Mambo friends! Having arrived a few weeks later than my fellow interns here in Dar es Salaam, I have now spent three weeks underneath the African sun and it has been quite an experience! I knew that by signing on to participate in this program it would be like experiencing a whole new world, and it certianly has been. Thankfully, I have taken many classes in sociology, anthropology, and cultural dynamics, and coupled with my own previous travel experiences I was well prepared for the cultural differences that awaited me outside of the airport.
Nearly everything slows down in Tanzania, to a pace that could make you blow your top off if you didn’t have any patience. Luckily, I have a lot of patience, but this is important to know if you are considering travelling to Africa. The traffic in the city can be stopped for many minutes at a time, with traffic police guiding the flow and inspecting vehicles. Rolling brown-outs take out the electricity across neighbourhoods of the city at any time of the day, which obviously halt anything requiring power. Additionally, unless you have your own secure and dependable source of Internet, public wifi and internet at our house can be very slow, and everything from emails, to apps on your smart phone, to downloading articles or watching videos can take a very long time. So life in Africa takes on a much more slower pace to accomplish many things compared to North America, but I don’t get upset about this. I just relax and say to myself, “Everything moves and loads eventually.”
I have always been a person who is aware and tremendously thankful of my many blessings, opportunities, and comforts that I experienced back home. Yet working and living here in Tanzania, a developing country with a very low rating on the Human Development Index (HDI) really hammers that reality home. One becomes very much aware of their place in the world, the striking differences of your socioeconomic background, and the sacrifices made by many Africans to get by. I have also taken these adjustments in my stride, knowing that feeling a little hungry or a little unfamiliar with the bird-bath style tub are realities that millions of people in the world deal with everyday.
Some of the things that I have enjoyed the most so far have been the climate, the beaches, and the warm hospitality of the Tanzanian people and the staff at Passionist Father’s Guest House. I have learned that when you greet Tanzanians and engage in conversation, they use many niceties and ask you many questions before discussing business. Including yesterday at Ardhi University when Professor Kombe asked me how my family members in Canada were doing! The staff here at the residence where I am living are so sweet and always interacting with us daily; we have very enjoyable moments with all of them!
The weather here never seems to go below 25℃ during the day, which can make being in the direct sunlight and dressed formally somewhat hard to handle, but once you are in shorts, t-shirts and sandals it is great! The beaches and crystal blue water here are gorgeous, and I’m really enjoying the places located right on the beach, such as the Azura Fitness Club and many restaurants. I’m really happy that I now have my work permit and proper visa, which will allow us to explore more areas of Tanzania and even other African countries if we wish. This weekend we are off to the town of Bagamoyo, for a weekend getaway and to learn about some history and culture. Baaadaye!