Mary Roberg, June 15, 2014, Tanzania

Day 1 of our Tanzanian Adventure: Our Tanzanian adventure began in Dar Es Salaam whichis the commercial capital and largest city of Tanzania and it was formerly known as Mzizima meaning healthy town. In 1961, Dar became the capital of newly independent Tanzania, and while it is still the largest city in the country, in 1973 the government changed the capital to the more centrally located Dodoma better serve the Tanzanian people. While it is the most metropolitan of all cities in Tanzania, it was vastly different from what we would think of urban city in America.

After 22+ hours of traveling for all of us, we enjoyed a meal at the Tiffany Diamond Hotel’s restaurant and then promptly went to bed to get some rest. Today we traveled from urban Dar Es Salaam to rural Morogoro, approximately a 5 hour drive east from Dar Es Salaam. The scenery dramatically changed once we got outside of Dar’s extremely crowded, loud streets. In the city, there were people and traffic everywhere with almost no plants or animals at all. Once outside the city limits, the scenery changed to tall grasses, thick trees and intermittent herds of cattle and goats with some chickens here and there.  We would travel through smaller villages along the way and in each village at least on person (and multiple children) would wave at us as we drove through.

As we were getting closer to Morogoro, we could see mountain ranges in the distance and the landscape became even more beautiful.  Morogoro lies at the base of the Uluguru mountains and it wasn’t until we drove onto the Arc Hotel grounds that we knew we’d be surrounded by this mountain range for the next week! The view from our room is simply amazing. We were greeted at the Arc Hotel with friendly faces and everyone has been incredibly welcoming. We meet Shedrick who runs the gift shop in the front the hotel with lots of beautiful wood carving, paintings and jewelry. The wood carving are made from ebony wood with its two toned light and dark wood pigments which make for some incredible pieces of art. He also was selling various paintings including Tinga Tinga paintings. Shedrick and Dr. Hoenig informed us that TInga Tinga is very popular in East Africa and in major cities like Dar Es Salaam, there are entire art markets entirely just for Tinga Tinga. It is painting style that developed in the second half of the 20th century that originated with artists in Dar Es Salaam and continued to spread to several East African countries. The style incorporates brilliant colors and cartoonish representation of African wildlife.

The Arc Hotel in Morogoro

The Arc Hotel in Morogoro

After we settled in, we had a few hours to explore the area and get settled in before dinner. After spending so much time sitting on planes and then traveling 5 hours today, we all decided we needed a little exercise too. There was a small field on the hotel grounds so we decided to work out there and within 15 minutes, acquired quite a crown of on lookers probably wondering what these crazy Americans were doing! Afterwards we cleaned up and enjoyed a delicious meal at the Arc Hotel, trying a variety of traditional and foreign dishes and already planning what we’d like to try the rest of the week.   I’m very much looking forward to starting surgeries tomorrow and meeting the people in the villages we’re visiting. These first 24 hours have offered such unique experiences already that I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip will hold for us!