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April 24, 2007

I hate being a tourist

So, I tried to take a break from cross-pollinating for a day or two to take in some of Tanzania’s magical places: Ngorongoro Crater (next to the Serengeti) and Mt. Kilimanjaro.

While I knew that to visit these places would cost a lot of money (beyond my budget), I thought that I could somehow hitchhike in or find a back door or something. Well, I ended up spending a few very frustrating days getting close to the parks but not actually inside (photo is of the village where I got stuck). I just couldn’t justify spending hundreds of dollars on a few days of game park visits, especially knowing that most of the money was going to the wrong places. I was surrounded by money-hungry men seeing me as their latest catch – another “rich American” tourist to make money from. I tried to explain that yes, I’m American and comparably have wealth and privilege, but I actually don’t have much money and I am not a normal tourist… I am living on $10 a day and staying with communities, not resorts, and trying to solve the problems of the world… but they didn’t hear any of it. To them, I was just another tourist. For days I tried to have a more human-to-human relationship with various people in Arusha (the jumping off point for the game parks) but it just didn’t happen… I got put into the tourist role every time. And I HATE BEING A TOURIST!!!! I want to just be another human on this earth!!!!! I guess it’s nice, though, that I haven’t really been a tourist so far…

But, I’ve been in Africa for four months and haven’t experienced the great African wilderness or seen the big exciting animals… oh well, maybe when I’m 60.

In the next town over, next to Mt. Kilimanjaro, I found a little more success. When I found out that it costs $60 per day just to get into the Mt. Kilimanjaro park (WHY ISN’T NATURE’S ABUNDANCE AVAILABLE TO US ALL??), I asked around for possible day hikes near the mountain, or on the lower slopes. Luckily, I met a nice guy who showed me a back door into the park… so I spent a wonderful day with my new friend Roy exploring an infrequently-visited mountain village on the slopes of the great mountan. It was super.

(note, the black dot on my right cheek are the stitches from a biopsy I had… I got a yucky skin infection… but now I’m better)

By the way, if there is anywhere in the world where I belong, it’s a mountain village. Definitely home.

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