Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Welcome to Arusha, Tanzania

Well, the flights were long- a total of 20 hours. I arrived in Tanzania very tired. Since I had never visited Europe or Africa, I enjoyed at least getting a bird's eye view of countries like England, the Netherlands, Greece, Egypt, Ethiopia , and landmarks like the English Channel, the Alps, the Mediterranean, the Nile, and much more. The layover in Amsterdam was short, but I hope to get in a short sightseeing excursion on the way home. 

After much worry about the flight, the luggage, and the pickup at the airport, everything went smoothly, and I arrived at Tumaini Cottages, a peaceful refuge on the outskirts of Arusha. The owners are very helpful and friendly, the rooms are very nice, and the gardens are beautiful- a perfect place to relax.

Today I used a driver to help run errands. I got a SIM card, exchanged money to Tanzanian shillings, met the owner of Shidolya Tours and Safaris and made my final payment, and picked up extra water for the trip. I also spent some time at the Maasai Market/Mt. Meru Shops. I looked around at what items were available, for later purchase. I expected a hard-sell, but the owners were welcoming and friendly, and encouraged without being pushy. I especially enjoyed seeing woodworkers demonstrating their craft. I did purchase one carving that was very unusual. I think I did well with the price haggling. 

The highlight of my day was a visit to Shanga Shangaa. As an ex- Special Education teacher, I was very impressed with this craft workshop for deaf and physically challenged individuals. For the most part, special needs individuals are not serviced well in Tanzania, but this place makes up for that. They have the workers doing glass blowing, metal work, weaving, and much more, using mostly recycled materials. They sell these in their shop, making it a self-sufficient enterprise. It is a model program that other places should emulate.

Well, tomorrow I am off to Tarangire, by way of the back roads, stopping at a local market- it should be fun!

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