Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Karibu sana

That means very welcome, which I've heard multiple times today. Forgive me if this entry is not organized or in narrative form like I usually write. I managed the day without a nap fighting jetlag and everything is new. You can't just ask, "How's Tanzania?" I say this after the first day! I can't even imagine what it will be like after living here 10 months! If you want a summary, food is so good, people are so wonderful, and Africa is so beautiful. Now for the more in-depth version..

Let me start by describing Arusha, the city where I am living. Even though it is a city, people say it is a small town because everyone knows everyone. It's a city but by no means westernized. People still wear the beautiful traditional clothing, which we are getting measured for tomorrow :):):), and yes, the typical image of women balancing baskets on their heads is completely true. However, the obnoxious catcalling of South America is absent; instead, every 10 steps you run into a new person and it's culturally unacceptable just to say hello. So you stop and time is quite irrelevant because it is more important to see your friend. Arusha is SUCH an international city. Liza and Nina went to a Serbian bd party and UN dinner the two nights before I came. I just got back from a pub with an Italian, sound engineers from NY, and some ex-pats living here and of course Liza. I've learned so much Swahili already! There's no way I will learn this much everyday! Our house is awesome (of course pics will come sometime soon) and we have two cats-Crispy Bacon and el Guapo, whom I have yet to see. Everyone is so nice-the Umoja people, the natives, and the ex-pats. The welcome here is unbelievable! Flights were uneventful besides long, though I must say it was nice to get real meals on a flight and inflatable pillows and Bose headphones were sleepguards with babies crying and what not! With two 8 hr flights I did something that is horrible for jetlag-I slept from 11 AM-5 PM yesterday making me that much more not tired last night and I finally fell asleep at 3 AM this morning (we didn't go to bed till 2:30). I was greeted with Chamomile tea of course accompanied by Zbee honey and fresh papaya, tangerine, banana, and watermelon. My housemate is awesome as are my bosses. One is from the states, 27, and just an incredible person. Very sad to see her go the 7th of Sept. (it's her house that we're living in). The other is from Madagascar and will be my boss for the non-profit work I do. I met her kids today as well-wonderful family and so cute.

The day began with Tanzanian breakfast which consists of Chai tea (which is also chai so it's chai chai) and chapati a delicious flatbread. We talked about the mission and structure of Umoja, which makes me love it that much more because they take the ignored tier of kids, the ones above the poorest of the poor, to give kids who can have a chance an opportunity instead of catering to those who already are supported by all the other non-profits. Hearing the story of how Liza (the director) needed something more than just teaching rich, white kids, and how it is something that they own and is shared, is truly a remarkable story. Ask me more if you want to. We then went and visited what would here be called a private school which really means instruction is in English, but still not comparative to any type of US school. No school is free here. 64/109 of the kids at that school are orphaned. A 4 floor building didn't have railings and one floor didn't even have a wall so it's just stairs suspended by the floors of each level.

Then we went to a local place for lunch which was ugali, a maize flour mixture, and was served with tilapia and a type of spinach, cabbage, and beans. Everything is eaten with the hands and yes, I washed my hands (as is standard) beforehand. I think I agree-food does taste better (and is at least more fun!) when eaten with the hands. Delicious food!

 I fought the jetlag all day :) One of our neighbors just finished high school and speaks perfect English so he is going to give us Swahili lessons each morning. Janet, our maid I guess you could say, cooked us a DELICIOUS dinner. I saw the beautiful Mt. Meru today and a museum and met a ton of people and of course every step is a new sight. The beautiful trees and flowers, the people, the smell of burning (they burn everything here), but I should get to bed.

Life is good. Thank you to all who encouraged me to take this job. You're right-I'm not going to regret it!!!


  1. THANK YOU FOR POSTING!! I can't wait to hear more about your adventures! Sending much love.

  2. great read sara! good to hear you love africa! blow kisses to her for me!

  3. Kudos to you on kicking jetlag in the butt. It is a bit overrated, if you ask me. :) And hand-to-mouth (if you'll excuse the pun) eating is delicious indeed, can't explain it.