On Our Way, continued: Packing for Western Tanzania

We are now about two hours away from landing in Dar es Salam.  It is now just shy of 6:00 am on Wednesday at home.  It is almost 2:00 in the afternoon in Dar es Salam and we have now eaten two breakfasts and two lunches since being picked up at our home 23 hours ago.

So what DO you pack for a trip to Western Tanzania (and we are not talking about an area normally visited by tourists.) 

The Kigoma area of Tanzania sits, in part, along the eastern edge of  Lake Tangayika, one of the deepest lakes in the world.  It also shares some borders with Burundi, which experienced civil war within the past 20 years, sending refugees across the border to Tanzania.  The roads in the area are mostly unpaved. A paved road is being built in the area, but it is not yet complete.   Most folks survive by subsistence farming.  Families are large; just as many hands were required to work American farms a century ago, Tanzanians see large families as a source of labor and security for their old age.

There is currently no power infrastructure in the Kasulu area, although one is in the process of being built.  The compound where we will be staying has a generator which is run for about 3 hours every evening.  The Bible College, where we will be doing some of our “checking up” has a generator and we have also installed solar power and batteries to run the internet café.  Also, the diocesan offices have 24 hour power from a next door NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) which rents land from the diocese.  Part of the rent is in the form of electricity for the offices.

There are no “land-line” telephones in the area.  The infrastructure, poles and wires, to support them has never been built.  But there IS cell service.  Boy, is there cell service!  Everyone has a cell phone.  Including us.  (But not our normal “home” cell phones.  Last time we checked, the rates for AT&T cell phone service in Tanzania was over $5.00 USD/minute and they have no international plan in Tanzania.)

As far as weather is concerned, there are two seasons:  dry,  when everything is coated in red dust, and rainy, when the roads all turn to mud.  We will be visiting during the rainy season.  The rainy season also means mosquitoes and with mosquitoes comes malaria.

So what do you pack for a two week stay in this environment?

Not too many clothes:  Cathy brought 5 or 6 T-shirts, one pair of pants (worn while traveling) 1 pair of capris and two reversible skirts.  A night shirt, lots of underwear and a couple of pairs of reefs sandals and she’s basically good to go.  (In the interests of full disclosure Cathy also brought some scarves to dress up my skirts for church, brought a second night shirt so the first could be laundered at some point and wore a REAL pair of shoes while traveling.  we also brought  ponchos and rain jackets.  This IS the rainy season.  For Bill, very similar:  4 or 5 pairs of cargo pants (some of which can become shorts), 5 or 6 shirts, lots of underwear and 4 or 5 pairs of socks.  Bill’s footwear of choice is sandals, even while traveling:  he just adds socks to his outfit.

What else?  Mosquito repellent, sun screen, a small first aid kit.  Any drugs you need on a daily basis or might need in case of emergency.  Toiletries.  Cathy, being female brought a supply of camping toilet tissue.  Electronics:  lap tops, cameras,  Bill brought his iPad, Cathy brought her kindle, fully charged with lots of  books to read.  Flashlights, all of which use AA or AAA batteries to keep the weight down.  A couple of old “unlocked” cell phones for which we will buy local sim chips once we are in Dar es Salam. Chargers for all of the above, along with plug converters as Tanzanian plugs are different than American plugs.

The composing of this post was interrupted by a serious need to take a nap.  We have now landed and are at the hotel.  The next post will cover our first night and day in Tanzania.

Comments are closed.