The most amazing thing about today was the total freedom to create our own schedule, on our own time. We woke up and went to the gym, freshened up, and got to finally explore Dodoma. There wasn’t necessarily a game plan but we ended up walking from the hotel all the way to VETA, which is about a 20-30 minute walk through the city. I was really surprised that there were no vendors harassing us around the market, there were no solicitors on the way; only a random group of a couple guys just looking to chat approached us. I’m used to going to tourist areas where you can’t move without someone asking you to buy useless products. It was also a very interesting walk because we had to overcome a few feats; such as, the roundabout, the walking path and our direction in general. We braved the roundabout but it was definitely a process. Cars are coming from the wrong side so its hard to remember where to look for oncoming traffic. We ended up standing behind a local citizen and waited until he darted across the circle. After getting our bearings, we made our way down a nice dirt path that was shaded and basically reminded me of dirt paths back home. What we didn’t realize was that the path was slowly veering towards the road until there was no path. Cars and traffic are scary enough in a car; it’s a whole other story to be a pedestrian! Cars are literally flying by; there are motorcycles and bikes trying to pass, and other pedestrians who won’t move over – luckily the path started up again after a few feet.
We finally found VETA after being uncertain of its precise whereabouts because it’s surrounded by the business college and other schools. We had lunch at the restaurant and met up with Heather to chat and catch up. We then got to visit her in her computer lab and had a few minutes to use computers with faster internet (used it to upload the pictures in the last few posts!). Later on, we got a ride back to the hotel with Heather and the VETA driver.
When we got back we decided to explore Dodoma a little more. We walked through Centre Town and through their Shopping Centre (just a bunch of little shacks selling clothes or practical things). This area of town is so different from where I normally spend my time. All you can smell is burning garbage, hear car horns blaring and people blatantly calling us “whitey!” as we walk across the city centre. The weird thing about this whole experience is the awe that seems to come over the locals when they see us. It’s almost like feeling on display at a zoo; it isn’t a bad thing or insulting to me because I understand that Caucasians aren’t an everyday sighting, but it just catches me by surprise every time.
Once we got back to the hotel, we took some leisurely time to ourselves, and then we went and played crazy 8 until we got hungry. I got an Indian meal called Turungy which is three different types of vegetables in sauces. There was so much!! I did a pretty good job on finishing it, but wouldn’t have made as much of a dent if I didn’t let the girls help me out with it. I think the different types of vegetables were mushroom and spinach, corn and a typical masala.
Tomorrow night, we should be attending a small party for us and staff recognition at VETA, which is being put on by the principle. I’m looking forward to seeing what the night life is like and how people dance and sing and conduct themselves at something like this. Definitely looking forward to it!