Tag: Arusha

Piki-in’ All Over The World


By Halina Schiffman-Shilo

Called piki-pikis in Tanzania, motos in Rwanda, and boda-bodas in Uganda, these low-grade motorcycles are to East Africa what the yellow-cab is to New York City: ubiquitous. Driven by men of all ages and levels of sobriety, the piki-piki is by far the fastest way to get around. It’s also the most dangerous.

Piki-piki drivers do not seem to be hampered by fear – or traffic laws. Carrying people, lumber, gas canisters, household goods, animals (I even saw a dead boar tied to the back of one once), piki-pikis navigate through roads filled with cars, trucks, pedestrians, bicycles, dalla-dallas, makeshift rickshaws, and the occasional goat, without even breaking a sweat. That is, until they crash. In Arusha, there is a whole hospital wing, lovingly nick-named the “warda-warda,” to treat piki-piki injuries.

And yet, it’s a terrifically popular means of transportation. Exhilarating, frightening, and a touch addictive, riding on the back of one looks cool, too.  Just remember to hold on tight, and remember not to mention it to your travel insurance company, or your family.


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A Special Day in Arusha

Owuor carries her newly born twin boys named after Obama and Romney in Siaya

By Halina Schiffman-Shilo

Jumping out of bed before the alarm sounded, I caught a beautiful view of the sun rising over the hills. I usually lie in bed until the very last minute, trying to eke out every second of slumber I can before facing the day.  But this morning was different.

I wondered if I usually slept through this kelele, or if it was louder than usual, but had the feeling that the chickens were clucking rather vigorously, and I thought I could hear people hollering loudly, too. My neighborhood, or rather, my neighborhood bars, are colorful places at all times of day, even at sunrise, so I should not have been surprised. But in my early morning fog, I took all these sounds to be a “sign.”

By the time my alarm went off at 6:04am, I was already racing to throw on my running clothes. I had planned my morning the night before. Get up and jog, come home, shower, get dressed for work, and then head to town with my roommates. It seemed like a good plan the night before, but in the morning I realized it wouldn’t do—I was just too excited for the day. I could skip showering, shorten my usual run, and head straight to town to meet my friends at one of the hotels that shows American news. Sure, I’d be sweaty, but it was worth it.

Today was, in Tanzania time, Wednesday November 7, and back home, in Eastern Standard Time, it was eight hours earlier.



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