Tanzania Day 3

4 06 2011

The day began watching the sun rise over the Indian Ocean. The tropics are best early in the morning, and here that rings true. The atmosphere was calm and pleasant as we drove through the palms on our way into Dar es Salaam. After a ferry ride across the bay, we were on our way to more remote villages down the coast.

*

A man yelled at me for taking a picture of his vegetables. Two boys playing with bike tires ran past me, and then back again.

*

While it has the smell of leaded fuel, burning garbage, and a pungency I haven’t identified, there is a purification going on in my spirit, a deep cleansing metaphorical breath.

*

Houses of mud, stick and thatch. Shirtless farmers in fields. Football jerseys and motorcycles. Lumber yards and piles of gray bricks. Tarp-covered pool tables and soft drink advertisements. Rainbows and rows of corn.

*

First location was literally in the middle of nowhere, but I still couldn’t dodge hits on the radio mics. A huge radio tower rose to the sky right behind the clinic.

The clinic director wouldn’t let us shoot, but there were used syringes lying on a table out in the open. When he left his office, the DP ran in with the 5D to get some inserts. A man saw this and ran over to the next building to tell the director, so we thought it healthy to jump in the vehicles and get out of town.

*

Dark brown backs, bent and rising just above the tips of the grass. A woman walking the road, a hoe over her shoulder, chatting cheerfully into a cell phone. Even out here they have service. You hear me AT&T? Oh yeah, probably not.

*

We stopped at a government clinic run not by a medical doctor but a “clinical technician”, who was less than thrilled to repeat his title when asked.

He had had twenty patients so far in the day. One syringe, damp on the inside, sat on his desk. When asked if he had opened the syringe yesterday or today, he answered, “Oh, yes. I opened it this morning!” It was noon.

Then we went to see a witch doctor, but he didn’t use syringes.

*

We got caught in a storm while shooting verite in a crowded market square in the center of a small town. As the rain REALLY started coming down, a young man asked me, “Are you trying to ruin our lives?”

Huh? We were in the middle of shooting, so I easily slipped away. But as soon as I settled in a new spot behind the camera, he was beside me again. “Are you trying to ruin our lives? What are you doing with this photography?” I explained our documentary to him and that the objective was actually to help Tanzania and save lives. He nodded but looked away towards the camera, only slightly interested.

“When you are done, where do you go?”

“Hmm? Oh. We’re all from California.”

“No. Today. How could I find you?” At this point I’m not sure if it’s a language barrier, but the line of questioning is cruising past my comfort zone. “What hotel are you staying at? I might have some friends who want to discuss their ideas with you on how the film should be.”

Um, not sure about that. I suggested he talk to my producer. Dissatisfied, he moved away.

The next moment a fight broke out between two of the guys on the street we had only moments ago been filming.

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