Toasted Travel: Tanzania
Over Christmas and New Years of 2014 I took a trip to the vibrant land of Tanzania to Visit our brother Donald and his family in Dar Es Salaam. To be honest I didn't know what to expect at all. My only reference of Africa was primarily based off of assumptions and the media. I was venturing into a new experience on all levels. I stepped off the plane onto the continent of Africa for the first time ever. I was determined to have an open mind mixed with some deep prayer just in case lol.
I was immediately fascinated by the culture, being surround by my own people... black people, left and right was something I hadn't experienced since Morehouse College. It was refreshing not having to be the minority and not even having to identify with skin color at all... I was simply just Warren in a sea of beautiful blackness.
The one thing that was always in the forefront of my mind was how American I was. I couldn't help but notice all the things we often take for granted in more established countries, especially in the USA. Or how skewed my perception of Africa was to begin with, visualizing it as one image, one feel, one culture with the same history. I was quickly educated on how no two countries are the same on this continent, each with its own pulse of pride and passion.
Certain aspects of my journey were an extreme test for me to say the least. A sort of mind grappling type of test. One of extreme patience. I had never been so far from being in control in my life. - The internet lived and died on a portable 4G. Traffic was beyond insane. The terrain was jagged. The heat was blazing. Waves of people with various motives either genuine or corrupt, was often overwhelming on both fronts. Everything in me was telling me that I was uncomfortable, but at the same exact time it was exactly what I needed.
It was a blessing to experience life in this way. Not having everything at my fingertips. Not having instant gratification. Not being inside of my norm. Not being able to be "connected" and having to really be present to my senses in ways I hadn't been before. This mentality allowed me to really embrace the culture and deeply enjoy the very basic and simple things that it provided day in and day out. The norm in Tanzania can only be described as a reminder of what's truly important in life, masked by chaos.
Outside of the environmental adjustments I had to get used to, everything was really amazing. The food was very heavy, but extremely delicious. I was eating so much that at times I was eating for pure flavor, not hunger. We linked up with some great friends and family, experienced the flawless beaches surrounding Dar Es Salaam and of course, Zanzibar where the Jet Ski and boat life gave me everything I needed in those moments. Vibing out with the locals and smoking hookah was a daily and much anticipated activity. We even turned alllll the way up at our homie Amour's Day party! It was very cool being able to experience multiple sides to what Tanzania has to offer.
All in all, Tanzania (and Africa) is a place you just have to experience and explore for yourself. I couldn't capture everything I wanted to on my phone or my GoPro because life was just happening, and it was either you saw it and lived it, or you didn't by trying to be the tourist. Despite that reality, I think I did a great job balancing that aspect.
In closing, I realize that In America we work hard to avoid the bad. Or at least that's what society/parents teach us. Work hard = good life. In Tanzania and most likely many countries in Africa, you are born in the bad and even the hardest work ethic doesn't guarantee you anything. Family is the only thread, the only source of power, the only motivation. It's deeply rooted which is why I now understand why so many Tanzanians that I met that currently work, live or attend school in other countries, have a gravitational pull to eventually return home, even our brother Donald.
Donald, thank you bro for inviting me to your country and to your home... It was an experience I certainly wont forget and I look for to returning. Toast to friends and family. Much love.