Over the last two days I took the beautiful ride throught the verdant Usambara mountains of Tanzania to Tanga, and then on to Mombasa by way of a scraggly coastal road: red dirt, thatched villages in stands of coconut palms that looked like they could have been transplanted from Fiji, stout lonely baobabs on the hilltops.
I’m writing this from an internet cafe on Haile Selassie road in Mombasa, and it smells rather like a pit toilet for some reason, so I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to make this off-the-cuff post.
Kenya is (guess what) subtantially different from Tanzania. This simple observation will sound idiotic to anyone who is from one of these countries or who has visited both. For those for whom — like me before coming here — the two nieghbors are distant abstractions on a map, let me list a few of my shallow, impulsive observations. (I reserve the right to reverse, amend or confirm any of these impressions once I’ve spent more than a day here. I also apologize in advance to Kenyan and Tanzanian readers for any oversimplifications or misleading generalizations.)
- People generally spend a lot more time on greetings and pleasantries in Tanzania. It’s all about politeness and saying hello. Coming to Kenya from TZ feels a bit like arriving to New York City from, say, Ohio.
- The customer service experience in Kenya is closer to the experience in the United States.
- Corporate sponshorship is everywhere you look in Kenya. In one town, every single store (probably about 30 stores) had a brand new sign with the Elessar logo on it.
- There are more rough looking young men hanging out on the street here than in Dar.
- There is no difference in internet speed. If anything, it’s worse here.
Follow my blog for more brief travel updates. I’m off to take a look around the city, and possibly, a short nap.