June 21, 2006

I'm in WHERE?

Leaving England was so strange. The last night Helen, Tom, and Gareth all slept in my room, hehe. Saying goodbye, driving away...it was weird. It's bizarre that there's a place I called home for the last five months, a specific group of people I hung out with for the last five months, and now I dont know when I'm going to see that place or if I'll ever be with that entire group of people again. (I'm most certainly going to see a few of them again, but whether I'll ever see them all at once again I'm not sure). The feeling was like leaving camp at the end of the summer times a thousand. I can't describe how much my flatmates did for me this past semester. They are truly amazing people and I hope you get to meet them someday if you haven't. You probably will; I don't plan on losing touch. :P

But feelings were mixed...once I finally got on the plane I started letting myself get excited. (I was trying not to let myself get excited before then; it would have been too difficult). I saw a beautiful sunset on the way, and even managed to get a few fifteen-minute intervals of sleep. It was hard towards the end of the flight, as when it got to about three hours away, three hours seemed sooo short comparitively speaking to how long we've been away from each other, but still kind of a long time to be really excited and have nothing happen.

But now...I'm in Tanzania. Seriously. That is INCREDIBLY weird to type. I'm HERE. And it only took a five and a half hour bus ride, six hours of waiting around in the airport, and a ten hour plane ride! Woohoo! (And then a two-three hour bus ride from dar to morogoro, then lunch in Morogoro, then another twenty minute car ride to Mzumbe...but that was with Wes so it's okay). Waiting in line for my visa was agonizing, as I knew Wes was right outside, but ooh it was so nice to see him again. It's amazing. And perfect. I missed him. Nine months is a LONG time. But now it feels kind of like we were never apart at all. It just feels so...normal.

So, Tanzania. Where do I start? I'm taking in sooo much so it's hard to process a little bit. Wes's site is gorgeous. We watched the sun set over the mountains the first night here; it's so cool to see mountains out the window of Wes's house. And then the stars were very pretty last night as well, although very strange; I've never been in the southern hemisphere before - it's weird not to recognize any of the constellations!

Hm, what else, the people. Everyone's been EXTREMELY nice so far. They all seem very happy to meet me and okay with the fact that I don't really speak Swahili. I'm working on learning, slowly, but so far most of my vocabulary is limited to Thank you, welcome, clean, (yeah they say clean in response to a lot of things here, its kinda funny), peacefully, you, and later, hehe. Luckily most people around here seem to speak English so it's all well and good. It's crazy to hear Wes speak swahili! I'm not used to hearing him talk and having absolutely no idea what he's saying. I'm really proud of him for it though. :P He's not going to brag about himself so I'll do it for him: so far I've seen him talk to people, interact, cook, be in the market, teach, work in the computer lab, and he's doing awesomely in every respect. *grin* I'm happy to have a boyfriend who's so adaptable and awesome at what he does, and everyone here seems to respect and like him. :)

Wes's neighbors have already had us over to dinner and are extremely nice, and one of the English teachers said that I could come in and observe her class. (Actually she was prepared to let me TEACH her class but I said I didnt think I was exactly ready for that. The conversation took a turn when she said "What book would you be interested in teaching?" "WHA? Hold up...") The headmaster seems thrilled that I'm here and even invited me to come eat lunch with all the teachers during the teachers meeting, and Wes's friends that I've met were amazingly friendly.

Although the friendliness is a little odd sometimes too. Everyone seems to know who I am on sight. It's a strange feeling. And kind of disconcerting at times. And meeting everyone can be a little intimidating. I got applauded when I walked into chai in the teacher's lounge! WEIRD. And then I sat in on a teacher's meeting, and the headmaster asked if I wanted to say a few words. Actually, he asked WES if I could say a few words, which was strange, the gender thing is a definite cultural difference that is very strange to me. Gender equality isnt quite there at the moment, as I've noticed in a few different situations, although mainly through observing others, not really through attitudes towards myself. Anyway, I said basically, hi, my name's Christina, thank you for welcoming me, I am happy to be here...and then promptly knocked over a plate. Oy. Smooth, Christina, really smooth.

The teacher's meeting was really interesting. I have tons of thoughts on it but I dont know if I'm going to write them all at the moment. Although the meeting was very long. I wasn't there for all of it, I left a few times. Already I think this trip is going to help me a lot as far as my educational viewpoints go. It's definitely a good experience to have and some good knowledge to pick up. If you want my thoughts on it, ask me.

Anyway. I have tons more I can write but I think I'll save it for a later date; I'm trying to do too much catch-up on this computer at the moment. But if you're wondering, I'm happy, in love, and doing great.

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