Parker in Africa - April 1, 2006
Dearest Friends and Family,
As I write you this letter I am sitting in the garden of Marangu Hotel-the exact place I found myself about 3 years ago when I came to climb the slopes of Kilimanjaro. Isn't life a funny and beautiful thing? Maybe I sound a bit too optimistic or naive, but I am truly happy at this moment. Being here in Tanzania again has helped me to grow and change in some good ways. That isn't to say that when I come home I will be a completely different person, I am still the same girl, just no longer hiding within the bubbles that are Ouray and Hanover. Every place on earth has its own bubbles with its own special beauties and intimacies and I am so enjoying discovering the bubble that is Kilimanjaro.
Anyways, enough of sentimentality. I think that it is my responsibility to enlighten you all on the actuality of life in Africa (or at least Tanzania) as many of us in the good ol' US of A are a bit hidden from the truth, blinded by pictures of death corruption and third worldness.
Tanzania(which has a story quite different than the other countries of Africa) is on the eastern coast of Africa, positioned right below the better known countries of Kenya and Uganda. The capitol is Dodoma, which is in the center of the county, but its largest and most influential city is Dar es Salaam, which is on the coast near the famous vacationing island of Zanzibar. Where I live, near the city of Moshi, is right at the base of the tallest mountain in Africa - Kilimanjaro - and is close to the border with Kenya. Tanzania is not only home to Mt. Kili, but also the world's best safari territory. Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater are the setting for most of those great photos you see of elephants, giraffes, lions, zebras, and much more.
Regardless of all these amazing things, it is still a poor country. Unemployment is a very big problem, as well as diseases like Malaria and HIV/AIDS. In my opinion though, I think that Tanzania is on the right track, compared to other African countries. There is a stable democratic government in place (although there is only one main party) and in the last presidential election, which occurred last year, I think about 80% of eligible voters went to the polls. Education is important to Tanzanians, and there was a big push to educate everyone in the villages about the importance and methods of voting. I am happy to say that the people of Tanzania are very confident and optimistic about their new president. He seems to be active in repressing corruption, creating more job opportunities, supporting education, and generally looking for the best for his people. I sure hope that he lives up to these expectations, because the people are sure counting on him. Well, enough for the geography lesson for now. I will give you a little more next time, so you can get a better idea of where I am. I send me questions about this place! I never really know what to tell people. I'm sure when I get home I'll think of a million things to say, but here I'm a bit cloudy.
To end this letter (which will signify almost 3 months in TZ for me) on a funny note. . . I can't tell you how many times I have been asked if I am married. I have to control myself to not burst out laughing. Apparently it's common to ask someone that when you first meet them, but it has certainly surprised me! After I reply with "Oh, goodness NO," they proceed to ask me if I plan on getting married any time soon-when do I plan to marry, am I looking for a husband, do I want to get married, . . then comes the most important question to them - would I consider marrying a Tanzanian. Once I reply that I wouldn't rule it out completely they seem to be very happy, and then ask if I did marry a Tanzanian if I would live here or bring him back to the US with me. Marriage! Ha, what a funny idea. I have been asked to be married on a couple of occasions, and a couple Tanzanian guys have already told me that they love me. Apparently it is quite an honor to have a white girlfriend/wife, and many are after one. Anyways, I promise I won't bring home a husband!
Well, much love! I miss you all dearly and crave your companionship, but don't worry about me.
Lynch Rocket Lab