Robin and I are back from our trip to Tanzania and Rwanda, so let me sincerely flatter my blogging godfather (and marriage matchmaker) Tyler and tell you about our favorite things in Tanzania
1. Lake Tanganyika. The water, at least around Mahale Mountains National Park, is crystal clear, safe for swimming and turquoise like the Caribbean. We puttered around on a motorized dhow, and saw hippos wading under the boat, crocs on the shore and beautiful sunsets. The lake also has a fascinating military story from World War I that is well told in the book, Mimi & Toutou's Big Adventure, which I highly recommend (written by the guy who wrote Last King of Scotland, which was made into a movie where Forest Whittaker dazzled as Idi Amin).
2. Swahili. What a fun language! Phonetic, poetic and according to some Tanzanians we talked to, there are approaching 100 million Swahili speakers. Sweet! Wapi tembo leo?
3. The great migration. The books say 1.5 million wildebeests, but the guides we talked to swore that it is more like 3-4 million at this point. When we got to the western corridor of the Serengeti, the herd had split into thirds, but what we saw was stupendous. Mile after mile of wildebeests and zebras. The crocs on the Grumetti river were so fat when we got there, they were kind of just going through the motions, though we did see 3 wildees go down at their hands.
The one more academic/economic impression that we picked up was that people are well aware of corruption as an important issue and are pleased with their current president's anti-corruption stance. Several people told us stories, more or less unprompted, about previous types of routine corruption that had been eliminated or reduced due to government action.