Hello Tanzania!

One week from now, I will be en route to Matipwili, a small village in Tanzania, about 3 hours (approx) from Dar Es Salaam, the capital city. I leave Amsterdam on the 5th of May at 7am and arrive at 8pm – such a strange concept for me to take such a long flight, but only go through a one hour time difference (it’s one hour ahead of Amsterdam). When I arrive, I’ll spend one night by myself in a hostel in Dar. On Sunday the 6th I’ll make my way by bus and then some other form of transportation I haven’t figured out yet to Matipwili. If you look up Matipwili in google maps you won’t find it – or at least I haven’t been able to – but it’s not too far from Bagamoyo. I’m not sure what “not too far” means, but I’m guessing 1-2 hours. It’s also quite close to the Kisampa camp, which is a supposedly beautiful area with a super nice eco-lodge thing set up that tourists/volunteers/workers usually stay at if they’re looking for a “village experience” not too far from Dar, or if they’re doing volunteer work in Matipwili.

I’m going to document something. I hesitate to say I’m going to make a documentary, but I’m going with a camera, sound equipment, etc., for the purposes of using them to document what Devergy is doing, and what they’re doing is setting up a solar electrical system in this very poor, rural village that will provide people with very inexpensive solar energy. The folks in Matipwili live on about $1-2 per day and currently spend a little money every day for candles, batteries, or kerosene for lighting. Devergy  will be able to offer solar energy to the villagers for the same amount of money they currently spend on other forms of lighting, and it’s hopefully going to transform their lives. I helped put together a short video to explain the concept, and now they’re finally ready to go off and really do the first village (they will have three pilot villages this year, and hopefully start real operations next year). Devergy has been at work for about 2 years so far, so this is really exciting. Seeing what happens in the first village and capturing that footage and turning it into videos that can show people what they’re up to is my job. While I’m a pretty good agency producer, and a decent enough line producer, it’s been a long time since I’ve considered myself any kind of real filmmaker. This is a huge leap out of my comfort zone, but it’s the leap I’ve been hoping to make for five years or so, and I’m super excited/nervous to be able to do it.

Professional goals aside, I can’t believe I’m going to Africa for the first time, and I’m making the journey by myself, and I’m going to spend 19 nights sleeping in a very poor, very rural village with no running water or electricity or toilets or anything of that nature. It’s going to be warm (low-to-high 80’s during the day, low 70’s at night) and very humid – supposedly it’s rainy season, but it hasn’t been raining yet, even though it’s predicted every day. It’s practically a guarantee that I’ll have “stomach issues,” though they probably won’t be serious, but I’ve never had prolonged days of stomach issues without access to a toilet. The only memorable time that happened was in Romania, and the journey from Sibiu to Budapest (by bus and overnight train) was, well, I still remember that overnight train bathroom clearly, and that was five-six years ago. And still, that was only one night, maybe 12-16 hours that I wasn’t able to use a “normal” bathroom.

We’re going to be living on a daylight kind of schedule, which means up at sunrise and sleep when it’s dark. We can’t depend on internet access, and while we will probably be able to get a connection strong enough to send email, I certainly won’t be able to skype with E. using video.

It’s so hard to figure out what this is going to be like, I have no frame of reference for how all this might feel. After my trip through Mexico I can now remember what hot weather and mosquitoes feel like, and I did get used to going to bed very early and waking up around 7am (while I was in Mazunte, which is the most beautiful place I’ve ever stayed). But there I could wear a bathing suit all day and swim, whereas Matipwili isn’t on a beach. The things I’m most nervous about are A) lack of showers in a hot & humid climate and B) lack of toilets. I know I’m just going to have to deal with both of those things, but man, both of those things are going to be a big deal.

I bought some new clothes, including both a white and a purple shirt. I’m trying, really, to not bring black shirts (my pants are so far all black), but it’s hard without buying a new wardrobe. To keep my backpack as light as possible I’m only bringing about 6 shirts anyway. I need to buy a hat, and DEET, and a flashlight… but most importantly, now I have to go do ten thousand camera tests in the next week. I just spent thousands of dollars (while in NYC) on camera equipment and there’s still so much I don’t know how to use.

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