January 19, 2011

U.S. Embassy, Coco Beach, Tinga Tinga

Warm greetings again from Dar.  Students are in the swing of things, arriving each morning at the church for Swahili class.  Class begins at 8:30 a.m. and finishes at 11:00 with a half hour break.  Today the group ate at the church canteen immediately after Swahili class in order to make our 1:30 p.m. appointment at the U.S. Embassy.   After a leisurely lunch (chips, chapatis, mangoes, chicken, bread, rice… take your pick), we boarded daladalas for the trip across town.  We managed to cram our group into two (already full) daladalas, to arrive at the newly built U.S. Embassy in Mikocheni.

We spent about 2 hours at the Embassy for a question and answer period with the Vice Consul.  We discussed the United States historic and ongoing efforts to alleviate HIV AIDS and malaria, Tanzania’s economic development, educational opportunities and challenges, and energy production, among many other issues. The visit ended with a time of casual conversation over sodas and biscuits (cookies).  I can’t show you this event, as cameras were not allowed.

Upon exiting the Embassy we boarded a daladala that we hired to give us a quick tour of the Msasani peninsula.  This included a drive by of Coco beach, a popular weekend swimming spot.  The highlight for many was the stop at the Tinga Tinga gallery in Oyster Bay.  Tinga Tinga is a distinctly Tanzanian art form that uses vibrant colors on canvas to portray themes of Tanzania’s nature and culture.  Tinga Tinga is mainly for the tourist market and commonly includes stylistic representations of wildlife and village scenes.  Students are determined to visit again — who knows maybe they will bring you a Tinga Tinga gift?  One can only hope.

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