May 31, 2007

Tanzania...the second time around

Okay, so, my trip...I’ll write in chunks. I left on May 13 to go to London, landed in London on May 14… waited an extra hour on the plane because first the walkway didn’t work, so then they needed stairs, but they couldn’t find the stairs, then gave us a play by play of the progression of the stairs towards us once they did find them. Waited another nine hours in the airport, in which I made a tour of practically every duty free shop in the airport and sampled about five different types of perfume and four or five different cosmetic products out of sheer boredom. I can entertain myself for quite awhile but nine hours in an airport is a bit much.
When it was at last check in time, I waited in a room until we got waved in, to walk down a hallway and wait in another room. We waited in that room until we were able to hop on a bus to the airplane. There were two Tanzanians on the bus who were joking in Swahili about how we were going to take a bus all the way to Tanzania, and I laughed a little, then they started talking about the fact that I was wearing a kanga, so I finally said something to them in Swahili and actually managed to have a somewhat intelligible conversation in it. Nothing groundbreaking, understand, or all that in depth, but still fun, and it was fun to see their surprise once I spoke.
So I finally, finally hopped on another plane to Tanzania! The last three or four hours of that flight were ridiculously long. I was so close and so far at the same time; I wanted to see Wes! It’d been over ten months by this point in time. That is a very long time. So I was, understandably, a little impatient. With four hours to go, I stopped being able to concentrate on any movies, books, or music. I grew obsessed with the little map channel on the TV screen on the seat in front of me that tells you where you are and how much time of the flight you have left to go. Four hours. Three hours and 58 minutes. Three hours and 56 minutes. I would occasionally bring myself to turn off the screen to preserve my sanity, but inexplicably, about five minutes later, I’d find my finger drifting towards the “on” switch. I was possessed. I literally couldn’t focus on anything else. I came to the conclusion on that flight that those little map screens, as nice as they are to have, are not healthy.
We finally landed, and I walked as fast as I could towards customs. I was like a little kid. I couldn’t sit still.
I got through customs as quickly as possible, grabbed my luggage, and walked outside, and fell into Wes’s arms. It’s amazing that over ten months can pass and their existence can evaporate the moment I see Wes again. It was like I’d never left from the time before. Hate to sound sappy, but it was where I was supposed to be.

The first few days in Tanzania were nice, and relaxing. It was mainly just nice to be with Wes again.
Wes worked a little, and I slept off my two days worth of traveling, although was temporarily invited to a teachers meeting on the first day to eat after about a three hour deep sleep, at which I attended, but I was swaying a little bit for most of it. Managed to excuse myself politely, and they let Wes leave as well, which is funny – they’ve held two ridiculously long teacher’s meetings while Wes has been there, that started early and went until like 11 or 12 at night, and the first one was last time I visited and this one was this time, and both times they let Wes leave with me. Hehe. The teacher’s meetings are interesting culturally – they call in students who have gotten substandard grades on the recent exam and basically the entire teaching staff grills the students individually on why they didn’t do well. All I can say is, I would NOT want to be those students. But it was nice of the teachers to invite me and offer to feed me, although it was more of an effort for me to stay upright during it than I think they may have realized.
Also had dinner at two different houses in the same day. At the first house, the house of one of the newer teachers, we were given sodas and some food, and Mukama (one of the other teachers) and his fiancé visited as well… after eating there, we went to the Igosha’s, another family’s house that we had visited last time I was there. We ate (again), which was interesting because I don’t tend to be very hungry for a few days after traveling. Wes jokingly offered me a chicken head to eat, since I accidentally took intestine to eat the last time I was there. (I wouldn’t recommend it). I gave him an ever so polite glare.
After dinner the Igoshas and we watched this hilarious television show called The Gardener’s Daughter. It’s a Spanish soap opera dubbed in English (very BADLY dubbed in English), and apparently a bunch of people in Tanzania are obsessed with it, and it’s ridiculous in a hilarious way. The episode we watched involved a nursery burning down and a guy in a wheelchair going in and magically walking out to save two children while the women cry and wave their hands around outside of the fire. Riiiiighhht. Because if there were kids in a fire that would be MY first reaction, frantic hand waving. Woohoo, they’re saved! Meanwhile the villain (who was obviously a villain because he turned and glared at the camera menacingly at one point amidst scary sounding music) was trying to steal someone’s money. Oh man.
Crazy Spanish soap operas aside, we also had a games night at Wes’s house with Albert (a peace corps volunteer), Suyenne (a girl from Holland who is originally from Aruba), and Alice (a British girl). Fun times, and a relatively diverse group, both background wise and age wise (Alice is 19, Albert is…36? Something like that). It was a fun night. That was also the night that the drama with our Ngorongoro trip began, however, but I’ll get to that in a second.
The next day we went swimming at the international school and to Dragonaires (a restaurant) for pizza with a ton of other peace corps volunteers. Good night, including a few random amusing parts. The most memorable part to me – Wes (out of nowhere): “Oh, Nora, good news – Christina and I decided you can come to our wedding.” Me: “Whaaa??”
Ok, as for the drama…we had been planning on going to Ngorongoro Crater with Suyenne and Nienke, the other girl who owned the car, on Friday or Saturday. It was Thursday, and Nienke called us and said she wasn’t coming. To make a long story short, first we were going with Suyenne and Nienke, then Suyenne and Alice, then we were just going to go by ourselves on Saturday, but there was an issue with an ATM, so we ended up going with Suyenne and Alice on Sunday after all. Craziness! But it all worked out, really well I think, despite some crazy running around on Saturday.

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