After exiting the van, we took in the front view of our new home.
By African standards, this place was a mansion. We were herded into the front living room that had decor reminiscent of the 1980s…
We gathered around & waited…Tanzania time. For those of you not familiar with Tanzania time, it basically means there is no clock. Everything is done “pole, pole” which translates to “slowly, slowly”. I think this is one of the biggest culture shocks you get coming from America where everything is done in double or triple-speed.
Eventually, the program manager introduced herself and some members of the staff, and we took a brief tour of the complex.
The front building had a living room, community computer, the kitchen, & CCS office. Behind that building was a covered area used for eating & group classes…
The covered area connected to a second building containing all volunteer bedrooms…
The surrounding gardens of the complex were lush & beautiful. I was especially excited to see avocado & mango trees on-site laden with fresh fruit that we would eat for the next month.
There was a nice covered table in the front garden to sit and have your afternoon tea…
Our bedrooms each had two bunk beds. Since there were fewer program participants at this time of year, there were only two volunteers per room. Mosquito nets hung over each bed… a necessity in malaria-infested areas. We were assured that the compound was sprayed regularly but we decided not to take any chances. The mosquito nets would be in use every night.
Each bedroom had an en suite shower and Western-style toilet (another luxury by Tanzanian standards). And for those that have already guessed…there was no A/C. Welcome to Africa, baby!
We took time to unpack, and I shot off an e-mail to let folks back home know I arrived safely. The community computer took no less than 30 minutes to send 1 message… I figured that internet cafes were probably the way to go from this point forward.
We ate our first home-cooked meal…standard African fare… something called Ugali (looks like mashed potatoes but is a stiff maize porridge) and cooked veggies.
Our group decided to go into town to check out the city (a.k.a. Moshi-town). We called a taxi and piled in for the ride, negotiating a $5 cab fare since we didn’t have any shillings yet.
Note about Tanzania: negotiating is a part of their culture. Everything is usually priced 2-3 times what it should cost and you are expected to negotiate the price down. It is part of the game and difficult for the Western mentality to grasp (back home – we negotiate buying a new car or getting a house loan – but generally pay the sticker price for everything else!)
The taxi dropped us off in the heart of town near the ATM where we were immediately accosted by several men wanting to sell us their wares and take us to their “sistah’s store”. There was no shaking these guys, so we asked them to escort us to a local internet café. We purchased 20 minutes of time for the equivalent of about $0.40 USD. Sadly, the internet was nearly as slow as at home-base. I started realizing just how spoiled I am with my hi-speed DSL back home and how dependent we are on getting our internet fix!
We were informed that the guys trailing us for the past hour were waiting outside the door and were bad news, so we called a taxi to pick us up outside the store and headed home. We had dinner together, and began planning for a weekend safari.
By 9 p.m., we called it a night & went straight to bed (that’s what a 13-hour time difference will do for you). I fell asleep almost immediately, oblivious to the sounds of chickens, cows, goats, and bush babies echoing in the hot, sticky night air. Pretty good considering bush babies sound a bit like pigs getting slaughtered. *lol* I was awoken at 5 a.m. with a Muslim call to prayer coming from a nearby farm’s radio. (The population in Tanzania is half Christian and half Muslim – so you hear the chanting and calls to prayer throughout the day.)
Day 3 in Tanzania was about to begin…