I am finally settled in my new home for the next couple months with mama Nelly and my dada (sister) Kayla who is 9! The day I met them was the hottest day of my life, between the nervous sweats and the actual temperature outside i was pretty sure i looked like I had just gotten out of the shower all day(can’t say I smelled like I took a shower though…). All the volunteers waited outside patiently watching as families showed up and filed into a giant meets area. When all the families had arrive we were ushered into the room and told to find the chairs with our group name on them. I finally found my group and instantly introduced myself to the woman next to me she shook my hand and told me her name(can’t say I remember what it was but it wasn’t Nelly so I knew I wouldn’t be going home with her). Our group leader came over and told us to guess who our families were and naturally I guessed right the first time. Nelly gave me a huge smile jumped up out of her seat and embraced me telling me “karibu karibu” (welcome welcome) to which I excitedly replied “Asante sana” (many thanks) over and over again. She took my face in her hands and kissed both sides of my cheeks many times.
Nelly helped me grab my toddler sized bags where she then grabbed me by the hand and dragged me through the mass of other volunteers trying to collect their things. We then boarded a Dala dala (bus) with other volunteers headed in a similar direction. When we got to our stop we grabbed my things and exited the bus where we were then met by a couple different women who introduced themselves to me, the whole time my mama was wiping sweat off my forehead; classic, who would have guessed I’d be a sweaty mess in this African heat(probably everyone)! Finally we made it to our house which is painted the cutest light pink with plants around the outside and a mint blue door.
From then to this current moment it has been a constant flow of both teaching and learning moments, confusion and silence, language barriers and nonverbal cues, and most of all hoping; hoping that I am doing the right thing, hoping my family likes me, hoping I will pick up the language soon so I can communicate even the simplest things. The first day Kayla was quiet and mostly just observed me but the next day when I came home she met me outside with a hug, since that day we have spent every night looking over my books and she has been attempting to help me. This help mostly just consists of my saying something very incorrectly and then her starting at me then laughing like “man how are you not getting this it’s so easy!”. So far I have learned how to cook ugali, a cream of wheat like substance but much thicker, I’ve also learned how to hand wash my clothes, and I can say I feel I’m pretty close to perfecting the bucket bath!
Wali(rice) is a staple in most Tanzania’s diets so we have either that or ugali for almost every meal. There are many things to know about Tanzanians but if there is one thing to remember it’s that if you tell them you like something there will never be a shortage of that thing! The first day here I told my mama I didn’t like ndizi(bananas) but I did like embe(mangos), can you guess what I’ve been eating since then?? Mangos for breakfast, mangos after dinner, I came home from class early yesterday and for a snack I had mangos! I can’t complain the mangos here are large and delicious and sometimes even picked off a tree right outside our door. Also who the heck knew the saucer that sits under a tea-cup served a purpose other than to make the cup look pretty and have something to protect the table from the heat!? Not me that’s for sure, the first morning I had breakfast at my new home I was given tea to drink. The tea was in small tea cup sitting on a saucer and when I brought the cup up to drink my mama saw me quickly took the cup from my hands saying “no no no hot” and then poured some of the liquid onto the saucer. After this she told me to pick up the saucer and drink the liquid from there and not the cup. It was the craziest thing the liquid was actually perfectly cooled off so that I could drink it while it was still warm and not burn myself!
My family also has a cat!! If you know me then you know I love cats so finding out my family had one as a pet in their home was an exciting moment for me. Her name is Tiba and while she runs from me most days some times when she’s paying attention to something else I can get a quick pet in before she looks back and realizes “oh shit I don’t know you” and runs away!
Language classes are rough even on a good day but my LCF(language cultural facilitator) Joeseph is amazing and I am confident he will continue to help me through all my struggles while still challenging me. Saturday was a half day so we were done with lessons after lunch and instead of leaving our group stayed and talked with Jo about many of the questions he had about America some of which concerning our government and our education system. What an interesting conversation with someone who had many of the same questions that us as Americans are asking as well!