Monday, September 26, 2011

What a Difference the Rain Makes: Iringa vs. Lushoto

Traveling through the Usambaras has taught me a remarkable number of things about life in Tanzania. Most importantly, villages here vary greatly. In Lushoto, where it rains at least once a week even during the dry season, everything is lush and green. That means people can grow large crops of tomatoes, cabbages, and other marketable crops year round. As a result, people have considerably more money than in Iringa region. You can see it in the quality of the village houses – almost all of them have tin roofs instead of grass or leaves and are built of nice bricks or cement. Electricity reaches further into the region as well. People also have money to spend on the variety of goods sold during the twice-weekly markets that travel through the villages. 
 In Iringa region, villagers usually have to travel to much larger towns to buy things like used clothes, dishes, and other goods. I guess it’s because they don’t have enough money to support a consistent market.

Religion also seems to play out differently here. One of our guides mentioned that Muslims can marry more than one wife. I said so can Christians, and he looked horrified. Apparently men here are not polygamous. In Iringa region, many, many men have multiple wives. Contrastingly, almost everyone in Iringa region goes to church on Sunday or at least takes the day off from going to the fields. In Lushoto, people even farm on Sunday. I guess there’s more work to be done. That could also explain why people here walk more than twice as fast as people in my old village. Seriously. People in Itimbo saunter and make fun of my “American” walking speed. Here, they pass me on the trails. They have somewhere they need to be (and no blisters on their pinky toes.) It’s been a good set of lessons on how different things are in different parts of the country.

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