Friday, October 17, 2008
MOSHI - AN EXOTIC AFRICAN CITY
WOW!!! I have found a place that is really great. It's Moshi, in Tanzania. By Tanzanian and East African standards, it's a large city, at 200,000+ people. The skyline is dominated by Mt. Kilimanjaro, at 5895 meters, the “Roof of Africa”. But it's not Kili that I thrived on, it's Moshi's people. We were on Safari for five days so we didn't get a chance to meet (or even see) a lot of people. All of the animals were great and we will never again see the variety of game presented to us in that little of time. Avocet has blogged on this so please see her posts for her perspective. But here in Moshi I was bombarded by humanity. You walk down the street and see Africans who look at you with some curiosity. Little kids were especially inquisitive of Av and Si, (having seen white adults before but almost never having seen white children) sometimes gawking at them or even worse poking at them. Some school kids even pulled Siena's ponytail.
You see tailors by the hundreds sewing clothes on the sidewalks, their sewing machines spinning out shirts, dresses, suits for the people of Moshi. Most Westerners would probably agree with me that the ladies and gentlemen of Moshi out-dressed us, especially the women in their form fitting colorful dresses and wraps. Also present are watch repairmen, where I got a replacement battery for my Timex. Not in a jewelry store, but in a rolling cart. Avocet and I had our shoes washed by a person in a blue “Vodacom” vest. He always had a crowd around him and was always smiling. My shoes looked as good as when they first left the store after they were purchased. Shoe sellers lined the street with reconditioned and shined shoes as nice looking as most places in America. Here people sell used socks, washed and cleaned for the buying public. Most of these vendors are probably poor but seem to have a rich life in terms of the community of people always around to talk with.
The Moslem call to prayer blasted out of the speakers of the mosque. I thought the voice was just “too good” and that it had to be a tape. No way. From 5:00 AM until late in the evening, beautiful “real” voices sounded to tell the faithful of their need for prayer. People seemed to get along as women in head scarves talked readily to women without them. People were also friendly to us, a white Western family. We were never scared. We didn't venture out at night but that was at the behest of the owner of our hotel. We spoke to people on the street who looked at us, saying Jambo (hello) and Assante sana (thank you very much) when appropriate. I realized later on that when women didn't speak back, it was due to Islamic culture more than being unfriendly.
Moshi was mysterious and adventurous like in an Indiana Jones movie, with smells of Africa on the street and the constant activity of people going on about their daily life. I loved it.