Friday afternoon in Dar. I thought I'd fire off a post before I leave for my webless weekend.
A bunch of us went out last night to a cool event called Dar Alive, a weekly live-music series that takes place at this beautiful beach bar on the bay. I got some pictures but haven't uploaded them yet -- will do later. Last night they had three supposedly-famous jazz musicians from the US and the Netherlands, who performed with local artists in a 9- or 10-artist ensemble, right on the beach. A few local poets read their works (English, not Swahili) while the artists played background music behind them. I'm not really a jazz person, but the whole show was pretty good. Anything's fun when you can drink beers while standing barefoot on the beach.
Dar Alive kinda got me in the mood for Tanzanian music, which, I'm discovering, is excellent. Tanzanian music encompasses a lot of musical styles: traditional, R&B, rap and calypso-ish music. One of my co-workers, Dave, gave me a few hundred songs this morning from his collection, so I'm set for a while. I'll post some favorites next week so you can sample the good stuff.
I have some good plans for the weekend: tomorrow, a few of us are going to Bongoyo, a small beach island just North of Dar (not as far as Zanzibar -- it's more of a local place). On Sunday, I'm flying to Mwanza then driving to Bunda, a small district capital in the cotton-growing zone. I'm going to spend about a week with the farmers learning about their business. I'm looking forward to getting out in the field and seeing how cotton works. We're about five months from harvesting so the farmers will be hard at work.
I hope I can use my time in the North to go on a weekend mini-safari, since the area around Bunda is also home to Tanzania's two most famous national parks: Ngorongoro and Serengeti NP. These reserves are the incredible places you imagine from seeing safaris in the movies / watching the Lion King. They're packed with elephants, giraffes, hippos, wildebeast, and monkeys. Also, some of the herds are apparently in migration season right now, so millions (literally) of herd animals are moving along the Grumeti river. Safaris aren't cheap (I'm not even sure I can make it happen) but if I'm already nearby, it seems sad to miss out on the chance to see giraffes, elephants and other hard-to-spot beasts. I'll pack my white safari-esque hat just in case.
And speaking of rare creatures: the postcard is a dying breed. Too bad, because everyone likes to get them. So, limited-time offer: if you want a postcard from yours truly, write your address in a comment to this post and I'll get on it.