11.10.08

Africa Day 11: Dar, Home away from home

Posted in africa 2008, photos, travel at 4:06 am by wingerz

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Day 11: 3/25, before bedtime

Had a fantastic day in Dar, thanks a lot to Jen and Ellen’s planning. Dar is a lot less intimidating than the first time we passed through. Maybe we are getting more used to the environment. Have noticed the foreign influences on architecture. Overall no trouble from the locals, though some of them look seedy. I really like the idea of negotiating cab fare up front, then you know the driver is incented to get you to your destination quickly. Overall very enjoyable but totally packed day.

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The day starts at the local market, selling all sorts of goods, from shovels to scythes to pots to buckets to CRT TVs. The non-perishable goods are in an open 2-storied structure. On the way back we walk through the food market, which is starting to get busy. The smell of dried fish is especially pungent. Tomatoes and peppers are arranged in small pyramids.

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Next stop is the National Museum. Highlights include a biology section with humanoid skulls from all over the world (mostly Africa). They also have a women’s art exhibit with some beautiful wood carvings. One of the artists welcomes people into the exhibit, each of her works has a brief explanation of the meanings, which I enjoy reading.

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We see a packed carpool as we taxi between locations in the city.

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Lunch at Chef’s Pride. Goat stew is excellent. Fast, tasty, and cheap.

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We visit BRAC, a microfinance nonprofit based in Bangladesh. They only lend to women running small businesses who make less than 2000Tsh (less than $2USD) per day. Groups of women in the neighborhood work together to hold each other accountable for loan repayment. The focus is on sustainability for the borrowers and low overhead costs for the organization (about 10%).

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Stop by a crafts market on the way back. Bombarded by shop owners pushing their wares from the moment we step off the bus. Everywhere we turn – Welcome! Karibu! Is free to look! In the middle of the market, many people are hard at work producing wooden crafts; wary supervisors give us dirty looks. Some workers carve, many sand. Two gentlemen, on separate occasions, ask me for my shoes. One persistent salesman follows us to the bus.

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I go up to the 8th floor to take some pictures. People-watch for a bit – the rooftops come alive in the cooler evening. Two women sit on a swing; a mother and two children sit at a plastic table; someone is doing laundry.

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Eat dinner at a Thai restaurant, where we celebrate Panos’s birthday. The kitchen staff has a sense of humor, as the phallic banana split demonstrates.

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