Posts Tagged Tanzania

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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!

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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!

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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?

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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…

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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!

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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!

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Never say you’ll never end up in Mwanza rock city

It’s not as though at the time, sitting in my 4th year Business Policy class at Wilfrid Laurier University, I actually had the exact thought cross my mind, but I certainly didn’t think the opposite either.

I don’t imagine I will ever end up there…

We are watching a clip from the Oscar nominated documentary, Darwin’s Nightmare, and the clip is being shown in this particular class as we have been discussing some of the issues and problems that result from international trade and globalization. Hell, we all know our business schools could use a little more of this well rounded perspective so kudos to the prof on that point. On the screen, although I don’t know much about it at the time, is the city of Mwanza on the shores of Lake Victoria in Tanzania.

The symbol of Mwanza...the rock city

The movie isn’t exactly showing a flattering portrait of Mwanza or Tanzania (in fact, the documentary caused quite a bit of outrage here in Tanzania and even caused personal rebuttals from the president of Tanzania). It’s an examination of the introduction of the Nile Perch species to Lake Victoria and theorizes that the local population has benefited little from the globalization and has largely experienced only some negative affects such as imported of conflict arms and the continued spread of HIV while the expensive fish fillets are flown off to Europe. I think in the end both sides of the controversy are a bit correct – the Lake Region is a beautiful area and in the end the film did not do justice to the people, the natural beauty and likely hurt it even more through lower fish sales and tourism. That said, I have no doubt that many of the points the Director makes about how the effects of the global fish and arms trade have also negatively affected the local population. All this said, I only watched a piece of the documentary that year and still haven’t seen the whole thing so I will leave it up to you dear reader to watch the documentary and make your own judgement.

Caught the culprit in question

Just about 4 years after this I found myself arriving in Mwanza. It was this past Janaury and I was coming to the rural areas just outside of Mwanza urban to run a pilot of MEDA Tanzania’s new program the Universal Coverage Campaign (UCC). Sometime this spring, the Government of Tanzania’s Ministry of Health will launch this Global Fund to Fight Malaria, AIDS, and Tuberculosis funded campaign which will aim to provide a free Long Lasting Insecticide Treated bed net to cover every sleeping space across Tanzania. It’s a daunting task, to accurately coordinate the logistics of registering every household in the country and then procuring and distributing the bed nets in every single one of Tanzania’s estimated 12,500+ villages. Something like running an entire national census combined with organizing a distribution network in every village, hamlet and metropolis back home. Phew.

A UCC village healthworker registers sleeping spaces during the Mwanza pilot

Anyways, I am getting off track. Zach, Jer, and I were tasked with planning, organizing, and executing a small scale  launch of this UCC program to test out a number of our proposed policies, procedures, materials, and technologies. Very cool stuff and so after a month or so of planning we find ourselves arriving in Mwanza to go live with the pilot.

Mock volunteer training exercise tests the variables

I won’t bore you with too many of the details, but I think everyone felt it was a success all around and we learned lots of things which are now going to be implemented when the full program launches in the months ahead. It may be stating the obvious but…don’t try and launch a project of this magnitude without taking all of your ideas (which seemed to make complete sense sitting in the office) and trying them out in practice in the real world.

Not sure why this is here....just liked the photo I guess

In the end, it was a work trip and although we got to see some of Mwanza, take a little dip in Lake Victoria, and even eat some of those controversially delicious Nile Perch – I didn’t really get the opportunity to see if the side of Mwanza portrayed in Darwin’s Nightmare is out there as well.  Another time perhaps…

Colourful boats tied up but waiting to go on the Lake Victoria shoreline

I guess it’s not really that outrageous of a connection finding myself on the same shores that film depicted 4 years later.  But all I am trying to say is…. never say you’ll never end up in Mwanza rock city because one day, if you’re lucky, you might just find yourself there.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

An inevitably failed attempt to do justice to the beauty of northern Tanzania’s National Parks

Hello hello,

As mentioned in my earlier post How BIG is your Africa, I had a visit from my parents and sister in January and one of the definite highlights was visiting the world famous National Parks in northern Tanzania on a 3 and a half day safari. As you might now from reading this blog before, I’ve taken up the hobby of amateur photography since buying a DSLR camera last Christmas. It’s been a lot of fun and with some mixed results thus far but one thing for sure is that this time in Tanzania has been amazing for the learning process. The technical aspects of photography are still very much a work in progress.. good lighting, proper aperture, white balance, etc. need a lot of work and I’ve realized I don’t have much patience for a lot of this, at least not yet.  I’ve also realized that I truly don’t enjoy photographing people, especially here in TZ… I just have trouble shaking this touristy, exploitive feeling when I bring out the camera. If anyone has some good hints on people photography and this whole situation do share. While this inability to take out the camera for these moments has led to plenty of missed opportunities for great photographs which I know that I would love to have looking back years from now, I guess sometimes you just need to enjoy the moment for what it is and soak it up not worrying about capturing everything with the camera. What I have really enjoyed is the “eye” for composing the pictures and capturing the moments and spaces. Luckily, nature and wildlife don’t care too much about me snapping away so that has been the focus of my photography experimentation thus far. We shall see where it all goes – trying to do a little reading and learning on the more technical aspects and learn a little from the pros in books and online but for the most part I think I like keeping things pretty amateur and relaxed.

Anyways, enough of that on to the real show. I’ve decided to present some of my favourite shots from the safari and do my best to try and capture how really amazingly beautiful this part of the country is. I tried to pick a selection of some favourites for some more artsy photo reasons and others just cause of the animals/natural beauty and what not. I give a little background and reasoning with each selection as well- I hope it doesn’t come across wrong and I certainly may have no idea what I am talking about in some cases – but – the beauty of having my own blog is I am allowed this rambling so just play along.  As mentioned in the title, it’s going to be an inevitable failure as the pictures never seem to do the experience justice, but enjoy the attempt regardless and let me know what you think!

Cheers,

Dan

Long days on long dusty roads

This picture is from Lake Manyara NP. No animals in sight but I think it captured a lot of the safari experience…riding along the dirt roads and just enjoying the  bright blue sky and scenery around us. I also like how the dirt road curves through the shot and gives you the feeling you are on that road and going somewhere.

Babar, King of the Elephants

We came across this elephant in Lake Manyara standing right beside the road eating and he didn’t mind us sitting a few metres away watching.  Nothing too special about this picture, but I liked the timing of how the elephant is curling the trunk into his mouth and you can still see the grass.

and you thought you could hide from the zoom lens

This picture is also from Lake Manyara NP and happened right at dusk as we were on our way out of the park and suddenly came across two lioness’ in the bush. It was a tricky shot requiring some serious steady hands as the low light and full telephoto zoom to get this close. Despite a bit of blur, I liked how it turned out in the end though as the bushes framing the shot give you the feeling you are peering through just as we were and the lioness stares right back.

Serengeti scratching post

I have to say that I think this was my favourite photo from the trip in the end. It features the young elephant at a fun moment as he used the yellow barked acacia tree as a scratching post for an itchy trunk as its focal point. The reason that I like it most is how it captures the feeling of the Serengeti. The wide open grass lands, the “yellow fever tree” acacia trees, the huge colourful sky. The small size of the elephant in the frame helps you to feel the size of the place. It looks better blown up to full size but this will have to do.

Mufasa looks up from an afternoon nap

This photo was taken shortly after we entered the Serengeti. We ended up seeing lots close to 30 something lions by the end of the trip but this one was a bit more special because we were the only ones to find him going off on a side path and managing to spot him lying in the grass while other vehicles drove on by. The downside of the national parks in northern Tanzania is their popularity leads to some pretty big crowds during tourist seasons so a more intimate encounter such as this made it all the better. Not too much special about the photo itself, but everyone likes to see the famous bushy lion mane so I figured I should post it.

Sunrise in over the Serengeti

I really enjoyed how this sunrise picture came out. The low level of exposure makes some nice outlines of the trees and woodlands as you really don’t need to see any detail here and it helps give the sunrise some perspective. The brightness and colour of the just -risen sun poking through the branches of the acacia tree is pretty powerful. A whole new day…..

Total gridlock..

An early morning game drive which started with the sunrise above brought us to this scene. What I like about this photo is how there are so many things competing for your attention. Maybe you first see the baboon family crossing the road, then your eyes fall to see the two male Impalas (I think?) locking horns in a rutting ritual for females attention, then, holy crap, there is a giraffe in there as well just grabbing some breakfast. Maybe that’s not traditionally good to have many things competing in a picture but I like the effect here to show the wildlife variety and density.

A family affair

This pride of tree climbing lioness’ and cubs was a fun group to watch as the older ones competed for the prime branch lounging spots and the young cubs scrambled around. Again, nothing super special about the photo but it was very cool to see so many of them all together and to sit and watch them interact. I recall it took a bit of waiting for them to all get within the same frame to grab this shot.

You'll never walk alone

This is in the Serengeti again and was taken just after we saw a herd of elephants numbering 50 something make their way across the plains. For some reason this one decided to strike out on their own in another direction away from the group. It was in stark contrast to the rest of the huge group and luckily for me it was walking away right into some beautiful evening lighting and colours in the sky.

Guess the animal, win a prize

Took lots of pictures of those crazy striped zebras on this trip but this one ended up being my favourite. I guess it just provides a different angle to see those unique stripes and you don’t need to see any more of the animal to know exactly what it is because of its famous feature. It’s cool to see the hide/hair so close up but I wish I could have gotten a bit closer or gotten a lower angle so that the entire frame would be filled with stripes instead of the little empty spot now there.

Pink Haze

This photo is taken from the floor of the world famous Ngorogoro Crater and shows the soda lake that covers a good portion of the crater floor in the backround. There was a big flock of flamingos on the lake and in a sudden moment they rose from the lake and took to the air in a haze of pink. Unfortunately, this photo isn’t able to capture the size of the flock flying as you need to be in this close to see the actual birds and I don’t think the pictures with the wider perspective capture that.

The green in the hills and valleys remind me Ireland a bit

This photo was take inside the Ngorogoro Conservation area but outside of the actual crater. There are Masaai villages still allowed to stay in the area and there were herds of cattle grazing in this valley. What really jumped out to me was how green everything was. The picture is framed with thatch tops of the Masaai huts on the bottom of the photo kind of as if to say…this is what someone sees everyday when they wake up in the morning.

park16

This photo is a part of a number of shots to make up a 360 degree view of the crater rim from the floor. I was trying to show how huge and blue the sky appears and the streaking wispy clouds make it seem even bigger. I think it does an alright job of capturing the feeling from the bottom of the crater.

Well, that’s it for now folks. I hope you enjoyed and got a sense of being there yourself. Stay tuned for another favourite photos tour in the weeks ahead. As they say on the beaches of Kigamboni, peace and love.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger”… an account of the 2010 golden goal from Tanzania.

Canada, never in my life before have I so badly wanted to your lukewarm Molson Canadian beer spilled all over me while in the midst of the hugs and chaos of a rowdy national celebration. I had a different experience with the golden goal here in Dar es Salaam, but it had the same effect…going to bed that night feeling so proud. Let me tell you how it went down in Dar…

There's no place like home, there's no place like home

Gord Downie of the unapologetically Canadian band Tragically Hip perfectly captured the “where where you when Paul Henderson scored the goal…” moment that defined a generation of hockey fans and Canadians who were old enough to witness the 1972 Summit Series. The song Fireworks by the Tragically Hip from which the lyrics of this blog post title are taken is a bit more of a love song than a hockey song but it’s the way those time period references capture Henderson’s series winning goal that I always loved.  Now we have our new golden goal moment thanks to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics but I think the hockey verses above still ring true for what went down Sunday afternoon. Pamoja Canada.

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania we three Canadians roommates gathered and even invited some American friends to come along just because a little competitive rivalry makes any game a bit more fun to watch. With the 11 hour time difference to Vancouver it made it difficult to see any of the 2010 Games live so we weren’t guaranteed we could find it but I’d seen some Olympic highlights on the satellite feeds in Dar es Salaam’s Irish Pub so that was our best bet. At 11:15pm local time (no need to arrive at the pub 4 hours early like the stories I hear from Canada) we rushed into the Irish Pub and searched in vain through the channels for the game. Alas, DST satellite here in Africa didn’t get the NBC feed (desperate times call for desperate measures… you can always watch the game on mute I suppose). We stuck around awhile watching when some highlights came on in hopes they would show updates from the game but no luck. Phone calls home and text messages provided the updates…1-0 Canada!, 2-0 Canada, USA scores..2-1 Canada….at 1am the highlights show is done and we decide to head home to try to follow score updates online.

An expletive laden SMS comes through informing us of the USA’s tying goal in the final minute. It’s going to overtime in the Olympic gold medal game and here we are hitting the refresh button on a website. There are the people and things that I miss very much over here, but I’m not generally someone who gets homesick easily. That said, I really, really wished I was back home to be a part of this. Our internet connection via a USB stick is slow and can’t handle a lot of the crazy graphics, advertisements, game trackers, and videos on the official site so we use some other website but the updates still come through slow and the screen doesn’t tell us what is happening…only 2-2 in overtime every refresh.

Then there’s a ping of a new SMS message and we know something has happened. The screen refreshes and we see 3-2 Canada but I don’t really react until Jer reads out the text seconds later…CROSBY IS GOLDEN. CANADA WINS.

...I think this means we just won gold

The beer spilled in the up and down jumping at the moment of joy was missing as was the sounds of car horns erupting in the streets around us. There were no random strangers to hug in joy and no crazy costumes or flags to run out into the street waving. Just some fist pumps and sighs of relief before heading off to bed. All in all, it was still cool to be a part of it, although not the way I would have wanted, but in our own forced and unique way.

I read this article the next day on TSN saying that the game was the most watched television event in Canadian history. No real surprise there, but it was estimated that 80% of the country watched some part of the gold medal game! That is a pretty mind boggling percentage, I mean we can’t manage to get a 60% turnout our federal elections; to pull 80% of a nations population together for one event speaks volumes about how Canadians rallied together around these Olympic games and around this hockey team. I would be interested to find out if there has been any other sporting event in the world that has ever garnered such a high national participation rate…(I know it was a game that people watched on tv, so perhaps participation is a strong word, but I have no doubt that everyone who was there watching felt a part of that game and so the passive watched or viewed is perhaps an equally inadequate way to describe it).

“If there’s a goal that everyone remembers, it was back in ol’ 72

We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger

and all I remember is sitting beside you”


When Sidney Crosby yelled for the puck and took that give and go pass from Iginla out of the corner, he had a whole nation that was calling for the puck with him. When he felt it hit his stick, we all squeezed the stick and when he released the shot, he had 26.5 million Canadians pulling that trigger. I read afterwards that Crosby said he just shot the puck before he had a chance to even look up. It doesn’t surprise me that it went in. He had the whole country watching and willing that puck into the net.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Red. Green. Blue.

Well this post is running about three weeks behind schedule and the actual events since I returned from my U5CC issuing trip on November 9th – but hey, better late than never I guess.

It was a real cool trip and definitely lived up to my expectations. It was also a bloody lot of driving. It was just over 1000 km each way from Dar es Salaam to the city of Songea where I was based. Including all of the driving we did on each day and the amount of the province of Ruvuma that I saw over my 9 days there I could easily add another 500-1000 km onto that. This puts me around a third of the way across the Trans-Canada Highway to put things into perspective and I can assure you that the roads were nowhere near as smooth.

The other main thing that stuck out to me has to be the colours in this part of the country and hence the title of this blog post. Honestly, it was like someone had taken the Colour and Highlights tuners on a television set and cranked them up way too high and I was looking at the world through this RGB colour-distorted viewfinder. At almost all times I can think of one or more of these three colours was dominating the landscape.

Somebody please turn down the RGB

Green. The rain seemed to fall a bit more regularly here in the Southern Highlands than elsewhere in the country that I had visited and this was most evident in the many bright shades of green foliage found everywhere as pictured above.

Red. The soil in Ruvuma was unbelievably bright red – everywhere I looked had some sign of the bright red dirt. The soil is also used to make the brick and mud for many of the buildings which results in the same neon reddish-brownish-orange tone in the majority of the buildings. It’s also fairly dusty the city of Songea (where I spent much of my time) and on the country roads. This results in pretty much everything else (including all my clothes and the aforementioned dusty feet) being covered by a coating of this colour.

You can see the red soil in the region from high above in google maps!

Blue: The colour blue also holds a dominant place in the memories from this trip. Maybe it was just being out of the city and (relatively) tall buildings, but the sky seemed enormous here. Blue is also the colour of the mosquito nets being distributed as you will see in some photos below so this played a pretty major role in my days.

Observations and a few things I learned:

  • This is U5CC Campaign MEDA is running is a huge operation. It really blew my mind to think that I was witnessing this mass distribution of free Long-Lasting Insecticide Nets (LLINs) in action in just a small handful of issuing points at the village level and imagine this happening across the country. To give you a better idea.. there were about 1-4 issuing points in each village. There are about 5-8 villages/streets in each Ward. There are about 10-20 Wards in each District. There are 133 districts across the 21 Regions of mainland Tanzania that the U5CC covers. To efficiently plan, organize, and distribute close to 7 million of these LLIN’s to a population so spread out across the country and hard to reach is just an amazing logistical achievement.

4 of the 7 million LLIN nets distributed through the U5CC program

  • This guy can be a scary thing too little kids in areas where mzungu’s don’t often tread. I had it mentioned to me by parents in a few situations where I made kids run away or cry that I was probably the first white person that their kid had seen. I was honoured.

Would you just look at the pure fear in those big brown eyes...

  • The real work is getting done in the field. These are the troops on the ground and the staff that really know what is happening with the program. Just from being in the field for a week and a half I was quick to realize a number of misconceptions that I had been operating under while working away at HQ and areas where communication can really be improved. It’s a pretty basic observation I guess – but one that should always be kept in mind in any job and any organization – if you want to know what’s really happening be sure to keep in open communication with the front lines.

Line-up for nets at a Issuing point in the city of Mbinga

  • I really don’t know much swahili yet. I had felt like I was making some steady but slow progress while in the safe confines of our swahili lessons, english speaking work, and the big city of Dar. Going out to Ruvuma where there is very, very little english spoken and not much of an effort made to accomodate the english speaker – you realize just how little you really do know.

A LLIN from the U5CC program in use

  • I would be much more effective if I did know the language. It was a great trip and I accomplished everything that I had hoped coming into it. I observed the program in action, took notes, asked questions, interviewed stakeholders, and snapped lots of good pictures for future promotional use – BUT I did really feel quite helpless and useless a good portion of the time as I sat there lost in a verbal sea of swahili… managing to pick out and understand only every 4th or 5th word. If nothing else it was very motivating to try and speed up my learning (Editors note: I’ve been back for 3 weeks and this has not yet happened).

And now for a small sample of the 500+ pictures that I took on the trip…

Tea fields at sunset on the road down south

Goofing around for the camera in Songea

Fish from Lake Nyasa drying in the sun with Tanzanian coast in the background

Looking down a fish drying rack to the world's 8th largest lake

Children on wooden canoe with Lake Nyasa/Malawi in the background

A recent mother laughs at my request for her to model her recently collected mosquito net

Waiting in line with registration card

The Tanzanian way of life is full of colour whether kangas, flip-flops, or dirt.

Learning to carry things on her head early

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

I will aim to have Part II of my posts from this field trip up soon which will tell you a story about one particular afternoon of my time down in Ruvuma.  What happens when Dan meets the First Lady of Tanzania? A new episode in detail called “Mama Kikwete and Me”.  Stay tuned.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,