Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why Tanzania Reminds Me of Home

I'm happy to report that I'm typing this from a keyboard in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. I'm not so happy to report that I have to keep this brief, as internet access is somewhat sketchy here.

If you want as concrete a picture of what living in Bagamoyo is like as concisely as possible, think primitive camping and the jungle having a love child.

Here are reasons it reminds me of Georgia:
1) Primitive camping--no toilet, no shower, no kitchen--is something the fam and I used to do all the time. We just didn't do it in Africa with people we don't know.

2) The climate is pretty much exactly the same. Humidity high enough to bathe in it. Blistering heat. The only difference? It's winter time here... Tanzanian winter = Georgian summer.

3) They have grits all the time. Don't believe me? Look up ugali (oo-gah-lee). It's basically grits without the butter. They also eat greens, though I have yet to work out the Swahili word for them.

4) And my personal favorite reason, Coca-cola! They have it here (in glass bottles!) for 600 Tanzanian shillings. If you just gasped at the exorbitant price (I could see Dad doing that if he's reading this...), don't bother. The current exchange rate has $1=~1330 TZS. That means my coca, as they call it, cost about .50 cents!

5) Mosquitoes. Are. Everywhere. Not just mosquitoes, either. I'm talking bull mosquitoes likely to lift you into the air and drop you in the ocean.

For all that, though, I was totally unprepared for what this part of Africa is like. It's different in a way I can't yet articulate--though I don't think I realized it until I looked up at the sky one night and realized the stars are different. I couldn't find Orion, the Big Dipper, or Ursa Major. The North Star wasn't there either. I think it was that moment that made me realize I'm in a totally different kind of world here. Stars are such a central symbol--of hopes, wishes, and dreams--that seeing an entirely new sky sparked the realization that these people lead totally different lives, have different aspirations and different dreams. I'm merely an observer of their culture who, at the end of a month, will head back home to where we eat our grits with butter and our winters sometimes yield snow. Not to wax philosophical, or anything. Nevertheless, I'm enjoying myself immensely, and will continue to report on my progress at school and the quirks of quotidian life in Bagamoyo.

This post, by the way, brought to you by the letters M and N, which I will shortly be teaching to a crowd of about 40 3-5 year olds!

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad you are safe and already searching for reasons to make it home. Miss you both and have a wonderful time!

    <3 Ariella