My first day

Jambo! My first day in Tanzania was a blur, and I’ve already realized why people just need to say “This is Africa,” when things go wrong.

When I got off the plane in Kilimanjaro Airport, I was expecting to see someone waiting with my name on a sign, but after 45 minutes and no such person, I began to panic a little, as I didn’t have a cell phone to call the house with.  It’s lucky that the Tanzanian people are all so friendly and Moshi is such a small community.  After noticing my panic, a couple people began to question me where I was going, and all started trying to call the “mzungu house” (white person house).  After a while I managed to get on the phone with Herieal, the director for AIT’s Moshi branch, and was met by one of the organization’s cab drivers.  They had all thought I was arriving the next day, having gotten the dates mixed up on their central calenders. I’m just glad I made it in one piece!

The Moshi property is absolutely beautiful, with 2 large houses for the volunteers, an office and a bar.  Because it’s the slow season for volunteers, I managed to get a room with 2 bunk beds all to myself, but sleeping under a mosquito net is a very interesting experience.  The main volunteer house has an amazing terrace with a near-perfect view of Mount Kilimanjaro (“The pride of Africa” my team leader told me).  It’s a pretty amazing thing to be able to look out your window and see an entire mountain.

I met a group of girls from Holland, 8 of whom just returned from a Kilimanjaro climb, and they were all exhausted when they got back.  They told me all about their varying degrees of altitude sickness and issues on the mountain, but they all agreed it was a once in a lifetime experience (as well as the first and last time they would be climbing a mountain).  I hadn’t anticipated climbing Kili, but I would love to take a day trip to get closer to the mountain and have a look around.

I woke up around 6:30 this morning, mostly because my room is right outside the cooking area, and the staff love to talk and sing while they are cooking meals.  I don’t really mind, they all have nice voices and Kiswahili is a beautiful language.  Today marks my last day in Moshi, as I am travelling with Kristen (my supervisor) to her house in Arusha, where I will stay until Saturday so we can catch the same bus into Dar Es Salaam for my training and meetings with the Fiesta Magazine team.  They’ve decided to keep me in Dar at least until June, because it will be easier to coordinate with everyone, and I may end up back in Moshi for the last two months.  I hope so, because Moshi is a very beautiful place to be.

I went out for lunch yesterday with Kristen and Frank to a local place (“the place around the corner” as it’s known in the mzungo house), and had my first taste of authentic Tanzanian food, chipsi mayai, an omelette made with fried potatoes.  Between that and the dinner made for us (beans and cabbage with chapati bread), I can tell I’m already going to like the food here.

It still feels surreal that I am in Africa, but so far I am really enjoying my time here (despite the frequent power outages!)

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Shannon

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