My first job abroad was in Tanzania. Fresh out of graduate school, public health textbooks still warm, I spent my first six months in-country relearning everything I thought I knew. How do you greet people? Not like that! When will the taxi arrive? Anytime from now. Can I pay with credit card? Not possible. Will there be electricity tomorrow? God willing! It was challenging – more so than I cared to admit. I was not a local, but I needed to understand and navigate local customs and culture. I was also not a tourist, but I wanted to experience the very best of the country I now called home. It was a unique space to occupy, and one that I began to appreciate as a resource when the emails began to arrive.
The messages had a common thread. Friends and colleagues bound for Tanzania wanted to know where to eat (and not get sick), how to get around (and still feel safe), and which safari to choose (at a reasonable price). I knew exactly what to recommend. Not because I’d checked-in to every lodge along the Swahili coast or routinely gambled with my digestive fortitude. I knew what to recommend because I was now part of a community of Expats. These “Travelers in Residence” had learned how to maneuver through Tanzanian culture and had canvassed, tried, shared, revised, and repeated nearly everything there was to do in and around Dar es Salaam. Our collective knowledge was greater than any one person’s savvy. We had done all the heavy lifting, which meant friends and colleagues wondering how best to spend their limited time in our adopted country didn’t have to.
I created to what place to share this collective expertise of Travelers in Residence, both for those interested in visiting or moving there themselves. Consider me a curator of curators. I collect and vet cultural insights and travel experiences from friends and colleagues based abroad – usually among the destinations less traveled. We are not your typical travelers and this is not your typical travel site. Welcome to the collective and curated rundown. Welcome to, to what place.
Curator and Traveler in Residence, 4 continents and counting