My friend, David (who I talked with about math and evolution on previous blogs; links are below.) went on a backpacking trip in Africa recently. This is his story of the experience of other cultures.
This is the second blog in this series. Here is the link for the first one:
May 24, Snake Farm:
Day 4 in Tanzania. Today was the first day went out to do activities. We went to the snake farm where they develop antivenom for different species. Unlike the other day, we took a personal taxi to get there while we listened to cultural music on the radio. Upon arrival, we had a tour of the place, where we saw different local animals. It was like a zoo. Our guide was also informing us about the different creatures behind the fences. We got a chance to handle some snakes, and take pictures with a turtle.
We also got a chance to see the Massai goat market a few steps away, where the local tribespeople purchase goats. Apart from the camel rides they were offering, there wasn’t much to see. Just tribesmen in their typical local attire walking back and forth through the crowd over the dusty open space, some carrying goats. The camels didn’t seem to like Sarah Bell because the one we were riding tried to bite her while she was on the front one with Kelly.
The women at the site near the entrance also insisted that we check out their huts where they sold hand crafted art. The structures were typical mud huts with straw roofs. The insides were dark and small, filled with items like souvenirs, instruments, and even clothing. I purchased a small black elephant as a souvenir that caught my attention. Some of the girls in the group were trying out local cultural wedding dresses that the sellers were insisting they should try on.
Later in the evening, back at the Greenhouse, a few of us decided to go out for a walk into town to see whatever we’d see.
The sunlight had started to pick up. We saw some children playing hopscotch and decided to join them for a bit to exchange some greetings. As the girls in our group played with them for a little bit, they seemed to shy away in curiosity at the oddity of our behaviour and appearances. As the sun kept us hot as we continued to walk, we decided to pass by a local bar and order up a round of shots of whatever the bar had to offer. Explaining to the lady exactly what it was that we wanted proved to be difficult, since the locals there don’t have the same concept of liquor shots that we do. A local man who spoke some some English ended up helping us out with the odd requests of our group. The lady seemed confused and mildly annoyed at the whole experience, but ended up serving us a liquor bottle and one empty glass for everyone. This is where we first discovered Konyagi, the Tanzanian drink we would become familiar with.
As we clanged our cups together in cheers and drank up after a long struggle of miscommunication, some of the locals were fascinated by our odd behaviour. They preceded to join us in taking pictures of us with their own phones, presumably for other reasons than our own. The whole experience seemed to be obviously out of place and peculiar to the Tanzanians.
Later in the evening, we all got together to throw a surprise birthday dinner for Joseph; the young guy who worked at the hostel. Apparently, the custom here is to give gifts to your mother on your birthday. Not the other way around. We all spent the evening having drinks, mingling, and eating a delicious dish of mashed potatoes and vegetables. I’ll pass on the meat, thank you.
…To Be Continued…