When I was in Johannesburg late last month I was extremely surprised to see how great the US dollar fared. No matter what the exchange rate indices or the airport exchange houses say, you just never know how great (or not so great) the dollar does until you get into a country and start spending money. That is why I pretty much won’t go to Europe right now.
The first day I was in Joburg I went to a grocery store and spent $10 USD on a bottle of wine, two bags of potato chips, a huge chunk of cheddar cheese, and a whole box of crackers. That is when I realized I would be able to eat very, very well during my stay in South Africa. The exchange rate between the rand and the dollar is great. It also doesn’t hurt that Johannesburg has amazing restaurants and their wines are some of the best in the world.
After long days visiting NGOs and getting a feel for the city, it was nice to sit back to enjoy a great dinner, especially when everything was so ridiculously cheap! This is the first time I have been able to buy a full course meal including appetizer, entree, and a full bottle of wine without blinking an eye. If it had been the States in say DC or Washington, or in Europe, say London or Berlin, the full course meal would have been a “no go” and a full bottle of wine would have been OUT of the question.
All in all I rather enjoyed Johannesburg (mostly because of the exchange rate) although the city really had to grow on me. I didn’t expect the level of segregation I saw. After all, we have all heard apartheid died in the 90s. Well, there are still vestiges of it running throughout Johannesburg. The best restaurants seemed to be in the suburbs where there were few brown people. So, yes, there is a lot of progress Joburg still has to do. The only time I saw some race intermingling was at a Saturday market in the city center of Johannesburg (photos below). It’s sad, but it does seem like things are changing for the better. At least, I hope so.
If you are going to Johannesburg here are the restaurants I visited and loved: Moyo, Meat Co. and Squires Loft. The Saturday market is the Neighborgoods Markets.
It has been a few days since I last updated. Wi-fi has been sketchy so I have been prioritizing my reporting. Today I am in Arusha, in the northern part of Tanzania. We took a morning flight from Iringa (which is a beautiful town) and landed early afternoon. You know I love flying in country while in Africa. There is nothing, nothing, nothing like it. I love this continent!
Since the last time I blogged many amazing things have happened. I saw giraffes and zebras in a national park on our way from Dar es Salaam to Iringa. We also saw warthogs and of course, the all-ubiquitous baboons, which are mean and scary so I don’t mention them much.
First off, I had no idea that Tanzania was so mountainous. Yes, we all know about Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru, but there are mountains everywhere here! It’s so amazing because Zambia is nearly flat and the two countries are neighbors.
Our trip from Iringa was really eventful. We rode in a tiny 10-seater for about an hour and a half north across a wide expanse of Tanzania’s central plateau. I have always wanted to fly in a tiny plane in Africa. Thankfully the ride was barely bumpy until we had to descend into Arusha, which is always expected. It was a nice ride.
And, finally while I was in the air I was able to see Mt. Kilimanjaro from the sky. Chances are I will be able to see it a little closer in a few days as I fly back to Dar from Kilimanjaro International Airport. I’d love to see it a bit closer.
Today we are off to see some Masai villages. As soon as I get to reliable Internet on Monday I will share some photos.
If you would like to read a few of my articles I’ve written since being here, they’re linked below:
I have been to Africa three times before this trip to Tanzania and it’s, I truly believe, the first time I’ve ever seen it pouring rain and definitely the first time I’ve ever heard thunder in Africa. Rain plus thunder in Africa have been a huge highlight of my day. It’s like seeing a different side of Africa that I’ve never experienced.
Today has been the very first “work” day of the International Reporting Project trip. We heard from the CEO of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, Geoffrey Kirenga, who gave us a thorough overview about agriculture in Tanzania as well as from his colleague Obey Assery who works on national nutrition efforts at the Department of Coordination of Government Business.
The issue of nutrition and its subsets, malnutrition and undernutrition, are extremely important to me because I know how the lack of it causes rampant stunting in children in developing countries and also adversely affects maternal health. If you followed my reporting from Zambia you might remember the piece I wrote: Feeding Malnourished Children in Macha, Zambia. Proper nutrition starts when a child is still in her mother’s womb, so tackling undernutrition in Tanzania requires a holistic approach and behavior change management. Look for posts about nutrition in Tanzania quite soon.
Before our meeting with Kirenga and Assery the sun briefly came out and I took a few shots. I really want to get a good view of the bay while the sun is shining. It’s been pretty gloomy all day. I can’t believe I’m waiting for the sun to come out. Clearly I took the sun for granted every time I’ve visited Africa before. More soon!
When you travel to Africa you spend a lot of travel time on airplanes and in airports obviously. Flying is one of my favorite things to do. You probably figured that out by now. I just love planes, even more than I love tunnels and bridges. I truly should have gone into logistics. I also love trucks, but that’s a post for another day.
My trip to Dar es Salaam as an International Reporting Project fellow was really nice despite my mad dash to reach the gate in time to actually catch my first flight out of Washington Dulles. I have to remember to give myself plenty of time to check in on Ethiopian Airlines at Dulles. They always have massive lines that move terribly slowly. Lesson learned.
At Addis Ababa Bole International Airport
My twelve-hour flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia went faster than usual. Maybe it’s because I slept long and often. Before I knew it we were landing in Ethiopia’s bustling capital. And then I had a total of about three hours to spare before my less than three hour flight to Dar es Salaam. So, you know what I did for that time: tried to get online. I kept getting a strong Wi-Fi signal and logged on fine, but could never get Internet activity. It was maddening before I just closed my devices and gave up. I sat for the remaining hours in Addis reading a book and falling asleep.
I arrived in Dar at around 1:30 this afternoon, nearly 12 hours earlier than I was supposed to. I was booked on a night flight to Dar es Salaam, but a little bit of luck helped me get on the earlier flight.
Landing in Dar es Salaam. Notice the Indian Ocean in the top photo.
As I mentioned before I will be traveling around Tanzania to report on agriculture, food security, hunger and poverty as it relates to women and girls. I hope you follow my journey!
That fast! I am six days away from flying across the world again! It seems like I literally just got back from Zambia. I’ll be in Tanzania for ten days as an International Reporting Project fellow learning about and reporting on agriculture, poverty, food security, and hunger. My heavy emphasis will, of course, be on women and children. Women make up the vast majority of the agricultural sector in Tanzania and nearly fifty percent of Tanzanian children are stunted. I am particularly interested in digging into these statistics and hearing stories from the ground. I am particularly interested in learning why the stunting rate is so high in a country where seventy-five percent of the population works in agriculture.
Read my work as an International Reporting Project Zambia fellow.
I look forward to also delving into reasons why the agricultural sector needs improvements in private investments, stronger infrastructure for farmers to take their crops to market, irrigation, better seeds, and economic development and empowerment for farmers. I also look forward to reporting on how women fare as farmers. Although women do most of the farming across sub-Saharan Africa women still lack access to capital and are left out of the decision-making process.
I leave on Saturday for a long trip to Dar es Salaam. For those who know me best, you know I relish a long flight. It gives me a chance to get away from the dinging of my devices for a while. As someone who lives on the Net and on all of my mobile devices, it’s hard for me to set them down and close the laptop. I must always be on, but when I’m 30,000 feet in the air it’s nice to just let them rest.
Of course, while I am in Tanzania I will be sharing a ton of photos. So many people have preconceived ideas about Africa that always tend to be negative – that it’s dusty, full of child soldiers, bloody gold and coltan mine battles, corrupt governments, and children with flies in their eyes. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Africa is an amazing continent with a wide expanse of good and bad, just like any other continent on the globe. I always want to break stereotypes if I can. Photos go a long way in doing that.
As before when I was in Zambia, I will be using video, audio, photos, and text to share my work in Tanzania. I will also throw in a few other new media tricks I’ve been tinkering with as well. Follow me on Twitter for updates from my travels. You can find all of my work in the following places:
Social Good Moms
Twitter (@jenniferjames | @socialgoodmoms)
Eating lunch with friends from Save the Children’s Delhi office.
I have three international trips in the pipeline this year- Tanzania, South Africa and India. I have had the most amazing time in Africa – every single visit. India, however, is the only country I have visited where I have been insanely sick and so I am a little preoccupied (more like worried) about what I am going to eat in India for a full two weeks in November.
I will travel throughout the country with Water for People at the end of the year. If you haven’t heard the news, I will be going to India with Water for People after winning their Blogger Out to Change the World contest.
Some of the best food I have ever eaten in my entire life was in India. I couldn’t get enough spice! I couldn’t get enough of the kadai paneer. I couldn’t get enough of the delicious chicken and vegetables. It was a foodie heaven. Sometime during my visit to Delhi I also consumed a parasite. I didn’t get rid of that pesky parasite until two weeks after being home. “Delhi belly” really isn’t a joke, friends. I haven’t been that sick in a very long time and now I am little scared of being that sick again. Thankfully, I was only debilitated the last day in Delhi as well as during my flight from Delhi to Bahrain. As soon as I landed in Bahrain I was able to eat again. Food didn’t look repulsive like it had the previous 24 hours.
The food in India is so ridiculously good you want to eat as much as you can, but there is always this heightened chance that it’s not going to settle quite right. Even though this post is titled, On What to Eat and What Not to Eat in India, I actually have no idea what the answer is. I think it just all depends on the person and their stomach.
Like I mentioned I will be in India for a few weeks so I am already checking off all of the medications I will take with me. I learned a few things from Nicole Melancon who was well-stocked on our trip to Delhi. Usually I just roll the dice when I travel and don’t take medications at all. That is definitely going to change this time when I am in India.
Have you been to India? Did you avoid getting sick? How did you do it?
I need to start a tab for beer on this blog. I really do. It’s my favorite thing to drink when I travel to other countries because there is always a new, local beer you can try no matter where you are. Otherwise every drink is all the same: Coke, 7 Up, Sprite, Fanta, coffee!
In Zambia I loved tasting some of the local beers: Mosi, Castle (not pictured), and Windhoek. Castle is South African and Windhoek is Namibian, while Mosi is proudly Zambian, as they like to say.
I read that many Zambians prefer light lagers, so Mosi really wasn’t that great to me. I often opted for Mosi Gold if it was available. I tried all of the beers – Mosi, Castle, and Windhoek, and liked Castle the best because it was a little heavier. When I am at home I often opt for really dark beers, sometimes ones with a chocolate finish. Those are always nice. They don’t really have dark beers in Zambia, which was disappointing. For me it was the local lighter varieties.
The food in Zambia was tasty even though I didn’t have much of the local fare. When we were in Macha I had my favorite meal of the entire trip. It wasn’t particularly Zambian, per se, but they did have nshima paired with a delicious sauce. Nshima is a lot like ugali in Kenya.
Ugali, fish, and vegetables – so delicious! Kenya – July 2011
Zambia wasn’t a foodie or beer paradise for me like India or Kenya. I could have eaten my weight in spicy, curry deliciousness in both countries (Kenya has a large Indian population). Zambia was beautiful and lovely in its own way. I saw more international food and even fast food than I’ve seen during my other travels. But Zambia had Victoria Falls and the most development than I’ve seen elsewhere in Africa, especially in its larger cities: Lusaka and Livingstone. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
I traveled to Zambia as an International Reporting Project fellow.