So it has now been almost a week since I left Canadian soil. The plane trip was surprisingly comfortable, and not nearly as long as I thought it would be. The same can not be said, however, for jet lag. I think it will be a few more days until I finally become accustomed to the time difference; for now, I think I will use the excuse to catch up on some much needed sleep!
I was in Tanzania back in 2008 for just over a month, although I spent most of my time in a village called Bagamoyo near Dar el Salaam. So I knew (somewhat) what to expect when I touched down in Tanzania. I was not prepared, however, (no matter how much Bob warned me!) for the state of the Mwanza airport. After departing the airplane, we walked down the tarmac to an old building with a steel roof. A guard checked our passports on the tarmac, and we all proceeded inside the airport. There were around 25-30 of us squashed into a room probably 10 by 10 feet (perhaps I am exaggerating, I am known to be very poor at gauging distances with the naked eye). Need I neglect to say that we walked through an office shared by 3 people to get to this room; it looked to be the Tanzanian Revenue Agency by the signs on the wall. Thankfully, I already had my VISA so I was able to get out and grab my luggage fairly quickly, although not before I overheard the immigration officer rip off a Chinese tourist for over $100 (He made him pay $200 for a tourist VISA, which we know are only supposed to be $75.) Once I grabbed my luggage from the next tiny room I proceeded to walk outside (this was the extent of the airport). When I walked outside I was so thankful to hear Missy call my name!
The last few days have been a whirlwind, just trying to get adjusted to Tanzanian life. The apartment is rather nice, pretty much up to student living standards if you ask me (with the exception that there is no working toilet, just one of those that you squat over, and use buckets of water to flush with! Missy says that I will get used to it – let’s hope so!)
The city is crazy busy; there are crowds of people on every sidewalk and vendors snaking along every street. And the roads – my family seems to think that I have road rage when I drive back home – I think this week I will make a video to show them a country with a true case of road rage. Cars swerve all over the road, have no regard for pedestrians, and drive completely recklessly to say the least.
I was able to tag along to Kivulini with Missy yesterday, and it was really interesting to see how an NGO runs in Tanzania. Next week, there are several visitors from Burundi coming to see how the yogurt kitchens run, in order to (hopefully) start a kitchen up in Burundi!
Signing off in Kiswahili (the very little that I know)