A Travellerspoint blog

Getting settled and making sense of things

day to day, micro revelations, and the like.

semi-overcast 20 °C

I just want to give the preamble that my words will absolutely not do any of this true experience justice, but so it is….

It’s Sunday evening now (actually I'm posting this on what is now almost a week later, but it was originally written on said Sunday evening - the 16th of March), the sun is on its way to setting and I’m hanging out in my room. Just did a sweep, as I’ve been trekking in a lot of dirt from the rains we’ve been having….it cakes on your shoes like nothing else, but sawa sawa, hamna shida.

Today, after having, what has become my usual *instant* coffee and peanut butter on bread with banana, while Nudge, the cute little kitten on site, joined me on my lap, we headed into town for a few errands and a bit of a tour. One of the “to-do”s was buy myself some rain boots, in preparation for the muddy washed-out roads the rain shall soon bring. Little did I know, we’d buy them right from the seat of our truck. T’was quite the event, and I was glad to have Lucie there to speak Swahili for us, as mine is still entirely too basic to engage in such an energetic transaction.

Driving into town yesterday was a good introduction to the rains I should expect. It was coming down quite hard, and I could not get over how much water was gushing down on the sides of the streets!! I thought for sure by the time it was time to come back home, the road would be washed away. But, luckily, it stopped raining, there was still a road, and I got home. Perhaps it was a bit dramatic of me to think such things but it was literally two heavily flowing rivers on each side of the road, about half a meter wide…something else. Made me think about how having rain water capture and multiple water diversions set-up to allow for flow back into the pastures/crop land would be ideal – thus to provide clean drinking water to families, prevent road erosion, to irrigate crops and provide water for farm animals etc. As I type this the winds are picking up outside, and it feels like rain is a comin. It’s quite nice to listen to at night though….people pay for such simulated sounds on cd, but here…I get it fresh from the jungle of Tanzania.

Yesterday was a great day in Arusha town and I was able to catch up with my friend whom I met last time I was here. I’m used to pulling off to the side to let cars, dala dalas, piki piki (motorcycle), pass and all these things that are on the roads while I walk, so I was headed to meet a friend at a local restaurant, about 1.5km from where I am staying, and a car pulls up and I move over to the side to let the car pass, it slows down more, and, to my surprise, it’s my friend! The day felt very dream-like - super surreal. If I really think about it, that I’m here, back in Tanzania,…that in and of itself is still quite surreal…I mean when I really think about it! So we went into town, I got a sim card, we then went to a beautiful spot that overlooked Arusha town from pretty high up, and I got some great photos. It has a sign out front that says bank, but it seemed like an office building I guess, and you go to the top and there’s a sky bar sort of thing…quite nice.

We then visited his sister, Mama Kt, and her two kids in her shop where Mama was dolling out a masala mixture of delicious smelling spices into little baggies, that they were then sealing, and preparing to sell at the market. There were many others present too, extended family, and other workers. What a nice bunch of people. We were fed delicious Indian food (his sister married an Indian man so the cultures have converged) but it was mostly me who ate it since it was too spicy for my friend. I was so happy to be present to such wonderful people. So nice, warm, and welcoming, so much community spirit and heart all in one place…Mama Kt let me know I was welcome back whenever, and that we could hang out some time again soon.

We then went to go find some other food for my friend, and then did a few errands and we met up with some of his friends back at the sky bar again. There was some soccer on TV too which is always enjoyable - wish that happened more in Canada ;). Later on in the evening, we also went back to the old area where my friend used to live, and met up with his friend/roommate, who I had met briefly when I was here before. Such a nice guy. All in all it was a great day/night and I felt more like I was getting to do the local thing, forgetting I was a foreigner, which was great.

There are many things I love here, but one is how there are so many little shops and gathering spaces in and amongst the neighbourhoods…this of course increases the community vibe tremendously. If someone’s house has a tiny shop window adjoined to it, and chairs out front, and people from the community come by, grab a beer, sit and chat, you drastically increase neighbours knowing neighbours, just by virtue of it being there…no forced gatherings, it’s all natural. I would LOVE for this to exist in Canada…so I best work on that once I get back…for now I suppose the liquor laws would have no such thing (we'll ease into it with tea and coffee to start), but man is it nice to have that set-up. I couldn’t get over that. I made sure I basked fully in the awesome.

Our last stop of the night was dinner at a local restaurant that my friend use to go to a lot when he lived in this area we were at. It was super tasty, ugali, meat, and a cooked banana. We were then going to meet up with some of the other volunteers as they were going out but by 11pm, after I had eaten I was tooooo tired! It must be the jet lag/time-change thing because usually I’m up pretty late, but here…I mean right now it’s 6:20 pm and I could totally go to sleep! And, I’m up quite early and I don’t feel that same sense of groggy-I-don’t-want-to-wake-up-I-will-push-snooze-multiple-times feeling. …which is nice because I actually like waking up early, I feel refreshed and enjoy waking up with nature…so asante sana Tanzania for bringing this about in me.

I speculate that it’s due to being energetically connected to my home country people… though, perhaps that’s not as accurate now since no-one is sleeping atm…but I guess it makes sense since it’s 8:30 am in Vancouver and I’m feeling that groggy feeling I just described feeling in the AM…. Interesting. I do find it hard to sleep when I know those I love are up and living life, and I do think that has some sort of energetic implication.
I digress. Man there is so much I’d love to write about in detail to try to paint a perfect picture but alas, I would be here for days and days, and writing a massive novel. I will have to leave it at that.

Actually…a bit more!

I should have written sooner – famous words of someone who is travelling and wanting to write about it… but yes, I do wish because I’ve already desensitized myself so much to my surroundings so it’s hard to recall all my emotions upon arriving. But I suppose reading my fb status helps jog my memory a bit. Boy that first day of being here, it was GREAT, and I kept having to remind myself that I was finally coming back, that this was it, that I had waited for this moment for so long and I was so excited…that I wasn’t dreaming, that this was REAL.

And, it was amazing, up until I was driving to the place I was going to be staying at…passing the people, their homes, the completely different surroundings, the hustle and the bustle in the streets, the mud, the dirt, the kids, the chaos, the complete and utter sensory overload.

Despite having been here before I was completely culture shocked anew. So, when I arrived on site, I was so incredibly tired, I got a bit of a run down of the place, but then I went to have a nap. The others were meeting up with other volunteers from elsewhere for dinner and I figured I ought to participate to meet people, and also to stay up too so I could try to sleep the whole night, but I was a complete zombie…and also on the verge of tears. I was just so overwhelmed …wow. Thinking back I felt like a completely different person. I guess jet lag will do that to a person? I could barely speak, I felt I had nothing to say too, and I just wanted to go to bed.

I don’t remember the last time I cried so much….that night, it was painful. I was so overwhelmed and worried I had made a HUGE mistake. I was even having a bit of a hard time breathing a few times, but I managed to calm myself down. I couldn't stop wondering why I came here when I had so many epic things going for me in Vancouver. I loved my life there. I wasn't running away (as sometimes travelling may appear,…perhaps that’s also a stereotype of people who travel for long periods of time, or go live elsewhere are running away)…But I had so much to be grateful for in Canada, I wasn’t running away so why did I come here? Why did I give up on so much epic?

Would it all change when I came back? Could I get it back? I was so shell shocked.

I think it’s also something to do with the fact that it’s not normal/natural to fly…biologically/evolutionarily speaking…. I felt this before when I came here, that someone had picked me up and plopped me down on the other side of the world. You have no concept of transformation when you fly because you’re however many miles high in the sky, and travelling at speed that the human mind can’t even comprehend. You go SO far away but it’s hard to understand that…I mean, we flew at about 1,000mph, for 12.5 hours straight!! THAT IS FAR! And that was only one flight of three, albeit the longest one, I honestly can’t even comprehend how far that is…and then technology makes it feel all the more close, and so you’re body/brain/everything is just entirely confused.

So, whereas in the past when tribes would travel, but they would do so by foot or animal and so you’d see the changing landscapes and you’d evolve with the changes, it was slow, steady, and at a human pace…whereas here, it’s like one minute I’m in Canada, living luxuries galore, and the next I’m in the middle of a boiling hot jungle, with completely different smells, sites, sounds and everything… but as with most things, the body/mind adjust, and you get used to it and it feels like home in no time. I'm grateful for adaptability.

Sleep helped though, but man that was hard…both because my mind was racing, but also because there was a jungle chorus outside my window. Crickets, so many crickets, (I didn't realize they could be so loud!!) dogs and frogs, and as the night progressed and the sun got closer to rising, Muslim prayer began (which I hear now, too as I type this) then joined the birds, adding their songs to the mix, and the rooster made sure we knew what time it was.

I awoke in the middle of the night, wide awake, of course….so I found my laptop and thankfully had a friend to chat to on fb (thanks to the time change…:P) I was a mess…. But I decided to give it some time and sleep, I woke up feeling only a few percents better, but trusting, and knowing deep down that as time passed I would feel a lot better and it’s funny how the body forgets….this was pretty much exactly how it was when I came here before, the first few moments were so strange, and left me feeling uneasy, and missing home sana sana, oh man so much.... but that passes, and you acclimatize. Maybe I’m just extra sentitive but gosh I was experiencing some extreme emotions. I’m so happy that has passed.

So, it’s what, day 4 and I’m about to go to sleep for night 5….and I’m feeling pretty good.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that what I’m worried about (I know I should stop worrying and just live life but …I like to think about things, and explore in my mind...it’s how I go) is falling back in love with Tanzania…and it’s the same feeling I felt when I got Boo. Here was this adorable kitty, who had already stolen my heart despite my trying to shield it. I didn't want to get involved because the moment you get involved the moment you have something to lose (of course people do this with relationships all the time, but when we've been hurt in the past we become afraid, and unfortunately the first reaction is often - closing up and shutting down).....

...Why would we willingly accept pain at a future date… but of course it’s preposterous to make decisions based on future pain without regard for the pleasure it will bring …but such is the mind sometimes, especially a mind who has been hurt in the past (cats passing away etc, or heart felt relationships gone sour)….but just as it was with Boo, I couldn't help it, I’d already fallen for her, and, as most who know me know, she is now deeply embedded into my everything and that is just how it is, and well, it’s worth it.

I feel the same way about Tanzania….I was scared to fall back in love with the place (though I’m not sure I ever fell out of love, but the more you distance yourself the easier it becomes to make peace with not being there) but I feel it, I've gone and done it again.... I've fallen back into it, and it’s going to be so hard to go back home…despite loving so much about Canada and wanting to go back to start building roots and a life and community and all these lovely things…setting up shop if you will…. It’s going to be hard.

So these are some things I've been pondering. And it’s a strange feeling, to be here and loving it, but scared to love it more, and to miss home, and yet not want to go back but want to go back simultaneously. Then recognizing that the only reason such things can cross my mind because I’m extremely fortunate enough to be able to travel to such faraway lands – that I do realize, and I am grateful for the experience and opportunity.

I’ve also had these other realizations yesterday when I was out and I can’t quite articulate them yet so …more to come on that, but suffice it to say….when sitting in that aforementioned pub at the top of that building, looking down on the hustle and bustle, seeing the bus station where I said bye to a good friend the last time I was here - not knowing when I'd be back, and feeling so much pain leaving Arusha, and talking to my friend about life, and about people who “help” others, and people who are corrupt…and putting all my past thoughts and ponderings together I started thinking about how life can have its issues wherever you are, people are people, trying to live, what’s important is that you are near those you love. It’s being by those you love that makes you feel home, not any material possession or tangible home – though of course there are certain things that bring us comfort and that can be helpful. ….it's about the intangibles...that what makes life magical isn't that you’re in Africa, or in Canada or wherever you are, it’s that you embrace each moment, you build community, and you get to know your neighbours (to be fair I did believe such things before coming here but now even more so).

Meaningful interactions…I believe that is the meaning of life, and that isn't location dependent, that it heart dependent, that is energy dependent.

The realization was entirely deeper than that but as I said, I can’t quite articulate it yet. Still processing. It’s funny I needed to come all the way back here to have these mini revelations but I suppose I expected as much :P

I have not even ventured to the rest of the site here – specifically Kesho Leo where the kids and mamas are…I’m going to get a site tour Tuesday so stay tuned. I’ve also started to do a bit of the accounting with the fellow I’m replacing….learning how to use quickbooks, and adapting to the cultural businesses differences…quite interesting indeed.

Oh and I finally had a shower two days ago, and yesterday finally washed my hair. Man that was amazing! The little things in life can be so enjoyable.

I am so thankful for water to bath with and drink. Water is such an amazing life source. And how perfect that I post this today, March 22, as it's world water day, and people are getting together at 3pm PST to show collaborative gratitude toward this life giving source.

"There is only ONE Body of Water as all rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans are connected. All humans, regardless of race, religion or creed, were born from a womb of water, depend on water to live and connect with water everyday. All cultures and sacred traditions have practiced water blessings, from people praying in the Ganges to Baptisms in churches. - see World Water Day - UNIFY

Asante sana.

Posted by Jocelynn.R 02:44 Archived in Tanzania Tagged water culture travel life love accounting permaculture

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