I knew I was going to like Tanzania the moment I caught a daladala, minibus, south from the Burundian border. The vehicle looked like something out of the 1800's: packed to the brim, locals laughing, joking, talking, directions being yelled with more people being packed on with bags, bikes, and huge bags of veggies tied to the hood, children yelling "hello" and chasing the van, farmers in the fields and woman in colourful dress, their babies wrapped around their backs smiling hello, while the crazy driver was trying to dodge the holes in the road and tell jokes as the sun was on its way down blanketing the landscape amidst the mountains and hills. These were the exact moments I knew Tanzania and I would connect.
Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa. It borders Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Kenya to the north. Like Kenya, the national tongue is Swahili (people of the coast), with countless other tribal tongues and cultures that mix into a population of Maasai, Sukumu, Pare, Mukondo, Luo, etc.
Along with Kenya, Ethiopia, The Sudan and other parts of East Africa, it has mountains, valleys, plains, highlands and one of the longest documented human histories in the world. The East African section of the Rift Valley is widely considered to be "the cradle of humanity".
Coming south from Burundi, we stayed along the isolated western regions of the country. Western Tanzania is remote, hard to get around at times due to transport, minimal infrastructure and vast expanses of land, precisely this that made it so deep travelling through the villages and small towns that sprinkle the highland landscape. It brought me closer to the culture and the great people who live there .
I played football with the children in the villages, jammin reggae with a music group on a street, hitched a ride to the next village five hours away, watched baboons alongside the road, drove through Katavi National Park on a bus packed with locals excitingly pointing out the elephants, giraffes, hippos, and impalas. I met some fine, genuine people along the way, and I even taught a few how to hack! They loved it.