Coming into the second week of my stay in Tanzania, I’m shocked at the comfort I’ve already found in this lifestyle. But I haven’t stopped being continually shocked by how different everything is either. I guess you could say it’s all in balance. Equal parts comforted and on edge, ecstatic and malaise.
The first week of my trip was spent on Zanzibar Island, where we stayed on a Christian Community College in a village called Machui. We became acquainted with the Tanzanian way of life, such as; waking up early to tea and bread, heavy and abundant foods like ugali or chapati with lots of chicken (kukuu) or fish (samaki), washing clothes in a basin, and relaxing on the beach.
In the villages most people don’t have electricity or running water. Even in the city power outages are common and all tap water much be filtered or boiled. I’ve already come to love bucket showers, which are exactly what they sound like. It gives a new appreciation to the amount of water we use, versus what is needed. I feel it deeper too. Each place that the water touches and cools my skin feels instantly refreshed, each part of my being grateful for the temporary break from the heat.
I wasn’t expecting the religious element that is at play here. Tanzania is home to many Muslims and Christians, and here these factors are a much larger part one’s identity than I see in the states. Mostly there is peaceful coexistence, but there is tension that surfaces at times. While we were in Zanzibar a priest was assassinated and a church was burned. We were all a little nervous to hear that news, but we were well out of the way of the violence. It’s important to remember that such incidents are the exception, not the rule. While visiting Stone Town we toured the oldest Christian church on the island which was paid for by a wealthy Muslim centuries ago.
Then last Wednesday we arrived back in Dar es Salaam and moved in with our host families. It’s definitely strange living with people I didn’t know in a land I hadn’t been where they speak a language I hardly understand and live a life I’ve never properly imagined. But each day is getting easier my friends are multiplying rapidly. Each day feels like forever because each step is new and unexpected, but I can already feel patterns forming, and I can see myself relaxing into a lifestyle that eases away the days until I’m already leaving and feeling like I just arrived.
But we musn’t think about that now. Not when there’s so much still ahead.
Moneys! On campus! Just chillen like it ain’t no thing. This morning I was watching them out the bathroom window as I poured scoops of water over my head.
Tutaonana (until we meet again),