Friday, November 27, 2009


This year's Thanksgiving showed me once again just what a small world it is, especially in Dar.

Thanksgiving day I headed out to meet with the director of Ezra Ministries of Tanzania, an organization working on urban refugee issues. I knew the office would be rather far, as the director had mentioned it was on the road to the airport. I knew the airport was about 1/2 an hour outside the city center, depending on traffic. What I didn't realize was that he meant it was on the road PAST the airport. It was almost twice as far as I had anticipated at the beginning of the journey.

Thankfully, Kelly had given me the name of a fabulous Rastafarian taxi driver named Moshi. He was great and I am pretty sure he will be unlikely to answer my call for a taxi again anytime soon. He battled traffic for almost an hour on our way out there, waited for me for over an hour, and then drove me back to the city center. I surely would have been stuck there for the day, if not for Moshi.

When we rolled into this tiny little place, on the outskirts of Dar, off the main road, I wondered what I had gotten myself into this time. However, I was almost immediately distracted by the fact that I saw another Mazungu (literally "European," but now used as a term for any foreigner from the west - as far as I can tell) and wondered how we had both managed to find this little tiny place - seeming in the middle of nowhere. She was also from the U.S. and was there as a volunteer for a few months - having just arrived a month or so prior to our meeting. She explained to me a bit about how she found her way there and introduced me to the director.

He and I conducted our meeting, exchanged information, and I was on my way. [I am happy to give you details on that some other time if you like, but the substance of the meeting relates little to the small world scenario. : )] On my way out, I exchanged info with the American I had met when I arrived - and thought that we might communicate via email, but that I probably wouldn't see her again.

So, that night I took off from the hostel with my colleagues to meet the IRC (International Rescue Committee) country director and his wife for drinks at their apartment. Then we headed to their friends' apartment for Thanksgiving dinner.

One of the first people I see as I enter the apartment for dinner is the American from earlier that day, who I met about 20k away at this little NGO that no one in Dar seems to have heard of before. It turns out that she went to grad school at American and used to live in Mt. Pleasant, just up the road from me in DC. Dar + DC = small world.

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