A Reunion in Arusha
Travel Blog • Eva Holland • 03.12.12 | 8:13 AM ET
More than eight years ago we published Test Day, Frank Bures’ story about teaching English in Arusha, Tanzania, in the mid-‘90s. Now, the Washington Post has Frank’s thoughtful story about his long-awaited return to Arusha. Here he is exploring the town after more than 15 years away:
When I got downtown, I spent several hours wandering around. The lepers who used to beg by the river had been kicked up the road by trinket vendors. The library was still a sorry, run-down affair, filled with books on Dianetics and other irrelevant subjects. The “Modern Supermarket” had evolved into a liquor store. The Metropole Bar and Restaurant was now the “House of Burgers.” People, in general, had gotten fatter, and they had cellphones. Hotels were going up everywhere. The clock tower by the post office actually worked—and was sponsored by Coca-Cola. The Air Tanzania office was open, but the company’s two planes were broken.
From time to time, as I walked around, waves of memory and sadness washed over me. Where were all the people I knew? Arusha was a big town, but not that big. It felt as though I had been forsaken by an old friend. I hadn’t even lived in Arusha that long—just over a year. An Italian acquaintance had told me at the time: “A year is like a breath.” But it was a deep breath, and things were never quite the same after I exhaled.
In the story, Frank reunites with some of his former students, now adults and members of Tanzania’s growing middle class. “Test Day” has always been a favorite of mine in the World Hum archive, so it was a pleasure to read about their lives today.