Welcome to Tanzania!

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At the end of last week we left the rain-soaked Maasailand plains and headed for Kenya’s neighboring country to the south. In Tanzania, we are visiting a good friend who is in the Peace Corps and then spending the last week of our two months of travels on Zanzibar. We are still within the region of East Africa, but we’ve found a couple differences so far between Kenya and Tanzania.
Landscape: Tanzania has mountains! I am a Colorado girl…I love mountains! In Kenya we visited the dessert-y northern parts and the sprawling plains of the south. We encountered some pretty rolling hills along the way and saw Mt. Kenya peek out of the clouds once, but that’s about it for mountains. Right over the Kenya/Tanzania border at Namanga, we were driving through mountains. We’ve spent about 24 hours on buses in Tanzania and we’ve seen mountains all along the way. Kenya is a beautiful place in its own right, but mountains are always refreshing. Additionally, Tanzania is much more lush than most of Kenya, and is filled with beautiful, thick jungles.
Language: It was clear very soon after entering Tanzania that English wasn’t going to get us anywhere. Most of the people in Kenya speak English if they’ve been to school. Most of the people in Tanzania do not. In Kenya, students begin formally learning English as soon as they enter primary school, as all of their classes are taught in English. In Tanzania, they have an English class in primary school and then in secondary school all of their subjects are taught in English. I suspect that more adults speak English in Kenya because they are taught at a younger age, which engrains the language into their lives more and helps them retain it better. We are trying to learn the necessary Swahili phrases, but Swahili is so unlike anything we’ve heard before that it’s hard to remember all of its sounds. Also, Kenyan Swahili and Tanzanian Swahili are different, making most things we’ve learned up to this point worthless. Kenyan Swahili is a really strange mix of English, tribal languages, and Swahili. We’ve heard odd statements on the phone that have been all in Swahili and then suddenly you hear “top left” or “green roofs” thrown in. Swahili in Tanzania is pure, and many of the things said in Kenya are considered rude in Tanzanian Swahili.
Cleanliness: I only remember seeing one town in Kenya that wasn’t completely littered with roadside trash. In Kenyan towns there are pits next to the road that are full of trash and mud. Bare bushes have trash stuck in them. Places that are kind of supposed to be sidewalks are strewn with litter. Rural Kenya is beautiful and much cleaner than even the smallest urban areas, but still the towns are dirty. I’ve noticed that Tanzanian towns are much cleaner. I’ve seen people throw trash out of bus windows, just like they do in Kenya, but I’ve also seen trash cans. I don’t remember seeing one trash can in a Kenyan town. As a result, I find Tanzanian towns a little more charming.

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