2006.07.05: July 5, 2006: Headlines: COS - Tanzania: Greensboro News & Record: Doug Clarke writes: For two weeks, we shared the life of my older son, Andrew Clarke, a Peace Corps volunteer working near Mwanza on the southern shore of Lake Victoria

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tanzania: Peace Corps Tanzania: The Peace Corps in Tanzania: 2006.07.05: July 5, 2006: Headlines: COS - Tanzania: Greensboro News & Record: Doug Clarke writes: For two weeks, we shared the life of my older son, Andrew Clarke, a Peace Corps volunteer working near Mwanza on the southern shore of Lake Victoria

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-245-111-210.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - 70.245.111.210) on Monday, July 17, 2006 - 8:59 am: Edit Post

Doug Clarke writes: For two weeks, we shared the life of my older son, Andrew Clarke, a Peace Corps volunteer working near Mwanza on the southern shore of Lake Victoria

Doug Clarke writes: For two weeks, we shared the life of my older son, Andrew Clarke, a Peace Corps volunteer working near Mwanza on the southern shore of Lake Victoria

Kenny and I tasted, touched and smelled something of the real Africa that Andrew is coming to know, but how well did we understand it? As the sun rose over Ngorongoro that bracing morning, and then thick clouds rolled across the spectacular highlands and plunged into the crater, it literally dawned on me: What I thought I saw clear and bright remained as distant from my comprehension as the stars now out of sight above.

Doug Clarke writes: For two weeks, we shared the life of my older son, Andrew Clarke, a Peace Corps volunteer working near Mwanza on the southern shore of Lake Victoria

Africa: up close and still very distant

Jul 5, 2006

Greensboro News & Record

Caption: Sunrise on Lake Victoria

The starriest sky I ever saw stretched across the heavens above our tent on the rim of Tanzanias Ngorongoro Crater.

My sons and I were camped at 7,000 feet above sea level, not quite prepared for the 40-degree chill but awestruck by the beauty around us. That afternoon wed toured the national park that encompasses the crater floor 2,000 feet below, viewing lions, black rhinos, elephants, zebras, wildebeest and many other species of Africas most spectacular wildlife. The next day wed drive through the Serengeti and add leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, baboons, crocodiles and more to our sightings.

Americans who visit East Africa typically go on safari as we did, meaning they hire an outfit operating out of Nairobi or Arusha to provide a vehicle and driver/guide to take them through the parks. Some even stay in splendid lodges and enjoy all the comforts, rather than camp as we did. In either case, the experience is well worth the cost and arduous travel it requires to reach that far part of the globe. At the time of the great migrations, particularly, the Serengeti is filled with animals. And so magnificent is the nearly hidden world of the Ngorongoro Crater, the remains of a collapsed volcano, that it could have been the Garden of Eden __ not a far- fetched thought given the discovery by Louis and Mary Leakey of early hominid fossils at nearby Olduvai Gorge.

But safari in Swahili means journey, and ours took my younger son Kenny and me to an Africa not seen in vacation brochures. For two weeks, we shared the life of my older son, Andrew, a Peace Corps volunteer working near Mwanza on the southern shore of Lake Victoria.

Its a life like that of the people he interacts with daily, whose homes lack clean running water and reliable electricity; who eat mostly bland diets of rice, beans and a boiled corn flour pudding called ugali but sometimes fish, chicken, goat and fresh fruits and vegetables; who live in constant danger of contracting diseases for which effective treatments are largely unavailable; who accept inconvenience and hardship as routine.

Those same people are friendly, warm and so welcoming that the most common word we heard was karibu, which meant, Were delighted youre here.

Still, it takes getting used to. Despite its lakeside location, gentle climate, proximity to national parks and status as Tanzanias second-largest city, Mwanza is not a tourist destination. Its mostly a ramshackle collection of hovels that look as if theyd flatten under the stress of a half-hearted earthquake. Without a single traffic light anywhere, or anyone interested in policing, drivers make up their own rules as they go, employing their horns more often than their brakes. Commerce pours out of crumbling shops into sidewalks, alleys and streets. Vendors compete with beggars for the attention of the occasional foreigners who find their way through town.


While we treated ourselves to excellent meals in a couple of actually fine restaurants, we also ate in cheap roadside food stands and absorbed other local experiences: riding in dala dalas, vans built for maybe 15 passengers but crammed with as many as 30; attending a wake in a nearby village for a child who died of malaria; visiting with the family of Andrews friend and fellow teacher Kassim, where we were served traditional dishes by the women, who did not join the men in eating.

Kenny and I even endured a torturous 15-hour bus ride from Nairobi to Mwanza, getting the feel __ bump by bump by crash __ of the frustrations of traveling across Africas great distances if youre not lucky enough to fly.

Kenny and I tasted, touched and smelled something of the real Africa that Andrew is coming to know, but how well did we understand it? As the sun rose over Ngorongoro that bracing morning, and then thick clouds rolled across the spectacular highlands and plunged into the crater, it literally dawned on me: What I thought I saw clear and bright remained as distant from my comprehension as the stars now out of sight above.

Doug Clark can be contacted at dgclark@news-record.com and 373- 7039.





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Story Source: Greensboro News & Record

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