Welcome to Arusha, the town so calm, so beautiful, so welcoming. You should come here, if you can afford it. Endless queues of tourist are arriving here in their numbers….you wonder why, but when you are here, everything makes sense, makes peace. Driving in Arusha I can see how a large, sprawling city with all of the contradictions that brings, it is, the best place to be. The traffic police standing on the street in their white uniform, very white my friend asked how they wash it, they keep it white, just like new.
On the one hand, Arusha offers a nice break from the rigours of life on the African road – it has excellent places to stay and eat and, for the most part, it is lush, green and enjoys a temperate climate throughout the year, thanks to its altitude (about 1300m) and location near the foot of Mt Meru which by the way, I can see from the comfort of my living room. I should brag, but I won’t. Resting on the foot of the hill, cool weather and a sight to behold. Waters flow freely from the hills, in many directions, if not all. You will not get enough of banana plantations and you will not miss them on your dinner table. You are in the land of it.
Starting point for many safaris and cultural tours, it’s a place where everything happens. Roasted free range chicken with roasted bananas and potatoes, from Kenny’s place…..right on the open street, to Hawaian pizza at George’s Tavern. Everything is great. And worth the fight.
Which brings us to Arusha’s alter ego. As the safari capital of northern Tanzania, Arusha is where you’re most likely to encounter touts offering safaris, souvenirs and all manner of deals, some genuine, many of them not. Their main haunts are the bus stations and along Boma Rd. What brings me to Arusha? That which has taken me everywhere, Joomla love. We travel, eat good food, meet friends and get lost in Joomla. A family of open software enthusiasts, techies, who bring people together, share ideas, share visions, and help run each other’s mission. I mean those guys……I am one of them.
Enjoying great conversation, maybe networking, a lot of that, sharing great food, made so amazing with much of the East African love. So I must say, my arrival, at 2pm was wonderful. The sun was up and there was a taste of life in everything, including the things not edible.
Then I fell asleep at midnight only to wake up 30 minutes late for breakfast…….to a heavy drizzling morning, not pouring, just heavy drizzling. Here, there is a difference. That meant I was one hour late for everything, including my presentation which was starting 9am. So when we pulled over at a gas station to buy fuel, we got a call, and the shame attacked me like a bitter woman. That kind of shame that will follow me all the way to when I arrive at JR Institute of Technology, and there I could see everyone sitting in humility waiting……….not for someone important but me, this guys who could not keep time. So then, I pretended nothing was wrong and even that was more shameful, it was cold and I was struggling to keep me alive.
Then there was my introduction, and before I went further, I was interrupted, by the teacher. He urged me to keep it in Swahili…….my presentation. That my students are a little handicapped when it comes to English he said. What he did not understand is that even if you are really good in both languages, its difficult to make a presentation in Swahili when you did it in English. But I had to brave myself, picking all the words I could remember……because the word Joomla! itself is Swahili……Mradi wa Joomla! to mean my Joomla project. But then it all went well for all my two presentation.
While in the car with Gloria, after the event she mentioned to me, that the students were very happy and I asked her why she thinks so, she said that if Tanzanians are happy, you can see it on their faces. I wouldn’t have known that. Back at our Airbnb Pamela the lady in charge of the house took us to the market to get some fish for our dinner project. At the table was also Karin, who is visiting here from China though she is originally German. She lives and works in China together with her husband and they are trying to start a business here in Arusha, she has been here many times.
She narrated to us how she drove from Cape Town, where they had bought their Toyota Landcruiser to Arusha, something I have always wanted to do. The car sits at the parking when she is not doing her safari’s and when I went to check it out, I admired the big wheels on it and the inside fitted with a refrigerator. Before we left Arusha, I had made good friends, and helped to create Joomla User Group Arusha, managing one of my desire for this trip. I have not yet gotten anybody willing to volunteer for Joomla! but am still hopeful.