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If you've enjoyed reading about my experiences in Tanzania here, check out the new blog I've started on Wordpress as of November, 2017. It's called "Back to Tanzania" and you can read it here. All new adventures in Tanzania from an older, wiser, more experienced expat.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Out and About

The Germans I complained about in the last post are actually South African construction workers here to install air conditioners in a big hotel, and the loud guttural communications on the porch are actually Afrikaans. Just to clear that up so my griping is accurate! And they’re here for another two weeks, but I can’t hear them from my new room.
Here’s a picture of my room and the porch. The color scheme is a bit disturbing, but I’m learning to ignore it.

And pictures of the grounds of Kundayo Apartments. It's nothing fancy, but it's really pleasant and the family who own it and all of their staff are really friendly.



K2 and I went out to dinner at a small restaurant, Mianzini Big Bite, across the street from Jordan Institute, the tour guiding school where I volunteered last year. The electricity was off when we got there, with the restaurant lit by candles and lanterns. It’s in a busy area, surrounded by street markets, so there was a lot of activity. K2 was very nervous and lectured me about not carrying a purse at night, but just a bit of money in my pocket. I argued a bit because he was criticizing my carefully-selected, field-tested travel purse with the wide strap diagonally across my shoulder. He pointed to a spot in the middle of my chest and said, “The robbers will cut right here. It’s OK to carry this in the daytime, but not at night.” Arusha has always had muggings, some of them violent. Tourists can avoid the muggers by avoiding certain places in the city after dark. But K2 tells me the number and violence of robberies has increased a great deal over the past year. Now gangs of robbers are armed with guns (before it was machetes), and they’re expanding from dark, isolated streets to local-style restaurants. K2 was in a restaurant a few weeks ago when armed robbers burst in and ordered all the staff and customers to the floor and systematically took everyone’s money and cell phones. One of the customers had a gun and from his position on the floor, shot and killed two of the robbers. One of the robbers shot and killed one of the customers. K2 and one other man ran up a back stairway and hid on the roof until it was over. Sometimes the differences in life here and at home just stun me. Plus, dinner out by candlelight was not fun, but scary, and we ate as fast as we could and did not linger in the shadows.

I’m having the same first week in Arusha that I had last year. But you all didn’t hear about it because I love to tell the spectacular stories and always forget about the things that make me look like the wimp I am. The first few days I have felt just bored and isolated and lonely (K2 is working and not around to entertain me all day), and frustrated because I don’t know how to do anything here. Even though I learned how to do things last year. So I woke up morose this morning. But I made myself go out to the main road and flag down a dala-dala (mini-bus) and rode into town. Then I took a long walk to Sakina Supermarket and bought some of the things I need in order to start figuring out what I can possibly cook for dinner. Then I stopped back in at Mianzini Big Bite. It was not scary in daylight and I saw my favorite waitress, Regina, and she remembered me. Also, the comedienne who has the vegetable stall bordering the Big Bite who loved to make fun of me in Swahili last year is still there. I walked around to her stall and greeted her with, “Rafiki yangu!” (My friend!) and bought an avocado even though I didn’t need any more. Next, I crossed the street to Jordan Institute, where I found Mr. Solomon,and arranged to start Swahili lessons with him tomorrow. He, of course, immediately tried to recruit me to volunteer again. I haven’t decided if I will, but I agreed to visit his 8:00 class tomorrow morning. I’m sure he’ll talk me into something. But even though last year was really fun, I don’t want to work that hard this time.

So now I’ve ridden the dala-dala, bought food with no set price from people who don’t speak English, and reconnected with some friends from last year, and arranged some ongoing activities. I feel better already!

And just to reconfirm that I feel better I was carrying my netbook over to the lounge with the internet connection, I passed by the outdoor kitchen. A few staff members were having lunch and they called me in to eat ugali and mboga with them. That's a stiff cornmeal mush and pumpkin leaves. It's traditional, everyday food that Tanzanians love and that they love to offer to strangers. It's a mark of tourist sensitivity if you can eat it with your fingers, which I can. I really enjoyed the staff's lunch break out behind the restaurant!

Yesterday, I went by the volunteer house (which I won’t name because I’m going to say bad things about it). Those of you who followed my exploits last year will probably recall that I only lasted for a week and a half in the volunteer house because of the wild partying by all the young volunteers. Since last year, the program fired the driver because they caught him having sex with a volunteer on the front porch of the house, and one of the housing managers because he was having sex with numerous volunteers. The guy who was selling pot to the volunteers is also gone, although I didn’t hear if that was the reason. But apparently the program is booming, because they’ve added a second house in another part of town. The first house has 26 volunteers right now. They split the housekeeping staff of four with two of them at each house. The grounds were in bad shape. I chatted with a couple of the volunteers who seemed interesting and nice, but still, yeecch!

I just read back over this post, and I see that it sounds alarming. So even when I’m whining, I guess I still like to make it sound as if I’m very adventurous. Let me just finish by emphasizing to everyone that I’m safe and sound in a protected environment and following the advice of an astute local as to my personal security. And also, I’m done feeling morose.

1 comment:

  1. hello, thanks for the great posting and I think blue and orange are great together (no, really, and I've worked for several decorators :) )Have fun and be careful!