Karibu Sana Tanzania!

Impressions, thoughts, etc.:

I arrived on October 2, 2009. I fell asleep early and woke up the next day at 5 pm. Jet lag and homesickness combined have given me strange sleeping habits.

When I got to Dar, my friend Boniface told me that I could have gotten a free hotel room in Dubai because of my 15 hour layover. Someone was supposed to tell me this in New York, but this was one important message I never received.

I am living with two Peercorps volunteers named Alia and Ulugbek. Alia was born in Russia, spent a month in Athens, Georgia as a child (her father was a guest lecturer at UGA), lived in South Africa, and then moved to Sweden. Ulugbek, or “Becks” for short, is from Uzbekistan but is also studying Development in Sweden. Alia’s boyfriend is named Geofrey. Later this week I will move in with his family and hopefully live with them for the rest of my time here. Victor also lives with us. He is Tanzanian and studying to become a Bible teacher. We have been trading Swahili and English lessons in the evening.

Right now, I am struggling to reconcile my love for the Tanzanian lifestyle and the realization that I can appreciate it mostly because I can leave it. I rode 2 hours to work today on broken roads choked with the sweet, toxic smell of diesel. Beautiful women in vibrant colors walked along the roadways carrying bundles of sticks and buckets on their heads. School children dodged in front of the overflowing dalla dalla buses. These are striking images that satisfy the artist in me but make my heart ache.

Yesterday I had tripe and intestine stew for breakfast! This may be the bravest culinary adventure I have ever taken. I will not be undertaking it again. :)

I have seven mosquito bites so far. Both of my roommates are just recovering from Malaria.

The Microfinance institution where I will work is called “Tujijenge.” In Kiswahili, this means “let’s build it together.”

The Indian Ocean is bright blue and so salty. “Wazungu” (white people) sit along the beaches in front of the resorts, but I haven’t seen to many of them in the city yet.

Here I am often called Mzungu (white person) or Mchina (Chinese).

In the dalla dallas, children sit on your lap if there is no other room. Last night a small girl sat with me for about 20 minutes. I fed her chips in small pieces until she had to go. She clutched a chip in her hand and would not eat it until I had given her all that I had left in the bag.

In Kiswahili, one greets her elders by saying, “Shikamoo.” It is Arabic, and means “I am at your feet.” The reply is “Marahaha.” This means, “I am delighted.” Tanzanians do not often say “goodbye” (“kwa heri”). Instead they say, “I will see you later,” or “We will meet again,” as if saying goodbye might make departure permanent. I’m fascinated at how language is often a reflection of the culture that uses it. The attitudes and perceptions of Tanzanians are built into the grammar and structure of Kiswahili. Or maybe it is the other way around.

For today, I will leave you with my favorite Kiswahili word: “kwi kwi.” This is the word for hiccups!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. evacwu says:

    Beautifully written :) I agree with you on so many things here! Take care and definitely watch out for malaria!

    1. rebeccacorey says:

      Oh Eva! Thanks for your comment… Ironically, though, I got malaria the day before you wrote it! It was awful… but I’m finally better :)

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