Carrie in Africa | Signs of a different world
From the minute I set foot in the Dar es Salaam airport, I knew I had entered a different world. One that was not as convenient as the one I usually exist in. So now, three weeks in, I have started compiling a list of the little things that I will never take for granted again.
Toilet paper in public bathrooms – I would say that 50% of the time that I enter a public restroom, I walk into a room with a hole in the floor that you are meant to squat over. The other 50% of the time – where a toilet seat is actually available – has about a 46.7% chance of having toilet paper. I’ve stopped expecting it.
Shower Curtains –At least it makes for a clean floor. And a wet toilet seat.
High speed internet – Was there a dial-up modem slower than 14.4k? If there is, that is what Tanzania is using. One of those. For the entire country.
Traffic Lanes – Tanzania was colonized by the British. So they are meant to drive on the left side of the road. Which they do. Unless somebody else is driving slow in front of them. Or something else is in the way on the left side of the road. Or they feel like driving on the right side of the road. I’m considering a helmet.
If you look closely under the concrete, you will see a series of sticks holding the parking lot up.
Street Names/Addresses – This is the direction I give to the cabs that pick me up: “Drive towards Mwananyamala hospital, keep going past it for about 1 km and then turn right at the large pile of garbage on the street. Watch out for the chickens. My house is the white one on the left across from the mass of children pointing and yelling ‘Mzungu’”
2X4’s: I’m not really sure what these sticks are holding up here, but I am sure that it would be done differently in the US.
Cops with Inconspicuous Guns: I have been traveling around the borders of The Congo, Burundi and Rwanda for the past week. As we drive around from village to village, we often have to pass through road blocks manned by Tanzanian Police officers with giant guns. There is good reason for this. These bordering countries are not always stable. And there are refugee camps everywhere in this part of the country. However, being stopped by Africans with green uniforms and large weapons always conjures up some stereotypical fears about the continent in general.