election is in the news. So, perhaps not a political junkie – more of an elections junkie. During the American presidential primaries in 2007, I had a Super Tuesday reminder in my Outlook calendar and stayed in to watch Barack and Hilary duke it out as the live results came in on CNN. I have been known to closely follow foreign elections of which I should really have no interest in at all and can’t pronounce the candidates’ names properly. I find advanced polling numbers addictive and analyzing campaign strategies strangely attractive. Should I stop now? Anyways, as such, I’ve been quite interested in this weekend’s election here in TZ and thought I might bring you up to speed on the unpredictable world of my first Tanzanian election campaign.

As I often do, I’d like to add a disclaimer in here for any readers I might upset with anything I write – I know everyone always says avoid talking about politics, religion, and sex – but, frankly speaking, the weather and the local sports teams make for boring posts– so, pole sana, I’m just an outsider looking in and giving my particular perspective! (stay tuned for future posts on sex and religion I guess).

Let’s start out with a inadequate 30 second history lesson. Tanzania gained independence from the UK in 1961 and as with many other of these fledging states, turned to its independence leaders and founding political party to lead the nation. Tanzania was fortunate to have the strong leadership of  Julius Nyrere during this formative time and has escaped much of the government-military merry-go-rounds and ethnic group divisions that have famously marred many of its neighbouring states. However it was not until 1985, when under pressure from foreign governments and donors, that the country agreed to abandon it’s founding one-party political state. Even with the introduction of multi-party politics and elections in 1985, the ruling CCM party has never had a serious challenger for the business of running this country – winning the elections thus far without serious challenge (capturing 81% of the vote in the 2005 election.)

Here we are in 2010 and against what I certainly seemed to expect (another runaway victory for the incumbent Jakaya Kikwete’s CCM) we might just have a real race on our hands. Despite what seems to be an outspending by the ruling CCM of their nearest rivals by at least a 10:1 margin (if not 10x that amount) – a party which last election only garnered 5.8% of the vote called Chadema and their presidential candidate Dr. Wilibrod Slaa are gaining a strong following with their anti-corruption and change message (but more on that later). A huge CCM advertising campaign is underway and has absolutely covered the entire city of Dar es Salaam – I would estimate their green and yellow billboards must cover close to half of all available advertising spaces in the city.


Back home we are inundated with a barrage of data and predictions from political experts throughout a campaign. Daily polls are released tracking the fortunes of each party/candidate and a person can quite often have a very solid idea of who will win their particular election long before they get the chance to cast their vote (I’m still waiting to vote in an election where my riding isn’t already a foregone conclusion). Exit polls and the vast amount of data available are often allow television channels to make their ‘calls’ on the victor moments after the last polls close and even then only in the closest of races are the results unknown before you go to sleep that same night.

Here in Tanzania, there have been polls conducted for what I can tell seems to be one of the first times, and the published results have been causing quite a stir. For much of this race the anecdotal evidence (seems as though number of people showing up at a public rallies was the #1 barometer ) seemed to point to Chadema gaining some very serious traction. However, when the first opinion poll came out it at the end of September it predicted the usual CCM victory by 71% to Chadema’s 12%. An October 10th poll by another organization had CCM pegged at 61% with Chadema scoring 16% again causing much controversy. Then a new poll was released by a third organization on October 16th which just threw everything off balance again as this one predicted a 45% victory for Chadema to CCM’s 41% – a swing of 30%+ in the results in two weeks time! Of course, there has been  little  information made publicly available on the statistical methods or validity in any of these polls and so everyone is left to question the means and motives behind them… which only adds to the mystery surrounding Sunday’s vote.


I must say, for me anyways, there is something very refreshing about the mystery and certain unknown before Sunday’s vote here. Purely as an election-watcher, it is kind of nice to not know in advance for once which direction the election will go. On a more serious note though, with some limited occasions of campaign violence, fraud allegations,  and trouble already occurring before the voting – here is to a sincere hope that whatever the results, the losing side can be gracious in defeat and no violence will mar the proceedings and the results. Here is also to hoping that whichever party and whichever officials get elected, they take their mandate seriously and look out for the progress of all Tanzanians. At a minimum, its always good to know there is strong competition this year – because a strong opposition keeps everyone on their toes and everyone wins from more accountable government.


Well, this post is long enough already and since this all probably isn’t as interesting as I think it is…I’ll wrap it up. Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into what is surely a soon to be extinct phenomenon…a political election with a little remaining mystery before the votes are counted.


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A global recession hurts fishing boats too

The life and times of the unemployed boats of Mafia island:  A Photo Essay

This is just an opportunity to share some photos which were taken last April during a last-minute weekend trip to Mafia Island. Ended up jumping on a flight and finding myself another piece of Tanzanian paradise sitting about  a 45 minute flight south of Dar es Salaam. We found ourselves on a beach the second day with a few hours to wait until the tides came in and we could leave on a snorkelling trip we just negotiated (the horrors!). The beach and shallow waters were littered with a number of boats in various states of use and disrepair and I spent the next little while trying to capture a bit of this with the camera. Without any further ado…my photo essay (and slightly disturbing accompanying captions) on the unemployed boats and dhows of Chole Beach, Mafia Island, Tanzania.

If you want to check out more – the full slideshow from this trip is available here on my Flickr account.

Academic Note: The recession link is probably unproven – not sure how closely the fishing villages out here are linked to Bear Stearns, AIG, and Citibank – I just took a lot of pictures of boats not in use – but that could have been because of the tides…

A very cool reason to go back:

When we visited last year in April it was unfortunately not during one of nature’s coolest spectacles which occurs off the coast of Tanzania every year – the visits of the whale shark to the feeding grounds of the Rufiji delta.

“Very little is known about the world’s largest fish. Weighing up to 35 tonnes, the whale shark has poor eyesight and relies on its sense of smell to track prey. Off Mafia Island, whale sharks congregate in large numbers in order to feed. Some may travel as many as 13,000km (8,000 miles) to visit rich feeding grounds. The water is enriched by nutrients that have washed out to sea from the African river deltas.”  - BBC Oceans

Apparently it happens every year from October -March,  so I hope to take advantage and make the trip this year. I’ll update you if it works out and see if I can find one of those underwater cameras here in TZ.

From: http://www.livescience.com/php/multimedia/imagedisplay/img_display.php?pic=071231-r-whale-shark-02.jpg&cap=Whale+sharks+are+the+largest+shark+and+largest+fish+species+in+the+seas.+Credit:+Brad+Norman&title=Whale+Sharks+Thrive+in+Australian+Waters&title=Whale%20Sharks%20Thrive%20in%20Australian%20Waters

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Been spending most our lives, livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…

Hey, hey, heyyyyy

He keeps a blog – he can obviously do a little writing – but did you know this dusty foot philosopher can also spit mad rhymes and throw lyrical hooks with the best of them? (since when is Coolio considered amongst the best of them?) Well kind of anyways…

I moved into our new place in Dar es Salaam two weeks ago now and so for the first time I am not living in the neighborhood we affectionately named “Mzungu Paradise” last year. Loving the new place and new neighbourhood thus far – but maybe I’ll give some updates on that another time. Upon my immediate return to Dar back in August, I was fortunate enough to be taken in by our awesome neighbours from last year while I looked for new housing and so I found myself living back in our same apartment block once again the first three weeks. Ah, how the memories came a’ floodin’ back and inspired the creative juices.

I very briefly discussed some thoughts about the neighborhood and housing we were set-up with in a past post -  and I also promised in that post to someday publish the world-wide debut of my alternate lyrics paying homage to our previous home. Well my friends, despite what CCR sings, this someday has finally come.

This production is based upon on a great tradition – begun while working at Hidden Acres and Fraser Lake Camps – and then honed while a member of the Bare Naked Frosh cover-group at Grebel – and so it is continued here. Taking the music of a popular song and changing the lyrics around for comedic/poetic(?) purposes. This is an art people. I have debated whether it was a good idea to post – but what is the internet for if not for freedom of speech/freedom to express crappy art? I certainly don’t want to cause controversy here or sound ungrateful for anything – I’m just poking some fun.

Orient your geographic-self with the neighborhoods of Dar es Salaam:

View Mzungu Paradise in a larger map

To give credit where it is due – the lyics below to Mzungu Paradise are roughly based off of Coolio’s – Gangsta’s Paradise and then really just changed into a simple rhyming pattern –  and also maybe a little of Weird Al Yankovitch’s parody – Amish Paradise. It is also probably necessary to pay homage to the original Stevie Wonder’s – Pastime Paradise. If you don’t know the tune – listen to them!

Mzungu Paradise

As I walk through these dusty streets of Dar es Salaam strange/

I take a look at my life and realize there’s been little change/

Cause life ain’t that hard for a mzungu like me/

When you live and work in the heart of Masaki/


If I had to speak more swahili that would be nice/

but it’s tough to learn when you live in Mzungu Paradise/

Only had to eat ugali na maharege once or twice/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


At six in the mornin’, I can have a hot shower/

With our huge generator you know we never lose power/

You see those Tanesco rolling black-outs are just nothin’ to me/

But you know that this convenience has never come free/


Had to take a taxi home more than once or thrice/

Cause there ain’t no public transport here in Mzungu Paradise/

But  for the peninsula life you must pay the price/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


I drink my coffee every morning from a french press/

Cause this AfriCafe instant shit just doesn’t impress/

Who’s idea was the pleather couches in this Dar heat?/

Jer, I’ll trade you for the bowl chair in a heart-beat/


Sippin’ Konyagi with zee Germans once or twice/

Sittin’ at the massive table in Mzungu Paradise/

A bigger kitchen than would ever suffice/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


It’s a long way back to the university this at night/

Gotta stay ’till the bajaji’s come again at first daylight/

And that’s not just a line, you know that its true/

My smooth efforts aren’t that see-through/


Rockin’ mustaches straight outta’ Miami Vice/

As we roll through the paved streeets of Mzungu Paradise/

Just call our no-pants roof party ‘epic’ if you must be concise/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…


Sub-Saharan Africa ain’t so bad in this air-conditioned place/

Sometimes if you want sleep you just gotta embrace/

Living posh here amongst the Embassies and NGO’s/

Now you wish you didn’t know where your tax dollar goes/


It can be embarrassing, but can also be nice/

All these luxuries we have here in Mzungu Paradise/

Mixed feelings, but hey – it’s been a real slice/

Livin’ in this Mzungu Paradise…

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“Africa does not exist”

Over the last month and a half while I was at  home in Canada and talking to people about coming back for the year ahead, the word ‘Africa’ was often used as the geographic reference. Makes sense, it is the continent of my destination. However, I read the introduction to a book a few weeks back that made me stop and think a bit about this and I thought I would share it with you in this post.

The term ‘Africa’ is used so commonly for the sake of convenience and in a sense is correct – but it is also an extremely, extremely broad term and simplification. My experience coming to Tanzania will certainly be much different than another person also headed to ‘Africa’ but spending a year in Egypt, Mali, South Africa, or Somalia. Different worlds really. But then I guess I could also say the same on a more micro level – my experience living in a major city such as Dar es Salaam is a completely different world than a rural village pretty much anywhere else in TZ. Reality is that simplifications are useful and sometimes necessary…but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of it and making an effort to go deeper when possible.

Here is the quote from the author’s introduction to the book which got me thinking about this and probably does a much better job conveying the idea than I just did. Ryszard Kapuscinski is a Polish journalist who worked as a foreign correspondent in many parts of Africa since 1957 and the dawn of many independent nations and reported events and day-to-day life over the next forty years. The book is called “The Shadow of the Sun”.

“…this is therefore not a book about Africa, but rather about some people from there – about encounters with them, and time spent together. The continent is too large to describe. It is a veritable ocean, a separate planet, a varied, immensely rich cosmos. Only with the greatest simplification, for the sake of convenience, can we say “Africa”. In reality, except as a geographical appellation, Africa does not exist.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to finish the book before leaving– so can’t add it to Dan’s Book Club reading list just yet. It is supposed to be one of the classic memoir/travel books in the Africa literature section. From what I got through, it had many interesting insights into countries and their citizens in the early days of independence and I look forward finishing it some day soon.

Tangent: The thing I find about travel books – they are cool to read when you are far away, or even just visiting a place – I highly recommend the strategy of reading fiction or non-fiction about or from a place where you are or will be travelling –even if its an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or something. But when it goes into rich descriptive detail for those who have not experienced it, describing riding the crowded (understatement) public buses or visiting the colourful market…it’s a lot less exciting to read about when its already your day-to-day life.

Anyways, when I read that quote it helped me realize that – despite having now lived and traveled on this continent for almost a year – I really have only experienced a small piece of it and can only really say that I now know some of Tanzania and flashes of Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa from the “epic” trip. It also underlined just how much of a simplification it is when we say – “yeah, I’ve been to Europe/Africa/South America…etc” as if we now have it checked off the ‘to-do list’ –  when in reality we have experienced only a small part of that world. I  hope to get to better understand Tanzania, this little piece of the continent, in the year ahead as I am sure I barely scratched the surface last time. I also hope to see and experience some new parts – Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique are all on the current to-do list for the year ahead. Ethiopia, Sudan, Morroco, Egypt, Tunisia, DRC, West Africa…hell, really the rest of the continent….on the hope-to-see -maybe-someday list.

Even then though, as Mr. Kapuscinski so eloquently put, I don’t think I could really check Africa off the ‘to-do list’  - because that destination just doesn’t exist.

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Most sequels suck – but hopefully not this one

Hello again and welcome back to the another dusty foot philosopher blog!

First off, all apologies for the major gap since the last post. The last post came from Zambia during the self-declared epic trip down to South Africa for the World Cup. Certainly had every intention of making some more updates since then but surprisingly enough, finding an internet cafe and writing a blog post wasn’t so high on the priority list during the World Cup.

I don’t have such a good excuse for why there was nothing done in the month and a half spent back  home visiting -thats just laziness I guess. Had a much needed time relaxing and seeing family and friends back home though and very thankful for that opportunity heading into another long stretch away.

If you don’t know yet – I am back in Tanzania already for round II. At the very end of the last contract here I agreed to return to Tanzania for a one year contract beginning end of August. In the end, it came down to a great job opportunity here and experience that I don’t think I would be able to get elsewhere at this time. I would love to share more about the new job, but a few things need to clear up yet and I will try to keep this one relatively short so that will have a future post.

What Hollywood has taught me about life (besides the bad guy is wearing black, the high-school outcast can still get the girl, and that animals really can talk) is that, when it comes to sequels, they mostly suck…especially if they try to do the same thing.  The list of horrible sequels is not a hard one to compile; Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, Jaws II: The Revenge, Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Speed 2: Cruise Control, Son of the Mask….it gets ugly.

I definitely thought a lot about this before coming back – this year won’t be the same as last year and it can’t be the same. Probably shouldn’t be the same. Need to approach it with a different storyline, different expectations (or maybe no expectations?), and different goals. I mean, most obviously, Zach and I are back but we’ve lost the third musketeer. Who will the thieves target now that Jer is gone?…I think I am in trouble.

So, I guess what I am saying is….let’s make this particular sequel more of a “The Dark Knight” kind of refreshing goodness and a little less of a “The Next Karate Kid” failed imitation.

I am definitely planning on keeping up the blog again for the year ahead. I really didn’t like the idea of it at first – but have really come to enjoy sharing some stories, pictures, and occasional ramblings with the friends and randoms that visit. I have about 7 drafts of new posts either started here on my computer or sitting in draft mode in my brain which I hope will someday see the light of day. I can’t promise anything but I will try to make some more regular updates in this year ahead.

Until next time (but hopefully not too long),

Dan

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Dispatches from the road

Hello everyone,

Coming at you straight out of an internet cafe in Lusaka, Zambia today we have a four part series post with a few random updates from the trip thus far. As I said in the facebook introduction, it’s kinda like one of those HBO mini-series that always wins all of the Emmy awards but no one ever gets to watch because not that many of us have HBO. Lucky for you, this blog is no pay-TV and is free for the proletariat masses to enjoy. Hop on for the ride, comrades.

A heartbreaking tale of an ill-timed camera glitch
As many of those of you who check in here every once and awhile will know, one growing hobby of mine has been dabbling in photography. And what better a place for me to end up than in beautiful Tanzania the last 8 months to learn and hone some skills against some of the worlds most stunning natural backdrops. There have been a few people out there throwing around National Geographic references in the comments – but seriously, I tell you that its not so much the guy behind the camera than great scenes and people being all around, a good camera, and the rest seems to take care of itself. Anyways, I digress.

Knowing this, you can understand that I was very excited to bring my camera along on this 8 week journey outlined here to capture a piece of these new travels, people, destinations, and World Cup madness. Our journey started out on a 24 hrTAZARA train ride from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya, Tanzania and all was going well and I managed to get a few pics of the scenic old Chinese made train winding its way through the Tanzanian national parks and countryside in the first two hours. Then, disaster strikes at pretty much the worst possible time having just headed out on a journey far away from repair shops and the camera decides to have a firmware glitch and stop working completely. After trying just about every possible way I can think of to get it too work again – I am finally able to get some internet and google the problem only to find it is only fixable at official Canon repair facilities (the next of which is 3 weeks away in Johannesburg, SA) and takes about a week. Heartbreaking stuff for this guy -owners of Canon DSLRs be warned. Ah well, when there is nothing you can do, there is nothing you can do, so you just move on and take those mental pictures with the lens of your eyes, the shutter of eyelids, and the memory card of the your, well, memory. A bit tougher to share with you later though…

It’s a small world after all

Three very random incidences have happened to me in the last three days that make this statement ring very true.

1.) I’m in a small local pub drinking some beers in the paradise-found lakeside town of Nkhata Bay, Malawi which we weren’t planning on staying in. I look over and see a South African guy that hung out with us for a week or two while visiting Dar walk in and he now works here and knows all the people I’ve jut met at the hostel that night. random.

2.) At a house party in Lusaka the other night which we were rather randomly invited to and a Zambian girl comes up to me and asks me where I am from. Naturally, I lie and tell her Argentina (this little game I play is a story for another time…) and she goes “I’m not going to fall for that again, last time you told me you were from New Zealand”. We had met her and her friends from Lusaka at the Zauti sa Busara music festival in Zanzibar back in February and then met up with them again for a night out when they passed through Dar on their way back home a few days later. Turns out when I met them back in February I played the same game. Would have figured I would be pretty safe travelling through a new city at a house party where we know no one – but apparently its a small world out there. random.

3.) Same house party in Lusaka. We meet young lady early on a the party who is also Canadian so the usual traveller conversation dance ensues – “oh, what part are you from”, etc. With most Africans I will just go to the default response of “Toronto or near Toronto”, with most Canadians I will go with “Kitchener-Waterloo or just outside K-W”. In this case though this girl was coming from Hamilton and so I thought I would take a stab in the dark and throw out the exact place of birth of New Hamburg, Ontario – Pop. 6,000 or so. A look of recognition lights up her eyes but I guess that isn’t that random – New Hamburg does after all host the world’s largest non-power generating water wheel in addition to the mecca of baked goods – the NH Mennonite Relief Sale. But it’s what comes out of her mouth next that truly makes it a small world after all. “Oh my goodness, do you know Laura Albrecht?”. Turns out she was my sisters college roommate in Peterborough and still good friend who is doing an internship in Lusaka while studying at U of T. She’s been over to my house, had dinner with my grandparents, and heard about me working in TZ after they got together following my sisters trip here. Now that is shock-your-eyelids random.

Oprah’s Book Club don’t stand a chance

One of the cool things that has been a result of my time living in Tanzania and also traveling has been a dramatic increase in the consumption of good books. There’s been a good culture of book swapping going around and I’ve been quite lucky to have read to great books that have been popping into my mind every once and awhile on this trip and would like to take a moment to tell you why you should read them immediately.

The State of Africa – Martin Meredith
The back of the book advertises a review stating something along the lines of “cannot be beat as a popular introduction to the history and politics of Africa since independence” and I can’t agree more. I would say that if you have an interest in history or politics or just Africa in general than you need to pick this book up as your next read. Martin tackles a very ambitious and heavy duty subject – the history and issues on the African continent since it began to gain independence from the colonizing nations in the 1950′s – but the book reads amazingly well and he makes it a pleasure to read while sticking to facts and not getting too ‘preachy’. The chapters go through either individual countries or popular topics happening across a number of topics and gives vivid recaps of the events and leaders. It’s just been good as I travel now through many of these countries to have a better understanding of their recent history and leaders. I also recently read Philip Gourevitch’s book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda on the Rwandan genocide. Meredith’s book dedicates a chapter to the genocide and a second to the fall-out and refugee camps but in two chapters he managed to comprehensively cover a hugely complex topic. Even after reading the second book dedicated to the topic I did not feel as though I learned too much more about the politics, major events, and players in the genocide which I think is a testament to the book.

On the road – Jack Kerouc

I read Kerouc’s classic book on the beatnikk generation and his truly epic cross-USA roadtrips back last year in Dar but it’s stuck with me and especially continues to come back to me as we travel now. For a month or two after reading the book I couldn’t get the Dean character out of my head and we even talked his crazy talk to random people we would meet on nights out. It’s tough to properly capture this book and it’s effect and plus there has already been enough written on the book but there’s something about the style of his long rambling writing and the super descriptive scenes that make you want to get out there and see new things, meet new people, and just let go of inhibitions and do more crazy things. Read it!

but seriously folks, Oprah and her book club mafia should watch out if I do get around to making more posts about some of the other highly recommended books I’ve read lately. Who wants to be caught reading one of those books with her big Oprah’s Pick sticker on the front anyways? I mean, just surrender your awesomeness at the door if that is the case.

Of Pies and Waterfalls
Up next, we head to Livingstone, Zambia the home of the Natural Wonder of the World -Victoria Falls and apparently the adventure sports / you-must-be-insane-to-do-some-of-this-stuff capital of Africa as well. I can’t promise I won’t at least try one or two of these adrenaline junkie things out (I do still have a little of that On the road craziness in me) but I promise to not try anything too stupid.

On another note, it was the earlier mentioned NH Mennonite Relief Sale back home in New Hamburg this weekend and I’ve been having vivid dreams of those strawberry pies and the barbeque chicken. Can’t have the best of both worlds I guess, so I’ll just have to suck it up and pretend those cheap, poorly imitated fruit cream biscuits bought as a lunch substitute from the overly aggressive food vendor out the window of my non air-conditioned bus on the 14 hr ride to the next city are really just delicious whipped cream strawberry pies…

Editors note: This was written about 4 days ago but unreliable internet situations and travel got in the way and just able to post now from Vic Falls as we prepare to head into Zimbabwe! 7 days until World Cup glory!

And epic it shall be…

Just a real quick update now on the what the months ahead hold. Our original 8 month contracts here at MEDA Tanzania have officially finished and Mzungu paradise is emptied out and the goodbyes have been said. Tomorrow afternoon we will be boarding a train out of Dar es Salaam for a rather epic two months of travels and World Cup goodness. I’ve got pretty much every mode of transportation covered on this journey (train, bus, ferry, car rental, walking..) and I am sure there are many more surprise methods of getting from A to B in store.

The group for the first leg of the journey is Jeremy, our neighbour Cooper who decided to join last minute, and a friend of a friend New Zealander who we met yesterday. We will meet up with Zach and another good friend from Dar, Kim, at Victoria Falls halfway down at the start of June and then aim to meet up with more Dar friends in Johannesburg for the opening night party on June 10th. I estimate I will travel somewhere between 5,000-6,000 km’s from Dar es Salaam to Capetown where I will catch the flight home in early July. Tanzania – Malawi – Zambia – Zimbabwe – Botswana – South Africa –England – Canada are on tap. Wish me luck. Check out the interactive Google Map I made up of the vaguely planned trip below!


View It it shall be called Epic… in a larger map

I’ll do my best to add a quick update on the current location and travels if I get the chance in the weeks ahead – I’ve heard the internet is everywhere these days…even in cyberspace –so keep an eye on here.

Cheers!

Dan

and this episode is called…Season 2

Hello viewers,

All apologies for the lengthy delay in the release of Season 2 of and this episode is called… I’d like to blame production delays or a union strike or something else out of my control but really it’s just been the fact that I didn’t get around to finishing this for post for the past 5 months and it has sat 75% complete in my drafts the whole time. Life got busy with visitors, work, and more travels hand this always takes longer to write up and post pictures than I think! It was tempting to just leave it be and die a peaceful death in draft mode –but just hated being this close and not publishing it so I’ve got my act together and put this bad boy up.

It seems the ratings on Season 1 were satisfactory enough for the network to pick up the shows and so Season 2 picks up where Season 1 left off at the end of October 2009 and takes us through to the end of December 2009. If you don’t know what this all is referring to, I would encourage you to take a quick read of Season 1 and the explanation at the beginning of the post.

With no further delay, I present the episode guide to Season 2!

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Days filled with red, green, and blue  – November 1st -9th

Finally managing to get out of Dar es Salaam and see some more of the real Tanzania, Dan heads to the south of Tanzania to get a better understanding of MEDA TZ’s programs in the field. The dirt is bright red, the trees and bright green, and the sky is beautiful blue and goes on forever.

For a trip recap and photo tour – check out this earlier full episode post!

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The colours and faces in the crowd

Mama Kikwete and Me – November 4th

The work trip to Ruvuma results in Dan being present at a regional program launch where an accidental meeting with the first lady of Tanzania occurs. The awkward mzungu moments don’t stop there though as a case of a mistaken identity throws our hero into the forefront of the event. The prospect of a speech in a new language in front of several hundred people and the first lady? Hakuna matata. “Mambo vipi Madabe? Malaria Haikubaliki! Asantini sana”

For full episode recap and photos check out this earlier post! Update: This episode has now been published in the latest version of the MEDA Marketplace magazine! p.s. Does this  make me super-menno?

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How not to act out the word “Kinderpunch” – November 9th

Dan returns from his roadtrip (I heart 14 hr bus rides) to join a group of friends gathered at a apartment for a delicious dinner, and later, a game akin to charades and Taboo. The word “punch” is one of the words given to our German friend Michael to act out but the meaning is, well…lost in translation. Roll on the floor/pee your pants/so hard it hurts – kind of laughing ensues when Michael, to our delight, goes ahead repeatedly trying to act out the German Christmas morning “kinderpunch” scene but ends up in some compromising positions.

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The case of the mystery txt msgs from Celine Dion – November 1st, 9th, 13th…

This episode begins with the aforementioned Michael giving the your Canadian heroes a hard time about how we all must love listening to our #1 export to Tanzania, the music of Celine Dion. As Dan later enters a hotel far away in Songea later that week, the music of Celine fills the reception. A random urge to record the love song lyrics in a text message and send them to Michael is executed and repeated every time he hears Celine for the next few weeks or so. What he doesn’t realize is that back in Dar poor Michael didn’t have his phone number in his phone and so he’s convinced for the next few months he’s receiving love notes from a mystery woman. Near, far, whereevvvvverrr you are…

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Tuesdays with Morrie Nancy – Tuesday evenings, November 10th, 17th, …Dec 8th

Our heroes enrol in Kiswahili lessons in an effort to force themselves to keep learning since it can often be difficult to practice and learn living in Mzungu Paradise. The teacher is a kind middle-aged woman named Nancy, but she doesn’t know what she is in for with her three new students. With each passing week the homework and sentences made up in class get more and more ridiculous as they bring in the street slang Kiswahili learned from friends and their own immature humour into the particular lessons of that week. Maybe this is why our heroes still have horrible Kiswahili after months of living in Tanzania? Maybe, but it’s made for some outrageous things said in class, great laughs with Nancy, and turned our Tuesdays in the classroom with Nancy into something to look forward to.

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contemplating island life

Island. Music. Fever.   -November 13-15th

The weekend is filled with trips to the north beach and nearby island of Bongoyo for lots of sun, football, and exploring. Sunday night holds an amazing concert with some of Africa’s biggest music stars (Angelique Kidjo, Emmanuel Jal, and Youssou N’Dour) performing in Dar. And finally, a bad fever hits our hero. The doctor rules out malaria (so the “I survived malaria in East Africa – 2009” t-shirt order must be put on hold for now) but in a rather relaxed manner tells our hero that “it sure looks like H1N1 to me”. A bit of a scare but luckily it was not and our hero recovers quickly to continue the adventures of Season 2.

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hold yourself back

“so…are you here with the moustache guys or what?” – November 12th -17th

In honour of the great prostate cancer fundraising initiative Movember – and because it is awesome to have an excuse to grow gross facial hair – Jeremy and Dan shave their beards down to moustaches for a week. Most Tanzanian friends and co-workers just think we are actually trying to look good (we did look good. damn good.) and the joke factor of young guys rocking moustaches that exists in North America seems to get a little bit lost. A night out at the Alliance Francaise cultural centre (yes, we do visit such high-brow cultural institutions) provides the episode title when a random guy tries to pick-up our friend and asks the episode title question in disbelief.

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Lushoto viewpoints

The accidental Nachtwanderung–November 18th

Three characters head off for a weekend trip to visit the Usambara mountains in the Lushoto region north of Dar. Several hours and a few different buses on Friday afternoon/night takes the gang within a 30 minute drive of their final destination by 9pm and they arrange for a pick-up as all local buses have since stopped. Fast forward to 2:30am and the gang is hiking the last few km’s into Lushoto town in the pitch black of night after a few hours of stop and go car trouble. Beautiful hikes, chameleons, amazing farm fresh food, and Lion King-esque vistas will follow…as if those stars weren’t worth it already.

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Wake up to make-up – November 25th & 26th

It’s Friday morning, about 10ish and our hero sits at his desk when a horrific thought leaps into his mind…oh crap, did I remember to wash the make-up from last night off my face? The episode flashes back to explain how he got into this particular predicament the night before (and to keep our faithful viewers/readers from starting rumours). While having drinks after watching a comedian perform at the local community theatre, a make-up case is discovered left at our table by the previous occupants. Somehow it becomes a good idea to dress up Dan with eyeliner and lipstick (we are at a theatre after all people) and he spends the rest of the night with a painted face and a top hat. Luckily for him, the morning shower took care of what he forgot before showing up for work and he narrowly escapes having to give some awkward explanations to co-workers.

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I’m on a boat?– Nov 27th

There’s something about a hazy wake-up to find you are on the roof of a random wooden boat floating out in the warm waters off the white sand beaches of Zanzibar and watching the sun rise up and slowly light the clouds bright orange and pink …something about this that just provides the perfect ending to a night/starting to a new day. Hmm, can’t quite put my finger on what it would be – let me know if you figure it out.

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It’s the pirate juice that makes you dance on the bar – Nov 28th

The Zanzibar crew hire a boat to take them down the coast to a more tourist-oriented beach party than last night’s affair in nearby Kendwa Rocks. Why go by boat? – as our new waiter friend says “why not?” Excellent point and we have no counter-argument. As Kevin Garnett would say “anything is possible!”. Zach and Jeremy befriend a bartender and invent a new drink- pirate juice in honour of Zach’s Somali pirating compatriots. One part pirate poo, one part gold, one part sea water, and one part Konyagi – hold the pirate poo. More dancing, more craziness, and even a dance party on top of the bar.

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Mock awe of the roof top views of Dar harbour  from the Kempenski hotel

A rooftop tour of Dar es Salaam – Dec 1st

Our main characters meet up with friends for a celebratory drink and choose as the location the rooftop bar above Dar es Salaam’s fanciest hotel for it’s rumoured nice view. After a pricey drink or two and a nice but not amazing view over the harbour at night – we learn of the existence of another, higher up but slightly less “legal” rooftop viewing area to tour. Crawling through a broken glass window atop a office tower yields some very beautiful night time views of Dar – well, until security shows up.

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Poor BBQ never quite recovered

Somebody forgot to tell us it was a Wednesday night – Dec 2nd

Our heroes decide that it is time for them to use their apartment to host yet another bash with our friend Elvis in town for a visit and imminent departures. Their Mzungu Paradise apartment is the venue and they invite their Dar social circle over after work for a “make your own pizza” dinner and following party. Sounds innocent enough for a Wednesday night – but not with this group. The party goes late into the night and a particularly brave group heads out on the town but the problem is…bars often don’t really have closing times in Tanzania. Dan wapi? No worries, everyone makes it to work by 8!

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A different kind of German D-Day – Dec 3rd

This is one of those sad episodes where a major character gets written out of the plot by the producers. It’s sadly a often reoccurring theme over here in this ever-shifting Dar es Salaam community and this one is the first of many departure days. It’s Steffi’s last night in Tanzania and the group gathers for a last party at zee Germans place to bid farewell. Live swahili guitar playing and singing keeps the party going late and lots of goodbyes are said. Could perhaps our cast re-unite for one of those cheesy TV reunion special episodes where you find out what happened to all the main characters when they all grow up (like those Saved By the Bell spin-offs)? Only time and lots of peer pressure for Germans to come visit Canada will tell.

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Your friendly neighbourhood action hero – Dec 12th

Dan and Jer decide to take a mini-weekend trip to nearby Bagamoyo just an hour’s dalla-dalla ride north of Dar. As they negotiate prices outside the bus, your hero notices someone walking away with a phone just like his in hand. A quick check in his backpack and yep, its not there anymore so the suspect is tailed. He realizes it soon enough (I kind of stand out) and a full out chase is on through the winding alleys on the Mwenge neighbourhood. Good triumphs over evil and the walk back through the winding alleys gets some props from the residents who watched this unusual action based episode live from the pubs, shops, and homes. Thankfully, no thieves were mob-beaten in the making of this episode.

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hey True North strong and free, consider yourself stood on guard for.

The mission statement is..ummm…Miss Uganda? – Dec 15-18th

It’s MEDA Tanzania’s staff retreat and the Canadian trio is busy in the weeks heading up to the event with planning and logistics. In one of those, “Okay Zach, I will believe it when I see it with my own eyes…oh my, my.. its true…” kind of moments, we learn that the Miss East Africa 2009 competition is being held at our same hotel the duration of the retreat. A great retreat filled with days of powerpoints and group discussions and nights of beers with co-workers is capped with your heroes even singing a rousing version of O Canada at the staff Christmas party. I was never good at memorizing those organizational mission statements anyways.

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Up above the clouds on Mlima Kilimanjaro

It’s Kili Time – December 25th-30th

Tanzania is the land of Mt. Kilimanjaro and your hero likes adventures and high places. It’s a match that was meant to be and so the plan is hatched for a solo mission to the roof of Africa over the Christmas holidays. In one of the greater last minute decisions in history – a good friend from back home decides to move some work flights around to join the trek on less than two weeks notice. Climb mountains? Dan and Pavan start up the 5,895m of Uhuru Peak on Christmas morning and successfully summit to an almost full moon and sunrise 5 days later. Check out a full photo guide to the episode here on Flickr and photo summary here on the blog!

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What's up MTV Africaaaaaaa? Welcome to my crib.

Hello MTV Africa, welcome to my crib –- December 31st – January 3rd 2010

Out of the freezer and into the oven. Dan and Pavan make it down of their frozen mountain top perch in time to catch a flight taking them to meet up with the his sister and the rest of the group in the tropical heat of Zanzibar (Round III!) for new year celebrations. The group’s reservation at some beach bungalows are “lost” and they find themselves homeless with no free beds in the tiny village. Never fear, this is Tanzania and life seems to just work out. The group ends up making last minute random connections and renting a beach front villa for the 3 days resulting in the filming of the very first MTV Cribs – Africa episode.

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I realize that this still leaves me many, many months and episodes behind – but I am sad to say that I think this will be the last …and this episode is called post for this time here in TZ. I lost motivation awhile ago to try and keep track and write these up and so the series will have to end here with the end of 2009. I assure you, there have been a few noteworthy episodes in 2010 thus far and perhaps some will make it into some future posts – but most likely you’ll just have to hang out with me in person sometime to hear them. How unfortunate for you.

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