In case you're new, whenever we finish traveling through a certain region of the world, we try to pick one thing that each country seemed to be "obsessed" with. This is totally subjective, of course, and not meant to offend. Well, not too much. If you've been to any of these places, feel free to let us know if you agree or disagree with our choices.
On to the countries we visited in Eastern Africa!
Tanzania: Spare tire covers. I never would have noticed this, but Andy pointed out that nearly every truck in Tanzania had a fancy spare tire cover on the back with some sort of design or corporate logo or something. It did seem to be true. Chalk that one up to boys looking at cars more closely than girls do...
Rwanda: Giving every town two names. And the names are never even close to sounding the same! Musanze = Ruhengheri. Butare = Huye. I'm sure there were more. This made finding a bus to the destination you wanted interesting.
Uganda: Bananas. Growing on the mountain slopes. Loading down bikes being cycled to market. Mashed up in the staple starch, matoke. They're everywhere!
Kenya: Butcher shops. AKA "butcheries." You know, you can see half a skinned goat carcass hanging in the window in many, many places across Africa...but somehow, not quite with the same ubiquity that we saw them in Kenya. No wonder nyama choma is so popular--there's a lotta goat out there to barbecue!
Ethiopia: Walking sticks. As soon as you get out into the countryside, you kinda can't help but notice how pretty much every male over the age of 8 carries a walking stick. Approximately half the aisle space on any bus is taken up with a tangle of sticks, which is kind of a catch-22, because it makes having a stick necessary to negotiate your way out without falling...but to have a stick available for this purpose, you'll have needed to bring it on the bus, and stash it in the aisle...
Egypt: Shisha. You may know this as hookah (the Moroccan term). You probably don't know it by its Jordanian name, and my favorite--hubbly bubbly (I'm not kidding!). But anyway, it's a big apparatus for smoking tobacco, usually fruit-flavored to make it taste sweet, and it's incredibly popular with Egyptians and tourists alike. We don't smoke and didn't try it...it smelled OK when I caught a whiff, but apparently smoking one shisha does as much damage to your lungs as an entire pack of cigarettes, so, um, not so good for you.