It is approximately 1:35 and I am sitting in Dulles Airport. I have completed 1 of the 17 flights I will be taking through my travels! Kinda wild. I have a million and one things running through my head, the time change being, I think, the most important. I thought I would be 6 hours ahead in Tanzania, but I think it is 8. I will find out when I get there!
My next flight will take me to Johannesburg and from there to Dar El Salaam. I should arrive some time around 1:55 pm on Thursday. That would still be the wee hours of the morning for all of you.
A little about Tanzania. I will be there for six weeks working in a school. I was told they needed beads & cardstock paper for the Art class. I think I packed about 10 lbs. worth. For real! I weighed it because I needed to balance-out baggage. Gratefully, I could check 2 bag’s without cost. Otherwise, I was looking at $200 for being over on one bag. After my six weeks in the school I will be taking a 5 day, one-on-one safari in the Serengeti. And thank you Kevin, I took the big lens! As long as it gets me through the safari, I can break/lose it after then. It can always be replaced, don’t know when I’ll get on a safari again!
I will be in the city of Morogoro which is slightly southwest of Dar El Salaam (Dar). Culture here is definitely different from ours. A few things that United Planet, the agency I am associated with, shared with me.
“spectacular scenery, prolific wildlife and a superb coastline; includes the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba and the continent‟s highest peak Mount Kilimanjaro in the northern region. Dodoma is the capital, but Dar es Salaam is the main harbor and major trading centre. Currently has a GDP of about $800 per person. Despite these progressions, Tanzania continues to struggle with the HIV/AIDS epidemic and lacks basic infrastructure for advanced healthcare and education. (what is US GDP???) Dar es Salaam is a treasure trove for connoisseurs of art, Makonde carvings, TingaTinga paintings, bead, bone and malachite jewellery, basketry, spices, colorful wrap arounds called “kanga” and “kitenge”. Batik and brassware are the most popular and excellent buys. The rare and brilliant Tanzanite gemstone found only in Tanzania makes a precious souvenir. Public buses are called Dala Dala and you need to be aware of pickpockets! All homes in Dar Es Salaam have electricity, but few have running water from the tap. Most families depend on pumping water from wells. Because of this most families take bucket baths. Few take showers. Please consider that the families spend a lot of time and effort carrying the water to the house. Therefore, use it sparingly. Soap is recommended over shower gel for bucket baths. Most families store water in the tanks for use. Hot water is available on request. Most homes have typical African squat toilets (Google this!).
Culture of “Pole Pole” “Pole Pole” means “slow” in Swahili. You will be told this by Tanzanians if you are walking fast or overly busy! For them, it is more important to greet and talk with people. Plus, it is very difficult to accomplish things in a short time in Tanzania because of the lack of resources. Do not be surprised if your Tanzanian friends are late for a meeting, or one task takes a long time to be accomplished.
Working Culture Time in the work places usually moves very slowly compared to western standards. Sometimes you might feel frustrated that people are not on time for appointments, or don‟t get back to you on time for any requests you make. You might want to consider that in many African cultures it is considered rude to hastily finish an appointment only to rush off to another appointment. Therefore, people might be late for an appointment or workshop, because they had to finish their previous meeting in the time it took. If you have a relaxed attitude you will have a more enjoyable time.
Other Tips When speaking to people try to speak slowly as people are not used to western accents. Also, tone your voice down, speaking loud is considered rude. If you are lost and want directions, people on the street are usually kind to direct you if they know the place. Feel free to ask. When walking you may hear the greeting “Mzungu Jambo” or “Habari” = “how are you?” Children and adults alike greet in this manner. Try to conserve water and power at your home. Don‟t leave the lights or fan on once you have come out of your room. Sometimes you will experience power blackouts or rationing. This is a common problem. You will have a bucket bath or a shower depending on your home stays availability of water. Overall Tanzanians are a warm and friendly people, but it is best to be careful when talking to strangers. If they wish to accompany you anyway say no politely. Whenever you go out drinking anywhere, do not leave your drink unattended. It is better to be sensible and safe at all time.
Ok, I think I’m getting hungry. So, as they say in Swahili, Kwaheli – good bye for now!