Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Morning came a bit too early for our jetlagged bodies.  We had not gotten enough sleep, but we were so eager to get out into the town that we cranked into action anyway.  We had breakfast at our hotel then found a driver to take us to the university.  We traveled some of the same roads that we had driven last night with Tim, but we saw an entirely different landscape. 
All of Moshi seemed to be wide awake by 6:00 a.m.  Many, including us, awoke at 5:00 due to the prayers broadcast from a nearby mosque. The mosque takes over the roosters’ job, meaning that even though roosters are all around us, they didn’t start their crowing until about two hours after the loudspeaker opened up the day in the city.  (They even seemed to skip the sunrise, though maybe we just weren’t paying attention.)  The streets were humming with people, mostly on foot but some in cars.  Whoever was in a car was honking the horn, as car horns seem to be a primary tool of communication here.  Strangely, the honking becomes part of the environment pretty quickly and does not remain an annoyance despite its constant presence. 

The bus stop was buzzing all day long and cars zoomed in every direction.   But mostly, people were on foot – often barefoot – trying to get from place to place.  We actually see quite a few people (only women?) carrying huge loads on top of their heads, sometimes buckets of water, sometimes a huge bunch of bananas, sometimes stacked furniture.  We see bikes and motorbikes here too, but mostly pedestrians.  There are lots of paved roads here in Moshi, but lots of (red) dirt roads too; they connect awkwardly at some points, making it really hard to walk around at night without losing your footing every once in awhile. 

Our driver took us up the hill to Mwenge University so that we could connect with an international conference about building new partnerships between the West, Tanzania, and Uganda.  At the conference we met university professors, primary and secondary school teachers, and volunteers from Tanzania, Uganda, Europe, and North America.  The local conferees were particularly excited because both the regional bishop of the Catholic Church and Tanzania’s Deputy Minister of Education had agreed to appear at the conference today. 

We spent the day mingling with this impressive group of individuals and in the meantime learned quite a bit about the state of education in Tanzania today.  The schools here typically sprang up out of communities or churches and there was little consistency about style, content, standards, or anything else for most of the history of the country.  One thing that appears to be consistent across all of the various schools that emerged was that corporal punishment (caning/beating) was (and still is?) the primary mode of establishing discipline in schools and classrooms.  Though such beatings have led to obedience among the pupils of the schools, they have also led students to dread and resent school, which, of course, makes it difficult to hep them learn.  Thus, conferences like this one are making serious attempts to establish what the Tanzanian approach to education will be now and in the future.

After the conference we returned into “Moshi town” (the center) and wandered around to get a feel for the place.  The streets were hopping and lots of people wanted to sell us safari trips or taxi rides around the area.  We expect to take a very short safari on Saturday before we fly back to California.  We’ll keep you posted . . .

The misty fog at sunrise rises over the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

One of our favorite new flowers is on the purple tree here: jacaranda.

Our neighbor has quite a collection of goodies in his yard.

Some of our neighbors process pineapples to sell from a street cart.


Sugar cane is another common crop here.

Huge termite hills line the landscape all around Moshi.

Shane was so fixated on the picture he was taking that he didn't notice the air freshener in his way.

The lovely conference center where we met today.

The local bishop (above) and the Deputy Minister of Education (below)


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