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Saturday, 31 October 2015

How to Travel Alone in a Developing Country - Page 2

Written by Meredith Chait
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One of the activities I enjoyed the most was riding the local buses. The buses were more like big vans and as many people as possible squeezed in, often getting on as the bus was in motion. The buses had a starting and ending spot written on them but the route they took to get to those places could differ. I was once on a bus that made a U-turn because of traffic and went down a different road. 

On the bus, I was an equal. No one cared what color my skin was, if I was male or female, or where I was going. All they cared about was whether I paid the bus fare and if I could squeeze on the bus with all the other sweaty people in the heat of the day. (There was no air conditioning on the buses and often I did not get a seat, much less one by the window). The bus drivers called me “dada,” or sister in Swahili, just like all the other women on the bus. 

While I was scared that time we drove to the restaurant in the open vehicle thinking someone could reach in and grab me, I would never change the experience I had in Tanzania. I learned about another culture firsthand. For example, I learned that Tanzanians love their morning tea, which I was offered many times each morning. Most Tanzanians I met were very proud of their peaceful country, a legacy of their first president Julius Nyerere, who must people in the country remember. 

While in Tanzania, I also learned about myself and my limits. For example, brushing my teeth with bottled water can get very tedious after doing it for a few weeks. But, I would not trade that one annoying activity for all of the friendly people I met and experiences I had. I will never forget watching older women full of wrinkles bending down to sweep the dirt on their property with a little brush to get their house clean for the day. Brushing my teeth with bottled water is not something to complain about anymore. 

As long as women have an open mind about other cultures, understand the situation they are in, and are somewhat adventurous, any trip to a developing country will be a learning experience and enjoyable. As I was told many times in Tanzania, “be free.” Women should be free, and not scared, to travel to developing countries, as long as they are smart about it. 


© Meredith Chait

(Page 2 of 2)
Last modified on Sunday, 01 November 2015

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