box seats

Well, I'm here, finally. Even despite the 40 hours and four flights it took, and the seemingly harsh words to follow, I'm absolutely thrilled to be here.

The scene is almost overwhelming and too much to describe in a single sitting.  The city is third world with dusty streets, far too few traffic lights and not a cop in sight.  The good news is there seems to be a hospital at every turn as malaria appears to work its way into the veins of every Tanzanian, sooner or later.  Danlee, my travel companion, even thought she had been infected but after a quick stop, 3500 shillings ($2), a painless pin prick revealed her blood was clean, relatively speaking.

I think the reality is I'm suffering from withdrawal of my A/C and cushioned little life back home. Perhaps it's a normal bought of culture shock but I think what put me over the edge tonight was a movie I watched in the local theatre (the only theatre in Dar es Salaam as I understand).  Danlee and I watched Ben Affleck's great new flick, Argo, at the local Mall.  There was a point, finally, when I stopped fretting over the fact the theatre smelled pungent and ripe with urine.  I imagined some unruly fellows visiting cinema 5 several hours earlier and peeing all over the seat I was sitting in.

Did something just scurry over my bare toes? I had to ask myself. And just as quickly I suddenly forgot about the odor. Then something  to my left caught my eye,  again, and again, until I realized it was a family of rats high-tailing it up the carpeted wall to a nest, no doubt, 15 feet up. The crafty little buggers have box seats! Up there I'm sure they safely scarf down their share of kernels and enjoy the showing of the next hollywood blockbuster.  I suddenly put the two together and realized the odor in the joint wasn't from a few troubled teens but from a throng of cinema rats!!  Man do I miss sanitized restrooms and the smell of lysol...just saying.  I live in such a bubble, shame on me.

To be truthful, I think life will get easier once I start shooting in a couple days.  We're in Dar for the next week then rural Tanzania for about a month but so far this looks like any third world city save the smell.  Who would have thought a blanket of wood smoke, car exhaust and street dust could create such a lull of comfort for my senses. Africa sure has a smell all its own, unique and imperfect but strangely satisfying.