it’s Tabora Time

[above: VIP lounge at Tabora Airport]

Tabora is a lovely city – one of my favorites – and starting to edge out Moshi as my favorite city in Tanzania. It’s got a decent-sized population of 250,000 people, but has a much mellower pace of life than Dar or Moshi. Because it’s off the beaten tourist path, we are among the very few non-Africans here and get a lot of attention. Thankfully it’s not the annoying tourism-type of harassment. It’s more of a curiosity and “Wow, a mzungu or mchina, I’ll try to say hello like we learned in English class.” People stare and express surprise or giggle at my existence. Sometimes they’ll straighten up like they’re in class (especially kids) and yell out (very formally) “Good evening, Madame!” It’s interesting to get this reaction for half a day, and then the attention gets tiresome. Being a freak is not that much fun (contrary to popular belief).

It was remarkable to arrive in Tabora after our car accident. Tabora is calm and soothing where Dar is all about the hustle. Immediately following the accident in Dar, I couldn’t see well because blood was gushing from my eyeglass-face-cuts, but I remember total chaos with a huge throng of people gathered around to stare at me and tell me to go to which clinic or hospital to get fixed up. A couple of Tanzanian women also came up close to Jenny and me and warned us to lock up the car, protect our belongings, and not trust anyone who wanted to bring us to a “hospital,” because it could end up a scam. At that time, all I could muster was “I don’t want to go to a hospital” (first thing out of my mouth) and “We gotta get out of here” (second thing out of my mouth).

Dar felt crazy and out-of-control. It is much nicer to recuperate in Tabora, where I really feel like I can be at ease. Adjusting to the slow pace of life can be challenging (try waiting two hours for food after placing your order when you’re hungry!), but ultimately it’s worthwhile to be in a place where people take the time to pay attention to each other.