New Blog!

If you've enjoyed reading about my experiences in Tanzania here, check out the new blog I've started on Wordpress as of November, 2017. It's called "Back to Tanzania" and you can read it here. All new adventures in Tanzania from an older, wiser, more experienced expat.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dancing at the Karibu Fair - Toto, We're Not in Montana Anymore

OK, I'm being nerdy again. My title for this post is a pun on Ivan Doig's novel, "Dancing at the Rascal Fair," set in Montana and rife with historic Forest Service references.

Sunday, I spent the day at the Karibu Fair with my English friend, Anna and my Tanzanian friend Joyce, whose ages added together just equal my age. Joyce is the daughter of my Swahili teacher, and she's promised me that she will not report back to him on how badly I speak Swahili when we're having fun together! I really enjoyed their company and being out and about and entertained.

 Anna and Joyce

"Karibu" is Swahili for "welcome."  The fair is an annual tour industry exhibition, with displays by safari companies and lodges and beach resorts. It's a lot like being in the business exhibition section of a state fair, except for the details... this Maasai dance presented next to the food court.

Many Maasai live in or spend time in Arusha. Many, including Joyce, wear Western clothes and I only know they're Maasai if they tell me. But many wear these traditional "shuka," or robes, and sandals made from tire tread.

The Men

The Ladies

By way of context...notice the white exhibition tents, the pink cell phone company kiosk, and the big old satellite dish

Also on offer, camel rides for the kids.

We all gathered quite a collection of glossy brochures from resorts that look lovely that we really can't afford to stay at. At least Anna works for Restoration Safaris (she arranged my trip to Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks), so she actually might book clients to these places. After we'd been there a couple of hours, we started spending a longer time lounging in the booths that had set up comfortable seating areas and offered snacks and coffee. We also enjoyed several displays of beautiful jewelry and interesting, handmade wooden furniture which we also couldn't afford. Funny enough, the furniture displays were not the ones with the comfortable seating areas.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the clothes you donate to Desert Industries or the Salvation Army or your church? A bunch of them end up in Tanzania; there's a thriving market for second-hand clothes and shoes and sheets and towels here. I saw this Tanzanian in the crowd at the fair...

That's Ketchum, Idaho, and it's a souvenir t-shirt of the type sold to firefighters at wildland fires

I see so many commemorative t-shirts from America here that are wildly out of context. I'd love to do a photography project to show them. One chapter of universities, one chapter of fun runs, one chapter of summer camps...and now a chapter of wildfires. But I'll need to improve my Swahili first, since many people here don't like strangers taking pictures of them. Unless I get all the pictures by secretly stalking my subjects, just like I stalked this man!

And one more name that sounds odd to English-speakers. K2 arranged for a taxi-driver friend of his to drive us to and from the fair, and his name was Double Roho, meaning either Double Spirit or Two Hearts. Although maybe this name doesn't count in the list, because it's a nickname, and also because Joyce, a Tanzanian, also thought it was a really strange name.

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