Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Contrasts Continue

No flies. No dust. No smells of goats and cows competing with overripe bananas and dried fish. The air was frigid and frost could be seen on boxes. But in Karatue, we don't buy frozen because we have no freezer ... no fridge for that matter.

This Dar es Salaam mall was surreal. Think Kirkland's The Limited, Target, Kroger and Ewards Theater under one roof and you've got the picture. Add in the wandering teenaged boys and overdressed young women and you've got a shot ready to print.

But ather 12 hours there and 12 hours back, I can assure you that's not the whole of Tanzania. In fact, it's merely a corner.

Sure Karatu, where I live, has grand lodges with $35 buffets but to get to any of them is a roller coaster ride down mud paths any American would consider a closed road. And even when you arrive the subdued lighting is your first hint that this is not a Hilton-neon lights-screaming for attention. Quiet welcomes. Quiet spaces with lots of dark wood and batiks on the walls. That's the high life in Karatu -- for tourists with several hundred to spend a night.

For the majority of the town, an after dinner drink is a Serengeti beer at a mostly oudoor bar and grill. Sitting in a plastic chair postioned to see the nightly entertainment happening along the darkened streets(remember no street lights) . Maybe a TV is blaring. Maybe not. The food will be simple -stew meat, rice and greens. And the Swahili will flow.

I like the night life. I love the city. But I'm glad that for a few weeks, Karatu is where I call home.

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