QUESTION: When you were growing up in the State of Michigan in the United States, what was your first impression of Tanzania?
ANSWER: Michigan is known as the “Great Lakes State” since it is surrounded by five lakes. Growing up, we would go to the beach we thought, but I found out that it is completely different in Tanzania. Tanzania is the most beautiful country in the world.
What is the most impressive place you have ever visited in Tanzania?
Without a second thought, it is the Ngorongoro Crater. While in the US, I grew up watching animation like The Lion King, which gave me ideas of how different parts of Africa are, but when I was on the ground, it completely exceeded my expectations. I remember we were in the jeep driving through the fog, and for a minute, I felt like I was in Jurassic Park. It seemed so cool. I saw animals up close that I had never even seen pictures of.
How different did it feel?
Seeing animals in their natural habitat, be it kissing, chilling or hunting, is different from seeing them in a zoo or in a picture. It felt great.
I see you are rocking a kitenge; what pushed you to wear it?
I believe vitenges carry messages. They are lively, and have a way of making a statement and making the wearer feel good. Something I learned here is that locals use Pinterest to find inspiration for making fabrics.
You visited Zanzibar during your travel experience in Tanzania; how did it feel to visit the island?
Zanzibar is still one of my favorite places in Tanzania, and the first time I ever visited, I learned about the history of Stone Town and the slave trade. I also visited an island with some of the oldest turtles in the world, including a 200 year old turtle. As someone who enjoys snorkeling and has done so in various parts of the world, nothing compares to snorkeling in Zanzibar.
What other experience did you have in Zanzibar?
I did a local cooking class with spices we bought from the spice market. I also had painting sessions on the beach. It all felt very luxurious and heavenly.
What did you like about Dar es Salaam?
One of my favorite moments in Dar es Salaam was when I visited the small islands near the region, such as Sinda and Bongoyo. It took about 15 minutes to get from one island to the other in this cool little boat. It didn’t even feel like I was in Dar es Salaam because of how private the islands felt.
How were you able to find these places and things to do?
I found most of them on Instagram, and some of our friends recommended some places like The Overhang, which was absolutely the best.
What did you try to do differently to get a different experience?
After Zanzibar, I asked my neighbors at the apartment I was staying in Dar es Salaam to cook me local food in exchange for the American food I made for them. Because of the exchange we not only tasted different types of foods, but in the end we understood two cultures that were connected to the stories of the food we cooked. This gave me the opportunity to taste foods like chapati and Vitumbua while they prepared foods like mozzarella sticks and chicken wings for them.
What is your favorite Tanzanian dish?
I choose ‘zege’ (French fries with eggs); it is the most underrated food, and if it were cooked in the States, it would blow up.
How long have you been in Tanzania, and how much Kiswahili do you know?
I have been living in Tanzania for about 10 months, and I am still learning the language.
What are some of the Kiswahili words you would recommend foreigners learn when they visit the country?
That’s a real coincidence because one of my friends will be visiting shortly before I leave, and I’ve prepared key words for him to learn and use during his visit. words such as mambo, habari za mhancha, niaje, karibu, poa, ndio, hapana, and the like. One of the most important things to learn when coming to Tanzania is the greeting culture. With the welcoming culture in this country, it doesn’t matter if you get the words wrong; it shows that you want.
What about the prices of things during your visit?
Tanzania is very affordable when it comes to touring. During my visit to different parts of this country, I was able to stay in five star hotels, which I rarely do in the US. In this country, you can be on holiday every weekend and it will still be free.
One of the activities that foreigners do when they visit the country is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro; did you have the experience?
It’s like you’ve looked into my schedule because I plan to go to Kilimanjaro in January 2023, I’m not going to climb it (laughs), I just want to see it from afar. I watched the Royal Tour, and saw aerial views of the mountain. A must visit.
If you were recommending places to visit to another foreigner to visit while in Tanzania, what places would be at the top of the list?
They have to go on safari to the Serengeti National Park, Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha, and Zanzibar.
You are also called ‘mama pundamilia (Zebra mother). Why is that?
Like a zebra, I’m a joy to be around, I’m peaceful, and I love wearing clothes with prints and stripes. Everyone who goes on safari should, after all, get a name that is similar to something they experienced during their safari.