Friday, October 24, 2008

Africa: Introduction

I hope to write a few posts about our recent trip to Africa (me, my wife Barbara, and my son Samuel). I will start with this introductory question: Why go?

Of course the easy answer is that we wanted to spend time with our daughter Julia, her husband Viggo, and of course our gandson Daniel. Here is a photo of the boy who could launch a thousand airliners with his face:

Easy answers are generally imcomplete, so here are few more thoughts:

1. We wanted to see first hand what conditions are like in Tanzania, specifically the conditions that Julia, Viggo, and Daniel will live and work in.

2. I've never particularly wanted to visit Africa, but now that there were family reasons, other reasons such as curiousity and a desire to learn began to surface.

3. I have traveled quite a bit, but very little in poor countries. Tanzania is among the poorest. Just as it is limiting to only see pictures and read e-mails about my daughter and her family, it is also difficult to understand this level of material poverty without a face to face look. Of course a single two week trip is the merest of beginnings. But it is a beginning.

So from October 6 through October 20 we were either in Tanzania or in transit. Just the plane tickets cost a couple of grand per person. The travel time was something like 55 hours door to door. Twenty four hours of that were spent inside airplanes traveling at about 500 miles per hour. Most of the rest was spent sitting or slumping in airport terminals and auto seats. I had some success in alleviating my dislike of that much time trapped in an aluminum tube by reminding myself often what a privilege it was to travel half way round the world so quickly and in relative comfort (dry, warm, soft seats, usually well fed).

More to follow.
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